Far Cry 6 Review
Still getting better after all these years
As one of the biggest franchises in the industry, the question that comes with every Far Cry is how much different could it be? The series has honed its formula over the past decade, and the fanbase continues to reward it with higher sales. However, Ubisoft also knows they can't just rest on their laurels, as doing so may dampen enthusiasm for subsequent entries. Changing too much, though, could burn long-time fans from checking out the next title. It's a tough line to straddle, but the studio seems to have a good idea of what to do, at least based off what the latest entry, Far Cry 6, brings to the table.
Moving away from the drab Montana setting of the previous adventure, Far Cry 6 takes you to the fictional island of Yara. The Caribbean country boasts majestic views and an abundance of culture, but these just serve as cover for the sinister regime of Anton Castillo. El Presidente promised to return the country to its former glory, but has only brought a new reign of terror to the land. Chief among his horrors is the rise of Viviro, a miracle drug that has led to great profit, but at the expense of poisoning the poor Yaran's forced to harvest it. Castillo is dead set on resurrecting the profits of Yara, as well as working to provide a future for his son Diego, but the cost is incredibly steep.
Every dictatorship has a rebel force sticking it to them, and this is where you step in. You are Dani Rojas, who can either be male or female depending on your preference. An orphan and military dropout, Dani was originally planning to leave Yara for the shores of America, but after her getaway ship is upended by Castillo, finds herself joining up with the guerrillas of the island. She instantly becomes acquainted with Libertad, a guerrilla outfit led by Clara Garcia and supported by Juan Cortez. The fledging group has struggled in recent times, but the arrival of Dani will give them the kick in the ass they need. It falls on the shoulders of the reluctant hero to gather new recruits, carry out missions and upend the bloody regime of El Presidente.
Far Cry 6 follows a lot of the same beats the franchise has used in the past. The reluctant protagonist who finds themselves taking charge, and the charismatic villain you wish was featured more are staples of the series. The difference between what's offered here and what you have had in the past, though, are noticeable. For starters, Dani Rojas is an actual character, as opposed to a blank slate. She has actual agency and personality, which adds a lot to making you care about her journey. Anton Castillo also serves as a more menacing, and grounded antagonist than prior big bads. It helps that the character has the gravitas of actor Giancarlo Esposito, but he also has more nuance than the likes of Pagan Min or Joseph Seed.
Overall, the story carries a more serious vibe than previous entries, but there is still some tonal dissonance. The whiplash can often be seen in the various allies you come across during your adventure. Most of them are loud and quick with a joke, which adds levity, but also makes it hard to buy into the more emotionally draining moments. Which is a bummer because the supporting cast is intriguing by design. Clara Garcia's acknowledgment of the cost of rebellion, and Paolo de la Vega's struggle as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Yara give their individual stories somberness. But all too often, the title's powerful moments are undercut by attempts at humor.
Once you get fully in with Libertad, the gameplay of Far Cry 6 opens to what you would expect it to be. Yara is a massive country to explore, and there 5 main regions to visit. These regions house factions you need to win over in your quest to dethrone Castillo. To do this, you'll need to complete assorted missions for them, as well as free these regions from control of the Yaran military. This can be done through classic Far Cry shenanigans such as hijacking shipments and taking over military bases. Besides these missions, you can also engage in tasks such as cockfighting minigame, playing dominoes or searching for hidden treasure.
Plenty of jokes have been made about the Ubisoft formula of throwing a bunch of icons on a map and letting you run free, but there's a reason why people are drawn to it. There is a welcome sense of satisfaction from opening up a new hideout or locating a stash of precious material. Even more so than the story missions, I enjoy just exploring Yara and stumbling upon things to do. I do think Ubisoft has done a better job of introducing things in FC6 than in other titles. They dole tasks out at a better pace and looking at the in-game map does not feel as overwhelming. The formula is still there, but it has been streamlined for a better experience.
Customization is the name of the game in Far Cry 6. Instead of boosting abilities via a skill tree or something similar, you instead are forced to rely on acquiring or creating new gear to better yourself. Almost all the weapons can be modified in some way and crafting the right tool for the right job is crucial. For example, you could come across a group of soldiers equipped with Kevlar. Sure, you could get into a tough fight with a regular gun, but why not use that rifle you outfitted with armor-piercing rounds? The key to a good arsenal is taking the time to modify each weapon for a different task or enemy. These upgrades can only be done at designated work benches, but you can switch between all your weapons on the fly.
Outside of the traditional weapons, you also get to wield unique firearms classified as Resolvers or Supremos. Resolvers are home-made pieces of equipment that have the look and feel of experimental tech. Some of them lack the punch of a regular rifle or shotgun, but I do like having the option to wipe out a base with a sooped-up nail gun, or gun that shoots compact discs. Supremos are more powerful items that operate on a cool-down timer. These are strapped to the back of Dani and pack a real punch when used. I stuck to the one you are given first, which fires off a spread of rockets, but other ones can unleash devastating EMP blasts or drop poison from the sky.
Besides the weapons, you can also customize the wardrobe of Dani Rojas. You have five clothing slots (head, chest, legs, shoes, and wrists) to play around with. You could just go by which clothes appeal to your sense of style, but these items also contain various boosts as well. Just as with the firearms, knowing what clothes to wear is an important thing to keep in mind. Finally, there are also animal amigos for you to recruit to the cause. These creatures take the place of the human allies the series has relied on in the past to help you in battle. There's Guapo the crocodile and Chorizo the wiener dog. Each amigo has a unique trait for battle. They can get in the way sometimes, but I must appreciate the fact that you can partner up with a tiny wiener dog to overthrow a military base.
All the options in the world would mean nothing if it wasn't fun to play. Thankfully, that is not the case here. The gunplay feels great, and the chaotic action the series is known for is in full effect with this entry. Downing a chopper with explosive rounds, then switching over to a regular SMG to take down the lingering troops is handled in a snap. From there, I can hop on a horse, and head over to the next mission or side-quest on my map. The title is quick to get into a nice rhythm, and I had a blast no matter what I was doing.
As the first entry released on the current generation of consoles, Far Cry 6 looks beautiful. Playing on the Xbox Series X, the lush foliage, and dilapidated towns of Yara look lovely. It could be just that it's different from the bland Far Cry 5 setting, but the Caribbean country is a massive improvement. The character models are just as great as well. The digital recreation of Giancarlo Esposito is eerily close to looking just like the real-life actor. Dani Rojas' model is rather detailed too, and I appreciate the fact that any clothing changes you make are reflected in the cutscenes. Speaking of the cutscenes, I did notice some stuttering in them. Nothing too bad, but noticeable for sure.
If you get bored of flying solo, Far Cry 6 does offer up some solid co-op options. After an early mission, the option to play through the campaign with an ally unlocks. You can either bring a partner into your game, or open yourself up to an invitation. The downside to joining someone else's game, though, is that you don't make any story progress. However, you do get to keep whatever supplies you find, which is a nice perk. Having done a few missions on both sides of that divide, the one major thing I was grateful for is that the online connection was smooth throughout. Considering all of the chaos that unfolded during these missions, I was pleasantly surprised at that.
I also spent some time with the Special Operations missions. These are fun little missions that offer up Moneda as a reward. This is a special currency that can be used to buy items from the Black Market. The specialty seller has a rotating selection of weapons, as well as supplies for Supremos. I'm not sure how much time I'll end up spending here, but it's an enjoyable activity to partake in.
Far Cry 6 does not reinvent the wheel, but it does differentiate itself enough to be satisfying. The introduction of an actual protagonist does wonders for the plotting, and the plethora of activities provided to you are unlocked in a more efficient and better-paced way. The elimination of skill points may be tough for some, but I love the customization options you are given. The entry still struggles with balancing the grim nature of the story with the more comedic stylings of the series, but it's still a step above the last title. The sequel may not necessarily bring new attention to the franchise, but fans of Far Cry will find plenty to enjoy here.