Erik Fattrosso ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
It’s been a few years since the gaming industry was wowed by Far Cry 3’s impressive, open world, minute-to-minute gameplay. With the leap to a new location, and new hardware, can Far Cry 4 live up to the lofty heights of its predecessor? The short answer is: It can. The long answer is about tigers.
Right from the beginning, the player is dropped into an open world filled with dangers at every turn. You play as Ajay Ghale, a native to the land of Kyrat, a country in the middle of the Himalayas that is currently being controlled by the joyfully sadistic Pagan Min. Despite growing up in the United States, Ajay returns to his homeland to scatter his mother’s ashes as per her request. He, of course, gets caught up in the ongoing civil war to remove Min from power that his parents seemed to have started years ago. The story gets the job done and gives players a valid reason for doing the things they’re doing, but not much more. Different characters assign you missions to complete and each has their own distinct personality, some of which are downright hysterical (such as the fashion designer who tasks you with hunting rare wildlife to create clothes for Kyrat’s fashion week), while others are, for the most part, bland. Several missions revolve around a few moral choices that are genuinely difficult to choose from. Do you go save the hostages that Min’s army has captured? Or do you instead sacrifice them for the opportunity to get intel that can lead to a larger assault down the road? The choices between individual lives and the grander scale of the war are done incredibly well, and it’s tough to recall the last time a game had such difficult choices.
It’s easy to dismiss Far Cry 4 as nothing more than Far Cry 3 with a paintjob. In many ways, it really is nothing more than a revamped version of the third game, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The game is at its best when the player chooses to ignore the campaign missions and instead enjoy the open world. At any given point there’s about a million and one different things that can be done. You can hunt the local wildlife and use the skins to upgrade your equipment. You can climb to the top of temples to reveal more of the map and start to remove Min’s propaganda. You can hijack enemy vehicles and return them to your allies. You can hop off of a mountain with your wingsuit and just enjoy the view as you soar through the air. One of the best options is to attempt to reclaim enemy outposts. There are 24 of these scattered across the map, and taking each one requires a bit of thought and skill. You can attempt to stealthily take out the occupying enemies one by one or run in guns blazing and hope for the best.
The reason the game is so fun is because of its random nature. While traveling the land on a four-wheeler, you can stumble upon a group of enemies currently in a firefight with your allies, or possibly a group of locals being terrorized by honey badgers. One mission has you riding an elephant to defend one of the characters. During this mission, a rhino was caught in the crossfire and helped to kill the enemies. At the end of the mission, an RPG swiftly dispatched the now calm rhino while a few things of C4 laid the elephant to rest. Spending 10 minutes carefully plotting how to take out an outpost without being detected is engaging. Having to rethink the entire plan in seconds because a tiger just ran straight into the outpost is exhilarating.
Visually, the game is beautiful. The leap to next gen hardware is a big one, and while Far Cry 3 was by no means a bad looking game, Kyrat is huge, and the incredible views of the Himalayas make the third game pale in comparison. Far Cry 4 may not just be a fantastic sequel, it may be one of the best open world games ever created. A subpar story and a few dull campaign missions don’t take away from the sheer joy of experiencing its best aspects. It provides the kind of experience that has players swapping stories about their exploits the night before. No two people will play the game the same way, and that’s what makes it so special. So go spend some time in Kyrat, where every second’s a story.