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Far Cry 6: An Addicting Bowl of Pretty Good

Despite some significant stumbles in the storytelling and an overly complex web of superfluous systems Far Cry 6 delivers on the core elements that have always made the series fun.

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Far Cry 6 Review Ubisoft

Far Cry 6 Review

Developer: Ubisoft Milan, Ubisoft Toronto | Publisher: Ubisoft | Genre: Adventure, First-Persona Shooter | Platform: Xbox One/X/S, PlayStation 4/5, Microsoft Windows, Amazon Luna, Google Stadia | Reviewed on: Xbox Series X


In November of 2012, Ubisoft released Far Cry 3 and with it a new vision for the series took shape. Since then, the series has been iterated on several times with almost every new entry having introduced something significant to the franchise. Far Cry 6 brings with it a smorgasbord of new systems and mechanics, some of which are welcome additions while others unnecessarily complicate what should be a fairly straightforward experience. Regardless of their significance, new features are indicative of a studio that is eager to take risks which is always something worthy of encouragement.

Despite some significant stumbles in the storytelling and an overly complex web of superfluous systems, Far Cry 6 delivers on the core elements that have always made the series fun. While there is significantly more to ignore this time around, the sixth mainline entry will satisfy fans of the series. 

At the foundation of any Far Cry game is the environment. The open-world offering in Far Cry 6 achieves the single most important thing that any open-world can: engagement. By virtue of their setting being majority wilderness, engagement has always posed a relatively greater challenge for Far Cry than it does other games. Since Far Cry 3, there really has not been an open world in the series that felt empty, but some have been less engaging than others. Thankfully Far Cry 6 is packed to the gills with a wide variety of things to do resulting in a game world brimming with life. Story missions called operations, checkpoints, military targets, treasure hunts, Yaran stories, anti-aircraft guns, races, and random encounters all serve to keep the player busy for hours on end.

Image: Ubisoft

Throughout my 40 plus hours exploring Yara, I found myself nearly constantly distracted from the main story by a wealth of finely crafted side content that rivals the quality of the main quest. This level of engagement is ultimately the goal of any open-world game and, Ubisoft has achieved that goal in a bombastic fashion.

The seemingly unending buffet of high-quality and well-designed content would be nothing if the moment-to-moment gameplay loop weren’t equally as excellent. The Far Cry series has always been known for having top-tier gunplay, but Far Cry 6 raises the bar in that respect. Far Cry’s signature visceral feeling created by a perfect balance of visual, audio, and vibration feedback returns, making every gun feel satisfyingly unique. But that gunplay is given added depth by a new ammo system forcing the player to use the different ammo types for unique enemies. This new mechanic raises the skill ceiling of the game which inherently makes each encounter more dynamic, challenging, and interesting.

At various camps and hideouts, the player can utilize Far Cry 6’s new workbench to modify their weapons by adding parts to guns and loading them with specific types of ammo. Soft target rounds are most effective against enemies not wearing armor, armor-piercing rounds are meant for use against enemies wearing body armor and helmets, poison ammo inflicts poison damage, etc. As the player is unable to swap out ammo types on the fly, they have no choice but to spec each gun differently in order to fight specific enemy types more efficiently. Putting this onus for success on the player pushes them to learn to utilize a full range of weapons as opposed to just leaning on a familiar load out. While the means of forcing players to learn multiple play styles results in a steeper learning curve, it is a worthy tradeoff for a new standard of dynamic level design for the series.

Early in the main story, one of the more prominent characters, Juan, teaches the player character Dani the lesson of “(insert right tool for the job quote)”. This approach to game design is in no way groundbreaking, but it was utilized effectively in 2020’s Ghost of Tsushima by Sucker Punch Productions. In that game, the hero character Jin Sakai learns different combat stances that are most effective against specific enemy types as the player progresses. These combat stances are unlocked slowly over the course of the game, giving the player time to perfect each stance before moving forward. While Far Cry 6’s ammo types emulate Ghost of Tsushima’s combat stances, Ubisoft did not take the time to allow the player to master each approach they are limited to by their ammo prior to unlocking the next type, each ammo type can be purchased at the workbench within a few hours of starting the game.

While there are several different types of ammo, the only two that are worthy of unlocking are the soft target ammo and the armor-piercing ammo as enemies that are weak to the others are so few and far between. Similar to how 2018’s Far Cry 5 borrowed its non-linear story structure from 2017’s Breath of the Wild, Far Cry 6 has once again cribbed one of the best elements of one of the best games in recent memory to a significantly lesser effect.

Unfortunately, while the ammo system enables a deeper level of complexity in standard gunfights, it cuts other elements off at the knees. Some of Far Cry 5’s most satisfying moments were in sniping a helicopter pilot mid-flight and seeing what is normally a significant threat foiled by one well place sniper round or rocket. The nature of the new ammo systems demand for enemies to be weak to one specific ammo type effectively negates the advantage introduced by power weapons. Both projectile explosives and sniper rifles have been nerfed when compared to previous entries in the series. This leaves an imbalance when being attacked by vehicles.

Far Cry 6 Review
Image: Ubisoft

Historically Far Cry has always been a more run and gun-focused shooter despite the games always taking the time to tutorialize an attempt at stealth combat. Even players that insist on playing stealthily in the previous games are eventually seen and nearly every encounter ends in a classic Far Cry shootout. But for the first time ever Far Cry 6 has overcome this issue and developed a fully-realized stealth system that is not only a completely viable option but the one that wound up feeling the most attractive.

Through a new take on level design, enemy awareness, and the radically different ways weapons can behave depending on the customization choices made by the player Ubisoft has empowered them to approach scenarios in ways that would have been nearly impossible in previous games. The ability to sneak into a military base, work your way into a bunker hundreds of feet underground, complete and objective, and work your way out all while everyone on base is none the wiser is satisfying in a way Far Cry never has been. And it’s all made possible by a series of systems that allow players to customize their character through equipment, weapon choice and customization, and item choice in a way that skews heavily in favor of stealth gameplay.

With as many inspired decisions as Ubisoft made pertaining to the gameplay in Far Cry 6, there were bound to be some bad ones as well and the game has more than its fair share of bad design elements. There seems to have been an obsession with loading the game with every system that could be conceivably shoved into it in an effort to pad out the experience. The game features three types of currency, several different resources that can be used in three different crafting systems, a system for upgrading base camps, a system for purchasing hideout locations, two separate systems for vehicle collection, and an upgradable backpack that works as an ultimate type attack.

In a vacuum all of these systems have the potential to function as mechanics that are additive to the overall experience but as it is they are all diluted by being forced to jockey for position. Very few players will be intrigued enough by each system to pursue them all and as a result, almost all players will be leaving some part of the Far Cry 6 experience on the table. While the developer’s ambition is admirable, the game suffers from feature creep that will almost undoubtedly become a chore for players to sift through the systems to determine which ones they will opt-out of. 

Visually Far Cry 6 is fine but clearly, the days of the franchise setting the gold standard for graphics are long gone. Throughout even the most intense action sequences the game holds a steady 4K resolution at 60 frames per second on Xbox Series X, but mileage may vary depending on hardware. Funnily enough, where the game runs into trouble most is in its cutscenes. For the first time in the history of the series, the game features pre-rendered cut scenes which make the dropped frames and geometry stuttering even more puzzling. As a result of these visual bugs, cutscenes look terrible. Thanks to the story though, visuals are not the worst aspect of those scenes.

Image: Ubisoft

It’s safe to say that almost nobody plays any of the Far Cry games for their story, but occasionally we are all pleasantly surprised by interesting and complex characters like Vaas and Jason Brody. Far Cry 6 is not one of those pleasant surprises. The main story features a large cast overflowing with terrible two-dimensional characters inhabiting a paint-by-numbers story of a grassroots revolution. Non-linear storytelling from Far Cry 5 makes its return and the first of the three regions the game suggests is that of the Montero family. Carlos Montero is a believable leader and patriarch. The story of Dani convincing the Montero’s to join Libertad’s movement is serviceable if not remarkable. However, after completing that first part of the story is when the narrative begins to flounder. 

In the other two regions of the game featuring self-contained stories, Dani encounters Maximas Matanzas, a music group made up of Talia and Paolo, a group of leaders of the last revolutions of Yara known as the legends of ’67, and the hip college student Yelena. Talia and Paolo are shallow characters whom the writers have saddled with responsibility far beyond the character’s reach. The legends of ’67 are fine but apart from El Tigre completely forgettable. And Yelena looks and acts like a Twitter cosplayer larping as a revolutionary. All these characters are weak and lack any compelling motivation instead making the story actively detract from the overall experience. It’s uncommon that a story in a game is so bad that the game is made better by skipping cutscenes entirely but in the case of Far Cry 6, that’s exactly the situation, except for any scene featuring Giancarlo Esposito’s villain Anton Castillo.

Far Cry games have become well known for their focus on the villain as their most compelling characters and Castillo is no exception. With each new Far Cry villain comes a new flavor of evil; Vaas was an insanity evil, Pagan Min was an eccentric evil, Joseph Seed was a more zealous evil, and Castillo is an authoritarian flavor of evil, and with Esposito’s performance that flavor is one of the best yet. Esposito’s ability to radically change from a leader who sounds and acts as though he really is just working in the best interest of Yara to a merciless iron fist is bone-chilling.

Fortunately, unlike previous Far Cry games, the player character is not the only main character for Esposito to work off. Castillo’s son Diego played by Anthony Gonzalez allows the audience to see a different side of the villain that previous villains lack. Castillo’s interactions with his son whom he clearly loves deeply are made even more enjoyable by Gonzalez’s incredible way of filling Diego with discomfort and dread as though he is a prisoner of his own father. Whereas previous Far Cry games featured a singular main villain, Far Cry 6 gives its audience a look at what is essentially two versions of the same villain making Anton and Diego Castillo together one of the most enjoyable series villains thus far.

Far Cry 6 Review
Image: Ubisoft

Overall Far Cry 6 is a very fun Far Cry entry for fans of the franchise but ultimately fails to capture the same level of magic that the best games in the series have. Despite a painfully bad story and distracting superfluous systems, the addicting gameplay loop and rich world are more than enough to support the 40-80 hours of gameplay it offers. From a content perspective, Far Cry 6 is an embarrassment of riches which is good because those riches lean into what the game does best: simple Far Cry gunplay. While longtime fans will undoubtedly walk away satisfied it’s unlikely that Far Cry 6’s experience will create any new converts. 

News writer and Xbox reviewer. Patrick lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with his wife and their dog Ghost. Patrick studied economics at the University of Northern Colorado and is particularly interested in the market dynamics of the video game industry. When he's not working Patrick can be found walking Ghost through downtown MPLS, binging The West Wing on repeat, or playing ice hockey. Follow Patrick in everything he does on Twitter @TheLawMorris or on YouTube by subscribing to ColdNorth Productions, you can see everything he does independently at www.coldnorthpro.com.

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