Far Cry 6: Same Game, All Over Again
Reading Time: 4 minutes
“Far Cry 6” begins like every “Far Cry” before it: with wanton violence. The game opens with a man having his head blown open five feet to your left and follows with a whirlwind of bullet shells, fire, and shrapnel that leaves you the sole survivor of a bloody massacre. It’s intense, but by no means unexpected from the franchise. In fact, there is almost nothing “Far Cry 6” does that hasn’t been done before—it knows its formula. That being said, for those willing to delve into the insanity and stupidity of “Far Cry” for the millionth time, there’s a lot of fun to be found.
“Far Cry 6” takes place in the Cuba-inspired island nation of Yara, which is led by a brutal dictator Anton Castillo (Giancarlo Esposito). You play as Dani Rojas (Sean Rey and Nisa Gunduz), a guerilla rebel fighting to topple Castillo’s regime, which has been enslaving its own people to manufacture a cancer-curing super drug. For all the marketing that went into presenting “Far Cry 6” as a serious game about war crimes, revolution, and human rights, it’s surprising how quickly its tone devolves into that of a C-grade action flick. “Far Cry” addresses the real-world political issues in its story with all the tact and intelligence expected from a game that waits fewer than 30 minutes to give you a pet crocodile and a rocket launcher backpack. Storylines about human experimentation, imperialism, and nationalism are mixed in with crocodile hunting, deep-sea fishing, and street racing, making the politics seem like a drag and the side missions like fillers. Castillo, despite being central to both the game’s advertising and plot, is absent for most of its 20+ hour playtime. Esposito is fantastic when he’s on-screen, but it undoubtedly would’ve helped the game’s paper-thin narrative if he was more present throughout the campaign.
One welcome change to the “Far Cry” structure is Dani, the first protagonist in the series’s nine games to be more than a stoic killing machine. Dani is fully voiced as both a man and a woman (though she is canonically female), and fluent in a language other than the testosterone-fueled grunts and the standard one-word answers for video game heroes. This bolsters the story, which is based around her forming relationships with the many revolutionaries of Yara, and also makes the often heavily gamified non-plot related content a lot more immersive. It’s difficult to maintain the illusion of reality when a player can, at any moment, walk into a hotel and flamethrower 40 soldiers, but Dani’s deep connection to Yara and its people goes a long way in making every moment of the game seem significant. Instead of just being an empty vessel for committing atrocities, she serves as a reminder of the world and story of the game, doing her best to stop “Far Cry 6” from being another mindless murder simulator.
It doesn’t work—“Far Cry” is, first and foremost, a shooter game. It may, on occasion, emphasize puzzles or plot, but the key to moving forward is almost always found in your comically large arsenal of machine guns and explosives. And, though the action can lack depth, combat in “Far Cry 6” works well. Enemies are both easy to kill and surprisingly hard-hitting, meaning precise aim and intelligent positioning are rewarded (at least until the player does too many side missions and becomes massively over-leveled). There’s still the typical “Far Cry” insanity—players can hijack tanks, jet pack through the air, and kamikaze into attack helicopters—but it’s supplemented by solid gunplay and stealth systems. The game’s over-the-top action rarely fits into the story in any meaningful way, but it's fun nonetheless. “Far Cry” plots are usually just sinew, stretching to connect disparate acts of violence committed on the player’s whims, and that’s all they need to be.
The few shortcomings of combat are found in the changes “Far Cry 6” tries to make to its formula. In a strange bid to add needless complexity to the already chaotic action, the player is given a seemingly endless collection of extra gear, all specialized ever-so-slightly for certain situations. Luckily, the game isn’t nearly difficult enough to necessitate any real use of this relatively shallow item management system; two ammo types and one set of armor are all you really need. While by no means game-breaking, it shouldn’t be overlooked that the saving grace of “Far Cry 6’s” updates is that they can be ignored.
More in line with the classic “Far Cry” experience is the game’s massive open-world map that is still a delight, despite the format being overused by every mainstream release since 2015. Yara is huge, beautifully designed, and chock-full of things to do. Some of the side activities are absolute wastes of time (like the controversial and poorly designed cockfighting minigame), but if you can sift through the junk, you’ll find a few absolute gems. In terms of more core content, the map is also littered with government checkpoints to take over and anti-aircraft guns to blow up, opening up roads or airspace. These missions are a lot more similar to the bullet-spraying action of the main campaign and offer less of a reprieve than, say, going on a fishing trip. However, they give a very tangible reward by making the often difficult act of travel much easier. Yara is full of enemies, patrolled by convoys and men on horseback, so the ability to make your long trips across the map in the safety of a car or helicopter is something players come to value quickly.
“Far Cry 6” is a mixed bag. It is, above all, dumb as hell. Despite its attempt at serious, meaningful storytelling, the best it can muster is a few lines about freedom and a few graphic depictions of human rights violations before it defaults back to tried-and-true extravagant violence. As a game, it’s at its best as stupid fun, when it’s not in over its head with some half-baked political narrative. “Far Cry 6” plays it safe with its formula, never straying far from the well-trodden path, but never making any big mistakes either. There’s nothing new about “Far Cry 6,” but at least it’s copying something decent.