When it comes time to make a sequel, especially if it’s for a very successful game, it can be hard to know exactly how to progress. In an ideal world, you would be given more of the same aspects that were so enjoyable in the previous title, while building on what has come before with even more features. Far Cry 4 tries to follow this system, but maybe plays it a bit too safe to ascend into perfect sequel territory. It’s still a fantastic and amazing game, but has just a bit too much of the scent of Far Cry 3 on it to earn many more points for creativity.
Far Cry 4 features the same mix of open world explorative first person shooting that has made the series so popular. So, as expected, what you get given is a huge open world map with enemy strongholds to conquer, side quests to perform, places to explore, towers to capture and so on and so forth. This is a formula Ubisoft loves, and as of yet, its also one that hasn’t quite worn out its welcome yet. Advancing into the brave unknown, trying to take down a fort from a specific angle, fighting against the dangerous wildlife: these are all still amazing at giving a feeling of accomplishment, and help the player really end up feeling immersed into the world. Weapons and skills are of a similar type and variety as Far Cry 3, with a few more interesting items put in, with crafting animal parts being essential still in producing better upgrades for your player. Character skills are still gained by experience points, but there are fewer of them, and the player begins with more basic skills than Jason Brody did in Far Cry 3.
You play as Ajay Ghale, and at the beginning of the game you return to your ancestral homeland of Kyrat (basically just Tibet), in order to honour your dead mother’s last wishes. However, you are quickly abducted by the dictator of that nation, Pagan Min. Aided by the rebels, you escape, and join up with them to slowly begin taking down Pagan. The best part of each Far Cry seems to be its antagonist, and it’s the same here. Pagan is delightful to listen to, even if his archetype isn’t the most creative. Sadly, he goes a bit underused at times, and could have appeared more during the game. However, he still is now one of my favorite game villains. Your own character is a bit of a blank slate, and the NPCs you meet all seem to have more creativity put into their design and characters. I would say on average that Far Cry 3 had a better story overall, however. Far Cry 4 attempts to make a point by having the player choose one of two sides to support amongst the rebels, but this rarely materializes into any actual major difference in the game for the player.
One of the most important things in Far Cry is its setting, which in this title is the criminally underused area of the Himalayas. Kyrat looks beautiful and distinct, and there is a wealth of areas to explore and environments to tackle. Theres a great sense of scale in this game, as you might stand on a mountain and gaze down at all the paths you have taken. Verticality is an important feature, and a grappling hook helps make the most of this for the player when it comes to climbing mountains. A new form of transport, the Buzzer helicopter, also makes travelling even more fun.
There’s a wealth of content here, as any Ubisoft game does, with plenty of sidequests and several (perhaps annoying) collectables to hunt down. What this does mean is that there is a game with plenty of longevity in it, especially with a new co-op mode that allows another player to join you as you explore the world. Far Cry 4 is not without its technical faults, it was very difficult to run at launch, although several patches have fixed that since then. There were a few very odd bugs that didn’t seem to make much sense, and overall the release could have been a bit smoother, I had hoped.
At the end of the day, Far Cry 4 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does already have a system designed to maximize fun from itself. I hadn’t played a Far Cry game for 2 years, so I was more than ready for another one. If you’ve played Far Cry 3 recently, you may find this game a bit tiresome, as it can seem like more of the same. However, objectively as a product on its own, its still one of the best games of the year. And you can ride elephants while firing rocket launchers at people. Which is always a plus.