Far Cry 6 is the latest installment in the long-running open-world series. It was one of the titles that helped pave the way for what has become the Ubisoft “open-world” formula. For many gamers and industry critics alike, this formula has become a rinse and repeat affair that makes its way across several of the publisher’s titles.
Over time, this formula has gone through iterations and revamps in order to keep things fresh and to prevent fans from getting jaded. Since Far Cry is one of the earliest adopters of said formula, does the latest entry suffer the same fatigue? Luckily, Far Cry 6 does enough and more to keep the experience fresh.
Developer & Publisher // Ubisoft Toronto, Ubisoft
Platforms // PC, PlayStation 4|5, Stadia, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
MSRP & Release Date // $59.99, Oct. 7, 2021
Reviewed On // Xbox Series X
Welcome to Yara
Far Cry 6 sends players to Yara, an archipelago nation located in the Caribbean. The islands are a beautiful tropical paradise, with diverse biomes, wildlife, and people. Furthermore, Yara has a rich culture and history, yet at the same time, it is a prisoner of said rich history.
For centuries, the country faced countless revolutions, as different interests competed for control of the island, which is known as the jewel of the Caribbean. According to the in game timeline, the most recent revolution occurred in 1967, which resulted in a naval blockade that cut off Yara from the world. This blockade has essentially frozen the country in time. Think of it as Ubisoft’s rendition of modern-day Cuba and you can see the very clear correlations. Like Cuba, the country had been lead by a single strongman, legendary guerilla Santos Espinosa until his death which led to economic collapse and the election of a new leader, Antón Castillo.
Antón Castillo, played by Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito is a nationalist hardliner whose revisionist ideologies paint a rosy picture of the glory days prior to the revolution. His solution to bring those days and propel Yara to international relevancy is the drug, Viviro.
The Miracle of Viviro
Far Cry 6 makes sure to tell players why Viviro is important for the game’s context. In a nutshell, Viviro is a miracle drug, capable of curing different forms of cancer. Ironically, derived from the tobacco leaves, which are plentiful in Yara, the drug is the key to bring glory back to Yara. However, making it is a very demanding and contentious process. Wherein a bio-hacked toxin is sprayed over tobacco crops and then harvested by a slave labor force. A force whose slavery is justified by Antón, by naming them “fake Yarans”, otherwise known as anyone who opposes him. This combination of ultra-nationalism, paranoia, and economic pressure is fertile ground for a revolution.
Dani Enters Stage Left
Far Cry 6 makes a fundamental change to its rinse-and-repeat formula, which has a drastic impact on the overall game. The protagonist is an actual character. In previous Far Cry games, your character was the typical silent protagonist as found in countless other games. The protagonist was a mere husk that is simply an empty tool used to progress the story around you. Now in Far Cry 6, that is completely changed.
You play the role of Dani Rojas, a troubled orphan. Players can choose Dani’s gender similar to Eivor in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Dani is trying to escape the hell that has become Antón’s Yara. Thanks to Dani’s previous brief military training, your friends and you managed to escape with your lives and board a rickety ship bound to the American promise land. However, your relief is cut short and you soon find yourself back on Yara leading a band of guerillas to depose Antón.
Having a fully fleshed-out protagonist is a game-changer in Far Cry 6. Dani builds a connection that I thought I wouldn’t need in a Far Cry game. It added to my investment in the character beyond the typical upgrade, gears, and skill aspects. Dani’s struggle is personalized and his/her drive is bridged to the player. You can understand his/her plight and build an emotional connection to the character. Something we have never seen in a Far Cry protagonist before. And it adds a level of nuance that was not previously present.
An Impressive Cast of Characters
Similar to other entries in the franchise, the antagonist is the primary face of the game. It is then no surprise that Esposito is plastered all over the marketing material for Far Cry 6, and with good reason.
His performance depicting the passionate, yet sadistic Antón is convincing and enamoring. Even his interactions with his rebellious teenage son, Diego Castillo (portrayed by Anthony Gonzalez), remain top-notch. Their chemistry comes off as natural and nuanced by what most expect a father and teenage son relationship to be.
However, it does seem that Giancarlo is slowly being typecast in his performances of villainous characters. That is because he does a great job at it so it’s understandable. Luckily, the same level of performance also permeates with other characters, especially Dani, but also the other guerrillas.
One of the first guerillas you’ll recruit is Juan Cortez. A seasoned and cooky former CIA and Mossad asset that has a long history of involvement in Yara’s revolutionary activities. After convincing him to join Libertad, the revolutionary group. Cortez loves to spew out numerous “rules” about revolutions that usually annoy Dani and evokes a satirical whip in response. It’s comical exchanges like these that humanize Dani and adds to his/her relationship with the other guerillas.
Overall, the cast of characters is diverse and has enough personality with eliciting too much cringe. Though this has always been a strong point in most Far Cry titles, it remains an impressive feat nonetheless.
Consistent Themes in Far Cry 6
Thematically, Far Cry 6 tidily ties in the rebel setting. Everything from Dani’s brief military training background to the DIY-looking special weapons and the crafting workbench fits the context of a rag-tag band of guerrillas fighting a despotic regime. Even the numerous guerrilla trails, safe routes across Yara, appropriately fit the rebellion theme. Though the struggle is clearly depicted as a “regime bad, rebels good” dichotomy, when in fact, the revolution is a cyclical symptom of Yara’s perpetual instability.
Previous installments would just send a generic tourist to an area, where suddenly they are cast into the middle of an armed struggle. Yet, the game doesn’t explain or try to justify how a tourist suddenly becomes an elite military fighter and rebel leader. In contrast, I must say that Far Cry 6 is the most cognizant and thematically consistent installment of Far Cry I have played since Far Cry Primal.
Gameplay Mechanics Are Still Strong
One department that Far Cry 6 continues to excel in is its different gameplay mechanics. The shooting remains as hearty and satisfying as ever. Players can feel the weight and impact when taking a shot. To add, it seems that Far Cry 6 borrowed the “a headshot is a headshot” approach from Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, a rightly lined up headshot is an instant kill, period for the most part. This approach is also present in Far Cry 6. You might need to tweak the bullet type (more on that later) but it can be done. It greatly added to my enjoyment of the game’s shooting mechanics. Additionally, it reduced the bullet sponge-iness of previous iterations, which is always welcome.
Stealth attacks are as gruesome as ever. While the bow remains a series’ favorite as well, especially if you prefer stealthier approaches. It doesn’t seem these mechanics have changed much from previous iterations. But in all sincerity, Ubisoft nailed these fundamental gameplay mechanics for a long time ago now.
Far Cry 6 takes a lot of risks and they pay off handsomely. One of them is doing away with skill trees entirely. In its place are perks tied specifically to your weapons, mods, and gear. Interestingly your Supremo backpack doubles down as both a superweapon and perks repository.
After recruiting Juan Cortez, players can equip different types of supremo backpacks. The Exterminador was the first one you unlock and was my favorite. It unleashes a barrage of rockets that home in on multiple targets. Which was very useful for getting out of sticky situations. While the Furioso Supremo ejects you into the air like a jetpack to get a height advantage against your enemies. As mentioned before, the Supremo also houses up to 4 additional perks for Dani. These perks include faster reload times, increase ammo count for different types of weapons or throwables like grenades or Molotov cocktails, and more.
Revamped Perks and Gear System
On the other hand, gear perks and weapon attachments are very straightforward. They provide bonuses like decreasing reload times or provide an additional defense against certain attacks like fire or reduce your Supremo ability cooldown.
To acquire any of these perks or attachments Dani needs to acquire crafting materials and use the workbench that unlocks after recruiting Juan Cortez. Players can acquire these materials by capturing outposts and supply drops and completing missions. Increasing your Greatness rank will open up higher-tiered perks and attachments. While simultaneously, enemies will get tougher as Antón will send in more armored enemy types and his special forces. It’s a nice trade-off that keeps combat interesting.
Luckily, you can also prepare for tougher enemies. You can even change ammo types such as soft target rounds (for unarmoured enemies), poison rounds, and incendiary rounds. This ties in nicely to different enemy weaknesses, so it adds a tactical level when considering your loadout.
All in all, it’s a wonderfully conceptualized system that works well in the game. It changes up the mundane skill tree that we are all accustomed to and instead, places greater emphasis on playstyle optimization and experimentation.
Ministerio de Transporte
Like any entry in the series, Far Cry 6 has plenty of vehicles to get you across the massive Yara map. Everything from cars to boats, helicopters, and planes are available for players. Dani can also customize their own personal ride that also provides its own perks as well.
Mechanically speaking, the different vehicles handle exactly the same way in previous installments, which is good, but don’t expect groundbreaking new vehicle mechanics. It is also clear that the vehicles are the same assets from previous entries as well. But Far Cry 6 does introduce a horse as a new form of transport in the game. And I must say they handle and perform quite well. Once again pets make their way back into the game. Only this time they’re called amigos!
Amigos for Life
Dani can choose different types of animals to help them in their rebellion against Castillo. Even the amigos sport some personality and provide perks as well. There’s the t-shirt dripped crocodile Guapo that’ll maul your enemies clean. While the adorable Chorizo will distract enemies to help improve your stealthier approach.
Though, pets are common by now in the Far Cry series. This time around, amigos provide multiple-tiered perks, which are unlocked by complete certain amigo challenges. Naturally, the amigo’s skillsets aim to complement your playstyle.
Far Cry 6 Delivers Fine Graphics and Performance
Although Far Cry 6 is a cross-generational title, it is by far one of the best-looking games this year. The tropical landscapes lend themselves well to a beautiful color palette that really pops when HDR is on. Vegetation looked lush and vibrant, palm trees beautifully sway in the gentle breeze. Urban areas are rendered beautifully and look to be drawn straight from Cold War-era Cuba. They actually looked like warn-torn Cuba. Also, the game has some of the most impressive draw distances I’ve witnessed this year. There was hardly any pop in as well, which makes it all the more impressive.
Character models are well detailed, especially Dani and the other main cast of characters. While other NPCs look decent, they didn’t receive that same attention to detail as other characters. The same can be said about building interiors. They look rather bland and uninspiring. Luckily, you spend most of the time in the beautiful outdoors of Yara.
Not only does the game look good, but it runs well too. On the Xbox Series X, the game ran smoothly at the target 60 FPS. There was hardly a dip, even when the action got hot and heavy. Kudos to Ubisoft for showing off what current generation consoles can do and to do so in a timely manner. Though, there were a few hiccups worth mentioning here and there.
The Not-So-Good Technical Aspects
In contrast, cutscenes were a different affair. It seemed they played out at “cinematic” 30 FPS. So, going between gameplay and the story sequences was quite jarring. It was almost nauseating, because of the change in frames. But fortunately, I adjusted to this the more I played Far Cry 6.
There was also the occasional glitch here and there. I remember once seeing a mud footprint that was elevated from the ground. In addition to that, the FOV was too close for my personal taste. Unfortunately, there was no slider to adjust it. Perhaps that’s an optimization cost for the game looking good and performing so well.
There was a strange audio glitch in the airplanes that was quite noticeable. When flying a plane, firing your machinegun would cut off the plane engine sound. The engine sound would reappear immediately after you stopped shooting. On another note, the enemy AI would have derp moments as well. There were a couple of instances of enemies walking past their dead comrades’ corpses.
Final Thoughts on Far Cry 6
Far Cry 6 is the culmination of everything Ubisoft learned over the years from the long-running series. Yes, the open-world formula is still there. But luckily, the publisher takes a few well-realized risks to counter it.
From the inclusion of an actual character protagonist to getting rid of the skill tree, and a complete gear and perks revamp, these new aspects paid dividends to create a fresh take on a long-running franchise. Far Cry 6 is one of the most thematically consistent entries in a long time. Graphically, the game is one of the best-looking games of this year. It also runs impeccably well at 60 FPS. Although there were a few technical hiccups along the path and some might be put off by the Ubisoft open-world formula, make no mistake, Far Cry 6 was treated with the utmost love and care and makes me excited for the future of the franchise.
Note – The publisher provided a copy of the game for the purpose of this review. The reviewer played the game on default Action mode difficulty on Xbox Series X.