‘Far Cry 6’ game review: Does Giancarlo Esposito save this formulaic franchise?

In Far Cry 6, you play a guerilla soldier and go toe-to-toe against a dictator played by Giancarlo Esposito. A fine addition to the Far Cry series, the latest game combines emotive storytelling with millennial voices, while spicing up the familiar mechanics we have seen in previous instalments.

I drive a souped up 1956 Beumont Valentina — belonging to a friend named Juan who was kind enough to send it for me — into a base bristling with violent enemies. I then take control of a mounted machine gun and let fly a hail of bullets while my pet crocodile rips apart enemies flanking my rear. A pile of bodies later, guerilla leader Clara radios in a bit too late, citing instructions to handle this mission with mindful recon and surgical strikes.

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This encounter sums up my experience with Far Cry 6. For a game that preaches liberation, it keeps trying to get me to colour inside the lines.

Far Cry 6

  • Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Price: ₹3,999 on PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One

Fans of Money Heist will notice the song ‘Bella Ciao’ plays frequently in Far Cry 6. The anti-fascist song in this case is dedicated to Antón Castillo, El Presidente of a tiny Caribbean island of Yara, played to perfection by Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito.

Templated, or more?

You play as ex-military refugee Dani Rojas who crosses paths with Castillo while escaping the island of Yara; so you join the ongoing revolution as a guerilla fighter with the Libertad headed by Clara Garcia. The story is gripping, featuring the same rinse-repeat pattern with every Far Cry hero who is essentially a glorified messenger to bring people to the cause and take part in predictable missions.

While the driving force for the experience is Far Cry-typical, there is a lot going on in the game to propel you forward in your revolution to free Yara.

A still from 2021 video game ‘Far Cry 6’ with (right) Libertad ally and guerilla mechanic Philly Barzaga
 
| Photo Credit: Ubisoft

In this case I found mentally switching off and just enjoying the beautiful open world with your animal companion (be it a bloodthirsty crocodile or a savage rooster).

Like most Far Cry games, the geography plays an important role in the gameplay. Yara is composed of two islands and the better part of your initial tutorial is escaping the first island to get to the main one. At the latter, you have the not-so-simple mission of destabilising Castillo’s rule and seizing power. Powering up along the way is crucial and that is where the fun is. Look forward to a depleted uranium-based rocket launcher strapped to your back, an immensely satisfying flamethrower or even a range of home-modded weapons at your disposal. During your missions, be sure to gather up as much junk as possible with which to mod your weapons at the various workbenches around Yara.

A screenshot from 2021 video game ‘Far Cry 6’ with the flamethrower weapon

A screenshot from 2021 video game ‘Far Cry 6’ with the flamethrower weapon
 
| Photo Credit: Ubisoft

A few good upgrades

Far Cry is all about the freedom to do what you like in its sandbox settings — as long as you do not hurt innocents. With Far Cry 6, I found the various voices in my ear get too prescriptive with things I need to be doing. The most annoying thing is the repetition of the line ‘the right tool for the right job’ which has me cycling through my inventory for said-tool more than I would like. Encounters are structured in a predictable reconnaissance method of using your phone to scan for enemies followed by taking them out. That said, I had more fun commandeering a tank in the same area and wreaking havoc.

From designs of environments to character designs, Far Cry 6 brims with gorgeous details, giving it a truly next-gen look and feel. The world is filled with tiny details: NPCs (non-playable characters) going about their day, the tropical flora and fauna of the Caribbean, the coastlines of shanty communities, and the Spanish architecture.

The series has always been defined by its richly-characterised villains, and Esposito’s Castillo elevates this tired franchise with his portrayal of a ruthless dictator with violent tendencies. While the story may seem to go through all the usual totalitarian atrocities, Esposito adds his own dimension to it. The facial motion capture is incredible, expressing even the tiniest nuance on one’s face.

A screenshot from 2021 video game ‘Far Cry 6’, with the co-op mode

A screenshot from 2021 video game ‘Far Cry 6’, with the co-op mode
 
| Photo Credit: Ubisoft

Yara, teeming with life and biodiversity, invites you to just go out and explore. The graphic engine does a great job of looking great on even modestly-specced machines and older consoles.

Most open-world games at launch have bugs… though Far Cry 6 is, for the most part, bug-free. There are unjustifiable, odd issues; for example, most items on the island are breakable but simple wooden crates can stop even a rampaging tank. The first-person shooter dynamics are fine-tuned, responsive and feel really comfortable and satisfying. And, of coure, you have countless guns at your disposal, and a backpack that gives you home-brewed powers.

Writing-wise, one minute the game is gritty and revolution-y and the next, it tries to be ‘woke’ (perhaps due to Dani’s generation’s sensibilities), as though it was shoe-horned in rather than organic. That said many of the characters are unique and very likeable, particularly the non-human variety for me. With an excellent cast, Far Cry 6 comes in with a strong entry; it could be termed as ‘Far Cry: Greatest Hits’ with the gameplay evolution of the last few games and a most bone-chilling series villain to boot.

The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel

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