I haven’t finished Far Cry 6. At the moment, if pressed for an answer, I would have to say I am unsure if that is possible. The map is enormous and filled with things to do. There are enemy outposts, secret caves, and hidden weapons everywhere.
I have wrapped up the main storyline, but that doesn’t mean much when faced with a vast world filled with distraction and entertainment. I also don’t really consider a game to be finished just because I have seen the credits roll. Open world games, especially in the way that Ubisoft builds them, always seem to have one more drop of content that you can squeeze from them, no matter how long you play them for.
At this point, I am 60 hours into Far Cry 6’s content, and the fundamental question of quality is whether I plan on putting in more.
Viva la revolution
Far Cry 6’s story is, initially, one of the most traditional aspects of the game. A highly oppressive regime has taken over an “exotic” location, and it’s up to us as players to kick some ass and take some names. This time, we play as a former soldier who was kicked out of the oppressing army for insubordination. This explains away all our skills, ability with weapons, and calm under fire.
After that, we venture across the island, meeting a plethora of characters, doing quests for them, and winning their favor. We want to unite all the disparate elements of the populace into one focused force and use it to take down the Castillo family.
The game does have one serious problem when it comes to this exploration, however. It pokes players too much. If you go wandering around the island, you will almost certainly get some phone calls from characters looking to prompt you in one direction or another, as if the game is terrified just to let you ramble around the map.
Where Far Cry 6 struggles a little bit is with tone. Characters are occasionally goofy or wisecracking, which doesn’t always match with some of the sights you will see around the island. People being worked to death in fields as slaves or fed to animals in the zoo for entertainment are not entirely conducive to moments of fun and humor. This is less about the writing, however, and more about the open-world nature of the game.
With so much to do, for so many characters, it is impossible to know what order a player will do things in, and it is entirely forgivable that this might sometimes lead to tonal clashes. While Far Cry 6 does deal with some serious subject matter, it is still a power fantasy at heart, and for this reason, it’s safe to say the story doesn’t hold the emotional resonance it could have.
I’m once again left wishing that Far Cry would really focus on the ideas that it brings temporarily to light, delving deep into oppression and dictatorship in a post-colonial world, but once again, in Far Cry 6, that doesn’t really happen. The series has a habit of setting up their story against a backdrop of important political and social issues without really doing anything to explore them.
In a strange way, Far Cry 6 attempts to follow the narrative themes of revolution with some revolution in its own design. While you battle the forces of the evil Anton Castillo and try to free your fellow Yarans from the yoke of oppression, you will also realize that Ubisoft has made some significant changes to the more established systems that the series has used over the years.
Most notable among them is the lack of a traditional skill tree or upgrade path for your character. You gain experience and become stronger, but your abilities and overall stats are now tied to your gear. Maybe you can take more damage from poison gas or sneak a bit quieter if you want to be at peak performance, which requires a lot of outfit changes.
Truthfully, I missed the lack of a skill tree and the feeling that I was developing a character, a fighter who gained skills and learned new techniques based on experiences and how they fought. Many other people may be glad to see the back of that particular RPG system, but it’s always something that I enjoy about these games.
The next change of note is the concept of target vulnerability. Some targets will take more damage from certain types of ammunition. On the surface, it seems like an exciting idea that you need to mod your weapons to suit the challenge. In reality, it’s awkward and annoying to juggle your loadout this way. In the heat of battle, you just want to be able to send rounds down range without thinking about it too much.
Overall, the weapon system is gratifying. Weapons, including unique variants, can be found all over the island. The standard versions can be modified at workbenches using various resources that you will collect as you play. The unique variants cannot be changed but often come with some powerful perk, like a pistol that has a chance to heal you if you damage people.
The good news is that combat, and the supporting cast of weapons you use, in Far Cry 6 is a lot of fun. Threats vary from soldiers with guns to tanks and helicopters that will really throw a curveball your way if you don’t deal with them quickly. To top it all off, you have the Supremo, a selection of extravagant devices you can use to shut down electronics with EMPs or launch swarms of rockets at passing helicopters, among other functions.
Far Cry 6 is a game that largely lacks surprises. The changes that have been made are minor in light of all the series trademarks that remain. That said, it is still enjoyable. As a fan of the series, I plan on putting in lots more time. The map is large and inviting, and the world itself is beautifully realized.
Yara has proven to be my favorite location in Far Cry history, from the jagged cliffs and deep forests punctuated by mountain paths, rivers, and waterfalls, to the pleasantly substantial towns and cities that dot the island.
Far Cry 6 isn’t reworking the formula that has been developed over the years, but it is doing just enough to bring something fresh and new to the series. More importantly, where those elements don’t quite work is not detrimental to the game’s core experience. If you are in the mood for another action-filled story with lots to see and do, then Far Cry 6 is a solid investment.
It does feel as if Far Cry has hit a pivotal moment in its existence, however. In the future, it would be great to see Far Cry take two more steps in either direction that is currently available to it. The first option is to lean deeper into themes of societal upheaval and rework the rest of the game in a way that allows them to be treated with the gravitas that they deserve. The second is to become the incredibly fun and destructive sandbox that the game could be if it shirked even the mildest hints of realism.
It could also be argued that what makes Far Cry interesting is the fence-sitting nature of the game and its attempts to occupy both worlds at once. Either way, I probably have another couple of dozen hours in Far Cry 6, clearing the map and finding those secrets.
7.5 / 10
|+||This latest entry retains the fun combat that the series has become known for|
|+||The island of Yara is the best location the series has seen to date|
|+||There is an incredible amount of content in the game|
|–||At this point, Far Cry feels a little trapped by its refusal to meaningfully engage with its own themes|
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