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What would the world tolerate to cure cancer? Far Cry 6 doesn’t pull their punches on the hard question, showing a world where a Caribbean country discovers the secret and is willing to leverage that cure for pure power. Enslaving his own citizens and political opponents, Yara’s ‘El Presidente’ will lean on this miracle solution to glean a way of constructing his own version of paradise. Even worse, no other nation dares to stop him — so the Yarans will have to do it themselves.
While the Far Cry series is known to bring you to isolated locations — like Kyrat or Hope County — Ubisoft has decided to open the world. And with it, a modern ethical backdrop that is equally horrifying and realistic. Setup against a modern backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and global unrest, Far Cry 6 is the most topically poignant setting and story to date. Thankfully, that is just scratching the surface.
Earlier this week, I got to spend roughly four hours with Ubisoft deep-diving into Far Cry 6 and the world of Yara — mostly covering the first couple hours of gameplay before getting a taste of later-game equipment and co-op. It was challenging, surprising, and in ways totally unique from previous entrants in the series, games I have poured hundreds of hours in. In short, this is among the most ambitious overhauls in the series.
Far Cry 6 Gameplay, Setting, and Story — Yara is Rich with Improvements
Love it or hate it, Far Cry 5 took an entirely new direction in the series’ infamous legacy. Gone were many of the key touchstones of the franchise — for example, radio tower scouting (and all its Ubisoftness) was out the door, and the game embraced a truly voiceless, generic main character. Additionally, the game tended to straddle the line between a modern immersive low-UI approach and the more traditional arcadey style.
Far Cry 6 fine-tunes all of these points a bit closer, learning from some of the past criticisms. On one end, the main missions (or at least the four hours I played of it) seemed entirely less formulaic in approach. Whether I was searching the local bar to find a drunken guerilla legend or airdropping onto a local military ship to clear out the crew, no two main story missions felt the same.
Meanwhile, there is a true return to form from Far Cry 5 and Far Cry: New Dawn with the return of a fully acted, named protagonist. While the series has felt content to let the main antagonists and side characters paint the picture of pre-and post-apocalyptic Hope County, the islands of Yara have a much more history-rich backdrop. And donning the cap of a refugee-turned-guerilla fighter as Dani Rojas puts you squarely in the middle of the action.
After four hours of looking behind every corner, I feel like I barely scratched the surface of what Yara (both story and gameplay) had to offer.
It can’t be understated what a solid addition adding a named, fully-acted protagonist is to the Far Cry series. Instead of a blank avatar being led from plot point to plot point, there are meaningful stakes that ground your character to the world. You are no longer an outsider-gone-rogue (see Jason Brody or Ajay Ghale), but instead a part of the rich tapestry of Yara. It makes sense why the guerillas (sceptically) trust you, or why Dani wants to liberate the island from the iron grip of Antón Castillo (played by the legendary Giancarlo Esposito).
Speaking of Castillo, the measure of a Far Cry game is truly the antagonists and their own flavor of unique villainy they bring. And actor Giancarlo Esposito truly delivers in the role — his take on a tyrannical dictator is often where he shines the brightest and will bring back fond memories of those needing some Los Pollos Hermano nostalgia.
While Far Cry 6 has me hooked from the start with a strong antagonist, rich world, and a terrific set-up, the only massive concern I have is whether they will utilize Castillo / Esposito throughout. The series is notorious for bookending the stars of the show, with a strong beginning and end. After the intro scene, I can’t say I saw hide nor tail of Castillo (though I spent a long stretch of time off the beaten path); it would be a shame if such a strong actor got pushed only to the outer perimeters of the story.
However, I’m also open to change! Ubisoft has made a strong bet that the future of Far Cry is in fully-voiced protagonists and a stronger narrative, and the tweaking of that formula may smooth over the occasional ‘slow middle’ of older games. After four hours of looking behind every corner, I feel like I barely scratched the surface of what Yara (both story and gameplay) had to offer.
Far Cry 6 — Musings and Favorites Over Four Hours
This hands-on gameplay demo was (without a doubt) the longest of my writing career in gaming, which gives a certain comfort to a strong recommendation. I didn’t see a vertical slice of Yara — I got a glimpse into the full world, side missions, main missions, and a glimpse into future content ideas (whether that was intended to be seen is still up in the air). On the other hand, there was so much at my disposal that it’s almost tough highlighting some of the best moments.
That’s a lie, it was burning down a tobacco camp with flamethrowers with some folk music vibing in the background. That was the best part.
But more importantly, it leaves a few more bullet points to need to be mentioned:
- Horses: No longer are you chained to broken down vehicles and tanks! Get ready to ride some (shockingly) fast horses, that give you benefits against avoiding spikes at checkpoints.
- Papers Please: In lieu (or maybe in addition) to overtaking camps, El Presidente’s military checkpoints are the name of the game. Run into them, tear down posters, clear enemies, and you have established a foothold.
- Companions: Expect to see them, and you can double up if you are playing in co-op. But (realistically) all your need is Guapo and Chorizo, the friendly alligator and differently abled dauschaund.
- Let’s Get Ready to Rumble: Super abilities have been added, and are fully customizable based on what you choose to upgrade the massive launcher with. More than a few times it saved my butt as I cleared out camps, launching a mixture of smoke grenades and molotovs in one blast.
- There are no bad cigars, only better ones: Especially when they are putting out your wounds for a quick heal
- Florida Fanatics: The game is best enjoyed if you’ve lived anywhere around the Sunshine State; there’s a ton of fun references, especially if you can take a dig at Kissimmee here or there.
With some massive exceptions, many gamers have felt reverberations from a COVID-19 development slump. While some games have been released unfinished, others have been pushed out endlessly into the future. Far Cry 6 feels like a return to normalcy. A fully realized world and product, well-considered and evolved from previous titles, taking zero compromises along the way. I’m excited about it, and fans of the series and genre should be too.