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February 2023

Far Cry 6

Platform(s): Google Stadia, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Oct. 7, 2021


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PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Preview - 'Far Cry 6'

by Adam Pavlacka on Aug. 31, 2021 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

Far Cry 6 plunges players into the heart of a modern-day guerrilla revolution set in Yara, a tropical paradise frozen in time.

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Different but the same: That's the feeling that I had after playing five hours of Far Cry 6. It's apparent that Ubisoft is sticking to a formula that works, but it's also not afraid to experiment a bit with gameplay. Far Cry 6 is familiar but remixed.

My time with the game was split between single-player, which covered the introduction and first few missions, as well as co-op. Co-op is supported from start to finish, and both players keep their progression. It's a good plus if you want to play with friends or if you're having trouble with a certain mission and need backup to assist. The downside to co-op is that, at least in the preview build, only the first person to trigger a mission gets to hear the story. If you're playing second fiddle, you have to wait for your partner to finish.

One other catch with co-op is the player tether. During one mission, I had the bright idea that my co-op partner and I would split-up to cover more ground. That quickly got nixed when the game popped up a warning and told us to get closer together. The invisible tether means you're always playing within close proximity to each other.

If you're playing solo, Far Cry 6 immediately feels at home, with controls that will be second nature to series veterans and easy to pick up for newbies. Weapons, movement, recon — it's all here, even if it's been tweaked from prior entries in the franchise.

They say familiarity brings contentment, but Far Cry 6 also wants to make sure returning players aren't too content. For example, in one mission, I had access to a helicopter. Great! I'll make a beeline for the target and avoid enemy forces on the ground. The game had other plans, and it quickly introduced me to the local anti-aircraft gun. If I wanted to be able to freely roam the skies, I first needed to take out the gun that was guarding the airspace.

The story, as it were, has you playing as Dani Rojas, a young military dropout who wants to escape the island and make her way to America. Thanks to the unyielding cruelty of Yara's local dictator, Anton Castillo (Giancarlo Esposito), Dani's plans are sidetracked, and she falls in with a group of local guerrillas on a quest to free her homeland.

If there was any element of the demo that was most up in the air, it's the narrative. While I got to experience some of the key story moments, it's hard to tell how well the overall storyline will play out, or if it will end up feeling played out long before you reach the end of the game. In this regard, Esposito is both Far Cry 6's greatest strength and its greatest weakness.

Playing the role of Castillo, Esposito is immediately familiar and coyly menacing — until he reveals his more malevolent side. Unlike Far Cry 5, where the antagonist was written as someone who was doing what he thought was the right thing, there doesn't appear to be any gray with Castillo. This isn't someone who is working towards a greater good or doing evil acts out of desperation.

If I had any hope of Castillo being redeemable, it was quickly snuffed out the first time I went for a swim near a military installation and promptly noticed the dead bodies that were tied to cement blocks at the base of the waterway. For one reason or another, Far Cry 6 really doesn't want you to like Castillo at all. He's just a stone-cold bastard who enjoys reveling in the suffering of others. Unfortunately, charisma only goes so far. If Esposito's portrayal of Castillo ends up as a caricature rather than a character, the whole game will suffer for it.

This is also true of the player character, Rojas. Given Yara's blatant parallels to Cuba, how your Latine heroine is portrayed is going to be important. It's going to be incumbent upon Ubisoft to ensure that what Rojas says and does is authentic to her culture and lifestyle. If not, it's going to disappoint a whole lot of players and make Dani feel more like cultural appropriation rather than cultural appreciation.

As you progress through Far Cry 6, you mold Dani into your image by choosing how to equip her (as well as your cars and companions). Customization in Far Cry 6 helps boost your experience and build the character that you want — or need, in some cases.

The primary method of customization is the workbench. Building on the resourcefulness theme, all of your primary weapons look like they were cobbled together by a madman with silly putty and super glue. It's not just visual customization, though. You can tweak your ammo type and gun selection so you hop into a fight fully prepared. While there is a workbench at base camp, I also found them scattered throughout the demo area. You may need to grind for the specific resources you need to craft something, but assuming you have the resources, finding your local workbench shouldn't be hard.

In addition to the workbench, you can also improve Dani's offensive and defensive abilities by upgrading gear. Find it, buy it, and collect full sets. You're not dressing for style, though; every piece of gear has a use. Mix and match pieces to get exactly the kind of tweaks you need to succeed. For example, if you're venturing into a Viviro field and need to avoid the toxic gas, put on a gas mask.

On top of building up Dani — don't knock it, I used to spend hours tweaking my Diablo 2 character to get the perfect build — you'll improve her abilities by improving your guerrilla rank. The short version is that the more missions you do, the faster your rank goes up. As your rank goes up, you'll get better gear and weapons, but the opposition also increases.

The last bit of customization has to do with your guerrilla camp. Far Cry 6 allows you to decide how to grow your camp. Want to be able to quickly sneak around the world? Develop a hideout network or build a black-market weapons facility. This is a part of the game that I didn't get a chance to play around with, so it's hard to say if it is as cool as it sounds (city builder lite?) or if it is a simple matter of choosing the order in which you build things. That latter option wouldn't be nearly as impressive.

Outside of the main missions, Far Cry 6 includes plenty of side missions and activities (Yaran stories, treasure hunts, open-world activities). Some of these will net gear and other rewards, but the main reason to play is to unlock the companions, or amigos, as they're called here.

Guapo is a crocodile that loves to attack, so he's bad for stealth missions but good for just about everything else. Chorizo is the super cute wiener dog in a mini wheelchair. His superpower is cuteness and distraction, so he can distract enemies while you come up from behind for a stealth kill. Chicharrón is a fighting rooster that you don't want to cross. Boom Boom and Oluso are stealth amigos that I didn't get a chance to see, but Boom Boom's side profile looks like a dog.

Each of the amigos has a series of powers that can only be enabled by having them complete tasks. The more you use your amigos, the more useful they are to you.

One thing that did stand out to me while exploring the world was how different locations all seemed to have multiple entry and exit points. Maybe I've just been playing too much Assassin's Creed lately, but that's what Far Cry 6 reminded me of while I was infiltrating a small base during one of the early missions. The front entrance was heavily guarded, so I scouted out the area and saw a water entrance. Instead of fighting the baddies face to face, I swam up into the center of their base and took them out from the inside.

How big is Far Cry 6? It's difficult to put an exact number on it, since we were limited to a small portion of the overall map, but zooming out and scrolling around made it look pretty big. Bigger than Far Cry 5? Possibly. There are three distinct regions on the main island of Yara, so here's hoping for a variety of environments. Yes, Yara is a Caribbean island, but that doesn't mean everything is going to look the same.

As the demo wrapped, I left feeling satisfied and also wanting more. If you've never been a fan of the Far Cry games, Far Cry 6 isn't likely to change your mind, but for those who enjoy the franchise, Far Cry 6 looks like it's on track to deliver.

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