Ubisoft is a toxic as hell corporation because of its leadership, which these days is akin to saying Covid sucks. Corporations, which are designed to prioritize profits over people, foster environments of tyrannical control and the undermining of subordinates. Despite widespread calls and attention being drawn to Ubisoft, the process of reform seems slow. Some toxic executives have been removed, but the ramifications of their sexist choices and hateful mediocrity has tainted the output of otherwise creative and brilliant people. Worst still, it has upended actual people’s lives – particularly women – who merely wanted to get on with their jobs and produce quality work as a result of their incredible talents. It is not their fault that their art and ingenuity was undermined by virtue of horrible men.
So reviewing a Ubisoft game must come with the caveat that this was not made in a vacuum. People involved were unnecessarily hurt or targeted. I cannot in good conscience speak about this game without bringing readers’ attention to this atmosphere that no one should have to endure.
The ethical dilemma has been profoundly spoken of: do you purchase a product from a company knowing toxic higher-ups benefit from profits or do you purchase knowing those at the bottom worked hard – and under unnecessary conditions? At the end, we all know it is those at the bottom who are worst affected because that is the nature of capitalism and corporations. Petty tyrannies under the garb of profit.
But I’ll stop now.
Is Far Cry 6 a good game? Well, yes.
Travelling to exotic locations, disengaged from the comfort of their own home, Far Cry has seen its main characters thrust into new, alien locations. The customs of the people are unknown, the landscape a shadowy terrain, the main villains alien but hostile threats. Using this, main characters in Far Cry games were barely characters, merely avatars for players who would be in a similar position: just like the main characters, you are discovering this land for yourself. Indeed, the last two games didn’t even feature voiced characters.
With Far Cry 6, however, Ubisoft tells an extremely personal story, with a very real, rounded and well-written main character in Dani Rojas. Dani is an orphan in the fictional country of Yara, forced as a teen to become a soldier by virtue of a draft. This is part of building the might of Yara’s bloodthirsty, but charismatic, leader Antón Castillo (played with scene-chewing brilliance by Giancarlo Esposito, who was clearly having too much fun playing an utter tyrant).
Dani is thus not only a native Yaran herself, but fought in its army for some time, representing the very man and power she now opposes. Dani wants to escape to the United States – with no illusions she’ll make it initially beyond working low wage work. As Dani’s erstwhile mentor and friend, Clara, who is also the leader of the resistance movement tells Dani: “Yanquis might pay you to park their cars or pick their fruit, but you’ll never be one of them. The American Dream doesn’t come in our color.”
The closest Ubisoft has come to telling this kind of story was the wonderful Far Cry 4, but even there, Ajay was still an outsider “returning” home to scatter his mother’s ashes – but it was a home Ajay knew little about, growing up in the United States. Dani, on the other hand, has never travelled beyond Yara. This is her space. It is the first time in a Far Cry game where there was a disconnect between player and character: It was a foreign locale to me, but not to Dani.
She has so ingratiated herself with Yara and its politics, she was comfortable talking about its history, humming along to tunes, discussing philosophers, knowing who key players were, despite my complete ignorance. I’ve never felt that before but it only reinforced this is Dani’s story, not mine. And I welcome that.
Ubisoft have improved the formula in a number of other ways: for example, you no longer have to loot bodies or destroyed vehicles – being in proximity automatically nets you the contents. While it still has the new modern trend of holding a button to “search”, at least things you’ve destroyed in your firefights are instantly obtainable. This sounds like a small concern but you will appreciate it when you play previous entries where corpses galore had to be individually searched.
Fast Travel locations are widespread but also come with Air Drops that see Dani flying out of a plane, allowing her to use her wingsuit to travel in the vicinity quickly. This is not novel but certainly welcome.
There are a large variety of vehicles that can be obtained by simply scanning them with your phone. Expect to be a weird vehicle pornographer as you shoot every vehicle and machine you spot.
Companions return, but this time they’re called Amigos – and they’re only of the furry or scaly variety: from handsome crocodiles with gold teeth to wheelchair using puppies with the ability “to be cute”. Mixing and matching these for particular playstyles is, as always, a constant joy.
However, the biggest praise I have is the game’s use of the Playstation 5’s DualSense. I have not experienced any game – let alone a big AAA first-person shooter – utilise the adaptative triggers this well. Every single gun feels different. The game even changes the “gunfeel” when you modify said gun. Vehicles, too, feel different – tanks, four-by-fours and racecars feel distinctly different. Even horses – a first for the franchise – come through with their feet hitting the ground (similar to the horse riding feel in Ghost of Tsushima).
The world is massive and varied. Locales look distinctly different but retain some repetitive Ubisoft open-world aspects. For example, enemy bases and checkpoints all look and operate the same way – but how one approaches them has always been the key ingredient that has allowed for differentiation and kept the gameplay fresh.
Strangely, though, Far Cry 6 has sometimes been one of the most frustrating Far Cry experiences. The game very quickly tosses tanks and helicopters at you, when you have weapons that barely kill normal soldiers. The first hours put you at a severe disadvantage until you can figure out the many, many systems that are operating (more on that in a second). However, once you acquire weapons to match enemies, then you will have little trouble going toe-to-toe with tanks and choppers. It is just very frustrating to be doing a simple infiltration of a small base and end up with an entire tank chasing you down, when your most powerful weapon is a crappy rifle.
Far Cry 6 also includes a lot of base building and MMORPG systems that might put some off. While Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla had a fairly deep base-building system, Far Cry 6 tunes it down in terms of requirements. These additional constructions allow for Dani to utilise various in-game resources, providing access to weapons, vehicles and so on. They’re not merely cosmetic.
A lot of people might dislike the crafting and upgrading and semi-MMORPG systems that are in place. However, it didn’t feel imposing at all. There are numerous opportunities to obtain resources which are in themselves fun quests – these come later, however, so be prepared to feel somewhat frustrated at the beginning.
The moment-to-moment play became one of the most incredible experiences. Running at 60 FPS on next-gen consoles, the game comes alive with its gorgeous graphics and steady framerate. The explosions, variety, set-pieces, weapons all come together quite often to create utter, but wonderful, mayhem. It’s a joy to play and glorious to watch. My crocodile friend would take out a few guards while I used a sniper rifle on those attacking; I used a rocket launcher on a helicopter that crashed into a tank; an attempt to outfox another tank by hijacking it resulted in an enemy soldier hijacking my tank and killing me. Stories abound by virtue of play rather than plot and that, to me, is key to open world sandbox design.
But what sustained me was the incredible writing and character interaction. It’s genuinely incredible to me that a Far Cry game has such in-depth character moments, character growth and hilarious writing. I was often in tears from both laughter and in solidarity. Even the tyrant, Castillo, is constantly sermonising, justifying his tyranny, but the scenes are so slick, so well-written, that I forgave it all.
The game also features a really enjoyable co-op experience, with missions designed for players working together. These missions focus on journeying into isolated areas – not on the game map – where you must locate a particular MacGuffin. The MacGuffin has to be kept cool, so putting it in the sun results in it heating up. Playing in co-op meant one carried the MacGuffin, while the other navigated the terrain, clearing the way until you could get to a cooling tap or water – and doing this on repeat until you managed to get out. It was a clever bit of design and playing co-op with a friend was seamless and enjoyable.
Far Cry 6 has no right to be as enjoyable, thoughtful and slick as it is. However, I urge you also to read the writings of people of Latin descent in terms of whether this game hits the mark. As I say, beyond anything else, it is often a frustrating experience – it still pushes bizarre platform puzzles when it’s movement is so clearly not designed for such intricacies; it throws tanks at you for merely doing a tiny mission; it hardly explains its many, many systems. But despite this, it remains the best Far Cry game I’ve played and Dani Rojas one of the best protagonists I’ve had the pleasure of being.
(Reviewed on PS5 / code provided by Ubisoft)