Ubisoft show what they can do with a franchise that doesn’t get pumped out every 12 months.
You know what to expect with a FarCry game. Lush environments, bags of atmosphere, fauna that is just as dangerous as the enemy AI, all manner of vehicles and wide, really really wide open spaces.
Not forgetting of course the enigmatic, creepy, crazy and skin-crawling antagonist that will haunt your every step and the fact that due to the obscene amount of side activities available the game world will do its best to keep you from charging into the story.
FarCry 4 has a story to tell and that is the journey of Ajay Ghale, a young man who has travelled to his ancestral home to scatter his mother’s ashes. After a short introduction setting the scene for this tale and giving a taste for the world of Kyrat the player is thrust headlong into a first encounter with the brutally scary Pagan Min. From that point on, you’re on your own.
Kyrat might be a fictional land, but it has been beautifully realised, bordering the Himalayas and offering every kind of landscape possible. There are mountains to be climbed, rivers to cross, lakes to explore and mile upon mile of country to traverse. The FarCry series has always been big on freedom and this is no exception, that stunning landscape that is so beautifully detailed is wide open and teeming with transport options. It doesn’t take long to find yourself ignoring the narrative, grabbing a hang-glider and soaring across beautiful valleys, landing in a river grabbing a waterski to buzz a few beautiful elephants, then jumping into a tuk-tuk for a breakneck drive around some mountain paths.
Unlike other, popular corridor shooters FarCry gives you the keys of freedom from the first second and actively encourages you to explore, expanding the map by taking over radio towers and enhancing your skills through experience. Not forgetting the hunting challenges which are critical to expand your inventory or wallet size, along with additional weapon slots and the ability to craft extra health syringes. They also come at a price, tracking down some of the creatures in Kyrat can be challenging and when you do find them, well, let it be said that a vehicle is no defence against a charging rhino. The animals in FarCry4 are fair game and mostly for good reason, they are also capable predators and often prove a challenge when protecting their hides by attacking first. The only really annoying creatures are the giant eagles that like to swoop down for a melee and the wandering dogs that like to attack and disrupt your more stealthy moments.
The narrative follows your average ‘estranged stranger returns home to scatter some ashes, but gets embroiled in a rebel uprising against a tyrannical ruler’ vein, but it is done really nicely. The main story takes you along a route to support and aid local rebels The Golden Path back to power, this story also branches on occasion as you make a choice over which rebel leader to support. These choices do provide paths to different outcomes, so they are worth exploring, but the real beauty of the game is in its vast playground of destruction.
More often than not your journey to a story junction will be peppered with side missions and random events, all of which are fun diversions, all of which will no doubt drag you off somewhere else. There are Karma events where you can help hapless locals by killing troops of Pagan Min, there are the previously mentioned hunting challenges, heaps of collectibles and just loads of random, well – stuff.
Unlocking weapons can become a serious hobby, as can filling out your inventory by crafting from animal hides. There is also a handy amount of loot and cash laying around, so you are never far away from a quick sell and top up. As with any game it is possible to rush through key objectives, but FarCry4 is like a holiday destination, it draws you in and let’s you play for as long as you like.
It’s also worth noting that there is a competitive multiplayer game, a map editor and a handy two player co-op mode on top, but to be honest I’m enjoying the single player experience too much to get too far into them. One interesting idea is the ability to share your copy with a friend and allow them some streamed co-op gameplay on your console for a limited time, it’s a great way to get people playing and is just the kind of thing we expected from this generation.
There is really nothing to fault with this title, it is stunning to look at and heaps of fun to play, living each moment to moment on a whim. If you like to play by your own rules and have always loved the open ended approach that FarCry2 offered, then get this sooner than later.