A dachshund with a wheelchair. A pet alligator. A backpack that fires rockets. Giancarlo Esposito. One person taking down a dictatorial regime on a tropical island.
In any other context, none of those things go together, but as soon as you see the words Far Cry, it all makes sense. The series has become known for taking the bombastic and somehow making it all fit together in its wild, frenetic world. Far Cry 6 is no exception, and with the series making its debut on the new console generation, Ubisoft pulled out all the stops to make the game look absolutely stunning.
Lush jungle environments, photorealistic water effects and a buzz of activity everywhere you look bring the fictional country of Yara to life in superb detail. Coupled with a performance nothing short of a tour de force from Giancarlo Esposito as the game’s main villain, and you have an experience that’s unmistakably Far Cry.
That extends every facet of the game. Far Cry 6 isn’t trying to be anything other than the most polished Far Cry game ever released, and that both works in its favor and against it. If you love past Far Cry games, the sixth numbered entry into the franchise is going to sweep you off your feet and into a hyperbolic world of guns, corruption, explosions and absurd stunts.
That said, if you’ve never been a fan of the Far Cry series or games of its ilk, this one isn’t likely to sway you. Far Cry 6 caters to its target audience and hits the mark — for the most part. There are some subtle but significant changes that players are either going to love or hate.
The most impactful is the addition of enemy weaknesses. As you scan targets, you’ll get a description telling you what types of ammunition and weapons they’re weak to and which type they use. That, in turn, tells you what armor you should have equipped heading into the fight. The result adds a bit of strategy to each engagement, but it also throws off the pacing of the game’s combat.
Because there are likely to be multiple types of enemies with different weaknesses, you may find yourself pausing the game and equipping different guns and armor frequently. Problems crop up when you realize you don’t have any of your guns loaded out for the right specifications. For instance, some enemies are weak to armor-piercing rounds. You may have a gun that has them equipped, but that gun may not have a silencer on it because you either didn’t equip one or didn’t have the resources to unlock it.
That might not be a problem if you’re planning to charge the military outpost’s gates like a Viking berserker, but if you were planning on a stealth approach, it might force you to go find a workbench, where you can upgrade and alter your weapons.
The upgrades and progression system also received an overhaul in Far Cry 6. Again, this is a mixed bag. On the one hand, tying unlocks to the experience you get for performing different tasks is a different style to acquiring new gear, offering a change of pace to the series’ traditional progression system. On the other hand, that comes as the loss of unlocking new skills and choosing how you build your character. It effectively removes the RPG element from the series altogether, and it felt like my character’s progression was missing something.
Despite those changes, most of the game remains quintessentially the same as Far Cry has always been. You have a set of main missions, and along the way, you have smaller side objectives to take care of that both make your character stronger from the resources you gather and clear parts of the map for hassle-free movement. It’s a system that works, and there’s a sense of accomplishment as you start to see more areas turn a friendly color.
Traversing that map is as easy as ever, with no shortage of tools at your disposal. Far Cry 6 introduces horses into the series for the first time, and they work surprisingly well with the first-person viewpoint. You also have a parachute and wingsuit for moving across open air effectively, and there are strategically located points for you to attach your grappling hook to reach high vantage points.
Air, land and sea vehicles are also incredibly smooth to operate, and the game even includes a feature that allows automatic steering and following a set path, a la Assassin’s Creed. That feature takes away a lot of the clunkiness that often accompanies driving in first person, and it’s a great quality-of-life feature. It’s a feature that is making its way into a lot of games and it’s great to find it in Far Cry 6.
It’s not the only one, though. Far Cry 6’s menu has a staggering level of customization options, ranging from how often you have to click a button during a quick-time event to the outline color of collectibles. You can customize almost every color on the HUD to your liking, and other visual and hearing options make it clear Ubisoft had accessibility in mind. You can also turn on enemy outlines, making them easier to spot.
Visual indicators making enemies more visible can be a great feature, but taking them down can be another. One recurring theme you’ll hear from a character you meet early on is to use “the right tool for the right job.” When you have that tool, it’s terrific, but when you don’t, it feels like enemies can absorb huge amounts of damage to the point of being unrealistic. At one point, I had to land three consecutive headshots with a sniper rifle to take out a low-level guard.
Little frustrations like that can break immersion in the game, and I found myself getting discovered while in stealth frequently because even my best plans often exposed me. I lost track of how many times my animal companion, even the ones with a stealth focus, alerted the guards because they wandered off on their own.
Don’t get me wrong; the selection of animal friends and their unique abilities is great, and having a pet alligator maul a guard while you mow down the others makes you feel like the ultimate warrior. But when I was looking for stealth options, no matter what companion I used, they would often wander into the middle of the camp and blow my surprise operation.
Gameplay aside, Far Cry 6’s atmosphere is as good as the series has ever been, and Giancarlo Esposito’s portrayal of dictator Antón Castillo is masterful. He steals every scene, and he proves he’s at the peak of his craft once again. The game’s other actors are also impressive, and they create a cast that’s genuinely likeable, and, despite the absurd premise, somehow relatable.
Although I touched on the graphics at the beginning, it’s worth saying again: Far Cry 6 looks incredible, and exploring the tropical world of Yara is a joy. Everything from the madness of launching rockets from your “Supremo” weapon to a quiet moment fishing looks gorgeous, and I can see players easily losing themselves in the game’s photo mode if they’re so inclined.
Far Cry 6 offers something to every fan of the series. It’s wild, over-the-top action is as polished as it’s ever been, and despite a few small misses, the game shows Ubisoft at its best. It’s a hard sell if you’re not a fan of the genre, though. Far Cry’s development team knows their target audience, and they’ve given them an excellent offering.
Far Cry 6 earns 4 GiN Gems out of 5.
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia, Xbox One, Xbox Series X