Far Cry 6 is an impeccably well-made game. For fans of this series or curious newcomers, it's a great value-for-money purchase. However, it'll do nothing to attract players who feel this franchise ran out of juice a long time ago.
Story & characters
Far Cry 6 is a very easy purchase decision for anyone playing video games in 2021 to make.
Either you’re on board with Ubisoft’s open-world shooter and can’t wait to get your hands on the latest instalment, or you’re tired of the same gaming loop that has been a staple of this series since Far Cry 3, and you can’t be bothered to pick up a copy of the latest Far Cry.
Both positions are entirely valid, and Far Cry 6 will do nothing to either repel the former or attract the latter. Make of that what you will.
Far Cry 6 is a great place to start
Let’s pretend for a second that there are people reading this review who have never played a Far Cry game and are curious as to what doing so entails. In that instance, they should certainly buy Far Cry 6; it’s the biggest and best-looking game in this series and they’ll likely have loads of fun charging around its map, visiting mayhem on all attackers.
Players are plonked in the boots of Dani Rojas, a citizen of the island nation Yara, who is desperate to up sticks and head off to the USA. The reason for this is that Yara is ruled by a ruthless and insidious dictator named Anton Castillo (played Giancarlo Esposito), whose vision for his country is so ironclad in its zeal that killing civilians, slavery, and stripping away human rights are simply the costs of doing business.
After a failed escape attempt – in which it is revealed that even Castillo’s own son, Diego, wants out of his father’s dictatorship – Rojas lands up doing work for the local resistance movement, Libertad. From there it’s a hop-skip-and-a-jump into the Far Cry template; present an exotic and massive environment, establish a colourful villain to loom large over the proceedings, and then toss the players some weapons and let them get on with establishing themselves as the alpha in an insane world.
All hail the guerrillas
Rojas is part of a guerilla force aimed at toppling a dictator, but in truth, that’s all players have been in this series since Vaas Montenegro kidnapped Jason Brody and his fellow bro tourists back in Far Cry 3. They start on the back-foot against a villain in charge of a fiefdom and they slowly work towards taking them out one gun battle at a time. This is the main reason Far Cry 6 will appeal to players who have bought into – and want more of – this scenario.
And they get it; Far Cry 6 boasts a massive map filled with targets ready for clearing. From road checkpoints to anti-aircraft sites to forts to enemy outposts varying in the description, this game has myriad side activities and quests to keep completionists occupied. As they blast, cut, and bomb their way through Castillo’s forces, players will earn currency, level up, craft upgrades, and unlock and be able to purchase weird and whacky weaponry, making Rojas an ever-more efficient killing machine.
Rojas is more than that, though. Unlike previous protagonists in this series he (or she) is rather well written, and due to the fact players aren’t inhabiting a character that is a blank slate, they’ll come to invest in Rojas over time as more than a walking slaughterhouse. On top of that, the characters Dani comes into contact with are pretty memorable, each bringing their own take to the guerrilla party; be they a band of disillusioned old-timers on a hill, a group of young, tech-savvy miscreants on the frontline, or Libertad, who view themselves as Yara’s best and only solution against the country’s big bad, who is woefully underused.
The villain of the piece
And once again (in this case Castillo) the villain of the piece is established at the beginning of the game as a charismatic, malevolent individual, who then disappears for the length of a Bible. At certain main quest points a cutscene butts into the action to remind players what an irredeemable and evil character Castillio is – while taking pains to put forward that he doesn’t see himself as a villain — but other than that, players are left to deal with his infrastructure and troops to a vivid, lethal degree.
Esposito isn’t wasted in his role. He just isn’t given a hell of a lot to do with the material except impress on the player what a blinkered psychopath Castillo is, while being a rather rubbish father to boot. Diego’s story beats are pretty much telegraphed all throughout the narrative – the fact that he tried to run away from home before the game really gets going provides a massive clue – and so his resistance to his father’s efforts to make him a dictator-in-waiting doesn’t come as a surprise.
Castillo is also less outlandish than the villains of previous Far Crys. He’s not as skin-crawlingly creepy as Joseph Seed was. He doesn’t have the whacky flamboyance of Pagan Min. He doesn’t boast the wide-eyed psychotic charisma that Vaas Montenegro had in spades. He’s an officious tin-pot dictator who fails in every aspect of being a father. This may have been an attempt on the part of the developers to ground Far Cry 6 in some semblance of reality, but if it was, it’s run over by the game’s bonkers core loop. It’s hard to take onboard a character who could be a stand-in for real-world politics when you’re charging through a gas station, nuking everything in sight with the help of a trained crocodile.
The rough with the smooth
While wreaking havoc on the game’s playing field, players will come across more than a few issues. Playing the game on Story Mode difficulty is not the power trip that series veterans would expect; enemies swarm the player and have deadeye accuracy. They also level up in tandem with the player so charging into an area at the requisite level doesn’t guarantee success. There’s also the irritating need to switch out weapons and ammo types on the fly that isn’t tied to the weapon wheel. Players will find themselves having to deep-dive into a menu UI just to survive a firefight.
The committed may feel these issues are worth ignoring. After all, they know what they’re getting into. But for newcomers and naysayers, Far Cry 6 brings some nifty features to the party besides; the game boasts some of the most fluid, intuitive, and fun first-person-shooter action around, there’s a rather decent co-op mode and Ubisoft deserve some props for ignoring its usual stance on politics.
The island of Yara is quite blatantly based on Cuba, and this isn’t just reflected in its gorgeous environment, which melds vintage cars with jungle terrain with military outposts and swoon-worthy urban backdrops. It also informs its story, which involves grass-roots rebels ranged against a militaristic dictator, who in turn, is trying to establish his nation as a major player on the international stage while combatting centuries of abuse from outside forces.
It’s a compelling narrative. But it’s underpinned by gameplay tropes that are all too familiar.
Far Cry 6 – Verdict
So Far Cry 6, then, is a Far Cry game. It’s set in a new environment, which also happens to be the biggest of all the games in this series, it sports whacky weapons, new characters, a decent antagonist, and a rather decent plot. But the core experience remains unchanged and anyone who has played any of the last five entries in this franchise will know what they’re in for. If that’s all you want, then you are probably already playing this game. The rest of you don’t care.
- Far Cry 6 was reviewed on an Xbox Series X
- A review copy was provided by Ubisoft