Far Cry 6: Hands-on Preview
When a franchise gets to a certain age, the problem for the developers is the need to innovate but at the same time keep the feel of the previous entries. They must continue to improve and refine the gameplay while keeping the personality of the franchise intact. It is a tough task, stray too far from the formula and fans complain that it isn’t a genuine entry. Make the game too similar and the complaints become that the game is simply a rehash. It is a fine line to walk and one that Ubisoft have tried to walk with varying degrees of success with the Far Cry franchise for quite some time now. Now we are approaching the release of Far Cry 6 and it looks to me like they are managing the tightrope walk quite well this time around.
Thanks to a rather healthy preview session that Ubisoft Australia invited me to, I was able to get about 4 hours of hands-on time with the next big Far Cry game. During that time I got to experience some early and mid-game missions, giving me a good feel for the setup and structure of the main game.
Firstly, the hottest topic surrounding this game is the casting of Giancarlo Esposito as the big bad and that is with good reason. I am not going to spoil anything but let me tell you he chews up the scenery, his voice dripping with malice as he justifies his actions and demands results. Ubisoft has been looking for a baddie to equal Vaas from Far Cry 3 since that game was released and it is safe to say they may have just found him in Giancarlo’s ruthless dictator, Anton Castillo.
Gameplay-wise, the game is a mix of the familiar and the improved. It is immediately noticeable how being aware of the environment is going to play a huge part in this game as it progresses. From holstering my weapons to avoid the scrutiny of Castillo’s Soldados, to utilising the terrain to my advantage, it feels as if the world of Far Cry 6 has more to say and do than in previous Far Cry titles. Another noticeable improvement was regarding enemy outposts, a staple of the franchise. In Far Cry 6, they are much more than just camps of enemies to clear out. They are radio facilities, food production factories or water stations, key infrastructure in Castillo’s regime. This immediately makes them feel more important than just an enemy encampment as well as providing a much greater variety of locations to sneak around and take over.
Something that has been hit and miss in the Far Cry games in the past has been the sense of humour, but here I feel like they are on the right track. Taking down a ruthless dictator can be a serious business so the game is peppered with moments of levity and absurdity. For example, one mission had me assisting a government hating fighting rooster called “El Chicharron” to destroy public records. This ruthlessly vicious bird sports spiked collars and insisted I graffitied his name upon any building he triumphed over. Absurd and odd in equal measure, it was nonetheless a joyful mission that had me feeling more than fond of this Killer Cock as he left a wake of destruction and dismemberment in its path.
Graphically the game feels like a nice step up from Far Cry 5 and a return to the series original hunting grounds of tropical jungles is a welcome one that really shows off the improvements. The cities and towns on display all gave off this wonderfully Cuban feel. The old Spanish architecture, the pastel colours, the 1950s’ and 60s’ cars, it really is Cuba in all but name. That should be no surprise to folks if they have seen any of the trailers, but I can say how nice it is to be visiting somewhere that hasn’t been well-worn by video games.
Finally, I want to emphasize the fact that Far Cry 6 is still very much a Far Cry game. Crazy hand-made weapons, hunting wild animals, clearing outposts, odd-yet-interesting side characters and companions at your side. In fact, one of the earliest missions I played was a nod to memorable marijuana crop burning from Far Cry 3. Fans are going to be comfortable here but there is enough new to perhaps tempt those that haven’t been tempted by the past few entries.
In all, my time with Far Cry 6 was enjoyable. Giancarlo Esposito is a genuine reason to check out this game alone, but there are more than enough improvements on show to keep people happy without straying too far from what fans like. Of course, the difference between playing a game for 4 hours and 40 hours is a great one, so I can’t be one hundred precent sure, but things are without a doubt looking promising for this new breed of Far Cry Guerrilla fighter and I will certainly be checking it out when it hits my gaming gizmos on the 7th of October.