A shallow, uninspiring open world slog
It has not been a good year for the gaming industry. Beyond the tepid dribble of big games over the past 12 months to the more serious allegations levelled against different gaming companies, 2021 has been a nasty black cloud hanging over this industry.
At the center of this sits Ubisoft, and I’m sure there will be some people reading this wondering just why I’m bringing the abuse up in a game review. Well, given Ubisoft have made minimal changes to their workplace since those allegations, it’s perhaps a sick sense of irony that nothing has really changed between Far Cry 5 and 6.
Uninspiring and grindy, Ubisoft’s shooter is basically the same game it’s been since Far Cry 3, with very little changes beyond aesthetic paint jobs or story overhauls. While I’m not advocating for a huge change with the game mechanics here, little tweaks to gunplay, AI and level design would not have gone amiss – but you’ll be hard-pressed to find much in the way of creative juices flowing through this one.
The story of Far Cry 6 takes place on the island of Yara. Gabriel Castillo is elected president and promises stability with the creation of a new cancer treatment drug called “Viviro.” Seven years later and workers are enslaved to work on the tobacco fields and the country’s armed forces (known as the FND) begin rounding up citizens in the capital of Esperanza.
In the wake of this, Dani Rojas, who lives in the middle of Esperanza, plans to escape to Miami. Unfortunately things go awry and Dani finds herself in a desperate struggle to topple Castillo, uniting with the anti-Castillo forces under the flag of Libertad. In order to take back control, it’s up to Dani to recruit several different factions to join her cause and strike back against this maniacal war criminal.
For anyone who has played a Far Cry game before, the gameplay is pretty much exactly the same as what you’ve come to expect. The island you’re inhabiting is broken up into different territories inhabited by military leaders (just like Far Cry 5) with the intention here on recruiting rebels in each area before storming Esperanza, which holds Castillo and his cronies.
Only…it’s pointless. I won’t go into spoiler territory but honestly the faction recruitment is simply busywork. It doesn’t have any meaningful effect on the end-result, with the final fight just sorta ends so abruptly without much aplomb.
The missions range from your conventional firefights, ambushes and getaway driving through to more egregious and grindy fetch quests. There are even a few pointless missions that see you get drunk, deface posters and party. Yay? Given the fact Dani is on a tight schedule to try and take back Yara, these main missions do absolutely nothing to help with the story or pacing.
To be fair though, some of the missions are brilliant. A few of the treasure hunts, and a hunt for relics are imaginatively designed while a couple of the story missions, including storming a fort, are great fun.
The aesthetic is admittedly slick and there’s definitely some variation to the different terrains and areas. Swamps, forests, big cityscapes and shantytowns are plentiful, and these locales pop nicely on the Playstation 5. There is a noticeable different between PS4 and PS5 versions, with the former plagued with some pretty horrendous load times.
Of course, in true Far Cry fashion you’ve got your usual array of busywork checklists to work through too, ranging from collectibles like USB sticks and roosters, right the way through to taking back checkpoints and FND bases from enemies.
The guns here are all largely the same; variations we’ve seen from previous games including shotguns, grenade launchers, pistols and machine guns, to name a few. They’re all plentiful and strewn out across the landscape, allowing you to play the way you want. To be honest, I kept my silenced rifle obtained at the start almost the entirety of the game, such is the effectiveness of hitting a well-aimed headshot.
There are lots of opportunities to collect “unique weapons” too, which are found in different chests, treasure hunts or side quests. While these do offer a bit of incentive to go searching, given how woeful the AI actually is (more on that in a bit), there’s not much incentive to hunt around, unless you want to grab the illusive platinum trophy of course.
And this is a problem for balancing of weapons. Given I was able to blast through this game with relative ease after upgrading my starter weapon with a silencer and armour piercing bullets, finding any other weapons is simply not needed – especially as you can’t upgrade the unique weapons the way you want.
Spicing things up a bit is the inclusion of “resolver” weapons and Supremo backpacks. Each of these serve to tinker your equipment load-out in a specific way. They also allow an opportunity for a special move of sorts when fully loaded. It’s a nice idea but between this and the “amigos” (animal sidekicks that help you in battle) there’s very little else that’s original here.
The sense of Deja vu in this game is just too great to ignore. We’ve done this before, we’ve taken these areas back from enemies before and we’ve seen these same tired, unskippable cutscenes of liberated areas before. Even the animations are the same this time around, with animal attacks almost identical to previous Far Cry games. On the plus side, it’s better than Call Of Duty: Vanguard, which doesn’t even bother to animate this in, but it still feels disappointing, especially given the 3 year wait between titles.
Enemies in this game are absolutely atrocious. Soldiers run into walls, find themselves stuck on scenery, throw grenades aimlessly and move unimaginatively across the battlefield. Oh, and that’s before mentioning the four different enemy designs. There’s generic female soldier 1, generic female soldier 2, generic male soldier 1 and generic male soldier 2. Slap some armour onto those bad boys, switch up the weapons and we’ve got ourselves an army!
Whether it be “Action Mode” or “Story Mode”, the generic visual design and the woeful AI really breaks the immersion in the game. Take, as an example, Killzone 2. Guerrilla’s masterful shooter came out in 2009 and that AI is leaps and bounds above what’s here.
The final point I’d like to make about Far Cry 6 is its microtransactions. Yes, they’re optional and cosmetic but the game plays a few particularly nasty little tricks to try and entice you to buy items from the shop. Glowing TVs and an accompanying icon in each of the camps allows you to jump straight in and buy the Vaas Insanity DLC. The game’s load-up screen also promotes this, as does the first time you boot the game up, with a big splash screen you need to navigate past.
And if that wasn’t enough, before you leave the first island you’re given 300 Far Cry Credits. This is enough to unlock a few icons on the map (highly recommended to do for the USB Stick locations) but nowhere near enough to buy anything decent. Then again, it does the trick and gets you onto the shop, which is Ubi’s aim here. However, it does feel particularly forceful here, in a game that lacks polish and finesse.
The end-game is the best example to show how little care has been put into this. After toppling Castillo and his forces, the world is largely unchanged. The only difference now is that things grow harder and enemies are a bit more beefed up. Insurgency leaders spring up and you’re given special missions to take them out. All good so far, right? Well, when things get hot and heavy, a screen flashes up telling you that “Castillo’s Special Forces” are after you… even those Castillo and his special forces are gone.
I mentioned in my last review for Far Cry 5 that this franchise was in desperate need of an overhaul. And much like Ubisoft execs haven’t listened to its workforce to cut out the abuse, Far Cry 6 hasn’t listened to its fanbase to make meaningful changes to push this franchise forward. This is a shallow, uninspiring open world slog.
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Verdict - 5/10