Far Cry 6 Has All The Intelligence And Charm Of A Video Game Cockfight

Far Cry 6 Has All The Intelligence And Charm Of A Video Game Cockfight

Which is the worse sin: Creating a cockfighting simulator? Or creating a cockfighting simulator so boring that no one would even want to play it?

This question is, somehow, at the heart of Far Cry 6, the latest big-budget instalment in a video game franchise that often feels like it’s aspiring to be the playable version of that “Change My Mind” meme, the one with the smug guy sitting behind the table and demanding to be debated by people who couldn’t actually be bothered.

It’s a question central to a game that desperately wants to be denounced for its provocative, edgy stances, and the seduction of its mass violence — but which never actually makes its violence all that seductive, or its stances solid enough to merit any kind of strong response.

We’re not talking theoretical cockfighting here, by the way: Said bloodsport is one of Far Cry 6’s premiere minigames, complete with collectible roosters scattered around the islands of its made-up Caribbean nation of Yara, and cheesy, Street Fighter-esque graphics splashed on the screen before each bloody match. Cockfighting in Far Cry 6 promises a subversive good time — and then follows it with rote gameplay, buggy implementation, and a thin spackle of enthusiasm to try to convince you that you’re having fun. It’s a remarkably solid metaphor for the game itself.

Far Cry 6

DEVELOPER

Ubisoft Toronto

PUBLISHER

Ubisoft

PLATFORM

Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

PLAYED ON

PlayStation 5

PRICE

$79.95

RATING

M

One caveat, before we dig in deeper here: This review was written after 15 hours with a pre-release build of Far Cry 6, i.e., enough time to complete one of the title’s three major gameplay areas. It’s entirely possible that patches will shore up some of the technical weirdness we experienced, and that some of the writing, hidden in one of the two other major gameplay sections, might transcend what we experienced during our time with the game.

But for Far Cry 6 to fully make up for these early woes would require it to become much more than the sum of some extremely shoddy parts, to an extent that would border on the miraculous. This is a game that manages to make Giancarlo Esposito profoundly boring to spend time with, and that’s one hell of a perverse accomplishment.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, though: Far Cry 6 puts you in the guerrilla boots of Dani Rojas, a young man or woman (your pick) who finds themselves throwing in with the rebels of Libertad, an underground group hoping to unseat brutal strongman Antón Castillo (Esposito) from his throne atop the nation of Yara.

Yara is, per series tradition, fake, but plagiaristically so: Imagine a blend of Caribbean history (Haiti and Cuba, especially) that has been frothed up in such a way as to listlessly prevent people from being able to yell at Ubisoft for directly appropriating any one people’s histories. (A French corporation using elements of the history of Haiti — a country founded by revolutionaries who overthrew the French who had enslaved them — for one of its violence-heavy playground romps is just one portion of the game’s many colonial indulgences.)

Yara is thus, like Hope County, Kyrat, and the Rook Islands before it, a theme park version of multiple real places, dotted with guerrilla paths and violent distractions to fill out its lush, mountainous roads. (Amazingly, you do not fill your map here by climbing ubiquitous towers and “syncing up” with random gadgets; instead, people hand you assignments on iPads, flagging you down with a persistence normally associated with people trying to get you to sign a petition outside a grocery store.) It’s abstractly beautiful and totally unreal, feeling exactly like the assemblage of reference photos that obviously lurk front and centre in its DNA.

The characters who populate the islands are no less Mickey Mouse, meanwhile, and it’s here that the poisonously consistent “Far Cry tone” does the most damage to this latest instalment. Dating back to the disastrously successful Far Cry 3, this franchise has always aspired to be about deeply meaningful real-world violence… and goofy, wacky, meme-y bullshit. (This is, after all, the franchise that paired its harrowing entry on cult brainwashing with a beef-loving bear named Cheeseburger.)

The narrative of 6 veers wildly as ever between its somber meditations on the perils of dictatorship, radicalisation, and the way violence begets violence — while constantly screaming at you about how much fun you’re having building a rocket launcher out of a bunch of strapped-together packs of fireworks, or introducing you to another cheerful weirdo whose quirks are meant to paper over the game’s endlessly thin characterisations.

Whoo. (Image: Ubisoft)

And if Far Cry 6 actually was fun — if it genuinely provided the giddy, explosively improvisational thrillride that it constantly screams at you that you’re already having — then there might be some real artistic merit to this juxtaposition of death and joy. As it is, though, it’s a game hard to recommend even as a fresh dose of nihilistic escapism.

The shooting is at least more solid than the frequently loose and unsatisfying driving, and the basic unit of Far Cry gameplay — sneaking into a base, either stealthily, or with flamethrowers and friendly alligators akimbo — retains a simple satisfaction. But the new emphasis on crafting and customising weapons feels fairly hollow, while the majority of firefights are reduced to little more strategy than “point cursor toward where the facemeat is, then pull trigger until problem stops.”

Add in the brutal quickness with which damage accrues, the occasional glitches, and the stinginess of checkpoints, and you have a game that’s often more chore than chaos. Your Libertad comrades constantly crow about the fun of revolution — at least, when they’re not somberly reflecting on the brutal cruelty of revolution. To the game’s credit, the player experience is less split: Being bored one way isn’t noticeably different from being bored another way.

Even within the meandering and aimless boundaries of the open world big-budget shooter genre — games designed to lovingly transform vast hours of human existence into points map percentage completion, without involving the brain in all but the most cursory of ways — Far Cry 6 stands as a disappointment. As a political statement, it’s cruel, bleak, and simplistic. As a game, it’s rote, repetitive, and only surface-level innovative. As a hybrid of the two, it’s an outright disaster.

Comments

  • Honestly, I’m disappointed but not even a little bit surprised.

    As hilarious as the political baiting gets, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to expect Ubisoft to attempt at least some innovation from one game to a next but we’ve also watched them consistently screw up sequels on the regular, be it bad directions, having no clue what to do or copy pasting the same mechanics in a slightly different setting.
    I expected all of those problems to be present but it’s kinda glaring to see just how lazy this attempt is.
    I joked with my partner that the intro should be streamlined by now, meet the MC, shit goes down, let the antagonist prove his credentials then your killing people within a quarter of an hour and that ended up being the long form.

    I also found it weird the game jumps back and forth between the idea that being a guerrilla is either super serious or a bit of fun for shits and giggles, the constant reminder that you’re having fun is definitely odd as well.

  • Look… I’ve enjoyed every Far Cry up to 5, and with 6, I gotta be honest, I feel like I’m eating a re-heated 5, two days later, that’s had some extra balsamic and herbs sprinkled on to mask the fact that the ingredients are starting to turn.
    It’s stale. If it were a dish at a restaurant, I wouldn’t be going back. For the first time ever, I’m probably not going to finish this one.

    Maybe it’s my fault. https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/JustForFun/TVTropesWillRuinYourLife
    I’ve played so many of these games to such an extent that the smoke and mirrors don’t work on me any more and all I can see is its component parts, critiquing the skill with which the magician performed the trick, rather than blanking all that knowledge out and just reacting in wonder. I’m not ‘in it’, not invested. Even though it feels like they’re trying to make me feel… something? This isn’t Borderlands, no matter how many graffiti-stencil-style character profiles they slam on the screen. They give me a fighting rooster and a crocodile in a vest and I can’t even bat an eye at it. “Yup, that crazy animal sure is the companion that does the thing.” I don’t even care if they get injured, I know they can’t really die. If they made it so they could, I’d just leave them at the base so they didn’t die, and I’d be fine without them because they don’t bring anything to the battlefield that I’d miss.

    The shooting is average. The upgrade/skill systems are average. The level scaling is average. The capture/map-clearing mechanics are half-baked. Some sites can be captured, others only cleared out and continually respawning. No real in-world explanation, you only learn the difference through repetition. Sometimes the respawning enemy zones are repopulated entirely within seconds of stepping out of the territory then back again. No attempt to bring the reinforcements in through some kind of in-world believable means like having trucks or choppers roll up… no, you just turn around three times, click your heels and they’re there. It’s just… shoddy.

    The TV propaganda doesn’t hit home, either. It’s not eerily sinister, or reminiscent of something we’ve seen in real world dog-whistles gone wrong, twisted in a way that unsettles you with the plausibility that people might buy into it… nor does it go to the absurd extreme, exaggerated like Outer Worlds. It’s just textbook, “Here’s your Year 10 social studies assignment: draft a script for television propaganda and explain how it works.” It’s what you expect and it’s utterly lacking in impact. I don’t sympathize with the villain OR hate him. He’s just another fascist. We have those in the first world western countries, and they’re much creepier and frankly, possibly even more destructive. Your fake-Castro can’t shock me. Oh, your journalists are forced to work unprotected with poisonous chemicals in the fields? Nestle hires mercenary squads to literally hunt and kill activists and journalists. They have lines for that in their corporate budget, everyone knows it, and their stuff still moves through our local supermarket at a regular rate. And it’s god damn near everyone, from Apple to Nike. Your horrors can’t shock me, I’m already complicit in far worse. At least Yara’s producing an honest-to-god cancer cure instead of a fucking iphone.

    Fuck, dude. The game’s just like… a decade or two too late.

    • I like your writeup. Its interesting.

      The Nestle bit sounds like a bit of far-fetched anarchist propaganda, but the whole ‘Game is a game’ section is interesting since I don’t think theres a single game that doesn’t have enemy forces (such as the police) spawning behind the camera. (I’m looking at you GTA) So whether it actually balances the controlled / never controlled zones is more of a point. From the sounds of it, it doesn’t really work for you.

      And sometimes its fine being a game. It doesn’t have to be an ‘immersion simulator’. Not that games can be really that immersive. Except Fatal Frame and Siren. Those are just freaky with getting you pulled in and throwing away your parachute.

      I guess my million dollar question is:

      If you were a first time Far Cry player as opposed to an old and jaded one, do you think you’d enjoy it?

    • with regards to map clearing and mobs respawning, the respawning only happens in the areas where a mission happens. in actual missions the respawning doesnt happen.

      My biggest complaint is that Ublisoft fucked up by making it so cant swap ammo on the fly like we could in Far Cry 5 and New Dawn. it also means you can swap arrows on the fly which really kills the the usefulness of the bow

  • While I will admit that the game is a rehash of the earlier games (not there is anything wrong with that, most games are copies of each other)

    an issue I noticed about the gameworld is the technology

    So the game spells out that Yara’s technology is stuck in the fifties(give or take)
    but there are Laptops, tablets, and flatscreen TV’s all over the place.
    I would have preferred Commodore 64’s (or beige PC’s) as the main computer system (for the guerilla’s and the enemy)
    (or just have typewriters)

    then this impacts the gameplay because of communication, because of Phones.
    personally I would have liked an option to remove phones and rely on signal outposts(to reinforce the guerrilla feeling)

  • So here we go bringing up Steven Crowder can’t you just leave it alone.

    I’m surprised advertiser’s even want to do business with you woke lot

    • This entire article and that’s the thing you care about? There wasn’t even any real commentary about the dude, just a reference to the meme.

      How do you even function if this is what matters to you?

    • Even if you had a point – which you don’t – why come here, if the writing is too woke for you?
      Or is the purpose just to choke up the comment section with gamergate-tier nonsense?

  • Sounds like they need to hire Nagoshi to help them with their paring of compelling, emotional narratives alongside completely unbridled nonsense.

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