Far Cry 6 at best feels like an ode to its series brethren. Subtle flashbacks, reflected through familiar mission structures — call backs to Far Cry 2 and Far Cry 3 — will generate a strong sense of nostalgia for the more diehard series fans. Slick gunplay, an initially intimidating yet welcomed refining of the loadout system, and the sheer size of the game world will give off the illusion of an open-world playground, boosting Far Cry 6‘s mainstream appeal. At its worst, Far Cry 6 has a familiar sense of experimentation that enacts emotions of frustration and cluelessness, often making the experience feel like a genuine chore to play.
Therein lies Far Cry 6‘s biggest problem. It feels like the quintessential early-gen Ubisoft game. Think back to Assassin’s Creed in 2007, Watch Dogs in 2014, or The Division in 2016. Objectively, those games were fine: solid foundations padded by a soup of new and old gameplay fundamentals. But it was hard to shake the lack of identity those game possessed, and soon it was obvious that they were the lead-in to far bigger and better things.
Even though Far Cry 6 has many, many entries before it, it feels like a testing ground for a new Far Cry era. Is it really fair to fault this? This is a studio, a publisher, and company that prides itself on sheer variety and dynamic nature of its gaming portfolio, and it’s quite clearly trying to shake things up with Far Cry 6. In isolation, this is a fairly stock-standard, at-times highly enjoyable open-world extravaganza. It spends a lot of time introducing new core fundamentals in a brazen attempt to redefine the Far Cry identity. Sometimes it works well, and other times it’s just frustrating
There are some clear standouts here. Far Cry 6 feels far more tactical than its predecessors, and I love that about it. Its loadout system, no longer tied to XP and instead reliant on loot drops, character level and enemy level in a rather significant breakaway from the series’ skill-tree systems, ties in well with this enhanced sense of strategic combat. There are familiar elements from The Division, Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell present here. Not since Far Cry 2 have I felt as inclined to scope and assess an area before entering.
Combine this with an enemy level structure and variety, and you have a heightened sense of urgency on perfecting your loadout. Some enemies will have vulnerability to explosive rounds, while others in the same area are vulnerable to armor piercing rounds. Scoping out a workbench — they’re plentiful and typically located outside enemy strongholds — assessing your loadout, crafting new weapon mods, and entering enemy territory packing will go a long way towards quick eradication.
Those backpacks you’ve seen countless times in trailers and heard about in previews pack as much of a punch as you might imagine: these “Supremos”, as they’re called, vary in damage and strategy to such a degree as to have significant impact on a battlefield. Need to take out a tank? You’ll need something that shoots out explosives. Too many enemies and not enough of the ammunition needed to effectively take them out? Gas them and turn them on one another. Scoped multiple enemy alarms? Set off an EMP and send nearby enemies flying through the air.
As you might imagine, these encounters can go from 0 to 100 pretty quickly, and understanding the enemies you’re facing, where your character level currently sits, and what weapons you’re actually taking into a battle have major say in the outcome of an insurgence. At least initially. With time you’ll of course master this entire process, likely finding yourself taking out multiple enemies in one go and barely having to shoot a round. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: there’s a weird sense of satisfaction in getting through an enemy stronghold without an alarm going off, not taking any damage, and not being seen or found by the enemy.
Amigos, friendly animal sidekicks that follow you around the world, feed into this enhanced strategic philosophy. My favourite, a charming alligator named Guapo, has a range of attacks and distraction techniques, allowing you to swoop in and finish off an enemy while he chomps down on their torso. They’re all useful in some capacity: Chorizo the two-legged puppy has an actual distraction passive ability, boosting your stealth capacity should you wish to move in and out of an area without making too much noise.
“[Far Cry 6] spends a lot of time introducing new core fundamentals in a brazen attempt to redefine the Far Cry identity. Sometimes it works well, and other times it’s just frustrating“
All of the above combines for what can be some really fun gunplay and battles, but I feel it still has some way to go before truly winning over the Far Cry faithful. Pretty much every area you enter is going to demand a particular type of loadout, and if you made a mistake or don’t have the right weapon, you’re going to die very quickly or find yourself scrambling to find a workbench to change your loadout. The fact these workbenches are fairly common makes this feel like less of a chore, but this variation, while welcomed in part due to the sheer strategic demand it brings, makes it difficult to ever truly get comfortable with a single weapon.
Enemies also now have health meters above them, and this is going to cause a lot of frustration for a lot of players early on. If you don’t have the right weapon type, a single headshot on an enemy, at least the first time, will deal almost zero damage. I’ve fired rounds into the head of an enemy with a sniper from distance and seen less than a quarter of their health meter reduce. This might feed into Ubisoft’s plans to introduce ongoing enemy strongholds and cooperative areas with relative enemy difficulty ala The Division, but Far Cry 6 doesn’t effectively tell you of the damage penalty relative to your ammunition type.
Scoping an area prior to entering will leave little markers across each respective enemy’s head, allowing you to keep track of each enemy’s strengths and weaknesses. But the icons often get lost in a flurry of explosions and chaos, and having to swap out weapons or rush to a workbench often makes for a not-so-enjoyable bout. Far Cry for me has always been defined by the uncertainty and unpredictability of its gunfights, and being able to fight your way through and out of strongholds has been what’s made the series fun for so long. The strategic elements I spoke to earlier are fantastic in theory, and sometimes they work well, but when they don’t it can make particular parts of the experience feel like a genuine chore. One second I can be scoping enemies in one shot, and other times I can be unloading a full clip and causing next to no damage.
There’s room for improvement here. I think where this system can go is potentially changing the outline or marker of an enemy to signify the effectiveness and damage potential relative to the weapon you have active. For example, a bright read enemy might signify an unbalanced advantage to the enemy across their level, ammo type, weapon, health, and armor, whereas a green enemy might indicate an advantage in your favour. Without this, it’s really a case of trial and error, and you’ll find yourself backing out of fights and returning with the right loadout, time and time again.
When it all comes together, however, there are some sound foundations here, and again this goes back to what I mentioned before: it’s quite clear that Far Cry 6 is setting the groundwork for something bigger down the track. When you factor the game’s change weapon loadout and gear system, enemy and character levels, and just the general progression and placement of enemies around the map, it’s clear that Ubisoft is planning to turn the game into somewhat of a co-op service, and a Battle Royale seem utterly inevitables. They’re not even trying to hide it.
“It’s clear that Ubisoft is planning to turn the game into somewhat of a co-op service, and a Battle Royale seem utterly inevitable. They’re not even trying to hide it.”
So what of the game’s actual world, story, and characters? Well, none of it’s groundbreaking, but that’s hardly a dealbreaker. One of my main gripes here is how uninspiring and dull the game’s first few hours are. You’re stuck on a small island, preying for the game to open up more, and not much of what occurs during this tutorial got me excited for what comes next. A cheeky nod to Netflix series Money Heist (at least I thought it was a reference, otherwise it’s an unimaginative rip off) sets the scene early with some explosiveness and memorable action, but beyond that I was craving more action and freedom. Once things open up, however, it’s an expansive playground, and the scale ramps up considerably within a matter of minutes of finally moving off the island.
Playing Far Cry 6 did have me reminiscing about a recent polarising open-world game: Cyberpunk 2077. Far Cry 6 has made me realise how important Cyberpunk is, because it sets a very high bar on a number of fronts. That game’s not perfect, of course, and it never quite reaches expectations, but that’s because those expectations were so high. The mission, side-mission and story structure in that game is a highly complex weave of emotion and creativity, blended between slick character development and likeable anti-heroes. Far Cry 6 by comparison feels like a Call of Duty campaign: fun, some unique new elements, but a mostly familiar genre romp.
This romp is amplified by frequent amps in urgency and action: I particularly love it when I’m so “hot” that I have a literal army after me. There are added elements of strategic structure hidden beneath Far Cry 6‘s core — medics for example can heal fallen foes, and should be prioritised targets — but I never felt truly rushed to oblige and embrace these strategies, given that I’m eventually at such a level that they never pose any real threat to my existence or success. Surrounding this is a cliche-riddled tale of revolution that never feels like more than a slightly more complex and layered Just Cause tale.
The Final Verdict
Far Cry 6 has a lot to like, just as much to question, and plenty to forget. If the objective is to set foundations for something to work with, then it’s a raging success. But if you’re looking for something groundbreaking, then you might be waiting until the next Far Cry entry. The future of Far Cry 6 is going to be an interesting one, and if Ubisoft’s obvious attempt at expanding the game’s online world proves a successful one, there’s plenty to work with here. On the face of it, however, Far Cry 6 is really just “Far Cry“, with some ambitious changes that desperately try to reshape the franchise’s identity … for better or worse.
Far Cry 6 was reviewed on Xbox Series X from a review copy provided by Ubisoft.