The Far Cry series has long experienced something of an identity crisis. Is it a hard–boiled story of survival, or a goofy physics playground with pet bears and flamethrowers? The answer has usually been “a bit of both,” and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Far Cry 6 doesn’t buck that trend – the flamethrower definitely hasn’t gone anywhere – but the latest installment does manage to smooth over a lot of the bumps that have cropped up in the past few games, and in doing so becomes the best the series has been in years – but it also misses some steps, especially with its updated inventory system, and that creates some new problems along the way.
Far Cry 6 once again sees you trapped in a huge open world controlled by a charismatic madman, this time on the fictional island nation of Yara. Even after this many games, the job of turning all the red dots on your map into blue ones is still a good time, whether by sneakily silencing every enemy guard or by going the less subtle route of throwing bullets and Molotovs at them until no one is left.
Primarily modeled after Cuba, Yara is ruled by fascistic dictator Anton Castillo, who’s expertly portrayed by notorious TV bad guy Giancarlo Esposito; with this performance, he has handily claimed the top spot on my list of favorite Far Cry villains (with apologies to Mr. Mando). His regime would be too preposterously evil to believe at times, if not for its real-world South and Central American inspirations. But it’s his unwavering devotion to his vision of a “perfect” Yara, along with Esposito’s natural gravitas and the stoic charm he projects to his still-loyal subjects, that make him a great foil to the chaotic diaspora of revolutionaries you’re working to unite as you attempt to topple the regime of El Presidente and his lieutenants.
Castillo’s underlings aren’t necessarily anyone to write home about, running the gamut from “psychotic navy Admiral” to “psychotic air force Captain” to “psychotic propaganda director.” They’re all played well, but even the more interesting inclusions of a North American pharma tycoon and Yara’s own friendly neighborhood mad scientist feel like familiar entries in the Big Book of Video Game Bad Guys – especially when compared to Esposito’s Castillo.
Every one of Esposito’s scenes is captivating, particularly during the exchanges with his son, Diego. He’s a boy trying to reconcile his understanding that the impact of our actions on others is more important than our own intentions with his father’s vehement belief that noble ends justify despicable means, which creates some powerful (if one-sided) tension throughout. It’s a shame that the very end of the story doesn’t provide a clearer resolution for the many conflicts introduced throughout – though Castillo remains a memorable antagonist until the bitter end. While a lot of the success of the character belongs to Esposito for his work on the role, the cinematic animation team deserves a commendation for translating the minute details in his performance onto digital character models.
The story overall can be a fairly predictable affair, with all of the sudden-but-inevitable betrayals and tragic-yet-motivational character deaths you’d expect from a big-budget popcorn flick. It does manage to balance its more serious main story with the more ridiculous aspects of its freeform gunplay better than any Far Cry game in recent memory – though I think it also leans a little too heavily on the trope of “grizzled-yet-goofy” veteran fighters.
Every IGN Far Cry Review
There are certainly some great character moments throughout, and the decision to return Far Cry to third-person cutscenes is a good one, especially if you choose the femme version of main character, Dani Rojas. That’s thanks to an earnest performance by actress Nisa Gunduz, who in no way feels like she’s playing second fiddle to the big–name celebrity on the box art. The rest of the voice cast is solid, too – particularly Glow’s Shakira Barrera, who’s beleaguered rancher–turned–rebel is easily one of the best supporting characters you’ll run into. Similarly, relative newcomer Xavier Lopez shines in some powerful moments, and it’s great to see trans characters not only included but played by a trans actor – though nuance can still be a bit tricky for Far Cry.
FC6 clearly wants to be a more socially responsible game than its predecessors and – to its credit – it does make an effort to tackle some social issues, even if the script might stumble a bit over the reality of some of those moments. But it still feels trapped between presenting an authentic representation of Latin American culture and a gonzo’d-up version designed to please mainstream Western audiences. The world itself seems like a gorgeous rendition of South and Central American life, but the script sometimes relies so heavily on specific colloquialisms that it feels like it borders on caricature. Or, more egregiously, there’s the cockfighting minigame that’s basically Mortal Kombat with chickens. I know it’s technically legal in Cuba but… yeesh.
While previous Far Cry games have mostly pitted us against pirates, mercenaries, and cultists (not to mention mutants, evil cavemen, and cyber commandos), Far Cry 6 makes its bad guys a properly organized and equipped army. It’s a little straight–laced, given the series’ origins, but it also provides more diverse and engaging encounters. Enemy Captains can call in reinforcements or airstrikes to flush you out of your sniper’s nest, while Medics will revive wounded comrades and engineers will mount auto-turrets. They’re a good addition to the usual roster of “shotgun guy, molotov guy, and heavy guy” that gives you interesting reasons to prioritize your targets beyond simply “who might see or shoot at me next.”
On top of that, Far Cry 6 is the strongest the series has ever been when it comes to turning fleets of trucks, helicopters, and tanks into fiery metal scrap. While it’s still super satisfying to clear a checkpoint without raising an alarm or even an eyebrow (this is how I spent most of my playthrough), there’s a very special brand of joy that comes from speeding down a highway trashing a convoy with mounted machine guns while blasting Ricky Martin, and the sizeable arsenal FC6 puts at your disposal makes going loud an especially appealing option this time around.
Taking a cue from 2019’s Far Cry: New Dawn, FC6 provides not just the usual truckload of real-world weapons but also a selection of what it calls “Resolver Weapons” and Rides, named for the Cuban practice of “making do with what you have.” It’s an idea that arose after the US embargos took effect in the ‘60s. These ramshackle killamajigs range from a portable EMP cannon, which is great for disabling tanks and helicopters, to my personal favorite: a minigun made out of an old motorcycle engine that can be upgraded to fire incendiary rounds. There are also a handful of similarly jury–rigged vehicles to find around the world. They lacked the firepower and armor plating of your more personalized vehicles, but their multifunction designs made them invaluable to getting around Yara’s massive map – plus I just can’t say no to an electric buggy that hot-swaps into a paraglider.
Rounding out your arsenal are Supremos, which are effectively Ultimate Abilities duct-taped to a backpack along with a bunch of depleted uranium. Each one has a unique function, be it a rocket barrage to clear out enemy strongholds or a salvo of poison bombs that can cause hallucinations and turn soldiers against each other. I primarily swapped between the rocket pack and one that gave me basically ghost vision – yeah, there’s some supernatural stuff to find when you wander off the main story path – and take out enemies through walls, though others, like the self-reviving Medic pack were equally helpful when I chose not to have one of the Amigo animal companions at my side.
Changing up your arsenal is a lot more important this time around, too. Enemies now have unique resistances and vulnerabilities to certain types of ammo, and that – combined with the health bars that appear over their heads like in New Dawn – had me concerned early on that every firefight would devolve into a frustrating ammo sink against a bunch of unkillable bullet sponges. Thankfully, you can turn the health bars off in the options menu (the HUD is fully customizable, down to the color of roads on your map), and it was good to see that FC6 includes a welcome suite of accessibility options.
It took a few hours to amass enough weapons to feel “ready for anything,” but the careful balancing of Far Cry 6’s increasing power level versus my own meant taking someone down rarely felt tedious. And while that’s a welcome new idea, it’s the moments when you have to switch from stealth to action on the fly where the biggest change to the Far Cry formula simultaneously shines and… stumbles hard.
In Far Cry 6, abilities that this series had previously unlocked in RPG-style skill trees are now attached to armor and mods for your weapons and gear. It’s satisfying to use the wide variety of gadgets to create playstyle loadouts for each Supremo, and the number of unlockable gadgets provides a lot of variety – from classics like proximity mines and C4 to new introductions like perception grenades, which automatically tag enemies for you (huge time saver!). Moving perks and bonuses over to mods and clothing really leans into FC6’s emphasis on crafting and customization, even if some of the armor bonuses feel like they should be permanently unlockable. It makes sense to tie things like quieter movement to a pair of soft-soled shoes or improved fire resistance to a Nomex jacket, but why do I need to be wearing a specific hat to perform a takedown out of stealth?
This would work really well if there were a similarly easy–to–swap loadout system for armor and weapons, but without that (or even just the ability to Favorite an item) the constant need to shuffle my inventory was, at the best of times, a brief dip into a clunky UI and at worst (and much more often) a tedious interruption to what is otherwise really enjoyable action.
This became even more of an issue when adding a friend into the mix, since the pause function of the single-player game is removed when playing in co-op mode. That said, teaming up to stealthily take out military installations or complete one of the Operations together was good fun. Similar to New Dawn’s Expeditions, these one-off missions (which can also be played solo) take you to locations beyond the bounds of the open-world map (though they still allegedly take place somewhere in Yara?). There were only two available during the review period – one to the ruins of a town recently devastated by a huge mudslide, another to a robot dinosaur theme park that in no way infringes on the copyright of any Steven Spielberg movies. They’re a fun side activity and a good way to test your collaborative skills with a friend, but for my money, Far Cry 6 is at the top of its game when wreaking havoc across the countryside – whether you’re with a buddy or on your own.
If just causing random chaos isn’t your bag, there are plenty of side quests and off-the-beaten-path activities, and almost all of the ones I dug into were either fun diversions from the weighty task of liberating an entire country or deepened my relationship and understanding of the supporting cast – and sometimes both. Given just how much of Far Cry 6 there is, my map was still probably 20% unexplored by the time I rolled credits, and I’m looking forward to diving back in and seeing what I missed – though I hope there aren’t many more with a heavy focus on platforming.
Platforming has never necessarily been a cornerstone of the Far Cry series, but I also don’t remember the jumping and climbing mechanics being as finicky as they are in Six. It’s a relatively minor gripe, but while some games are very clear that “you can only climb on the blue ledges,” the indicators in Far Cry 6 are much less consistent. Some climbable objects are clearly marked in orange. Others in blue. You can only climb these vines but you can also mantle onto ledges that have other vines on them, but not every ledge, because some are just a hair too high and others aren’t high enough. To be clear, most of the time I’m able to clamber over boxes or onto roofs just fine, but when I’m trying to avoid getting machine-gunned to death and get stuck slamming my face into a concrete wall, it’s more than a little frustrating.
This was probably the most irritating technical issue I ran into playing on an Xbox Series X, though it wasn’t the only one. Apart from a couple of freezes or crashes during load screens over 30 hours, though, most of the bugs I ran into were very minor. Some framerate slowdown during cutscenes or driving through dense foliage here, a couple of unbalanced or dropped audio tracks there, and the very rare need to reload a checkpoint.