You need time to deal with Far Cry 4. A lot of time.
You certainly ideally want more than the four days we were allowed with Ubisoft’s new open world shooter. This isn’t to say you won’t be able to finish the game’s main campaign in the time we were allotted to play it in, because we did. That’s just to say that that there’s so much more going on in Far Cry 4 beyond its narrative that it could keep players glued to it for weeks. Possibly months.
The reason for this is that Far Cry 4 puts a premium on distraction. Players may set out intent on taking part in a story mission, but on their way to a checkpoint they’ll invariably run across a radar tower or an enemy-held outpost or even a herd of animals whose pelts they need to unlock a weapon slot and all of a sudden, their original motivation goes flying out the window.
Far Cry 4 is a true open world game in that it entices – in fact, flat out encourages – players to go off piste. This is a game that offers unbridled freedom as a given. There’s a story anchoring the action, but the best moments in Far Cry 4 are those that players create for themselves – like riding an elephant through an enemy outpost or escaping from insurmountable odds by leaping off a cliff and deploying a wingsuit. Far Cry 4 has a decent plot, sure, but its biggest strength is the fact that, for the most part, it doesn’t get in the way of players experimenting.
The game’s map compliments an open-ended approach. It’s filled to bursting with activities, from radar towers to unlock, to outposts to raid to races to take part in and more. Once players engage in any of these missions, a laundry list of new activities opens up. The hardest task players are likely to encounter in Far Cry 4 is to stay focused on the task at hand.
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What's my motivation?
The story of Far Cry 4 centres on Ajay Ghale and his quest to scatter his mother’s ashes in the country of her birth, Kyrat. Upon arriving, he’s snapped up by the local dictator – a flamboyant psycho named Pagan Min – from whose clutches he quickly escapes. Ajay soon comes into contact with Kyrat’s freedom fighter movement, The Golden Path, and it’s here the narrative starts to splinter.
The Golden Path has two leaders, Amita and Sabal, and both of them have very different ideas on how best to bring down Pagan Min’s brutal rule of Kyrat. Sabal is a conservative; while he puts a premium on the value of human life, he’s also committed to bringing Kyrat back to what he sees as traditional values. Amita, for her part has no time for Sabal’s borderline sexist outlook, but she’s not above taking over Pagan Min’s drug running operations if it means schools and hospitals can be built.
There’s no clear moral compass between the pair of them and the narrative is made all the more compelling by the fact that the player is eventually forced to pick a side. In Kyrat there are no easy choices and the player will likely have to reflect on the path they’ve chosen in the closing moment of the game.
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A bit on the side
In the meantime, Far Cry 4 tosses up a ton of distractions to engage the player. You can hunt animals, unlock radar towers, attack fortresses, take down outposts, take part in races, rescue hostages – the list goes on and on. Far Cry 4 is likely to keep players glued to it for hours at a time and the principle draw here is that no activity feels forced or mandatory. All the game’s tasks run into each other organically so players never feel like they’re being yanked in a direction they’re not comfortable with.
That having been said, it’s worth pointing out that some story missions box players into a style of play they may not be on board with. There are one or two plot missions that demand a stealthy approach and players who lack patience will find these segments heavy going. This is compounded by the fact that being spotted by the AI results in an instant fail; after allowing players such an innate sense of freedom, constricting their movements to such a degree feels almost draconian.
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Plays well with others
But these moments are few and far between. Players are far more likely to spend a ton of time exploring Kyrat, looting chests, killing and skinning animals, unlocking the map and generally exploring their environment to its deepest depths. Far Cry 4 also introduces two-player co-op on the campaign map, so if you’re finding a particular fort or outpost something of a pain to take down solo, you and a mate can team up to make shorter work of it.
There’s also a PVP multiplayer, although the strength of the single-player campaign makes it feel like something of a third wheel. A lot of the match types in the multiplayer are team-and-objective based, with players defending or attacking points in the map. There’s an asynchronous quality to the PVP as one side is armed with traditional firearms and the other with bows and arrows and the ability to cloak and command animals in the map. It’s a compelling affair but it’s doubtful that Far Cry 4 is going to eat into the online audience numbers of Call Of Duty, for example.
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Far Cry 4 verdict
No, Far Cry 4’s principle attraction is most certainly its campaign, which is easily the best thing about it. The land of Kyrat is a vast and beautiful playground and players have every reason to get lost in it. We suggest you answer its call…