Far Cry 6 is set on an island like 3, ruled by a despot like 4, in gameplay like 5… with a dash of Watch Dogs, a shake of Assassin’s Creed and a splash of Ubisoft piss-take...
Years after a rebellion toppled the Yara government, throwing the island into an economic and social decline, President Castillo is voted-in on a promise to turn around the island’s fortunes. He claims Yara’s only export, tobacco, can be processed into a Cancer treatment, catching the eye of Western investors and bringing much needed funds to the island… to keep the process running, poorer Yarans are forced to cultivate the now valuable crop. As Castillo’s grip tightens, a new rebellion rises.
After being a silent hero in the last two Far Cry’s, this time we’re Dani Rojas, a spunky Yaran ex-soldier who begrudgingly joins the rebellion trying to overthrow Castillo by uniting various factions. Dani is a lot of fun, forced to do all the work when all she wanted was to escape to Miami, and she maintains a laconic, bemused commentary (her best line is when she’s struggling up a mountain while goats prance by: ‘Goats, fucking show-offs’). But as she sees and learns more, Dani becomes committed - while we get comfortable.
Except this time, it might finally be one cry too far. Far Cry always felt like Deja-vu, but this time I have definitely been here before and it’s not just a repeat of past glories. There’s wholesale lifting from everything in Ubisoft’s library, and it’s galling when you consider the Ultimate Edition cost an eye-watering £99.99. There’s nothing here that you haven’t done elsewhere. And when it’s not reskinning, it’s ripping off; the whole concept and plot feels like Just Cause (least it’s not as bad as Just Cause 4) and there’s even some misplaced jokey weapons, missions and dialogue that feel Saint’s Row. I really feel like Che wielding a weapon that fires CDs playing Macarena. Dani even sings along to the radio; cute, but not a patch on The Boss and Pierce’s duets and there’s a backpack filled with outrageous perks which replenishes on the ‘blood of your enemies’… It often feels gimmicky and silly, as if we’re supposed to be in on the joke of falling for FC for the sixth time.
Meanwhile, the gameplay feels FC1; when areas refresh, they restart the same scripts - I saved the same local from a soldier 6 times just by circling around. Troops I’d just killed suddenly reanimated because I triggered a mission, and death will send you back to the nearest base, often miles away, even mid-mission. Cars all feel the same and flying means glance a tree and explode. And on the ground, the soldiers are insanely overpowered, never miss and have x-ray vision. If you max out your ‘Wanted’ level, VIPs come piling in – and you’re always Wanted; hardcore soldiers, helicopters, armoured vehicles etc. spawn endlessly. The only escape is to hide, which isn’t an option in painfully unoriginal missions like “get a truck, don’t damage it, return without being seen” I miss GTA San Andreas too.
It is a lot like San An actually, huge expanses of nothing pockmarked by small villages that have nothing in them. Even the larger cities are just facades we pass through and often the whole place is empty. Some missions just scream old - download files/protect someone while fighting waves happens a lot. Yara might be behind the times but FC6 is too. Even the NPCs have some classic GTA SA behaviours.
It’s not all replication though. One of the biggest overhauls is the fishing mini game from FC5... Fishing is the thing Ubi spent time refining?! And when you enter a safe area, Dani swaps into 3rd Person. Is that supposed to connect me to her character, staring at the back of her head? About the only new experience for FC is horses, which are from AC.
Outposts have had a makeover though, they’re varied and complex but ruined because Dani can’t sneak for shit and the troops are expecting you - the experience is always the same; get seen, go loud, good luck. A new addition is a sub-mission within the outpost like save hostages, steal a tank etc. but they fail if you take over the stronghold without doing it first - how did I fail to save hostages if I killed all the troops?! The base building from Far Cry New Dawn returns, providing fast travel, militia support, and workbenches, and animal sidekicks are back too, but their perks are copy/paste from FC5.
Plot-wise, FC6 feels like a do-over of FC4. Even the damn Eagles are back. Castillo, the much-hyped bloke out of Breaking Bad is a watered-down Pagan Min, a standard bad guy oppressing his people. At least Pagan revelled in his eccentricities, enjoyed being an overlord and was guiding Ajay; Dani and Castillo never really interact, he’s a one-dimensional villain to match the one-sided story of supressed people rebelling against a panto dictator. The other FC’s at least tried to present complex motivations and situations, but this is just good vs evil and while the final rush on El Presidenté’s building was good fun, the finale – while fitting – just petered out (and the post-credits scene sent me back to replay FC3). To pull off leading a revolution we should be involved or swayed by Castillo’s twisted dream for Yara, not just watching Dani get angry in the cut-scenes. We’re unconnected to any of the main plot’s themes or events. Connecting to the Yarans is difficult too.
The developers claim FC6 is "about the conditions that lead to the rise of fascism in a nation, the costs of imperialism, forced labor, the need for free-and-fair elections, LGBTQ+ rights, and more”. Where? It’s certainly not in the representation of Yara, all the locals are croc-wrestling, backwater, Cuban cliché stereotypes who indulge in cockfighting. There’s an actual cock-fighting mini-game?! LGBTQ+ elements are confined to cutscene characters yelling they’re Trans and repressed or being too flamboyant for RuPaul. It’s shallow virtue signalling. There are times where oppression and abuse hit home, but again, only in the cut-scenes. That so-called cognitive dissidence is in full effect in FC6. The devs spent time in Cuba doing research and came back with this?
Still, it’s clear they took a lot of photos. Yara is beautiful, and after 20 hours of hating this, I spent the next 30 loving it… FC does the free-roam shooter thing perfectly, and this is more perfection. Running through mangroves and tripping over a croc, hopscotching reefs patrolled by sharks, punting down rivers, exploring mountains, wandering the jungle is grand, and then I’d find deforested areas, toxic lakes, pipelines, shanty towns, and I’d gleefully kill everyone ruining this place. I find gleaming new highways that don’t go anywhere, suburbs built but sitting empty, vacant mansions, hotels and theme parks left to rot, and abandoned construction sites taken over by the wildlife. It perfectly reflects a bankrupt, class-driven, disorganised society. Once I went feral, indulging in my own guerrilla warfare, it got good.
Just heading off and causing trouble is what Far Cry is all about. We don’t buy Assassin’s Creed expecting each to be different and we ignore the modern day plot anyway, it’s all about murdering our way through historical events; likewise, FC is all about being a reluctant hero. We’ve had desert islands, the savannah, Tibet, Montana and now Latin America. We want to be dropped into a hot zone as a tourist and emerge from the jungle like Rambo and FC6 does that well. Again. It’s by far the largest and most detailed of the FCs and a great location to do the FC thing in.
But still, story-wise FC6 isn’t substantial enough for us to get involved in. This is the first FC I’ve played that feels like the devs are as tired of it as we are – FC6’s DLCs will centre on FC3-5 as told from the point of view of their villains; when DLC looks back instead of enriching the main game, clearly the dev’s hearts weren’t in it – and I am more excited about the DLC than I was FC6. FC5 ended with the apocalypse and that’s when Far Cry should have finished. The fun you have will be on your own terms; I loved being in Far Cry again, but I was disappointed by FC6.