Since Far Cry 3 in 2012, Ubisoft’s open world shooter franchise has followed a certain formula. While spinoffs such as Blood Dragon and Primal have tried new things, the numbered Far Cry games have stuck to the script very closely, even with interesting wrinkles and additions peppered in each time. Far Cry 6 follows that tradition, offering an experience that is very much cut from the same cloth as its predecessors in terms of structure- but it’s got enough quality and new ideas of its own that, even though it isn’t particularly unique, it’s still an immensely enjoyable game.
Far Cry 6 takes players to Yara, a tropical island nation in the heart of the Caribbean that is as gorgeous to behold as it is hellish to live in. The dictator Anton Castillo rules the country with an iron grip, violently quelling all free speech or dissent and forcing a certain sect of the population into slave labour camps where they grow Viviro, Yara’s homegrown cure for cancer, which Castillo sells to the world to grow more powerful and influential. The nation and its people have been under Castillo’s despotic rule for years, but where there are tyrants, there’s revolution. Protagonist Dani Rojas becomes a reluctant part of a budding guerrilla rebellion against Castillo’s regime, and fights to free Yara by any means necessary.
“Far Cry 6 offers an experience that is very much cut from the same cloth as its predecessors in terms of structure- but it’s got enough quality and new ideas of its own that, even though it isn’t particularly unique, it’s still an immensely enjoyable game.”
It’s a very Far Cry plot, and it works really well. This series is always at its best when it immerses players in its worlds and brings them face-to-face with the cruelty of its magnetic villains, and though it has veered away from that to some extent in recent years, Far Cry 6 brings that side of it back into full focus. It tells an engaging story throughout, and excels in several areas. Yara is an excellent setting with a rich history and culture of its own that really gives it an incredible sense of place, more so than any other Far Cry setting in the past. Meanwhile, its cast is full of well-acted, memorable personalities, from instantly likeable supporting characters who fight alongside Dani to deplorable villains that you can’t help but enjoy taking down. Of course, Far Cry games are always expected to have great villains, and especially with Anton Castillo, played by Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad fame, Far Cry 6 shines bright. Anyone who’s seen Esposito act knows how effortlessly he can dominate any scene he’s in, and that’s very much the case here as well. Castillo doesn’t show up too often, but when he does, he instantly grabs attention.
Something else that immensely helps Far Cry 6’s storytelling is the fact that it has third person cutscenes, which is a first for this series. Rather than being tied to a restrictive first person perspective, Far Cry 6 frequently jumps to cinematic cutscenes where Dani is fully visible (and even goes third person during gameplay at times, like when you’re in camps or firing off your Supremo). This allows the game to have much more dynamic and impactful storytelling, making it much easier to get invested in. Sadly, the one truly weak point of the story is Dani Rojas himself (or herself), whose bland personality and flimsy motivations never do much to make the character likeable.
Where the gameplay is concerned, Far Cry 6 delivers the same brand of open world mayhem that the series is known for, and though it does it within a familiar structure, smart design choices elevate that structure to new heights. You’re still unleashing chaos in explosive firefights, zipping through the open world in vehicles or with your wingsuit, dismantling an oppressive regime by slowly clearing checkpoints and forts of enemies to loosen their hold. But on top of that tried-and-true foundation, Far Cry 6 builds blocks that together end up delivering what feels like a more complete and enjoyable experience.
“This series is always at its best when it immerses players in its worlds and brings them face-to-face with the cruelty of its magnetic villains, and though it has veered away from that to some extent in recent years, Far Cry 6 brings that side of it back into full focus. It tells an engaging story throughout, and excels in several areas.”
Yara, for starters, is easily the best and most immersive setting in a Far Cry game to date. It’s large and varied, and while your typical Far Cry jungles and wildlands are here in abundance, there’s also an unprecedented emphasis on urban environments and civilization. There’s a lot more life and variety in Yara than there has been in past Far Cry settings, which makes exploring it a more rewarding experience.
As you do more activities that disrupt Castillo’s regime, your Heat level begins to rise, but unlike the fleeting bursts of activity of the Wanted systems in most games, Far Cry 6’s Heat levels are a more gradual and constant climb that span long stretches. Across these stretches, the more your notoriety grows, the harder Castillo’s forces try to take you down, from more capable enemy types and larger reinforcements during fights to armoured vehicles and tanks or even air support. It lends a sense of permanence to the world, as it reacts and gradually pushes back more the more you progress and inflict chaos on your enemies.
And it pushes back in other ways as well. Combat, for instance, feels more deliberate and tactical than in previous Far Cry games, thanks to a greater emphasis on enemy variety. From snipers and armoured foes and soldiers carrying heavy weapons to medics who can revive downed enemies and foes who spray poisonous fumes at you and more, the game throws a lot of different enemy types at you in any given scenario. Enemies also make much better use of vehicles, while certain bullet types are also more effective against certain enemies. You can always go for the head and kill an enemy with one shot, but you’ll often find them wearing protective gear to make things trickier for you. There’s always a lot to think about in most firefights, and rushing in guns blazing is almost always a bad idea. Planning out your moves and methodically executing your plan – or scrambling to improvise on the fly when everything goes south – always remains fun and appropriately challenging. That’s not to say things are perfect – enemy AI in particular can be wildly inconsistent at times, especially during stealth – but the pros far outweigh the cons here.
“There’s always a lot to think about in most firefights, and rushing in guns blazing is almost always a bad idea. Planning out your moves and methodically executing your plan – or scrambling to improvise on the fly when everything goes south – always remains fun and appropriately challenging.”
Far Cry 6 also places a much greater emphasis on customization than its predecessors, which adds significant nuance to both combat and progression. Using materials you find throughout the world, you can customize your weapons in various ways. You can fashion a makeshift silencer using a used-up plastic bottle, but while it’s cheap and easy to make, its impacts the velocity of your shots and overheats too frequently, and a proper revolver will require rarer materials. You can also add different sights and scopes or modify bullets to tackle specific threats. Even the vehicles that you add to your collection throughout the game can be decked out with weapons, rams, cosmetics, and more.
Then there are the resolver weapons, which you craft using depleted uranium. It’s one of the rarest resources in the game, but with deadly makeshift weapons such as a flamethrower, a nail gun, a crossbow, and more, the rewards are worth it. What really helps Far Cry 6’s customization is the fact that it has a tight economy- it doesn’t give out resources too freely (especially the rarer ones), which means you have to think carefully about which customization you want to purchase. Each weapon has limited mod slots, you have limited resources, and each upgrade feels useful in its own way, so you’re encouraged to think about your purchases and customize your weapons to tailor to your preferred play style.
Gear is another important element of Far Cry 6’s progression, and it, too, benefits from restraint. Rather than unloading a constant barrage of loot on you, the game has a limited number of weapons and gear pieces, and with each gear piece coming with its own unique (usually useful) perk and the fact that you’re encouraged to invest hard-earned resources to upgrade your weapons, each find and addition to your inventory feels meaningful.
“If you are already sold on what Far Cry is – and make no mistake, tens of millions of people are, judging by just how successful these games tend to be – then Far Cry 6 will give you more of the same that you love, but better realized and more polished than ever before.”
Unsurprisingly for an open world game (especially one made by Ubisoft), Far Cry 6 does have some technical issues. Visually, it looks gorgeous, with Yara’s dense and lush environments worthy of praise in particular, while performance is also maintained pretty well. There are a few rough edges here and there though, like distant textures looking muddy, or pop-in, or quest markers refusing to disappear even after you’ve finished the mission. I also ran into a progress blocking bug where the character that I had to follow refused to move, which meant I couldn’t trigger the next leg of the mission. Thankfully, autosaves and checkpoints in Far Cry 6 are rather frequent. Most of these issues are pretty minor nuisances, and while they don’t affect the quality of the gameplay experience in any real way, they do make it feel less polished.
At this point, Far Cry has comfortably settled into a successful formula, and clearly, it doesn’t intend to rock the boat too much. If you are already sold on what Far Cry is – and make no mistake, tens of millions of people are, judging by just how successful these games tend to be – then Far Cry 6 will give you more of the same that you love, but better realized and more polished than ever before. If you weren’t on board with the series, or indeed, with Ubisoft’s style of open world action-adventure games already, Far Cry 6 not only does not try to change your mind, it actively does the opposite. While there are some obvious yet largely minor problems with the game, ultimately, Far Cry 6 represents the zenith of the series’ tried-and-tested formula, in the process delivering a game that is likely to provide dozens upon dozens of hours of engaging open world mayhem to most who do give it a try.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox Series X.