Review: Far Cry 6

Of all of Ubisoft’s franchises, Far Cry has always been its most interesting and daring. Unafraid to tackle taboo topics, Far Cry has always excelled at putting players in unfamiliar locations where the likes of slavery, executions and totalitarianism are common. The games have also excelled at delivering a power fantasy where narrative and gameplay blend to create well-paced adventures that served up equally exhilarating and dramatic adventures. That changed with Far Cry 5, which focused heavily on filling experience bars and gameplay while deemphasizing the narrative, and its sequel, New Dawn, which brought in unnecessary RPG elements. Far Cry 6 aims to bring back the magic of older entries with a stronger emphasis on the plot and characters, a tropical setting, and a new antagonist that’s both brutal and calculating. Can Far Cry 6 stick the landing and return the Far Cry franchise to its previous glory or is this just another paint-by-numbers Ubisoft title?

Far Cry 6 takes players to Yara, a beautiful tropical paradise caught in an endless wave of revolutions. President Anton Castillo rules over the country with an iron fist, aiming to recapture his vision of paradise with Viviro, a miracle drug capable of treating cancer that represents Yara’s ticket to international recognition. The cost to produce Viviro is high, however, forcing the outcasts of Yara into either slavery or military servitude. You play as Dani Rojas, an orphan who escapes enslavement only to witness a horrific event that sets them on a path to revolution.

While previous Ubisoft titles over the past few years have shied away from political themes, Far Cry 6 openly embraces them to tell a compelling story. It’s a story that pits players against the horrors of war, slavery and a dictator willing to do anything to restore his vision of paradise. It’s about igniting a revolution and then asking how far you’re willing to go to achieve your goals. For a game about delivering a power fantasy to players, Far Cry 6 presents a bleak yet compelling reality.

That doesn’t mean the story doesn’t know to have fun. Far Cry 6’s colorful cast of characters brings much-needed levity and humor to the plot. As you work to acquire allies for your revolution, you’ll meet the vengeful Monteros, the playful and crazy Maximas Matanzas, the old yet eccentric Legends of 67, and the Gen-Z-inspired La Moral freedom fighters. Far Cry 6 has a strong cast of likable characters, including Dani themselves. Gone are the silent protagonists of Far Cry 5 and New Dawn and the naïve, somewhat obnoxious protagonists of Far Cry 3 and 4. For the first time in a Far Cry game, players take control of a competent character, one with an actual story arc, personality and traits. Far Cry 6 has a great cast of likable characters that help keep the tone from becoming overly bleak.

Of course, it wasn’t protagonists or side characters that made Far Cry; it was the antagonists. Except for Primal and New Dawn, each Far Cry game has successfully delivered an eccentric yet crazed antagonist who steals the show, and Far Cry 6 is no different. President Anton Castillo is a brutal dictator, or ‘lion’ as he calls himself, who is doing what he thinks is right to save Yara. A warped individual whose view of the world was shaped by tragedy, Anton serves as an excellent foil for Dani and Libertad’s leader, Clara Garcia. Brilliantly portrayed by Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, The Mandalorian), Anton is a superb antagonist who steals every scene he’s in and leaves you wanting more. Sadly, you can’t say the same for his son, Diego. Despite the plot emphasizing him and his decisions as the story unfolds, Diego’s story never feels like it goes anywhere.

While Far Cry 6 has a compelling story filled with notable themes and great characters, it does stumble towards the end. While the game ends on a note that satisfies at a surface level, the ending doesn’t confront the main themes and questions raised during the story’s 30+ hours of content. Nevertheless, Far Cry 6’s story is excellent and well worth seeing to the ending, even if it doesn’t wrap everything up.

It’ll undoubtedly take a while to reach the endpoint, and there’s even more to do after the credits roll. Like all recent Ubisoft games, Far Cry 6 presents players with a large open-world map with many icons and numbers spaced out across the areas. At first glance, it’s easy to be scared that Far Cry 6 has been given the RPG treatment like Assassin’s Creed, Ghost Recon or even Far Cry 5, where proper pacing was ruined by unnecessary grinding. Thankfully, that is not the case. Instead, Far Cry 6’s story is relatively linear, getting players through its three main areas with minimal side activities required, should you not want to play them.

After completing the tutorial area of Isla Santuario, players can venture forth to Madrugada, and its tobacco fields, Valle De Oro and its swamps and coastal resorts, or El Este and its thick jungles. All the areas are neat to explore, offering a wide array of side activities to pursue, including Checkpoints and Enemy bases to capture, anti-aircraft sites to destroy, rooster fighting and Yaran Stories. They can be tackled in any order, and despite the presence of the Guerrilla Rank, rarely is being underleveled a problem in Far Cry 6. A headshot is a headshot, and a takedown is a takedown no matter your level.

Gameplay will feel familiar to fans of Far Cry. The game is still a first-person shooter with stealth, driving and flying elements layered on top. As usual, the gunplay is top-notch, giving players great control over their arsenal and a treasure trove of weapons available. Stealth remains a viable, fun way to approach encounters, though the buggy AI (both enemy and friendly) can sometimes make it a hassle. Driving controls, however, have taken a step back, feeling more floaty than previous entries. Nothing is as terrible as the plane controls, however, which are a nightmare to handle. Still, Far Cry 6 gets the most crucial part right: the gunplay.

Far Cry 6’s
wrinkle to the combat system revolves around the idea that you’re a Guerrilla that solves problems with improvisation. This leads to a whole new class of weapons and equipment dubbed Resolver Weapons and Supremos. Resolver Weapons have unique properties that make them deadly in the right situation. For example, the Pyrotechno launches fireworks for explosive damage against vehicles and enemy equipment. Meanwhile, El Bestio fires poison to help with crowd control. Likewise, the Supremos offer super-powered attacks that aid offensively or defensively. There’s a lot of customization available to help you create a Dani capable of tackling every situation. Despite this, the system ultimately feels limited by the UI. Considering the vast array of standard weapons on top of the Resolver weapons, having only three weapon slots felt limiting. It’s common to find yourself constantly opening the menu to swap out weapons in the middle of combat.

Far Cry 6 is a fun game to play around in and explore, but noticeable design and gameplay quirks hamper the experience. The insistence on customization and approaching combat your way runs counter to its setpiece moments, which rarely equip the player with the tools needed to succeed. An ambush where you escape in the bed of a truck without an LMG or a helicopter boss fight that starts you in an enclosed space while being peppered with AOE attacks are some moments that lead to frustration. Much of this isn’t helped by the sluggish healing system that slows down movement and forces you to watch a long animation. While syringes are in the game, they’re considered a late-game projectile you must unlock and not craftable items that can be used in a whim like in previous games.

Then there are other minor quirks that are odd, including the lack of manual saving and loading, the transitions between first and third person, and the replacement of the dedicated rock-throwing button. Some of these quirks cause significant headaches, like the game not properly saving where you think it should, and some are just puzzling changes from previous games. Meanwhile, the weird transitions from first and third-person are disorienting, and feel like they’re only there so players can look at outfits purchasable in the in-game store. Far Cry 6 is still a blast to play with a lot going for it, but the setpieces and some design and gameplay changes are real headscratchers.

One element that has remained consistent across all Far Cry games is the presentation. Ubisoft and its teams (plus Crytek for Far Cry) have always delivered stunning open worlds filled with lush vegetation, realistic weather effects and warm lighting. So it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that Far Cry 6 continues that tradition. From sandy shores to watery swamps to rain-soaked urban streets, Far Cry 6 rarely strays away from breathtaking. Despite a handful of visual bugs that can pop up time-to-time, this is a beautiful game, particularly on current-gen consoles and PC.

For the first time, a Far Cry game runs at 60 frames-per-second on consoles, at least if you’re playing on PS5 or Xbox Series X|S. The result is a majority smooth experience when running around the world with a few minor hiccups now and again. There may not be a raytracing mode on consoles, but the high-quality presentation mixed with smooth performance is well worth the trade-off.

Closing Comments

The Far Cry franchise’s long history has come with a wide array of ups and downs. There have been excellent titles, mediocre titles and forgotten titles within its history. Far Cry 6 finds itself sitting close to the excellent titles thanks to its strong plot, characters, world design, gameplay and presentation. It’s a dark tale, one that explores some of the worst aspects of humanity, but balances itself out with a colorful cast of characters that display different rays of hope for a better future. The world is fun to explore, filled with a batch of great side activities, and never once compromises the story’s pacing. The gameplay is smooth and responsive, though the AI needs fine-tuning to be more consistent. It’s all wrapped up in a beautiful presentation that truly transports players to paradise, at least when nothing terrible is happening. That’s not to say the game doesn’t have its quirks and questionable decisions, and many of its core gameplay loops contradict themselves when a setpiece moment shows up, but there’s still a lot of good to be found here. Yara may be an awful place to live, but playing Far Cry 6 is well worth the trip to the rotten paradise.

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