Yaran The Army Now…
A flaming crocodile leaps at a soldier. Rockets fly from a crudely made backpack and smash into a pristine, glistening anti-aircraft turret. Fire breaks out across a field of modified tobacco, before the protagonist snaps his fingers back into place, and jumping into a helicopter. The air finally free from the scourge of the rockets that plagued it not five minutes ago, a beautiful island paradise comes into view. This is the island of Yara. This is Far Cry 6. And this is absolute madness.
It’s something you’ve come to expect from a Far Cry game by now, right? A mass, sprawling open world, a cackling despot that needs dethroning, and a barmy array of weaponry and tools to let you rain chaos down to achieve your goals. The sixth main entry in the franchise doesn’t do too much to change up the formula, but what it does do is deliver a refined experience that should satisfy the most die-hard fans. The villain of the piece this time out is Anton Castillo, magnificently portrayed by Giancarlo Esposito. He dominates every scene he’s in, channelling the understated menace that he’s known for, and there’s more than a hint of Gus Fring dripping from his time on screen.
Castillo is the head of state for Yara, a fictional island nation that will draw some distinct parallels to stereotypes of Cuba. His scientists have developed a brand new type of cancer treatment called Viviro, derived from the tobacco leaves grown on the island. The issue is that these leaves are treated with a chemical solution that the islanders have dubbed “the poison”, and through the use of forced labour, many of them are becoming sick and dying. Castillo’s obsession with turning Yara into a global powerhouse off the back of Viviro, combined with his iron fisted rule, is tickling the underbelly of the island, and it’s only a matter of time before it gets annoyed and swipes back.
It doesn’t take long before your character, Dani Rojas (Look, I made the joke in the preview, I’ll do it again, it’s not the lad from Ted Lasso) gets involved. Meeting with some friends on a rooftop, Castillo’s forces begin to clamp down on any uprisings, arresting and slaughtering with abandon. Dani escapes the island, but not before a chance encounter with Castillo’s son Diego in the process. Before long, Dani is drafted into Libertad, a revolutionary fighting group and begins enlisting others to the cause, with the ultimate goal of taking down Anton, and hopefully the entire Castillo dynasty. Diego’s addition into the game adds a very neat wrinkle into the fabric of Far Cry 6, with a clearly troubled character being given the nuance and depth that he deserves. As the game progresses, it’s plain to see that not all is well with the son of the dictator, and his story is told with a surprising amount of delicacy that I didn’t really expect.
What I did expect, however, was a slew of over the top characters and bright, colourful environments. After all, this is an island paradise, right? Your new favourite drunk uncle, Juan Cortez, is a primary source for tools of chaos, and his pet crocodile, Guapo, becomes your first amigo throughout the game. He’s a wonderful caricature of an old, wisened guerrilla, with a knack for building incredible weapons. Y’know, as long as you can bring him some depleted uranium. These range from CD launching assault rifles, to the previously mentioned rocket firing backpacks. The latter of these, called a Supremo, are essentially Dani’s “ultimate”, allowing you to build up a stack of kills before unleashing something of a finishing move. Gun play feels exactly as you’d expect from Far Cry, with the PS5’s adaptive triggers coming in clutch once again, making each weapon’s trigger feel unique. The array of customisation options in here is simply brilliant. Dani can change up their look, from the heavily armoured to the ridiculous, and also acquire a wingsuit, among other functional items as the game progresses. Flicking back briefly, the Amigos will be invaluable depending on your play style. The likes of Guapo and Chiccharon will be aggressive, forward thinking buddies in an offensive play style, whereas the likes of Chorizo will… well, just look at his adorable little face! Who could pass up the opportunity to pet him?
The game cribs from the “lieutenant” structure that worked so well in Far Cry 5. Positioned across the map are a number of high ranking officials that, when despatched, will help chip away at Anton’s grip on the island. To succeed, you have to enlist the help of a number of groups across the island, who will, after gaining their trust, assist you in increasingly more elaborate schemes to potentially take down the despot in his tower.
Scattered alongside the main missions are, predictably, a slew of side quests to get stuck into. These range from forcibly decommissioning anti-aircraft guns, helping revolutionaries out on ambushes, Yaran Quests (more fleshed out side stories) and a brilliant line of Treasure Hunts, which have been plucked straight from Far Cry: New Dawn and expanded on to a really nice degree. Possibly my favourite one that I tried led me across a bunch of caves, strange idol in hand, with a hefty reward at the end. It’s a really nice little mission structure that helps to add something new to the otherwise potential monotony of the typical fetch quest and military target clear-outs. There are also a bunch of unique weapons to collect from military depots, as well as a neat little “mini mission” series, which play out like the good old “brotherhood” missions from, er, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Add in some fishing, races and a fair few other bits, and there’s plenty to get stuck into if you want a break from out and out chaos.
It could so very easily all get out of control in the worst possible ways. But Far Cry 6 manages to thread a narrative that’s compelling enough to stitch the whole thing together and make you push on with your main objective. There’s a lot to be said for the comments from the game’s director about it being an inherently political story. They faced a bit of backlash to this when the comments were made, but I think breaking that ‘taboo’ of being a “political game” has done wonders for it. There are no shackles on the tougher elements of the story, and there’s no hiding behind the big corporation’s paper thin “political apathy”, but it isn’t quite perfect. There are some, at times, cartoonish interpretations of a communist country, with some throwaway sight gags relying on shock value more than anything else, but on the whole, Far Cry 6 manages to tell the story that it wants to, in the way that it wants to do it, without the worry of ruffling too many feathers.
It’s time to get a bit technical now, and Far Cry 6 is yet another example of a game that has me screaming out for Sony to get Variable Refresh Rate implemented on the PS5. We’ll have a technical video up soon, but it’s safe to say that the frame rate is not 100% consistent. Yes, for most of the gameplay you are easily stretching into the upper 50s and edging closer to that locked 60fps, but even then there is some screen tearing and a few weird dips in the frame rate. It’s definitely leaps and bounds ahead of the PS4 era, where torn frames and barely touching 30fps was the norm, but when the technology exists to iron out some of these problems, it’s frustrating to see. I’ve not tested it on any other platforms yet, but I would suspect that with VRR enabled on the Series consoles, it might result in a smoother performing title without a DualSense in your hands. It’s complemented by a world which is bright, colourful and varied, with urban areas giving way to lush jungle and carefully tended farmland all in one quick drive across the island. There was much talk about there being no ray tracing on the console versions, and it’s hardly surprising. The game seems to be running at a native 4k at all times, and with it struggling to hit that 60fps mark even without the latest and greatest in lighting, it’s a sensible decision to omit it. However, I do wonder if there is scope to add in a “performance mode” here, as there are some points where the game’s performance dips pretty substantially. It’s very strange. The cutscenes were a huge example of this, but as I come to edit the video portion of this review, the Day 1 Patch has dropped, and performance in this area has improved dramatically.
A final shout out has to go to Ubisoft for the way the game opens into the menu. With the PS5’s “default stick settings” seemingly being ignored by every title on the market at this point, it was a hugely refreshing change to be greeted by a slew of accessibility options before starting the game. This will satisfy not only pedants like me who have to invert the right stick, but also thousands and thousands of disabled gamers who often need to check whether they will be physically able to play the game, before even considering if it’s for them. It’s a wonderful, wonderful touch and I truly hope more developers take this much care and attention to making their games as accessible as possible to anyone and everyone.
With all that being said, the question remains. Is Far Cry 6 worth your time? Well, it’s a Far Cry game, so you’ll need a lot of it. I’ve just scraped through the story at the point of writing, and even now, there are still huge patches of grey on my map. I couldn’t tell you how many hours I’ve sunk into it by this point, but it’s deep into double digits. I’m still having a bunch of fun with it, and I’m finding more things to do every time I pick up my controller. I’ll fully admit to not being a huge fan of the franchise before taking this review on, but once I’m done with everything here, there’s a huge temptation to potentially go back and plough through what I started with the previous entries.