Considering that Far Cry 6 is a game focused on overthrowing a brutal dictator, there's a certain irony in the fact that it's anything but a revolution for the series. It's Far Cry as you know it, without any form of reinvention whatsoever.
The Far Cry franchise has mostly stagnated since 2012’s Far Cry 3. Sure, the setting and charismatic villain you’re fighting changes with each new entry, but the franchise has established a well-defined blueprint and Far Cry 6 has absolutely no inclination to switch things up in any substantial way.
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The determination to play things safe once again has led to criticism and pithy opinion pieces declaring Far Cry 6 a bland, monotonous and generic entry in the long-running series. However, oddly enough Far Cry 6 is drawing me in precisely because it’s the exact experience I was expecting.
Far Cry 6 plays like a greatest hits collection of all the series' best bits. The tasks and objectives you’re completing may be far from original, but there’s a comfortable familiarity in Far Cry 6 that has instantly won me over.
You’ve (probably) played this one before
There’s no denying that if you’ve played one of the more recent entries in the Far Cry series, you have essentially played Far Cry 6 already.
The game drops you on the fictional island of Yara (Cuba in all but name) and tasks you with overthrowing a cruel dictator by taking back enemy strongholds and outposts, hunting exotic animals for better gear and generally causing a huge amount of wanton destruction.
As noted, the Far Cry formula is well established, and while new additions like weapon modifications replacing your skill tree have been added in Far Cry 6, the core is very much the same. However, the series' latest installment has buffed things to a fine sheen.
Far Cry 6 combines all the best elements of previous entries in the franchise and has them working in harmony. This is the most well-defined and tightly structured version of a Far Cry game to date.
Furthermore, because of the gear system, just about everything you do matters and has an impact on your progression. If you want to spend a couple of hours ignoring the main quest in favor of hunting hidden treasures, you'll reap the benefits when it comes to tackling harder missions. This is true of just about every side activity in Far Cry 6.
Even better, Far Cry 6 feels like a loving tribute to the games that came before in small but meaningful ways. For example, there’s a quest early on that is a clear tribute to the iconic Far Cry 3 flamethrower mission that had me cackling with joy. There are also references to Far Cry 4’s location of Kyrat, and the game’s DLC will allow you to play as the main villains from previous games.
The leading man
Speaking of villains, it wouldn’t be a Far Cry game without a fresh enemy for you to be both terrified of and strangely charmed by.
Far Cry 3’s Vaas has long been considered the franchise’s best antagonist, but Far Cry 6’s Anton Castillo certainly challenges him for that title. Brilliantly brought to life by Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito, Castillo is a hugely intimidating presence whenever he makes an appearance.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that Castillo doesn’t feature quite often enough; you spend a lot of time dealing with his deputies rather than battling with the main man himself. However, when he does show up on screen it’s always a memorable encounter.
Even if you find the moment-to-moment gameplay of Far Cry 6 fairly rote, the prospect of another encounter with Castillo should keep you engaged through to the end. After all, a memorable villain is a huge part of the fabric of the series and Far Cry 6 doesn’t disappoint in this regard.
Comfort food in gaming form
Perhaps the best analogy I can make to explain why I’m enjoying Far Cry 6 so much is that it’s like video game comfort food. You know exactly what you’re getting, and it definitely doesn’t challenge your pallet, but it’s a favorite for a reason.
Far Cry 6 is uncomplicated fun in its purest form. While I've greatly enjoyed more innovative and challenging games such as Deathloop and Returnal this year, sometimes you just want to switch your brain off and cause chaos on a picturesque tropical island.
That experience was exactly what I was craving, and Far Cry 6 delivers it in spades. It’s definitely not the most memorable game, and I don’t envision many will consider it a game of the year contender, but it absolutely delivers on what it promises. Nothing more, nothing less.
So while Far Cry 6 may not reinvent the wheel, it combines all the best parts of the franchise and polishes them to near perfection. That’s enough for me to thoroughly recommend it. Plus, how can you not love a game that allows you to unleash an alligator in a sports jersey on unsuspecting foes.