While playing through Far Cry 6, I kept flipping back and forth between two emotions: disillusionment and enjoyment. Disillusionment because of the ever-familiar gameplay and the confusing progression systems and enjoyment because of the invigorating narrative choices and fun side quests. But, by the end credits rolled, my enjoyment wavered – Far Cry 6 ultimately felt like the same old game we’ve played countless times before.
Far Cry games are, by their nature, pretty formulaic games and Far Cry 6 does very little to break that mould. However, the biggest positive I can find over its predecessors is the way in which Ubisoft uses the antagonist this time around. Giancarlo Esposito’s Antón Castillo is a formidable character, whose unpredictable nature makes him like most Far Cry villains. However, the moments in which you see him ruling from his giant tower in the middle of Yara’s capital, Esperenza, give you a great insight into the mind of the man, and an eye-opening look at his motives and actions. And, with all great villains, he’s even more terrifying when you meet him face to face.
For once, Ubisoft doesn’t bungle the final moments with this antagonist, with the last five or so hours of the game dedicated to Anton and his son Diego, giving him the largest, most prevalent role of an antagonist in any recent Far Cry game. Plus, the final mission manages to throw in some unexpected twists that felt fresh, giving the game real vigour that it had been missing in earlier parts of the game.
While Ubisoft does a better job at handling its villain this time around, Castillo still isn’t in Far Cry 6 nearly enough, especially in the first half of the game. Instead, your time is spent building up the Libertad Resistance to take down Castillo. This involves completing a mission chain of about a dozen Operations for each of the three forces you want to add to the resistance.
Two of the three factions provide interesting and unique characters that really help energise the story. The character storylines that I really connected with come from the younger and more diverse cast, which allows Ubisoft to flex their muscles a bit and get more creative with personalities. Also, some of the side quests are the best in the series, such as exploring a haunted house and chasing after a bomb-strapped pelican.
Despite those highlights, the open-world busywork of Far Cry games is at its worst in Far Cry 6. At any given moment, the map is literally covered with red icons and bases for you to clear out, to the point where there must be close to 100 of them spread out across Yara.
Add in treasure hunts, side quests, and other small collectibles and Far Cry 6 really doesn’t do much to evolve its open-world blueprint and actually feels stuck in the last generation of consoles.
Speaking of being stuck in the last generation, we need to talk about the cutscenes. They look considerably rough, with fluctuating frame rates and some less than stellar animations. It isn’t a drastic decrease in quality, but compared to the gorgeous open world of Yara that ran smoothly for me in my 50 or so hours with the game on PS5, they stand out like a sore thumb.
The most drastic change to Far Cry 6 is the new mods system, and, while it’s nice to see some innovation, I’m not a huge fan of it. The skill system that has been a staple of the series for more than a decade has been entirely ripped out and replaced by mods that you can install on weapons, your Supremo backpacks, and even your armour.
These mods basically do what skills did in past games: increase your ammo for a specific weapon type, provide you with more resistance against explosions, allow you to hold more gadgets – you get the gist. However, you only have about 30 mod slots across your entire range of gear, with considerable more to choose from. This means that you are limited in what you can upgrade. While in Far Cry 5 and previous games you would be able to hold more ammo and gadgets, deal extra damage, gain new abilities, and more, in Far Cry 6 you feel severely restricted in comparison.
Far Cry is a game all about having a power fantasy, blowing up containers and vehicles left, right, and centre, and bolstering your strength in numbers. In Far Cry 6, that just isn’t the case. Instead, you spend the entire game at basically the same power level, simply switching out one weapon or Supremo for another.
Nevertheless, gunplay in Far Cry 6 is as you remember – sharp and punchy, but not the most precise. The wealth of unique weapons in the game also adds some flavour, as they can be found throughout the world and have stylish camos and come equipped with mods that feel perfectly tuned to make you feel more powerful. This lessens the blow of the removal of the skill system slightly.
Beyond your traditional gameplay, Far Cry 6 is stacked with mini-games like dominos and cockfighting, the latter of which is probably the best addition to the game from a gameplay perspective. Think Tekken but with some riled up roosters.
You’ve also got Los Bandidos, which are small text adventures that are built into the game that you can complete on the fly. These adventures also dip Far Cry even further into the live-service waters as completion of them is time-gated based on the passage of time in the real world. Add to that the Insurgency system, which is a weekly rotation of objectives you can complete, and it’s clear which direction Ubisoft is taking the series.
It even has end-game Special Operations that provide special, powerful gear and take place in different locations, away from Yara. Plus, there’s all of that free DLC still to come too.
On the whole, Far Cry 6 is a solid step forward for the franchise and how it tells its stories, even if it is still a little too dependent on its old gameplay formula. From a story perspective, it feels like the series has grown up a little bit and it does a better job at tackling the political aspects of Yara and Castillo’s rule. Esposito delivers a fantastic performance – despite the criticism levelled at him and Ubisoft – and the younger cast adds a sense of spirit to the series that was missing from recent entries.
But it’s that lack of any real gameplay innovation, and some major missteps when it comes to progression, that ultimately hold back Far Cry 6 from being the best and most satisfying entry in the series.
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Far Cry 6 makes some meaningful narrative improvements, helped by a fantastic performance by Esposito. However, repetitive and familiar gameplay, combined with a restrictive progression system, means changes are needed in the future if Ubisoft wants the series to continue.