Individual Progress Reviews & Retrospective Analysis
In this essay, I individually review all seven (yes, I decided to add Primal even though I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to go into it taking it seriously) Far Cry games and then share my thoughts as far as style, tone, gameplay, and story are concerned across all of them. Also, I’ve added a new feature to my reviews: the Progress Review. Beginning with Far Cry 2, I’ve started to share my thoughts while playing at certain hour marks (4, 10, 20, 30) or completion if I beat a game between any of those marks. Beginning with Far Cry 3, the 1 Hour mark is added and “final thoughts” as if it were the only review, and with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, I share my thoughts “before playing” the game. This way, you can get a feel of what playing the game would be like from an analytical standpoint as well as simple gameplay thoughts and reactions. A game may be quite a chore to get through but the last few levels may be amazing but during the progress reviews, you’ll be able to experience all of that without the bias of the last few levels changing a seemingly negative gaming experience. So, let’s get started.
Far Cry – Classic
- Played On: Xbox Arcade
- Time to Beat: 6h33m
- MetaScore: 58
- My Rating: 2/10
Prior to this point (and 2013), I’ve played around six hours of Far Cry 2 and around 30 of Far Cry 3. Since Far Cry 5 is out, I thought I’d go back and play them all in release order to get the full Far Cry experience. After completing this campaign, I only have one question left: “This is a joke, right?” Of course, that question offers the possibility of two distinct responses, yes or no. Let’s first offer some classic benefit of the doubt and choose the former option. In that case, this game is a super corny Bond spoof. It’s a fun and stupid little game to fool around with and I’m glad I didn’t take it seriously. That brings me to my reaction to the other scenario: it takes itself seriously. In that case, this piece of garbage is an abhorrent waste of precious time. I’d rather dig through garbage recreationally for nearly seven hours than replay this soul-sucking dumpster fire. I’m going to give it a 30% because I can’t tell, and having to choose between a 60% and a 10% just doesn’t seem fair. Objectively: there is fun to be had in this game. However, it’s sloppy, silly, and irritating throughout. The voice acting (save for Doyle) is the worst I’ve ever heard in a video game which is why I think it absolutely has to be a parody. Just look up a clip of Far Cry Instinct or Far Cry Classic dialogue and you’ll most likely see what I mean. It’s ridiculous. Even down to the finale which takes place in a volcano with a German villain with no understandable motivation, it reeks of parody but that’s also why I had fun with it. This game is funny, but only because you can laugh at it. It’s such a poor experience if you take it seriously and I guarantee that if you expect anything genuinely good from this, you’ll be drowning in frustration. Did I mention the voice acting? I did? Oh. Well, I have more to say. From the protagonist to the antagonist’s soldiers, everybody sounds like a So-Cal Stoner Bro, jus’… like….woahhhh…you know? Man… such…*excellent*…work, bro. I just… you know? Man… …ARGH. It was incredibly annoying until I thought it might be a spoof and that idea is the only thing that kept me going. Thank god there is Far Cry 3 to look forward to. If this is a spoof, I’d give it a 60% for efforts and comical silliness. If this is a serious action game, I’d give it a 10% for wasting my time. I can see it both ways so I’ll settle with a 30% but that rating is not set in stone, it could go up or down depending on how time warps my perception of this experience.
Far Cry 2
- Played On: Xbox 360
- Time to Beat: 13h7m
- MetaScore: 85
- My Rating: 4/10
4 HOURS IN:
While I appreciated the open-world addition to this series, as well as increased realism, it became quite tedious. By biggest problems with the first game was that it was just over-the-top ridiculous (and stupid) but this one is the exact opposite… and because of that this game is slow. You get malaria, and have to take pills. Your gun jams, and disrupts firefights. The map isn’t that big but your methods of transportation are slow and unreliable and often require maintenance just to keep rolling. It takes 50 inaccurately sprayed bullets to wound enemies, and sometimes they’ll get up off the ground and keep shooting after you think they’ve been killed. It’s just a chore to get across the map because you’ll not only move slow, but get stopped by antagonistic AI that’ll slow you down even more. To get missions, you have to go to select areas and then as soon as you accept them, your “buddies” interrupt your traveling to offer you another quest. This only happens when you accept a new quest…which was quite frustrating.
10 HOURS IN:
I’m about 10 hours into the game and really just trying to finish it as fast as possible. I’ve looked up the mission list so that I have a checklist but all of the missions I’ve been doing for the last 5 hours have been the same: go into town, accept a mission, leave the town, kill a person, come back into town, repeat. The entire game seems to be based around the cease-fire zone representing the “home base” and then venturing out of town to act as a hitman. My experience can be explained as not just travel from A to B but: A to B to A to C to A to D to A to E to A to F to A to G to A to G to A… and so on. It’s annoying and exhausting especially because traveling around this map (I’ve unlocked a southern extension which has doubled the total map size) is quite troublesome. Driving without interruption is impossible as trigger-happy fools will shoot you before even checking to see if you’re on their side or not.
Safe to say, I don’t enjoy playing this game. Between malaria, guns jamming, repetitive missions, obstacle-course map, and other annoying mechanics, I don’t see how the rest of the game could save my enjoyment but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and hold off on selecting a rating until I actually beat the game. This is a huge test of patience.
Okay, I beat it literally seconds ago. I’m not hanging around to do a single optional/side/bonus quest or anything, especially including the diamond/achievement hunting… I’d love to know how long it took me to beat it but I’m having to sit through the longest credits in the world and I can’t skip them (not helping my rating). I guess, now that I’m done, I can give my final thoughts. I’m not a fan of this game. It’s not bad by any means but the repetitive nature of the missions paired with the inability to traverse the map easily took all of the fun out of playing it hour after hour. In theory, this game is amazing. I mean, the realism is just off the charts but that’s what really ended up hurting how enjoyable it was to me in the end. I can’t see myself going back to play this game for any reason. I almost gave up on it a second time but I’m glad I pulled through because I can wipe my hands of this over-corrective effort and move onto Far Cry 3 which is one that I’ve considered one of my all-time favorites since 2012 but haven’t played since then.
Far Cry 3
- Played On: Xbox 360
- Time to Beat: 14h24m
- MetaScore: 91
- My Rating: 10/10
1 HOUR IN:
First thing, right off the bat: before you even start the game, you choose your difficulty. The hardest difficulty that is offered is described as “worse than malaria.” Already, this game seems to shift the tone of the previous game to offer something more fun and enjoyable. After an hour of playing, my timer went off but it felt as though it had only been at most 20 minutes, which means that I was having a blast. There were a few significant changes that I’ve noticed so far mainly in comparison to Far Cry 2. For one, fast travel. Traveling in FC2 to ANY location was time consuming and stressful. Even going around a mountain was a pain in the ass because your character could only jump twice without running out of energy (and you could only sprint for 4 seconds at a time…try combining these), but you’re able to fast travel from ANY place to ANY safe house or outpost that you’ve unlocked. It speeds up the gameplay so much and allows me more time to focus on quests and other important tasks. Another huge improvement is the addition of skill trees and crafting recipes, which are giving me yet another thing to work towards and focus on; being able to rank my player up based on experience is immensely rewarding and truly makes grinding much more exciting. The last few improvements I noticed all sort of relate to each other: protagonist, antagonist, and tone. FC2’s protagonist had no name, no voice, no personality, and only existed to serve the story. Also, FC2’s antagonist was nonexistant as well. There were 5 or so “bad guys” but the worst one was the player as I killed people as a part of a hitman hire just about every mission. FC3’s Vaas is unhinged, terrifying, and absolutely mesmerizing as well. It’s honestly just amazing, the improvement that this franchise’s villains have seen just between the second and third games. Because of the great protagonist and antagonist, the tone is palpable. The tone of 2 was “gritty realism” but was taken too far to the point of boring. The tone of 3 is a balanced mixture of dark adventure, twisted fun, and thrilling excitement…and it works so well, so far.
4 HOURS IN:
Now that I’ve been playing for a while, I’m starting to get a grasp on what all this game has to offer. The four-hour mark in a big game is usually around the point where you’ll begin to see if it’s going to be repetitive or fresh for the duration and this game just keeps offering more and more things to do, and things to look forward to doing. The map is “blacked-out” until you go to the radio towers and unjam the signals, which will allow you to see the area surrounding it on your map. From there, you can go to enemy outposts and kill all of the bad guys which will liberate the post and bring good guys to it. At liberated outposts, you can complete more missions for money, experience points, and rare animal skins, as well as buy/upgrade weapons, buy maps to see the location of hidden items, and sell loot that you don’t need. The enemy outposts and radio towers are scattered around the map, so to get to them you have to do a bit of exploring which is exponentially more enjoyable and rewarding than it was in Far Cry: Malaria. Also, unjamming the radio towers allows for arms dealers in the area to get shipments of better guns, which the player gets for free. Again, a rewarding element to gameplay. The story, at this point, it still just in the first act and so far has just asked me to help free some friends. I haven’t encountered the villain in a while so there is this lull-period but I’m hoping it’ll pick back up soon. Of course, I haven’t done any missions in a bit as I’ve just been looting, hunting, exploring, and unjamming towers so I’ve put myself in this position but I’m looking forward to getting back on track.
10 HOURS IN:
Now I’m around the point in an open world game where I’m just unable to stop playing. At 10 hours, I’ve scratched the surface of just about everything to do. I’ve done all of the radio towers so every gun is free and now I can hunt for relics. An hour ago, I got to the second half of the map which is now unlocked and just as big as the first half. Unlike Far Cry 2, unlocking the second half is extremely satisfying because now I have a wing suit glider and can jump off of any mountain top to immediately glide across the clouds. It’s amazing. I won’t mention why, but the story most definitely picked back up. I’ve spent the last 3-4 hours doing exclusively story-missions so the cinematic quality of gameplay has skyrocketed, offering me missions that were truly exceptional in emotion, action, exploration, and surprises. The arc that Jason has is amazing, and I’ll just talk about this without giving much of it away: he goes from being a guy who doesn’t want to hold a gun to somebody that can’t get enough of killing. It really makes sense how Jason — and the player — get better at killing as time progresses. The skill tree not only helps the player do better at later points in the game (where enemies are tougher) but Jason and the characters around him are receptive to these changes. Each new skill gives Jason a new tattoo for his sleeve; the more ink, the more skill. He becomes “the white man with the tatau of the warrior” and when the ink is covered up, he can blend in with his enemies. It really it just an absolute blast, running around as an enemy and then taking down dozens of them with expert takedowns. 10 hours in, though, and some glitches have been made quite clear. For one, if you’re on fire the game will ask you to hold Y to put out the flame. BUT, if you also need to heal, you need to hold the same button. So, there will be times when the game does one, or neither, but not both. I’ve had to reload many checkpoints because I die for some stupid reason like NOT being able to put out the fire on my arms. That is probably the most frustrating aspect of the game I’ve encountered but it doesn’t happen too often unless I get cocky and run into an outpost with nothing but a sniper. Either way, I’m having way too much fun with this game, it’s an unbelievable improvement of both previous games and the way it has combined the tones is just marvelous. Next review coming at either HOUR 15 or completion.
My save says I’ve put 13 hours and 24 minutes into the game but I don’t think Far Cry 2 or 3 have counted the time I spent before dying and reloading checkpoints, so I’ll add a rounded hour to that time and say this game took my 14 and a half hours to beat. From that point, I’ve put another two and a half hours into the game just running around the island for fun and for hunting the last few achievements that I need. Since I’m done with the game, I can now give my final thoughts on the experience as a whole (no story spoilers) and then my thoughts on the game compared to the others. First, a few things I haven’t touched on yet: relics and lost letters. Scattered throughout the game’s world are ancient relics and lost letters that, when all found, tell a story about the secrets of the island. It’s really nothing major but it is pretty cool just to find them all. Not too much to say here, I don’t did it for the achievement. When you reach a certain number of collectibles, you’ll unlock signature weapons in the shop: weapons that you can craft yourself but that give you enhanced stats like accuracy, fire rate, or damage. They’re way too expensive and not really worth the $3-4k price but they’re nice to have just to help get you to that 100% completion mark. One thing I noticed that helps gameplay but insults intelligence is the color code that AI have: blue for friendly, red for pirates, and yellow for militia. Basically, three armies: Citra’s, Vaas’, and Hoyt’s, which is an organizational pattern that allows for planning your attacks depending on the people inside the camp but these parties rarely interact with each other so the usefulness stops there. Lastly, I only need one more campaign achievement and then the rest are co-op achievements which brings me to a problem I have with this game but also moreso with gaming as a whole: it’s never just offline single-player anymore; there are always things that force you to play online with other people. The last 6-8 achievements are co-op missions that cannot be done with just one person. Since I’m playing this game in August 2018, I’m supposed to either have a friend who has the game, find somebody random online, or plug in another controller and have it be idle while I do 2x the amount of work for one player. It just seems greedy and annoying to force players to rope somebody else into their achievement hunting and this is one part of the game that I won’t end up experiencing.
Far Cry 3 is a masterful achievement in not only action gameplay, sandbox exploration, and character customization, but most important: story as well. For a game to offer a world so extremely massive as this, not having a through-line for the player to work alongside would be a tremendous downfall. Luckily, FC3 tells a beautiful story of soul-searching and redemption. Commencing with jumping out of a helicopter and ending with shooting from one, Jason Brody’s arc has served as an enviable pillar of narrative for not only the Far Cry franchise but all gaming plots in general. Very few times since my first playthrough in 2012 have I encountered a game that feel so amazing as this one. Sure, other games may offer better characters, polished graphics, fine-tuned mechanics, but hardly any as much heart. Even after putting 18 hours into the game, I don’t feel done with all that it has to offer even though I’m 1 achievement away from having them all (and it’s achievement that literally asks me to just throw rocks). From Sam and Willis to Citra and Dennis to Vaas and Hoyt and everyone in between, FC3 offers incredible characters whether they’re “good” or “bad,” and the best thing about them is that it’s not always easy to tell. When Jason Brody becomes the killing machine that they’ve turned him into, he basks in the glory and bathes in the blood but soon asks if it’s the right thing to do. Is saving his handful of friends really worth the piles of bodies that he’s stacking up? This game not only asks questions like that, but offers an extreme amount of fun in the process. It’s a wholesome experience that will not only satisfy your craving for heartfelt drama and wicked shootouts, but I found myself often simply cruising around and stopping to smell (pick) the flowers. It’s an all-around terrific game that is only damaged by the time that has gone by. Glitches such as HOLD Y to (heal / put out fire) causes quite a bit of grief and takedowns that don’t always trigger when they should (sometimes would just swing at air and alert my enemies) also became troublesome but I can’t fault the game too much for that as I was playing faster than I should have to trigger certain cinematics. That being said, those qualms would in no way give me any hesitation from popping this game in again and starting from scratch. I can’t get enough of Far Cry 3 and to this day it remains one of my favorite games of all time.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
- Played On: Xbox 360
- Time to Beat: 2h50m
- MetaScore: 80
- My Rating: 9/10
I’m not really sure what to expect of this game. In FC3, Ubisoft Montreal definitely figured out what the franchise is finally supposed to be as far as tone goes: self-aware, fun, yet haunting. It seems like Blood Dragon may stay with that while giving us some classic sci-fi movie tropes. To be transparent, I have played the demo of this game when it came out. So, maybe the first 15 minutes of gameplay I’ve already experienced but remember very little of. I remember Michael Biehn being cast as the protagonist, the tutorial being funny, and fighting some sort of robots or aliens or something with laser guns. Just describing it now makes me excited to jump into the whole game for the first time and I don’t expect much more than just to have a good time inside an off-brand Terminator world. After reading some basic reviews, the general thoughts that pop up the most have been “this game was designed to be a cult classic” and “the joke wears thin,” we’ll see if I end up agreeing or not. That being said, it’s time to start playing. I’ll be back.
1 HOUR IN:
It’s been an hour and a half but I couldn’t stop playing. Basically: this game is Far Cry 3 in the style of 1980’s sci-fi cinema. So far it seems to be a love letter to The Terminator with some Predator, Alien, and other classic film references scattered throughout but one thing’s for sure: this game is as tongue-in-cheek as can be. In that way, it’s hilarious but the self-awareness is something I could see getting old. It’s not old yet, but it’s freshness will become stale after not too long (considering how the entire game is built on references and jokes that can only work for a certain amount of time). Past that, this game is pretty much an extension of FC3 with a sci-fi filter on it. So, if one didn’t like that game, don’t play this game. For me, I love that game so I’m having a lot of fun with this so far. The world is open but smaller, there are areas to liberate, and the progression system works similarly but limits you to a set path to rank up on instead of skill trees to work through. Either way, the gameplay is ridiculously entertaining and I can’t wait to keep going. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I’ll do. Hasta la vista, baby.
Well, it took me two hours and 50 minutes to beat the game; definitely a “short and sweet” sort of scenario we have here. In the last hour and a half, I’ve been having nearly unparalleled fun. For me, the joke has not only not been worn thin, but has gotten funnier throughout. The whole world (characters, and score) are most definitely straight out of James Cameron’s 1984 mind but on top of that, you burn eggs like his 86 Alien sequel, and there’s a workout montage reminiscent of all classic sports movies but most notably the original Rocky. It’s such a blast to relive film moments like these and to have it all wrapped in one big sci-fi “parody” is amazing. Of course, I use the word parody lightly because while it does spoof some elements of sci-fi cinema, it only does it out of love. I think my favorite part of the game is the AI narrator who is honestly the funniest character I’ve ever heard in a video game, period. I’ve laughed to tears twice now just listening to her in the background. One thing that I forgot to mention at the 1 hour mark was the style of cutscene that’s chosen: something like a late 1980’s video game, low-bit slide-show. I thought it would get old, and it started to, but as the story picked up so did my love of these aesthetics. Gotta say, I’m digging the hell out of this game and am definitely sticking around the world to explore and hunt achievements I haven’t gotten yet. To me, this is like Ready Player One or Infinity War on the levels that it respects it’s audience (in different ways), and just wants them to have fun. If I haven’t beaten everything else before the four hour mark, I’ll finish up this Blood Dragon review then, most likely.
4 HOURS IN:
I’ve put in nearly twice as much time into this game as it took me to complete the main campaign. For the last two hours, I’ve been running around liberating garrisons, collected VHS tapes, finding TV sets, and picking up Doctor’s Notes. As mentioned, this is pretty much just FC3 with a sci-fi filter so the comparison between tapes and notes to relics and letters is one that’s easy to make. However, after beating the campaign I almost feel that this game is more like Far Cry Classic than Far Cry 3 in a lot of ways. In my review of FCC, I stated that it seemed like a spoof of the spy genre in that you had this almost Bond-esque protagonist fighting a mad German scientist climaxing in a battle in a volcano set piece fighting genetically modified soldiers and apes. In Blood Dragon, you have something very similar: a RoboCop-esque soldier fighting a mad genetically modified soldier in a futuristic Terminator world full of robo-soldiers and animals. Furthermore, the villain’s scientific experiments have allowed him to bring back people from the dead which is even more reminiscent of Classic‘s villain’s experiments. This really seems like not only a remake of 3 with a sci-fi filter but also a remake of Classic with a sci-fi filter…and a filter that works for the story and characters. Safe to say, this game was amazing and the last level in the campaign is one of my favorite story missions I’ve played in quite a long time.
Blood Dragon is an absolute blast. It’s a romp through everything we know and love about classic sci-fi movies ranging from the Terminator-inspired world to level designs reminiscent of Aliens, Logan’s Run, and Predator, to references to Running Man, Empire Strikes Back, and Rocky. More than that, it’s a romp through everything we know and love about Far Cry ranging from it’s piggybacking off of the amazing Far Cry 3 gameplay and mechanics to it’s complete reimagining of the first Far Cry’s high-potential yet ultimately low-quality…everything. Blood Dragon manages to shine where the other games have not, and could not: it’s sense of humor. Dozens of times throughout I found myself laughing out loud, occasionally spitting out my drink or even laughing to tears. The AI voice communicating with our protagonist as well as the AI voice heard over enemy base loud speakers was nothing short of spectacular, entertaining in the best ways and I find myself wanting to start the game all over just to make sure I pick up on every word she says. Beyond her, the tutorials and the loading screens are an equal pleasure to experience as they not only keep your eyes on the screen, but keep you having fun which is the entire point of this spin-off. I reached 100% completion and collected all achievements (aside from the “headshot” one which I’ll have to go back through the campaign again to get) in under 5 hours. The game is far from hard but it’s never too easy to the point that I felt bored. Once I got the over-powered final weapon, I could make enemies explode just by looking at them (almost) and even then, I still had unadulterated fun. Basically, I can recommend Blood Dragon enough. The only downside I can think of is that the VHS-filter on your screen at all times may give you a headache as it started to get a little old for me but it certainly didn’t stop me from playing this game way too late into the night. Blood Dragon, like Far Cry 3, cannot be passed up on. Play, and play again.
Far Cry 4:
- Played On: PlayStation 4
- Time to Beat: 21h50m
- MetaScore: 85
- My Rating: 7/10
Far Cry 4 and I have a love-hate relationship. Of course, I’ve wanted to play through this game since the very minute it was released. When I upgraded from an Xbox 360 to an Xbox One, this game was one of the very first that I picked up. If you know me, you’d know that I went through two Xbox One’s before finally getting one that worked. For the month or so that I had that working Xbone, I played FC4 for about 25 hours. In December, I traded my daft Xbone for a new PS4 and had to start from scratch. However, my FC4 game was broken because of one glitch: the handgun takedown. After performing a handgun takedown (which allows you to silently kill an enemy, take his gun, and then shoot people around you to kill them in one shot), his handgun was permanently one of my weapons which meant I could aim in the general direction of ANYBODY and kill them in one shot. I ran around shooting randomly and pretty much killed people with every single bullet fired. It was fun, but it ruined my save and I couldn’t go back from it. That sucks for two reasons: I put about 40 hours into the game before that happened, and got farther into the story than I had the first time. Even after I discarded the gun and traded for an actual unlocked gun, I couldn’t reload or use throwables. It was weird and the game was ruined. So now, after having played FC4 for more than 60 hours, I’m having to play the beginning for the third time in two years and I really hope it hasn’t gotten stale to me and I can actually beat the game with a fresh pair of eyes. Anyways, we’ll see if that happens.
1 HOUR IN:
Only an hour in and I’m already having quite a few problems that will potentially break the game yet again. Starting with least serious: it says I’ve played 16 hours and 15 minutes which is about 15 hours and 10 minutes too high. This is because it’s including my last attempt even though I uninstalled the game and started a new save. Not too bad, just a minor annoyance. Slightly higher up on the list is the number of Rupees I am getting. From something called “Poker App,” I started with 250k which is as much as my current wallet can carry. I definitely didn’t earn that money and I don’t like that I have it, the fact that I do makes me worried that more glitches will occur. Slightly higher up the list still is that some posters that appear on the map aren’t appearing on the walls of buildings where they should, and I hope that other collectibles in the world don’t have this problem or else I won’t be able to unlock all of the trophies. Highest up on the list is whenever I open or close the menu, my controls go crazy; my weapon wheel will open and act like I’m having trouble making up my mind what gun to use, and in the menu the map will zoom and move which is far from good. I think I’m going to have to call it a night with this game and go to the nearest game store tomorrow to buy a different copy. Aside from those problems, I’m having a good amount of fun so far. The graphical improvement is absolutely outstanding and this game is four years old so I can’t wait to see what the fifth game looks like. The character, though, is a dead end and a letdown. If he starts the game already knowing how to takedown enemies, shoot like an expert, fix radio tower broadcast signals, and craft from animal hides, I don’t see what sort of character progression is possible. It just feels flat which sucks because that’s all fixable with just a thorough tutorial of his role in the world and his abilities learned thus far. I don’t know anything about him which makes me feel like this is going to be more like Far Cry 2 than Far Cry 3… I also noticed some features from 2 that have popped up like sleeping and changing the time of day to whenever you want Ajay to wake up. So far (glitches excluded) I’m having mixed feelings about where this is going. It seems like Far Cry 3 with an HD filter; an extension of what that game offered without the great story that got us to the end. If I have to start this game over yet again tomorrow, I’ll make a note of it but until then, I’m going to pretend like the glitches are over with and keep moving forward.
4 HOURS IN:
Okay, before I get into why I’m in love with this game so far let me digress on a few issues I previously alluded to: the weapon wheel going crazy. I discovered that the touchpad in the middle is the reason for all of that happening; the sensor is so extremely sensitive that even the lightest brush will activate it and that’s what was causing a few issues for me. The poster that I couldn’t find ended up being a book on a table which explains why the walls were bare. Finally, the money that I got randomly hasn’t occurred since so I’m thinking it’s just some “new game” feature that I don’t understand. How in three hours did FC4 go from being a potential stinker to a shining star in my eyes? Well, for a great number of reasons. First, the map. It’s bigger and better than all previous games. It’s quite mountainous which I thought would prove difficult when traversing the landscape but climbing up steep cliffs by spamming “jump” and hoping for the best is no longer necessary. Now, you can grapple up most ledges and work your way to the top easily. Also, it’s gorgeous. Everywhere you look are peaks, valleys, lakes, and towns that are sure to take your breath away. I’ve been simply exploring and collecting all artifacts that I possibly can since FC3 and FCBD rewarded that element so well. Second, the tone. I think this game series finally realized what it was: action adventure with great stories. The first game was too silly, the second was too gritty, the third game perfected the balance and now the fourth is capitalizing on it. That being said, I’m still waiting for some mention in the story as to why Ajay Ghale needed no weapon or combat training at the beginning of the game. Once I get those details, I’ll be much happier with the game and more willing to rank it up with 3 and Blood Dragon as pretty much perfect action-adventure games. Not only are there references to the previous games with mechanics and objectives, but weapons as well– and it’s a reference to a game that I didn’t expect to see: Blood Dragon. The main handgun in BD makes an appearance in this game, unlockable simply by signing up for a UPlay account. The AJM9 with suppressor and extended mag attachments is fully playable and honestly, just makes me so happy. It doesn’t shoot lasers but hey, it’s a fun little wink to the player. I’ll save the rest of my gaming for tomorrow night.
10 HOURS IN:
Campaign progression has been limited in the last six hours. For the most part, my priorities have been side quests and searching for hidden items throughout the map; it’s been extremely satisfying and rewarding not only personally but for my character as well. I haven’t gotten any hints as to why Ajay is a master assassin yet but I’m waiting for it, a tentative benefit of the doubt is in place but I’ll just as soon revoke it if we never get any sort of backstory for our protagonist. From the story writers’ perspective, I can see why they don’t want to introduce another weapon-ignorant hero into an open world (2, 3, BD, now 4) as it’s a formula that could seem worn out but even worse is the foregoing of such details. If the only reason for leaving something like that out then consider me disappointed in that aspect. I mean, I’ve been binge-playing this series and I’m complaining about the fifth game not having a formulaic tutorial and introduction period.
The increased amount of collectible types is something that could, in theory, become a chore to hunt down but as each type (Mani Wheel, Mohan’s Journals, Lost Letters, haunted Masks, Propaganda Posters, and Thangka pieces) rewards you differently through Karma, XP boosts, trophies, and signature weapons, it’s varied enough to keep the hunting exciting every time I find something. Additionally, the Shanath Arena is an added bonus. This sort of reminds me of the second-to-last mission in Blood Dragon where your only goal is to survive and kill waves of enemies, as your goal is the same here. It’s a totally optional mini-game mode that allows you to earn XP and unlock new signature weapons to help in the campaign. I’ve also noticed a few more references to past game through the hunting down of collectibles and undiscovered locations (like one place being named after a Far Cry 3 location, “The Crazy Cock Bar”), and even though the games don’t seem to tie together in ways beyond subtle nods, it makes me happy for having played the rest.
Anyways, what have I discovered about the game in the last six hours? Traveling across the map has been made easier due to the addition of the buzzer, which is a personal rideable helicopter but the speed and height of the machine depend on where you are as the game doesn’t allow you to fly too high or over certain areas. Also, it’s easy to crash, hard to go unnoticed, and impossible to ride for too long. The other main thing that I’ve noticed about traveling in the game would be the varying environment types, such as the snowy peaks of the Himalyas but since I haven’t even progressed past the fourth bell tower, I can’t comment on the rest of the map yet. In all seriousness, I expect this game to take me at least 40 hours since I’m going for 100% completion (or all trophies) by the time I finish the final mission. I’ve always left side quests for after the main campaign but it always feels like back-tracking grunt work. So, I’m doing everything at once to try something new which will take much longer but I think Far Cry is a series worth experimenting with.
20 HOURS IN:
The past 10 hours of gameplay have really offered me a lot, and with the way that I’m playing it, I’ve noticed quite a few changes from the past two attempts at completion. Since I’m playing in the order of Bell Towers, Outposts, Collectibles, Side Missions, and lastly Campaign Missions per each section of the map, I’ve progressed incredibly quickly through the ranks as far as XP, Karma, and what guns I’ve unlocked. Before ACT I was even done in the game, I was top level in Karma, and I’ve had more skill points than I could do anything with. When I finally got around to doing the campaign missions, fast traveling to destinations made everything go by so quickly since I’d already been everywhere the game wanted me to go. Because of the backwards way that I’m accomplishing things, the actual campaign feels much shorter than it had in the past. Instead of doing missions and then unlocking skills, I’m getting my skills first which means missions are much easier to do and I’m more of a master of the traits I use during those missions. Very rarely does a campaign mission take longer than 5-10 minutes, even the ones that I remember giving me a lot of trouble in the past (made possible now with my weapons and skills).
At around 15 hours of gameplay this go-around, I had unlocked and purchased all possible signature weapons and all Ghale homestead items yet last time at 15 hours, I was still at the same point in the story with none of those things, struggling to keep any money in my pocket. I suppose the developer of this game really wasn’t expecting people to play this way as my wallet is always full and I keep running out of ways to spend it. Gotta say, it’s quite refreshing and I may have to do this for Far Cry 5 as well. One of my favorite things in the game was the (re)introduction of a character that had appeared in FC3, Willis. I didn’t expect him to show up even though I’ve played those missions three times now; playing FC3 before this really was quite a bonus and I’m happy that I did. My least favorite part of the campaign, however, is the inclusion of all the drug-fueled trips. Every time you go to Yogi & Reggie, Shangri-La, or multiple times throughout the story itself, you’re forced to go into some psychedelic trance which really just disrupts the flow of the story. They hardly ever lead anywhere and not only grow confusing for the character but tiresome for the player. Drug trips, as well as the trips in FC3 and basically the entirety of Blood Dragon, are awesome, but they’ve run their course and I’d like to see them become a) more unique or b) more rewarding. I’ll most likely have everything done by the 30-hour mark so the next post in this section might just be “completion.”
(Indirect spoilers discussed) An hour and 50 minutes later, and I’ve beaten the campaign. I stopped going for all of the collectibles (got all of the trophies for those) and just focused on completing missions. Within about 30 minutes, I was broke and just an hour later, disappointed. I gotta say, that ending was not only unsatisfying but also shockingly abrupt. Given the choice to kill or spare people is given to you throughout the story but if you choose the former then the missions end without any sort of epilogue or consequence. I’m not saying that’s what happened during the final mission but if it had, then I would be quite let down. The whole reason that Ajay is even in Kyrat in the first place is to scatter his mother’s ashes on a place that’s mentioned 3 or so times throughout the campaign and after the last mission, Ajay says it’s not even important. “Focusing on rebuilding Kyrat” is the explanation given but there aren’t any campaign missions that pop up after that happens. So, not only is the story incomplete but the ending that I was given was so shockingly short and simple that I’m left nearly irritated by it. Furthermore, Ajay is the weakest character out of everybody in Kyrat including (not limited to) but especially the supporting characters that you only see half a dozen times during the story. Ugh.
Far Cry 4 is the series high point as far as exploration goes, giving us a world that is nearly infinitely expansive not because it’s wide, but because it’s deep. Collecting Lost Letters, spinning Mani Wheels, destroying Yalung Masks, reading Ghale Journals, and burning Propaganda Posters offered a dozen hours of fun. Doing these things just got me to venture out into the gorgeous world and see it my own way, a task that was not only endlessly rewarding but also just a damn fun time. Unfortunately, the story is not as deep as the world it takes place in and ultimately falls short of the quality of even some of the side missions that turn out to be entirely optional.
Protagonist Ajay Ghale is perhaps the weakest character of the bunch as his background is unknown, personality is dry, and purpose in the game is simply to support the story of Kyrat. Ghale is simply a thin puppet controlled by the supporting cast, to do the will of the Golden Path. While Amita and Sabal are decent characters, they have no growth and only offer the same things throughout the entirety of the campaign. Side missions such as Yogi & Reggie offer, or the Thangka quests, and even a few of the campaign missions grow old as they send you into psychedelic trips which all end up blurring together and rewarding very little. Now, Far Cry 3 had missions which sort of did the same but they were not only unique but inventive each time, and they served a purpose. Here, they just seemed to lengthen some of the missions and provide some sense of progress, a facade that ran thin. Also, Far Cry 3 got away with it because it provided us with a protagonist that worked. A protagonist that, mind you, grew throughout the story as he became a warrior to save the island from pirates and mercenaries. That sounds similar to what the story in this game ended up being but the difference between Ajay and Jason is that Jason had a distinct arc from So-Cal rich boy to selfless leader, acquiring skills along the way that helped him save people. Before Kyrat, Ajay was…somebody and after Kyrat he became…somebody else. He not only didn’t grow as a character but he shrunk, abandoning the one quest he came to Kyrat for.
Safe to say, the story was not what I hoped it would be. However, the world of Kyrat offered me nearly 22 hours of wonderful gameplay, much more than I could have expected. The side quests absolutely stood out as a high point, asking me to rescue hostages, assassinate mercenaries, hunt animals, defuse bombs, race cars, save citizens, and so much else. Really, the heart and soul of this game is the world, and the smaller characters inside of it. Playing Far Cry 4 was a great experience up until the final mission and it’s something that I will remember fondly. It is far from being the incredible video-game experience that 3 offered but it was a great time all the same.
Far Cry Primal:
- Played On: PlayStation 4
- Time to Beat: 19h33m
- MetaScore: 76
- My Rating: 8/10
I really have no idea what to expect of this game. It looks like a fun little DLC but it’s actually it’s own entire game, which makes me skeptical that it’s going to have enough to offer to keep me entertained as I beat the campaign. I’m not sure how this idea got greenlit by the developer but honestly, I’m excited to see what it has in store because whoever pitched it had to win over a LOT of people, I’m guessing. I could see how this idea could work, though, but I’m still having a hard time believing that it will. The story better be pretty excellent to warrant an entire game being in, presumably, subtitles. Well, here goes nothing.
1 HOUR IN:
Hmm… I don’t really know what to say. I mean, it’s kinda fun and it did put a smile on my face. Taming the first wolf made me grin but other than that moment, I’m not seeing much that’s going to make this game as fun to play as the three previous games. A few aspects that this game is succeeding at so far is the main character who (unlike FC4) we don’t need to know much about. Not to stereotype or anything (eye roll)… but he’s a caveman so his daily life is pretty easy to grasp. Also, all of the dialogue sounds stupid but given the time period of 10K BCE, poetic syntax wasn’t a priority and it can graciously be overlooked (unlike FCC). I am looking forward to seeing where taming animals leads me as I love animals and the first taming mission has given me a lot of joy so far; I’ll be sad if Whiskers ends up dying on me.
To my dismay, there was a drug-trip sequence in this game as well. To my surprise, it was pretty fucking cool. More like FC3 and less like 4, this trip was beautiful and less grotesque. Visually stunning and purposeful, I found myself pleasantly surprised that not only the trip mission but the game as a whole is delivering elements that are surpassing the previous entry. In a nutshell, if Blood Dragon was a Far Cry 3 re-skin with sci-fi textures, then Primal is a Far Cry 4 re-skin with prehistoric textures. It sort of seems like a joke without the comedy and that’s not to say that it’s a bad thing, but I’m still waiting on the game to hook me. The progression system, the collectibles-hunting, and the outposts (now “bonfires”) are all pretty much ripped right out of the previous three games and aside from tweaks to each one of them, they’re mostly the same (skills and crafting, too). Exploration is a highlight of this series and I find that the games are the best when they remember that they’re fun action-adventure games… so as long as Primal stays true to that, I could see myself going for the platinum trophy on this game as well. Back in a few hours.
Oh, and the minimap looks like 8-bit shit. Not sure what’s up with that but I hope I can upgrade it or something because it just seems incredibly unfinished.
5 HOURS IN:
Yes, I was going to do a progress review at four hours of gameplay but I looked at the clock at 3:24 and then again at 4:17 so I thought we could go ahead and round up to 5:00 even. I’ve gotta say, I’m having a good time with this game! It’s been mostly just fetch quests over and over again, requiring me to go to point A to do something for somebody which requires me to go to point B and then back to A or to the homebase-area. One thing’s for sure though, doing this fetch quests is much more fun than doing them in FC2 because at least this feels so unique that it’s hard to hate on. Sure, the gameplay isn’t exactly as fast as the previous games but given that stealth has been a huge mechanic that has benefited my style quite a bit, and that extends to this game as well.
Honestly, there is almost too much to do in this game and by that I mean there’s too much in a good way and a bad way. The good way: you won’t run out of things to do in just a few hours, and will stay entertained if you enjoy playing it. The bad way: I just want to have beaten this game already and having to do all of these quests and missions is beginning to get stale already. I’ve grown tired of some of the mechanics but I’ve only scratched the surface of things to do and although I’m starting to see clearly how upgrading, crafting, skills, and the population of the camps work, I don’t see myself getting as into this game as I have the three previous games. That being said, I’ve quite escaped into this world and was having trouble finding a good stopping point because I wanted to keep going. Now…whether I wanted to keep going because I was enjoying myself or because I just wanted to get more things done is somewhat up in the air since both are slightly true. Safe to say, five hours in and I have mixed feelings. Around this time of gameplay, I’d be done with Far Cry Blood Dragon and I think one of the main reasons I found that game so appealing was because it didn’t overstay it’s welcome. Primal seems as though it may.
10 HOURS IN:
I think it’s funny that not only a game with such an off-putting(ly unique) premise can win people over, but also that a game can win somebody over that came into playing it with such skepticism. There’s no doubt I’m in that camp and I really can’t applaud the dev team enough for having the courage to back a project like this and then put so much time and effort into making it as good as they have. Even making FPS games about WWI or the American Revolution are often looked at as if they’re crazy but to make a game about hunting and gathering in 10K BCE is just amazing. And my experience over the last five hours has been as well. Honestly, time has flown by and I find myself really enjoying this experience.
While playing, I usually jot down things I’d like to discuss in these little progress reviews but I haven’t really learned much between this update and the last; it’s been more of the same as far as upgrading skills, crafting weapons, completing missions, and building huts. Only one thing really stood out to me and that’s the character of Urki. Far Cry 4 had a character named Hurk who was this obnoxious man from the southern states in the USA and based on my research, is a great descendant of Hurk. The reason Urki stood out to me, though, is because he talks the exact same way, down to the ridiculous southern accent and mannerisms. Until Urki, the game was respectably authentic (at least as far as an FPS in 10000 BC could be) but Urki just broke that fourth wall into pieces and although he detracted from the aforementioned “authenticity,” he made me laugh hard and I loved having him around. He proves that this series is staying true to what is needs to be: fun action-adventure games. If Primal takes itself too seriously, then we’re back where we started with Far Cry 2. Alternatively, if it doesn’t take itself seriously at all then we have an even worse Far Cry Classic mess. There’s a sweet spot, and Primal is embracing it.
One of the other things I noticed as that this character is MILES better than the protagonist in FC4. Even though it’s nearly impossible to pick up on vocal cues and emotional inflection as one is able to do in native tongues, Whatever-His-Name-Is is just much better written for the smallest reasons that all add up to just a better person to play as. As a leader, he’s more supportive than the limpy Ajay Ghale and even though “Primal Protagonist” is pretty flat, he’s just more likable because he has more personality and leadership skills.
The trophies in the game are guiding me through the story and world pretty well but because some of the trophies ask for specific “x” number of kills with weapon “y,” I’ve realized that there is no way to track many of the progressive stats that most games (and even previous games in this series) have offered. Furthermore, the way that you do check stats in the game is by visiting you cave wall paintings (just look at them for stats to pop up) but they’re not useful statistics and the paintings are easy to miss. That may just be a nitpick but it leads me to more small issues I’ve experienced: it’s a lot harder to navigate and prioritize a list of things to do. I get that this reduced user-friendly gameplay is supposed to make it slightly more realistic but given that Urki is in the game and, frankly, realism has gone out the window with the ability to tame a Sabertooth and ride it into enemy camps using a flaming club as a baseball bat, I would like some more mechanics to make the game easier to use. I assume I’ll beat the campaign and get all trophies before the next 10 hour mark so I guess I’ll see you at completion!
Wow, that cut it close: 19h33m to get all of the trophies and complete the campaign. Anyway, yeah I’m quite a big fan of this little game. I feel the need to walk back on most negative things I’ve said so far especially with how much doubt I had in this game to begin with. I like it much more than Far Cry 4 for a great number of reasons but the main few being character and story. A good character is one the story supports and a good story is one the character supports but they aren’t mutually exclusive, and Primal is interesting because without one you wouldn’t have the other. Our protagonist (whatever his name is) isn’t a strong protagonist but he’s a great character because of how he serves the story, which is nothing without him. I felt emotionally invested in not only his transformation from zero to hero a la Far Cry 3 but even moreso in the characters around him. Dah, for example, is sort of the moral backbone of the story as he provides a foil for Primal Protagonist to work off of, giving both more depth. At the conclusion of the game, I was quite suprised just how much I cared about those two in particular.
Another thing I’ve failed to mention up to this point is just how damn beautiful the game looks. I’m not talking about graphics because, frankly, they’re quite disgusting at times (try petting your animal, holy cow that’s frightening) but just the landscape and artistic design put into the world and background. There were a few moments when playing that I simply stopped and looked around; my flaming spear contrasted with the dark, dense forest housing wolves whose eyes glimmered from the reflection as a Milky Way sky laid a blanket of stars on the chaotic world… it was fantastic to see moments like that between using arrows to open enemies’ heads open like watermelons. The cutscenes are especially breathtaking as the developers no doubt were able to put much more detail into controlled environments such as those but the entire game is really stunning thanks to smaller moments that astound.
Some of the side missions left a lot to be desired, though. The quest objectives were usually simple escort missions, rescue missions, or hunting missions and while they fit the time period, the sheer amount of them made it repetitive. I would be fine doing those missions a few times each but having to grind through them all became nothing short of a chore. My method of completing these missions as well as the outposts scattered throughout the map became formulaic and as I got a few under my belt, I figured out how to do them much easier and the rest of the game struggled to remain “fresh.” There is a lot to do, though, and running out of ways to do them is an impossible task. Ironically, Primal shows that making something fresh in a long-running franchise is possible but recycling the same sort of mechanics and objectives (such as the outposts) means that players who devote time to all of the games are almost punished since they’re the ones who will find these elements repetitive.
Far Cry Primal is a passion project that needs to be respected, but not for the moral reasons of supporting unique ideas. Primal offers a gaming experience unlike so many others: putting you in a world that doesn’t have ANY of the technology, settings, or even languages that we experience in every other game. On top of that, though, is the most important reason… it’s great. What at first seemed like a silly DLC addition to Far Cry 4, Primal creates its own identity as far as hunting and gathering, crafting, and community go. It supports exploration and even demands it at times, completely placing the player in the shoes of a prehistoric caveman building a safe haven for other people that he comes across. The community is perhaps the most important aspect of this game as your tribe not only guides you through the many storylines but offers to help you build weapons to fight enemies, craft clothes to keep warm, and create antidotes to help survive. Truly, one of the most communal single-player games in recent memory.
Crafting is a mechanic that cannot be ignored as it is impossible for you to buy, trade, or barter in any way. Every arrow you shoot, spear you throw, club you swing, and all throwables are crafted by the player from materials gathered in the world. What seems like a chore becomes second-nature and a fun hobby while exploring. Cutting down trees for wood, breaking rocks for stone, picking flowers for medicine, and skinning animals for furs, fats, and hides are things I started to do without even thinking about it. What makes it more enjoyable, though, is that walking around this world was a breath of fresh air. Not a single unnatural noise, light source, or anything to obstruct the gorgeous view of the landscape. With sweeping fields, enormous mountains, dense forests, a breathtaking sky full of stars and Milky Way constellations, and animals that populate it all, this is a world that felt deep and lived-in.
The story is also a huge improvement on Far Cry 4, which not only lacked any sort of character arc/development, but ended with such a swift anticlimactic conclusion that left me wanted more and feeling let down. Primal has no sort of delusions of grandeur that it cannot support: it’s an intimate tale of a caveman seeking revenge on a sabertooth, and then realizing his duty in the world. In other words: he embarks on a Hero’s Journey, of sorts, as he learns about those around him and how to save his tribe. Reminiscent of Far Cry 3‘s protagonist, though not as strong, this caveman was fun to play as and it actually made sense how he learned to be able to handle weapons, hunt, and fight people. And fighting people was necessary as if you didn’t hunt them, they’d hunt you and your tribe. Really, this is what Far Cry 4 should have been instead of trying to be like Far Cry 3 Part II.
It’s not all perfect, though. The side missions, Tensay quests, and grappling mechanics became quite troublesome and even problematic at times. The side missions came in a wide assortment such as Beast Kill, Search & Rescue, Save Captive, Escort Wenja, and Tribal Clash but there were dozens of these scattered around the map and the rotation of five objectives became quite annoying. This is especially true to do the friendly AI being quite stupid. Tensay quests made this even more apparent as there were a few missions that would put you in the head of a mammoth as you guide your group to safety. The mammoths handled horribly and the friendly AI, again, was extremely irritating. All of the Tensay quests reminded me of the FC3 and FC4 “trip missions” but aside from the first one, were just annoying and repetitive.
Tensay’s missions brought back my least favorite missions of FC4 but there were quite a few references to previous games that I enjoyed very much. One of which was a nod to Blood Dragon, a direct reference that showcased the skeletal remains of the titular creature while cueing the Blood Dragon theme. No, not historically accurate but my god was it a great little addition. One other addition that I appreciated was the character of Urki. Descendant of a Far Cry 4 character Hurk, Urki didn’t belong in this game but was just the sort of comic relief that was needed at times. I’ve been saying that as long as these games don’t take themselves too seriously and really capitalize on the fact that they’re fun action-adventure games, they’ll succeed. And while Urki will most assuredly take you out of the story and setting, he’s just a blast to have around
Far Cry Primal is one of my favorite games in this franchise, thus far. Beating out even FC4, Primal goes to show that different can be good but it’s main flaw is that it’s not quite different enough: from itself or the others. Offering repetitive side quests and bringing back the exhausting trip-missions from the previous games, Primal weighs itself down by trying so hard to still be a Far Cry game. However, it does do enough to make a name for itself and solidify it’s story as one of the high points in the entire franchise. With a protagonist that may not have much depth but offers to support the supporting characters and help tell the overarching plot, and a world that’s not only expansive and deep but truly beautiful, Primal is simply a game that must be played – especially for those of us who doubted it’s potential.
Far Cry 5:
- Played On: PlayStation 4
- Time to Beat: 21h39m
- MetaScore: 81
- My Rating: 10
After just beating Primal, I feel slightly refreshed and willing to return to a contemporary Far Cry game. After the slight disappointment of 4, I hope that 5 is able to make up for the flat and pointless Ajay Ghale and actually have a character who means something separate from the story that the world is trying to tell. Unfortunately, the cover of this game (shown above) makes it seem like the story is going to revolve around the “entity” that our “protagonist” is going to have to defeat in order to “cleanse” the area… which sounds a lot like Far Cry 4 and less like Far Cry 3 which, while still large in scale, was about a single character and his story. So… we’ll see what happens with that. I do hope they keep some of the gameplay mechanics and elements from Primal, though such as the emphasis on crafting and hunting. That was one of the most engaging mechanics of the series and really helped me get to know the landscape much better. Without any further ado…
1 HOUR IN:
There is a lot to talk about here because a lot so far has stood out to me: some good, some bad, some exciting, and some confusing but everything feels new. Even elements of the game that have obviously been recycled there are many more elements that have been ignored or otherwise replaced — one of them even hilariously mentioned directly (which I’ll get to). The first thing I noticed is that this game is gorgeous in not only the cutscenes but during gameplay as well. It’s a large open world (the scale of which I haven’t been able to explore yet) and it looks good every step of the way. I haven’t noticed any glitches yet which is great so it all seems to be running smoothly… of course, glitches in the first hour of gameplay would be a red flag but either way, having a good time so far mechanically.
While the other games (3, 4, and Primal) seemed to take place in this world, this “Hope County” Montana sort of follows in the vein of FC4 by bringing in some slight fantastical ideas (ie, that there is this kingpin of sorts that runs the entire area and that no official militia can reach). That does bring me to an excellent change, though: the militia in this game are not just people working for somebody out of some sense of slavery but they are devout followers which, in turn, makes them all the more antagonistic and dangerous. This supports the tone of the game as well, at least as far as I’ve seen so far, which is quite dark at times. The entire prologue was genuinely frightening as you encounter the villainous Seed and his gang of religious fanatics. This is a notion that previous games (mainly 4) alluded to, mentioning blind following as an “opiate,” which this game seemed to be emphasizing greatly.
One element that I’m extremely mixed on so far is the protagonist… a man simply known as “rookie.” He’s a cop, and that’s all we know. He has no name, no voice, and his features are whatever you make them to be. Of course, any sort of RPG will do something like this in order to make the player become the character. This is why I’m mixed because FC3 gave us such a good reason to root for and love the protagonist but it seems that Far Cry as a series is really solidifying the notion that villains are the main part of their games and stories. Far Cry 3 was about a 50:50 split between protagonist and antagonist focus, Far Cry 4 was some weird 5:75:20 between protagonist, supporting characters, and villain, but 5 seems to be pretty much 1:99 between our character and then all antagonistic forces. I don’t know that for sure just yet, but that’s what I’m sensing so far.
Aside from villains as focal points, there are some other elements that have migrated over from previous games such as Primal‘s “tribe count” as you hire more people for the resistance and the inclusion of pets. Instead of taming and riding them, though, you get Boomer who seems to be a trusty canine to help you take outposts and whatnot. Speaking of outposts, those return as well. Although I’ve liberated well over 100 outposts between my two playthroughs of FC3, Blood Dragon, FC4, and one playthrough of Primal, it still feels fresh here because the enemies are different, weapons are new, and ways to go about liberating them in a new environment is unique as well. So, no complaints about that recycled element thus far. Moving onto radio towers: so far, there was one tower followed swiftly by a joke about radio towers, “And no, I’m not going to be asking you to climb radio towers all over the area” which was refreshing as possible. Ironically, now I’m not sure how to “un fog” areas of the map since they did away with the radio tower aspect. Futhermore, the ability to hire friends reminds me of the Far Cry 2 element which sort of allowed for the same thing except here, you can call them at any time like Far Cry 4.
The perk system is a lot like the previous games, mainly Far Cry 3 if I were to draw distinct similarities, but on a larger scale like Primal with each branch of the skill tree is a different category of gameplay. Skills are unlocked by… completing challenges, I think. When I do all of the challenges, I’m not sure how to get more Skill Points but that’s something I’ll keep an eye on. Furthermore, crafting. I’m not sure how to craft shit yet. I’ve picked a few plants and flowers but I couldn’t tell you how to craft syringes, if it’s even possible. More on this. Lastly: no minimap. It’s frustrating and I’ve tried to change it in settings but I don’t think it’s a gameplay feature at all unless it’s unlocked by the aforementioned Skill Points. Anyway, back to gaming.
4 HOURS IN:
So at this point I’ve played campaign for four hours and “arcade” for about three. The arcade mode is the multiplayer mode but also offers solo and co-op game modes as well, which I’ve had a blast with. It’s extremely reminiscent of Blood Dragon‘s aesthetic and Far Cry 4‘s arena mode but with many more options. That’s neither here nor there, however, as this essay is an analysis of campaign gameplay and narratives. Over the past three hours of campaign exploration, I’ve done quite a few missions but mostly have been focusing on outposts and collectibles which have actually given me some trouble. It seems as though Far Cry 5 sets itself apart from the other games in the franchise in that it doesn’t hold your hand at all during gameplay. In 3, Blood Dragon, and 4, the player could purchase maps that would show you the location of chests, collectibles, and undiscovered locations but that’s not the case here at all. In fact, due to the fact that there is no minimap to speak of and collectibles must be sought after through dense exploration, it seems as though the developers really want the player to get a feel for this landscape naturally. Of course, these new features (or lack thereof) are making me switch my style and play in reverse: story, then collectibles (if I didn’t find them during the campaign).
On the other hand, the 3D interractive map is a great addition and although the markers on said map aren’t helpful or intuitive, they do promote exploration (again). A marker will be on the map and won’t tell you what it’s for, so it’s your job to go there and figure it out… which slows down the speed of my gamplay quite a bit. I’ve figured out how the perk system works and am enjoying it very much, and it does seem that points are rewarded through the completion of challenges and possibly missions as well but so far, it’s just been monetary rewards that I’ve received.
As I’ve mentioned throughout this article thus far, Far Cry is a series that shines best when it emphasizes “fun” as well as action and adventure. If it takes itself too seriously, it’s toast. While FC5 hasn’t proved to me that it’s my favorite game in the series, it does seem to be proving that it’s the perfect Far Cry game. It’s fun, dramatic, action-packed, expansive, and beautiful all while maintaining a tone that balances gravity and levity. I mean, you can go into the shop and purchase outfits that’ll dress you up as Vaas from FC3, an Omega soldier from Blood Dragon, Pagan Min from FC4, a caveman from Primal, and characters from other Ubisoft games such as Assassin’s Creed and Rainbow Six. If that’s not the most meta-referential and enjoyable nod to the audience, I don’t know that is.
Not exclusively for that reason, however: I’m loving this game. There really is no protagonist aside from however the player chooses to play but the story revolving around Hope County and the Seed siblings is quite strong and the general feel of the game so far is my favorite since Blood Dragon (for drastically different reasons). The contrasting of audio and visual ongoings is especially notable since the Seed siblings are committing horrible crimes but the gospel and country songs accompanying them really enhance both of them. Small note, but huge impact.
10 HOURS IN:
I’ve progressed quite a bit in the story even though I usually try to do side missions, exploration, outposts, and collectibles first but what I’ve noticed about the structure of this game is that doing all of the smaller side-projects actually helps you progress in the campaign. As you make a bigger impact in each region, the antagonists come after you to keep you on track in the campaign. Honestly, I absolutely love how the game does this because it really feels like everything you do is important instead of collectibles and side missions leading nowhere besides increased money and XP. I think it’s the best way the Far Cry series has handled progression by a long shot and I’m excited to see how I feel about this by the time I complete the game.
As it’s too early to tell if this is the best Far Cry game, it’s undeniable that it is the most Far Cry game. By that I mean everything that makes Far Cry great is in this game and is taken up a notch. The world feels bigger, the story has higher stakes, traveling is enhanced with more vehicles, there are countless more side quests, and it capitalizes on what previous Far Cry games have done with their stories: focus on the group of people who help take down the villain. FC5 does all of these (maybe not perfectly) but with great emphasis. Is it too little too late, though, to bring these changes to the series? I mean, FC4 tried to be like FC3 with some new changes but didn’t change enough to stand out as unique in any way so by the time FC5 actually has brought massive and amazing changes, is the formula too old? We’ll see. I’ll have to get to the end of the game before I’m able to judge the entirety of the project but I could see that being the case.
Due to the decreased emphasis on collectibles, however, I’ve found it much harder to make money. Far Cry 4 was a breeze because I was rich the entire time and able to buy anything and everything I could think of. Here, though, I’m struggling even to keep ammunition full at sometimes. Buying prestige weapons and hardcore vehicles are way out of reach and because of this, it’s more difficult to make it through some of the missions since I don’t have all of the weapons, attachments, and perks to get me through them with ease. Upon completion, I’ll be able to see if the game is still (relatively) more difficult since I’ll have all of the weapons that I want.
20 HOURS IN:
The more I play this game, the more it grows on me. It’s simply the most expansive Far Cry game to date. While it would have sufficed to have the same amount of content within the campaign as previous games, say 3 or 4, this game boasts more content than both of those combined. 20 hours in and I feel as though I’ve only scratched the surface of what all there is to do not just as far as side quests go, but exploration, collectibles, and trophies are still a long way off. Another aspect of this game that I love more than the others is that areas on the map aren’t uncovered by standing on a radio tower and flicking a switch (seems silly looking back), you simply go to that area in order to see it on your map. It very much asks you to do all of the exploring yourself instead of only going to 10-15 key locations to have all of the exploring done for you.
Another added element is the ability to accept multiple missions and then balance or prioritize them as you see fit. I can go up to somebody, agree to a mission, and then agree to another one or just hold off on it completely. In previous games, you would be committed to finishing that first mission before doing literally anything else, including stepping feet outside of the “mission area.” The freedom that FC5 offers is unmatched in this series and as a fan of (most of) the games, I’m loving these new but small changes. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, this game doesn’t take itself too seriously and just wants the gamer to have fun which is half the reason that it succeeds. Currently in the campaign, I’m flying my helicopter around in a Santa mask liberating outposts with a silenced sniper and a target-locking rocket launcher while my trusty companions, Boomer the Dog and Peaches the Cougar help me kill people. I cannot imagine any other Far Cry game being able to pull that off but it’s done so respectfully and effortlessly here, it just feels nature and great.
While Far Cry 4 and Primal offered side missions that sort of related to the respective settings and populations, Far Cry 5 does it on a larger scale and more successfully. Fishing, hunting, talking to townspeople, and other aspects of rural mountain-life are emphasized, which is something that only Primal has done but even then, it sort of had to. FC4 offered hunting missions alongside Kyrat Fashion Week, Kyrat Racing, hostage rescue, and other things that I don’t remember but it was just a repeat of what FC3 offered just in slightly different ways. The things to do here are so unique not only to the franchise but to nearly all first-person shooter games that I’ve ever played. It may not be the best at these things but for the time being, it’s one of the only ones that offers a lot of what this game has to offer.
That being said, if I were to jump into this series now, I’m not sure if I’d appreciate this game nearly as much. Compared to the others, 5 is a technical achievement in storytelling and gameplay but extracting those elements and individually comparing them to other games such as God of War or Horizon Zero Dawn, this game falters. I dare other games to offer this much damn fun, though.
It’s not overselling it to say that this is easily the best Far Cry game since the third entry and, given time to reflect, may surpass that game as my favorite. Of course, FC3 is one of my all-time favorite games but everything I loved about that game was expanded and improved upon here tenfold… aside from one important element: the protagonist. Still, after beating the game, I’ve yet to hear the person say a single word but I suppose I may be slightly hypocritical by necessitating that. Skyrim is one of my favorite games and that character doesn’t vocalize thoughts all too often, and Halo is famously a game starring a man of few words. I suppose I’m only critical of it in this instance because I’m used to the protagonist at least having a voice. Now that I’m comparing this game to others in which the protagonist isn’t necessarily strong, I’m starting to see more clearly why this was the best choice.
For one, Far Cry 4 was weak because it lazily tried to give us a protagonist to care about but failed entirely. Primal didn’t try to give us a good protagonist but instead gave us a good world and good supporting cast of characters to experience things through, and it worked there very well. 3 and Blood Dragon gave us great protagonists and the story excelled because of it but FC5 excels in narrative because of the living, breathing world and the countless characters that fill it up. Without them, the world would feel empty and meaningless and this would stand true even if Rookie was as well-written as Kratos. Basically: I forgive this game for not really having one of the pillars of classic narrative storytelling because it has proved that it not only works well without it, but works better without it. Could you imagine how many voice actors they would have needed to get to match every physical and cosmetic combination? No thank you. I’m happier with the ability to customize my character.
This last paragraph will dance around spoilers without directly mentioning what happens, so I’ll give a warning to the more intuitive persons: skip to the “final review” section. If you’ve seen Safety Not Guarenteed, it’s a sweet little indie comedy that breaks the mold at the end and steps into “classic potential” territory (Steven Spielberg claims). This game does that same thing for similar reasons but the difference is that this game was “classic potential” the entire time. The final mission was one of the most satisfying and amazing missions that I’ve ever played in a game but with such incredible implications, I felt ever so slightly let down after I beat it. If this story doesn’t carry on into the next one, I will be further disappointed. However, I’m not disappointed enough to spoil how much I loved this game. Every act had a mindblowing climax and everything I did during the game had great purpose. If this isn’t better than FC3, it’s too damn close to choose.
Far Cry 5 is much more than an extremely gratifying compilation of all gameplay features, story tropes, elements and mechanics that make the Far Cry series so great, but it raises the stakes and expands on everything by adding a great deal of things that previous Far Cry games have lacked in comparison. Without changing the essence of what makes Far Cry work, this newest edition creates it’s own identity by really focusing on the setting and culture instead of an underdeveloped protagonist trying to be a lovable hero. The antagonists and supporting characters really get the narrative emphasis but the sheer amount of them all filling up the immense world means that the story this game tells can go on for as long as the player wishes it to.
Compared to the others in this franchise, this game is the longest by far and easily as the most to offer. There aren’t necessarily more missions but the construction of the campaign means that every side mission, every collectible, every rescue, and every kill you get simply by exploring all help lead you to the end of the game. Previous entries offered relics to collect but their only purpose was to help you level up and get money. Here, everything you do offers Resistance points which, when built up, alarms the enemy forces and sends them hunting for you. By far, this is the most rewarding system set up in these games as exploration is still promoted but it actually feels like it all has meaning now, I’m not just climbing radio towers to be able to look at a map and I’m not just talking to people in order to get skill points which felt incredibly refreshing.
Exploration is rewarding because you get what you put in: the more you explore, the more you unlock, the more experience you gain, and the farther along in the story you go. It’s also made much more accessible as you’ll be able to travel by foot or in vehicle to any point on the map. Far Cry 4 was gorgeous but the mountainous landscape made it quite difficult to traverse at times and if it wasn’t for the grappling hook in that game or Far Cry Primal, getting from point A to B would have been a nightmare (see Far Cry 2). In this game, though, you’re still offered a grappling hook if you love walking places but you’re also given the ability to fly. You can spawn helicopters, airplanes, and even fast travel to a destination via air drop (once you unlock the wingsuit and parachute). This is simply the most enjoyable game in this series, for that reason and many, many others.
You know what I’m going to say… Far Cry works best when it balances tones in a fun, action-packed open-world and no game has yet done that better than this one. With the inclusion of hilarious jokes and references (Blood Dragon 3 side mission, Larry’s alien experiments, Clutch Nixon stunt runs, and the ability to dress up as Vaas, an Omega soldier, Pagan Min, or a caveman) but contrasted with the terrifying villains who believe wholeheartedly that their cause is just (and soldiers that follow them out of desire instead of necessity) makes for one hell of a story to experience. While there is absolutely no protagonist development to speak of, I don’t fault the game at all for it because that lack of characterization actually puts the emphasis where it matters which is on the antagonists and supporting characters. I never thought I’d write that because it goes against classical storytelling but I can’t deny that it worked in this game’s favor.
Before I slap a rating on this bad boy, I think it would be fair to discuss the ways in this game didn’t live up to my expectations. I would have liked to see the return of the crossbow from Far Cry 4 instead of the addition of the sling shot but there were enough weapons and variations of them to compensate enough. I also would have liked to see more types of takedowns because since Far Cry 3, I don’t think any new ones have been added. Blood Dragon, Far Cry 4, and Primal just have all piggybacked off of the ingenuity that the 3 offered in that regard, and Far Cry 5 does the same exact thing. It would have been so cool to see more styles of takedown, and although there were new animations for takedowns based on what weapon you were holding (which Primal did), there weren’t any new mechanics added. Like, just add a takedown for if you’re behind an enemy while crouching instead of the crouching/standing takedowns being the same. It would be so easy and that one addition would create so much variation in what I see when I liberate an outpost.
Either way, Far Cry 5 is a fantastic gaming experience and after sleeping on my thoughts, I think it’s safe to say that this game is my favorite of the series. It still feels like a Far Cry game while not changing too much to lose it’s heart and adding enough to feel like it’s own beast entirely, which I loved. What I’ve been saying throughout about not taking itself too seriously while still offering a dramatic story in an action-adventure setting was achieved perfectly here. Honestly, I can’t praise this game enough and I haven’t even touched on so many things I’d love to talk about like how this game handles “trip sequences” (more like Far Cry 3) and the new online modes (some of the best online experiences I’ve had in recent memory) but I’m going to just stop writing this and move on to the analyses of these games. Far Cry 5 is a near-perfect gaming experience.
ANALYSIS, OVERVIEW & RANKING
Based on how much I wrote about each game individually, it’s easy to see that the games have all expanded upon the previous, adding more things to do and more things to see. Whether we want to talk about combat gameplay, exploration ease and enjoyment, or how impactful the story was from a dramatic standpoint, it seems as though Ubisoft learns from their audience and gives each game more to satisfy them. At least in the main, numbered entries to the franchise, huge improvements were made that really up the ante each time.
From Far Cry Classic to Far Cry 2, the tone shifted from being cheesy to gritty which may have been a drastic overcorrection but still, moving away from the tone of Classic was the perfect move. Also, the addition of the expansive open world with the second half of the map being unlocked via story progression was fantastic. Although I’m not a fan of the second half of the map being locked (something that 2, 3, and 4 all did), it made progression feel rewarding as you’d have so much more land to look forward to exploring.
From Far Cry 2 to Far Cry 3, we got a great number of changes including skill trees, the return to a tropical setting, the ability to takedown enemies, liberate outposts with stealth, fast travel from any location, meaningful side missions, flying with the wingsuit, a strong protagonist, and iconic antagonistic forces. Really, the improvements made between these two games are staggering and one of the reasons why Far Cry 3 amazed so many people was that nobody expected so many great leaps be taken in this franchise. Although there are so many games that have matched or succeeded 3‘s success and quality, it still remains an amazing experience…and a fun experience.
- From Far Cry 3 to Blood Dragon, not much of the gameplay changed because alterations were more focused on the aesthetic, something that is simply perfect. Existing as Far Cry 3 DLC but worthy of it’s own franchise, Blood Dragon is a love letter not only to FC fans, but fans of cheesy pulp 1980’s science fiction/horror cinema. With references to Terminator, Alien, Running Man, WarGames, and countless others, Blood Dragon isn’t just a ripoff of other successful pieces of entertainment, it becomes it’s own delightful little experience that takes Far Cry 3, gives it a sci-fi filter, and recreates the story that the first game tried to tell.
From Far Cry 3 to Far Cry 4, a great number of changes were made but not all of them great (comparing 4 to Blood Dragon wouldn’t be appropriate). For example, the world is much more beautiful and offers many environmental variations (including, well, The Himalayas for one) and ways to traverse the landscape such as the buzzer (personal helicopter). The missions are repetitive and follow the formula that Far Cry 3 created of joining forces with local rebels to take down the charismatic antagonist, which worked the first time but starts to feel stale in this game. Also, the stakes don’t feel high at all especially since the hero isn’t someone we care about. Having a voiceless, nameless protagonist isn’t always bad but when the name “Ajay Ghale” is mentioned every other second during the campaign, we begin to expect a lot from that character. While we get to define the character by doing things to raise Karma, it doesn’t lead anywhere important and ultimately, the entire story is anticlimactic.
- From Far Cry 4 to Primal, the mechanical changes were minimal but the story was much more meaningful. As you built up your tribe, your character can unlock more skills by learning from those around him which was extremely fulfilling and rewarding for not only the character but player as well. Crafting, hunting, gathering, and learning weren’t necessary just to unlock new skills but also to defeat the enemy and sure the survival of the tribe. Basically, it’s Far Cry 4 with a prehistoric skin but by shifting much of the focus to the side characters while offering a protagonist nearly as strong as FC3‘s Jason Brody, this game’s story excels at offering dramatic moments and deep character relationships. Plus, it won me over as somebody who thought this game was a cheesy joke to somebody who genuinely loves most everything that it has to offer.
From Far Cry 4 to Far Cry 5, the changes were vast and much appreciated: in tone, narrative, combat, stealth, exploration, and progression. Understanding and capitalizing on the potential of the games to be fun while being dramatic, FC5 excels in every way. An antagonist that’s genuinely terrifying, a group of follows that isn’t compiled of enslaved militia but devout subjects, a world that’s not only expansive but dense and breathing, side missions that are not only rewarding in campaign progression but also in basic emotional satisfaction, and ways to travel and fast travel that speed up gameplay and make it so much more enjoyable. Far Cry 5 takes the best elements of each previous game and escalates them all while adding so much as far as customization and player enjoyment are concerned. Plus, instead of the hero being a part of some rebellion, we play as somebody trying to stop the rebellion which is the opposite of the two previous games. Also removed were some of the most formulaic and repetitive elements such as radio towers and map extensions unlocked only by campaign progression instead of legitimate exploration. I love this game wholeheartedly.
OVERVIEW and RANKING:
I’ve played quite a bit of Far Cry over the last three and a half weeks (112 hours) and for the most part, the games have all improved in one way or another. I may be beating Far Cry 4 up a bit much and ignoring the parts of Primal that I absolutely hated but each game offered more than the previous and never just felt like a re-hash of what came before. Far Cry 3 offered worlds more than 2, 4 gave us extensive upgrades, and 5 is a compilation of all the best parts while adding elements that had not yet been explored in this franchise. I mean, in a game where I can wear a Santa mask with a caveman outfit while jumping from a helicopter, wingsuit to the horizon, and land on an enemy to break his neck with my team of Cheeseburger the Bear and Peaches the cougar… how can I justify spending more than an hour fishing for video game trout? Because: this game does everything perfectly. After 80 hours in the Far Cry world, things got old. The final game in this series changes it all, breathes new life into it, and makes everything feel so fresh and new. As a series, it learns from it’s mistakes and dials it up a notch each time. My ranking of the games would be:
- Far Cry 5
- Far Cry 3
- Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
- Far Cry Primal
- Far Cry 4
- Far Cry 2
- Far Cry – Classic
I didn’t really think about this while I was playing them all, but they sort of get better as they go (based on my rankings). I feel as though they listen to the fans and deliver better experiences each time, which is something I can’t praise enough (@EA).
All in all, I love this series and everything it has to offer. I included Blood Dragon but not Valley of the Yetis, Lost on Mars, Hours of Darkness, or Dead Living Zombies simply because I don’t have them. Once I play them, I’ll add them to this review but until then, that’s gonna be all I have to say for Far Cry.
As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!