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I’m exploring a dark and damp cave. My flashlight is barely providing me any light. Finally after climbing out of the cave I see sunlight. Outside I can see trees and green grass. I sprint out of the cave and run right into a rhino. He lets out a loud and heavy grunt and then quickly slams me against a tree, killing me. This is FarCry 4. It’s massive and beautiful. But also everything is trying to kill you.
FarCry 4 is the sequel to 2012’s FarCry 3, a game which I loved. The good news is that FarCry 4 feels and plays nearly identically as FarCry 3. The bad news is that FarCry 4 might be too much like FarCry 3 and it might be too big.
FarCry 4, like 3, is set in a large open world filled with animals, enemies, outposts, vehicles and more. This is a gorgeous game, playing on the PS4 I had a nearly flawless experience. The game ran and looked great the whole time. You explore this world collecting new weapons, hunting animals and earning experience points to unlock new perks. Sprinkled around FarCry 4 are side quests, races and hunts to do. Your end goal is to liberate the fictional country of Kyrat from the maniac ruler Pagan Min.
Pagan is a fantastic character. He seems friendly and oddly nice, yet at the same time he seems strange and violent. The first time you meet Pagan he is apologizing to you for any inconvenience while wiping the blood off his pink suit, blood that splattered on him after he stabbed one of his guards to death right in front of you. That part is one small part of a much larger intro that does a great job setting up the tone and feel of FarCry 4. This is a colorful and crazy action movie and you are the star of it.
It’s a shame that Pagan is so criminally underused. Once you finish the intro he sort of disappears, showing up a few times here and there. He sometimes will contact you over the radio and I greatly enjoyed these moments. Pagan is super interesting and weirdly complex villain. He might seem like a crazy guy who enjoys killing and he might be, but there is more to him and if you listen to his messages to you it creates a villain I was genuinely intrigued by. I really wish he was more involved with the game’s story.
The actual story of FarCry 4 revolves less around you and more around two leaders of a small rebel force in Kryat. Amita and Sabal. They have different ideas for how the Golden Path, the rebel army they lead, should move forward. Your appearance is a pretty big deal. You are the son of the original founder and leader of the group. They, Amita and Sabal, look to you for leadership. Well that and you kill dudes really good and that’s useful to them in taking back their country.
FarCry 4 let’s you occasionally choose between supporting Amita or Sabal. These moments don’t happen often. When they do occur you choose between the two and the story follows your decisions. By the end of FarCry 4 I wasn’t in love with the actual story, but the struggle between the two young leaders and the charismatic and crazed Pagan Min was entertaining and while I found the ending to be a bit predictable and stale I still enjoyed seeing where these characters ended up.
To take back the country of Kyrat from Pagan Min you will shoot lots of guns, fire tons of arrows, blow lots of stuff up, climb radio towers, take over enemy bases and more. Nearly every combat encounter in FarCry 4 feels like a action movie. Even just driving down a dirt road and seeing an enemy truck coming the other way feels like a cool action movie scene. I would whip out my sawed-off shotgun and fire a shell into the passing truck, taking out everyone inside with a nice splash of blood and glass.
Much of FarCry 4’s combat and gameplay feel like action movie scenes that you can be a part of. You can jump from one car to another, killing the driver and taking the car under your control. You can jump down onto an enemy and stick them with your knife. You can kick an explosive barrel over a ledge and shoot it, killing whoever is below. You can use fire arrows or even explosive arrows and shoot jeeps, trucks and even flying helicopters. All of this stuff and more is possible in FarCry 4.
Just as with the previous game you can climb over low walls or scale vines, but a new addition to FarCry 4 is the ability to use a grapple hook and rope. This lets you scale cliff faces and large gaps between mountains. The rope and grapple hook mechanics feel good and fit perfectly into the FarCry formula. Swinging from hook to hook is a ton of fun and lowering myself into a large cave was exciting.
Radio towers return from the last game and like before they are fun and short climbing puzzles.Some radio towers have you using the grappling hook and some towers felt much taller than any I found in FarCry 3. Once you reach the top you unlock a new section of the map as well some new missions and side quests. If you played FarCry 3 you know how this works.
Just like FarCry 3, FarCry 4 has tons of side things to do. Save hostages, hunt rare animals, race vehicles, collect plants etc. There almost feels like there is too much in FarCry 4. Some story missions feel like padding. Other side missions are the same thing over and over and some activities start to blend together.
Sometimes you enter Shangri La, which looks great and feels different. Filled with beautiful colors and designs I loved looking at that place. But actually playing in those missions felt tedious and very soon I was dreading having to play those missions. Controlling a tiger should be fun, but it ends up feeling repetitive and just not much fun.
I ended up having more fun exploring the world. Its massive and it always seems like there is stuff happening. Rhinos attacking trucks, enemies fighting your allies, eagles attacking you, tigers stalking deer, all of this stuff is just happening around you at all times. The world of Krayt feels like a living place. I remember one time driving by and hitting a pig. A few seconds later I turned around, going the wrong way, and when I came back I found the dead pig was being eaten by a wolf. As I drove by I slowed down and shot the wolf with my shotgun. I hit and killed him but when I looked forward again I was heading towards an enemy truck which I promptly hit and once I climbed out of the car I killed the enemies but heard a growl behind me. I turned and behind me were 4 wolves. Guess they wanted some payback. It’s moments like this that made me lose track of the hours as I put over 23 of them into FarCry 4.
FarCry 4 is filled with different ways to kill, fight and move around. All of it felt really good and looked really good too.You can run fast, slide, shoot from cover, throw knives and come up behind enemies and silently take them down. Guns are loud and arrows make satisfying “thunks” when you hit someone. In fact my only real problem with FarCry 4’s combat is that like FarCry 3 it can sometimes feel a bit too easy.
Ubisoft have tried to counter this with the addition of the hunter and more aggressive animals, which seem to show up more often than in FarCry 3. The hunter is a bow wielding enemy who can hide from you, shoot fire arrows at you, control animals and sneak around. If you played a lot of FarCry 3 and feel like you know how to take an outpost down, hunters will throw a wrench into your plans. They don’t feel unfair or make the combat more difficult, they more change the way you deal with outposts and enemy encounters.
Outposts return from FarCry 3 and like FarCry 3 they end up becoming the best part of the game. While the missions are fun and filled with big set pieces, some missions even send you to the snowy Himalayas, they lack the freeform and open ended feel that outposts have. You have many options in taking down outposts. You can sneak in and use your bow taking out guys one by one until the outpost is yours. You can stay far away and pick guys off with a sniper, shooting the alarm boxes so they can’t panic and call for reinforcements. Or maybe throw a piece of meat into the camp and lure in a local bear or tiger to attack the enemies. New to FarCry 4 you can even jump onto an elephant and cause massive amounts of damage and chaos on top your large and nearly unstoppable natural tank.
Outposts are one of the best parts of FarCry 4 and I was happy to find that Ubisoft has given players the ability to create their own outposts and share them online. You can also create hunting maps and more. All of these can be made using the map creator. The map creator is a powerful tool which will allow you to make all sorts of maps. Well, once you learn how to use it. I spent some time with FarCry 2 and 3 map editor and found the editor in FarCry 4 to be just as good if not better. But there really aren’t any tutorials and it can be a bit overwhelming if you have no idea what you are doing. My tip to you if you give map creating a try is simple: Don’t worry, everyone’s first few maps look terrible.
All of these maps can be played online with up to 3 other friends, which means that FarCry 4 essentially has a never ending supply of outposts to take down. I can’t wait to see what maps people make in the next few months.
There is also a competitive multiplayer aspect to FarCry 4. I played a few matches and found it to be a nice idea but not very fun or memorable. One team plays as a mystical force who use bows, throwing knifes and can even summon animals or turn invisible. The other team is made up of a modern army. This team uses assault rifles, grenades, rpgs and cars. The idea of having one team be more stealth and the other being more loud reminds me of Splinter Cell’s Spies vs. Mercs. The problem is that the gameplay isn’t that fun and I found some matches were being dominated by the more modern team who would camp near the other team’s spawn and kill them before they could even fire a bow off. It was frustrating. Maybe with some more time and some balancing tweaks it could be fun.
Co-op Gameplay I captured while playing on PS4.
While the PVP side of FarCry 4 isn’t much fun the coop is. For the first time in FarCry you can now invite another player into your game and play together. The story missions turn off and a few other elements are locked off but the entire map is open for you to explore and destroy with a friend. You can take down outposts, go hunting, do side missions or just mess around in Kyrat. Coop works well and I had no issues with joining a world or inviting a friend into mine. The whole experience is seamless. Your bring your weapons, money, exp and skills with you and at anytime you can leave and go back to your world. Coop makes so much sense in FarCry 4 and I hope any future games include it as well.
The radio towers, skill tree, combat and more all feel VERY similar to FarCry 3. This is where we run into one of the biggest issues with FarCry 4. As someone who loved FarCry 3 I started to feel like I was playing that game again. It’s a weird thing to complain about. I love FarCry 3 and I think the additions that FarCry 4 brings to the formula are really good. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that this game might be too much FarCry 3. Honestly, I don’t think it’s a massive issue for me. I really, REALLY enjoyed FarCry 3 and feel this is nice evolution of the things I loved in FarCry 3. But if you didn’t enjoy FarCry 3 or felt that you were bored by the time that game was over than FarCry 4 might not be for you. And I hope that if a FarCry 5 happens they move the series in a new direction. I’m not sure I want to climb a radio tower again.
FarCry 4 is a beautiful game filled with so many things to do. Maybe too many things. But if you focus on what you find fun and avoid what you find boring or tedious you can get lost in the expansive and living world of Kyrat. FarCry 4 doesn’t tell a great story but Pagan Min is a fantastic character and the choices you make feel like they actually change the story. Be prepared, because if you played FarCry 3 you might find this latest game is more of the same and maybe not worth your time. But if you loved FarCry 3 and want more of that or wish it had coop FarCry 4 might suck hours of your life away.