I would be lying if I were to tell you that I wasn't worried in the leadup to Far Cry 6's launch on October 7. We hadn't managed to secure ourselves a review-copy of the game, and the pre-release marketing just seemed to be confused, messy, and down-right bizarre. The concept of spending hard-earned money on the game worried me. Was I wasting those sixty bucks?
The bizarreness of the game's marketing translated, however, through to the game itself, and despite my frustration at the game's plotting, that bizarreness worked wonders. Gone is that fake-serious tone of Far Cry 5, with Far Cry 6 embracing the absurd in a way that other games should take note of. There is no serious comment here on, well, anything. It's an action-packed, open-world, sandbox bonanza, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Far Cry 6 Review: Castillo's Yara
Giancarlo Esposito gives a breathtaking performance as Far Cry 6's chief villain, Anton Castillo. The mood is somber and creepy when he enters the scene, with some true standout moments (that we won't spoil) throughout his 45 minutes of on-screen time. Honestly, though, Castillo is both Far Cry 6's greatest strength and greatest weakness. His performance is fantastic, but the plotting is disjointed, and often Castillo's motivations seem uneven and gratuitous just for the shock value.
At times, Far Cry 6 seems to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. After all, this is a silly game about blowing stuff up in increasingly bizarre and entertaining ways. It's a game about pet crocodiles and deadly sausage dogs, a game about CD-Guns and rocket-firing backpacks, yet it seems at times that Esposito's grim persona counteracts this bizarreness. That being said, when he's on the ball, or when he plays into the satirical nature of his characterization, Esposito's Anton Castillo rivals Vaas as one of, if not the best villain in Far Cry's history.
The game is otherwise exceptionally well cast, with all of the main characters delivering stand-out performances. Oh, and what fantastic characters they are. From Dani Rojas singing along to the radio, to Libertad's fearless leader Clara García, Far Cry 6's cast of characters are colourful and full of personality. All of the villains are incredibly entertaining too, with a special shoutout going to Maria Marquessa, Castillo's Minister of Culture.
Far Cry 6 Review: A Huge, Joyful World
Joyful is the perfect word to describe Far Cry 6. It might be big, there might be all of those tropes that we've come to expect, but the game returns to that tropical island setting we came to love in Far Cry 3, and with it brings a sense of exploration and beauty we haven't seen in years. One concern we always have when Ubisoft release yet-another open-world game is whether the open world is going to be overwhelming, bloated, and incomprehensible.
That was the case in Far Cry 5, but not Far Cry 6. The thing that helps Far Cry 6 is that it is a much faster game, with a huge variety in the way you can tackle certain situations. There is also more of an incentive to complete the many side objectives littered around Yara. If you want to be able to drive at high speeds consistently, take out those checkpoints. If you want to be a successful pilot, you should take out those anti-aircraft guns. The best part, though? It's all insanely fun to do.
The Cuba-style island of Yara is indeed huge, but it never feels unwieldy in the same way a game like Assassin's Creed: Valhalla feels. You can follow the narrative pretty consistently, so you do not get bogged down in things like levelling up to unlock the next mission. This is a hugely positive step, and especially for someone like myself who has limited time to put into a game like this. It's big enough, and full enough with entertaining activities to complete, to keep those of you who have a hundred hours on your hands. On the flip side, it is completely manageable for those of you who only want to dedicate 15-20 hours to the game.
Honestly, there's just an insane amount to talk about when it comes to Far Cry 6's world. It is beautiful, vast, and full. It echoes the themes of the narrative, and is full of NPCs clearly living in fear of the ruling class. It is also full of formidable animals to fight (seriously, I have never encountered a Mongoose that can take twenty bullets before?) and harvest. There is so much to see, do, and explore, that Far Cry 6's map could be the best to have ever graced the series.
Far Cry 6 Review: Violent Solutions to Violent Problems
No matter how far into Far Cry 6 you get, you never get tired of engaging with this expertly created world. Weapons have a real oomph to them, and the new customization helps to personalize your loadout to meet your individual play style. That being said, this new-found customization also comes with a disadvantage, and is a fundamental weakness of Far Cry 6.
Yes, there is a lot of customization to be done in Far Cry 6, but there is little reason to engage with it very much, nor to complete the various side activities, mini-games, and co-op features in the game. It all feels superfluous to the flow of the game's main content. Why would I stop to play cockfighting when I could jump into an airplane and fly over to the other side of the map? It seems unnecessary, with the weapon customization especially seeming a little unutilized.
Honestly, you can get the game with minor upgrades to the initial Supremo, one gun with soft-target rounds, another with armor-piercing rounds, some molotovs, grenades, possibly a sniper, flamethrower, or launcher. The game's combat is insanely fun, fast place, and can be very tactical if that is your style, but don't expect to be engaging with the game's weapon tuning systems too much.
Ultimately, though, the victory of Far Cry 6 is how it manages to take the classic elements of a stereotypical Far Cry game, grasp them, and perfect them to the umpteenth degree. This huge open world, with a great story and a formidable villain, is brought together by near-perfect and endlessly entertaining gameplay. You will never be bored in Far Cry 6, and you will itch for more right up until that dramatic conclusion and beyond. That's not something you could have said about the last couple of Far Cry games.
Far Cry 6 Review: The Verdict
Far Cry 6 is a "far cry" from the disappointment of Far Cry 5, nor the confusion of Far Cry Primal. It is a surprisingly joyful experience, which despite its iterative nature, takes Far Cry back to its roots and delivers as the best game Ubisoft have released in years.
Indeed, there is little to complain about when it comes to the makeup of this latest Far Cry adventure. Far Cry 6's vast open world feels just the right size. Unlike the bloat of Assassin's Creed Valhalla, traversing this archipelago is anything but a chore. From the colorful sandbox of Yara, to the dark creepiness of Giancarlo Esposito's performance, to the satisfaction of the game's combat, this is Ubisoft at its best.
There has been a lot of talk in recent years about Ubisoft's iterative approach to games. Every title has a couple of key features: bases to liberate, a map to reveal, weapons and customization to complete, collectibles to collect. Far Cry 6 is no different, but it's Ubisoft's formula perfected beyond belief. This is a special game, and the best game Ubisoft have released in years.
- Release Date: October 7, 2021
- Developer: Ubisoft Milan & Ubisoft Toronto
- Genre: Action Adventure & Open World
- Players: Single Player & Multiplayer (co-op)
- Time to beat: 20-25 Hours
- Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
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