With the world the way it is, it may be a long time before I get to visit an actual Caribbean island. At least Far Cry 6 is here to give us a stunning virtual world to explore, even if it is a tad overrun with fascists.
Far Cry 6 launches on October 7 for PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Stadia. I played this game for several hours earlier in the month via a hands-on preview done through Parsec, software that uses cloud streaming technology to let you access other computers (in this case, a Ubisoft PC that was running Far Cry 6). Now, this did mean that my experience had some input lag and compromised image quality, but I was able to get a reasonable first impression of the game.
I was a fan of the Far Cry series, particularly enjoying 2012â€™s Blood Dragon, but I felt burnt out on the familiar Far Cry formula after playing Primal in 2016. Thatâ€™s why I skipped Far Cry V and its standalone expansion, New Dawn. With Far Cry 6, I was interested to see how the series had progressed without me.
Well, not all that much, it turns out.
Far Cry 6 still has you exploring an open world as you take out enemy bases, either through stealth or the direct, guns-blazing approach. Itâ€™s hard to criticize it too much for its lack of innovation. Far Cry 5 managed just fine without my support, becoming the fastest-selling entry in the series. Itâ€™s not like the market is demanding a reboot for the franchise.
Welcome to the island
Even if it is just Far Cry in a new setting, that new setting is gorgeous. Far Cry 6 takes place on Yara, a fictional island inspired by Cuba. Here, you join guerilla fighters battling against the dictatorship run by â€œEl Presidenteâ€ AntÃ³n Castillo, played by Breaking Bad and The Mandalorian star Giancarlo Esposito. He does a great job playing a charismatic-yet-terrifying leader, but even this is familiar territory for the series. Far Cry has put an emphasis on memorable, unstable antagonists since Far Cry 3.
Image Credit: Ubisoft
Yara makes for a pretty sandbox to play in. Itâ€™s a Caribbean island full of green trees and blue skies. Itâ€™s the kind of place youâ€™d want to take a vacation if it wasnâ€™t for, you know, the fascist regime. At least you get to have fun taking out all of those fascists, as long as their wonky AI doesnâ€™t hinder you.
When clearing out enemy bases, I often struggled to find the last soldiers. I could hear them spouting their voice lines in the distance, but it would take awhile for me to actually find them. So Iâ€™d just start retracing my steps, visiting the same buildings and bunkers in the enemy camp until I happened to run into the last meat bags. This was even a problem when I was playing co-op with another person. Even between the two of us, it took some doing to find those stragglers.
Story-wise, Far Cry 6 also starts off in a familiar fashion. At first youâ€™re just trying to flee the country, but you slowly find yourself joining the resistance. A likeable cast of characters, including a group of ex-revolutionaries that may be past their prime, help keep the narrative engaging. I did have some problems with tonal whiplash. One moment, I watching a vicious firing squad slaughter civilians. Later, Iâ€™m watching someone take out an enemy soldier with the help of a pet alligator. Look, maybe it was a crocodile. Those things terrify me. I donâ€™t know the difference, and I donâ€™t care to learn. But my point is that it was a moment played for laughs at a time when I was still trying to process the whole â€œhow I would feel if my government went door-to-door murdering civiliansâ€ thing.
Iâ€™m probably sounding like Iâ€™m being pretty tough on Far Cry 6. Thatâ€™s mostly to do with my own disappointment realizing that itâ€™s not doing much new. Now, this wonâ€™t be a problem for the millions of people who still love the series the way it is. But if youâ€™re someone like me, you may not find enough here to bring you back.
Iâ€™m still impressed with its scale. Even after a few hours, I only saw a fraction of Yara and experienced a sliver of its story. And if you want to go deep, I imagine that Far Cry 6 can entertain you for months as you hunt down every enemy settlement and try to upgrade every weapon. Co-op also adds some value here. I had a good time flying helicopters with another member of the preview event that I had just met. Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™d have an even better time in co-op with a friend.
Far Cry 6 looks to be a big, beautiful game. I just wouldnâ€™t expect it to surprise you, unless youâ€™ve never played a Far Cry game before. In that case, Far Cry 6 may be a great entry point for you.