Far Cry 4 for PC Review

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To me, Far Cry 3 is the game that defined what the series is. It’s the game I think about whenever I hear the name “Far Cry”. It spawned a standalone expansion called Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon which focused on an “80s vision of the future” and featured more of the same great gameplay. Far Cry 3 was eventually followed up by a sequel simply titled Far Cry 4 which was another successful game for Ubisoft. Using the same formula, Far Cry 4 puts players in a new setting ripe for first-person shooter action. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft, Far Cry 4 was released for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One in November, 2014. For this review, I played the PC version. It does come with multiplayer and cooperative components which I didn’t get to try so this review will only focus on the single player experience.

The player assumes the role of Ajay Ghale who returns to his native country of Kyrat to spread his deceased mother’s ashes. He arrives during a time when the country is in a state of conflict between Kyrat’s Royal Army, led by the tyrannical and violent King Pagan Min, and a rebel movement known as the Golden Path which was established by Ajay’s father. Upon his arrival, he’s kidnapped by Pagan Min and then rescued by the Golden Path and proceeds to help them fight to free Kyrat from Min’s oppressive rule. When compared to Far Cry 3, I do like Ajay better than Jason as a character but I don’t think his development is quite as good. He’s just kind of thrown into the fray as a warrior. He kind of just goes with the flow and I never got the sense of any kind of transformation.

The plot does force the player to make choices. The Golden Path is divided between its two commanders, Amita who argues for progress, and Sabal who argues for traditional values. At certain points, you will have to choose which commander to side with. Your choice of who to support will lead to different missions and the plot does have multiple endings. I do feel the world here lacks the sense of mystery found in Far Cry 3 mainly because the characters aren’t as quirky, odd, or over-the-top. Pagan Min is the standout character here, with a solid performance from Troy Baker, but, unfortunately, his screen time is minimal.

I’ve said before that Far Cry 3 was the winning formula for Ubisoft and that is certainly evident in Far Cry 4. It’s the same damn game with more stuff. That is a very simple description but also the most apt. Seriously, it’s the same formula, same structure, same mechanics – just in a different setting with more to see and do. The Radio Towers are now Bell Towers, Path of the Hunter quests are now Fashion Week quests, outposts return, you need to gather resources and hunt animals to craft shit, and this world is also split into two regions, North and South, with one locked behind story progression.

I do think Far Cry 4 is the better game simply because there’s more to see and do. But let’s quickly go over the familiar. The loot system, experience system, and unlock systems are basically the same as those of Far Cry 3. You do things to earn experience. Earn enough and you are awarded a skill point that can be spent to activate one of many skills that offer gameplay benefits. You can find loot and money in the world and sell unwanted loot at trading posts where you can also buy weapons and equipment. You can buy weapon customizations to make weapons more efficient and some weapons are only unlocked by meeting certain requirements and many standard weapons are made free after hijacking the propaganda signals atop bell towers. There are numerous Outposts scattered around the world that can be liberated. Each liberated Outpost acts as a fast travel point and comes with side missions and activities. None of this should be unfamiliar to veterans of Far Cry 3.

Despite the many similarities to Far Cry 3, there are some alterations and new additions. Far Cry 4 introduces a Karma experience system. By helping Golden Path members in the world, you earn Karma and after earning enough, your Karma level increases and higher Karma levels means reduced costs at trading posts. Furthermore, completing Karma events awards you tokens that can be spent to call Guns for Hire which are Golden Path rebels that can fight for you and you can even upgrade them at trading posts. Liberated Outposts can be attacked by enemies and you can stop that from happening by liberating Fortresses which are just bigger Outposts.

Just like in Far Cry 3, you start with very little. You have to kill and skin animals to retrieve hides for crafting items like weapon holsters, wallets, loot bags, syringe kits, and ammo bags among others, all of which allow you to carry more stuff. Some items require skins from rare animals which can only be found in Fashion Week quests. None of this is new. I once again spent most of my time in the beginning hunting animals and I was able to craft almost everything before unlocking the North region. I have to admit I got tired of the crafting pretty quickly. I didn’t get the same type of rewarding feeling. Maybe because I played this directly after Far Cry 3 and it hasn’t changed all that much. It felt more like busy work this time around. Just something I needed to do to make things more convenient. I was just doing it to get it done.

Far Cry 4 is a game that makes it easy to lose track of time but not everything is of the greatest quality. There is a lot of content here and a lot of it is repetitive. As you progress, the map becomes filled with icons that equate to side quests and activities. You can participate in arena battles and all three game type variants are basically the same. Outposts and Fortresses are basically the same. Many side quests feel the same. It’s one of those games where I was eager to complete activities in the beginning but the closer I got to unlocking everything, the less I wanted to go on. After a while, I would only complete the necessary tasks required to unlock something and focus more on the story.

The game throws so much stuff at player and unless you’re a completionist, not all of it feels worthwhile. Despite some of it feeling like filler, I can’t say there’s not enough here to keep players occupied for a long while. It’s the kind of game where you can simply focus on the activities you do enjoy and ignore the ones you don’t. There’s checkpoint races, you can defuse bombs, escort vehicles, destroy or hijack cargo trucks, destroy propaganda centers, destroy convoys, rescue hostages, assassinate people, command a tiger and eliminate foes in Shangri-La, and complete hunting activities among other things.

Another reason things feel so familiar is because the gameplay really hasn’t changed much since Far Cry 3. Once I completed a side quest or activity enough times to unlock something, I found no other reason to keep doing it over and over again. But that’s what the game does. It throws the same shit at you over and over again. You liberate an Outpost and there’s another race, another hostage rescue mission, another Assassination, etc. Knowing it’s always the same stuff, when you realize there’s nothing else to work towards – no more skills to activate, no more signature weapons to unlock – that’s when I had to ask myself how much I really enjoyed doing all this shit. A lot of it is fun at first but it’s always the same. When you enter the Arena, it doesn’t matter if it’s a standard battle, endless battle, or a weapon challenge. It’s just wave after wave of the same enemies. Same strategies apply across all three game types. All Assassinations feel the same. All hostage rescue missions feel the same. There’s very little to mix up these things.

Far Cry’s brand of action and stealth are in full force here. A lot of shooting and crouching to stay hidden. You can perform many of the same takedowns and dropping distant foes with arrows from your bow can still be satisfying. Outposts are basically the same as before. A bunch of soldiers of different types standing around the Outpost, ready to set off one or more alarms if they detect you. Most of the enemy types from Far Cry 3 return along with the newly introduced Hunters that can see you through foliage and charm predators to attack you instead of soldiers. Another addition to the gameplay includes throwing bait to lure predators, although this was technically introduced in Blood Dragon. And it’s still awesome seeing predators do the work for you. You can pick up and move bodies, ride elephants which is pretty awesome, and one skill enables you to jump from your vehicle to another, killing the driver. One of the better new features is autodrive. At the press of a button, you can let your vehicle autodrive allowing you to shoot while driving with any one-handed sidearm.

As expected, Kyrat is a rather large world with plenty of locations to discover, loot and collectibles to find, and hostile wildlife. You can get around on-foot or find and use one of many vehicles, boats, jetskis, and hang gliders. One of my favorite new additions is the Buzzer which is a small helicopter. Outside of fast travelling, it’s great for getting places quickly and avoiding any dangers along the way. Kyrat is a world with forests, bodies of water, caves, camps, some missions take you to the Himalayas, and roads are surrounded by trees and rock formations. Many parts of the world are vertical and, luckily, you’re given a grapple early on and most vertical areas feature grapple points so you can easily get over large obstacles and swing to platforms. The world does feel somewhat alive thanks to all the wildlife roaming around, traders walking along the roads, you’ll frequently encounter animals attacking NPCs and Golden Path members engaging Royal Army soldiers. Seeing that kind of stuff as you travel from one location to another can be cool and exciting and make for exciting situations.

I do think the story missions here are of better quality than that of those in Far Cry 3. They feel slightly more varied and the different missions paths adds an incentive to replay. Most of it is your typical run-and-gun first-person shooter stuff but you’re also often given the option to sneak to your objectives. You’ll have to defend areas, rescue people, provide cover fire, and retrieve items. And then there’s the drug trip missions because Ubisoft seems to enjoy sending the protagonist on drug trips and quite frankly, I don’t care for most of these because many of them have you simply going from point A to B and I guess the pretty colors and odd scripted shit is supposed to make it feel more exciting than it actually is.

Far Cry 4 was an impressive looking game for its time especially if you had a PC capable of running it maxed out or the newer consoles. The world is surrounded by beautiful distant mountains, the draw distance is impressive despite some noticeable pop-in here and there, the weapon models and foliage look great, and the game showcases cool visual effects. The audio work is solid but I can’t say anything about the soundtrack sticks out to me as memorable. On the technical side, the game ran smooth but did crash on me a few times. And every time, I was in Shangri-La. I did some research and discovered I’m not the only one who encountered this problem. One player said changing the graphic settings to low resolves the issue. Another player reported that not zooming with the bow will let you get through Shangri-La without a crash. I tried the latter and can confirm that’s what worked for me.

You know, it’s funny. I played Far Cry 4 on PS4 years ago around the time it came out. I remember enjoying it but I also distinctly remember thinking it was basically Far Cry 3 with a new coat of paint. Now that I’ve played through it again, I can see why I thought that. It’s because that’s what Far Cry 4 is. One could argue Blood Dragon was the same as well but with a unique aesthetic. I would argue it’s a watered down Far Cry 3 with a unique aesthetic but it was also a standalone expansion. Far Cry 4 is a full blown sequel and I expected more. More changes, more variety. To say it’s just a copy and paste isn’t entirely fair. I do think it is the better game simply because of the new additions, even if most of them don’t make the gameplay feel that much different. Being able to ride elephants and shoot while driving are certainly welcome features and the many new activities ensure there’s plenty to keep the player occupied. I will say this, there’s basically something to see or do around every corner. Kyrat doesn’t feel like an empty or lifeless world.

I would recommend Far Cry 4 because in the end, it is a fun game. But if you didn’t enjoy Far Cry 3, I can’t imagine you would enjoy this. It’s way too similar to the point it often feels like the same game but with a different setting and story. I guess the approach during development was if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. On the plus side, Far Cry 4 offers a lot to see and do and if you enjoy the brand of action and stealth on offer, you’ll be in for a great time.

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