It’s usually hard to understand the thought that goes into making an expansion for games like Far Cry 6. With all of its rules already firmly intact, there’s not much you can add to it if you want one of those expansions that so seamlessly fit into the main campaign.
Instead, Lost Between Worlds gives something that I’d really wanted from Far Cry 6- a version of the game that includes its pretty solid gunplay but eschews the open world tedium that’s become so ingrained in the Ubisoft brand.
I feel like Lost Between Worlds was, at some point in development, a pitch for an entirely new title at Ubisoft. While Far Cry 6 is about exploring huge open worlds, Lost Between Worlds is instead a pseudo-roguelite adventure. Dani makes a new friend in the form of Fai, an interdimensional alien whose ship was unfortunately one of the many casualties associated with Libertad. As a result, she now needs to retrieve shards of the ship by hopping through portals, defeating Shardfaces unlocking new abilities.
Now while that definitely sounds like the setup for a roguelite, I need to stress the pseudo. Maps aren’t random, instead consisting of pre-determined zones with branching paths at the end of them. Some things can be randomized, like weapon drops- but for the most part these will differ very little between runs.
Admittedly, I kind of wish Lost Between Worlds had gone for the mode they were clearly going for. After all, there’s so many different types of gear, gadgets and abilities in Far Cry 6 that you could very well make it into a roguelite. Getting so close to what would have been a unique spin to the Far Cry formula only to back out when you’re meant to add the secret ingredient just feels like blueballing.
Instead what keeps the game feeling fresh is the unlocking of permanent abilities- like a good metroidvania, you’ll often encounter objects you simply can’t interact with yet. These will be frustrating in your first run for sure- but once you unlock even one of them the ability to just skip entire chunks of stages feels really refreshing- as it should, since the lack of randomization means you’re never going to be excited to go to a poison swamp again.
It’s a nice use of what triggers happy feelings in players- you get to skip La Blighttown because you progressed far enough to unlock the first shard, it makes you feel rewarded for your efforts.
Economic Game Design
Simple but effective gameplay design is basically the largest selling point of the Lost Between Worlds DLC. Every decision behind this game feels like an exercise in making as new of an experience as possible without having to build an entirely new game for it. I actually have a lot of respect for this approach.
One of the ways they’ve done this is the combat- enemies are basically reskins of your regular enemies, but with a fun twist- they can be either red or blue, and you can switch your gun to fire the matching color to remove them. It’s a great way to avoid too many complaints of similar combat to the base game without having to suddenly introduce new mechanics.
I also like the way they’ve actually done each of the game’s zones. Admittedly, having hundreds of randomized tilesets for a roguelite mode might have incurred larger development costs. Instead, each zone has a set of rules attached to it, which Dani keeps track of in the top left of the screen. It makes each stage feel like a unique experience: In one, I was running from lightning and memories of FFX while sniping other enemies in similar cover. In the next, I was capturing Mortars to blow up barricades and move on to the next Mortar.
It also helps that by having these be actual zones instead of an open world, it fundamentally feels different to the Far Cry 6 experience. There are no map markers and long treks- only tightly-designed and unique experiences. Admittedly, these zones weren’t created equal. One of my favorites is a zone where you essentially have to keep killing enemies to reset the timer- but rather than just have ominous numbers floating on you, it’s instead presented via the game’s day/night cycle: kill enemies to stop the sun from setting. On the other hand, another stage is literally just an underwater stage, so fresh out of the late 00s that I felt a sudden urge to listen to Move Along by the All-American Rejects on my iPod.
My one gripe is that you can clearly see they didn’t want progress to feel too good. The branching paths on the map are actually pretty obviously designed- they’re not all inter-connected to each other, so the trek to each crystal will always be 4 zones away. I kind of wish there had been some sort of shortcut system, not because the zones are bad but just because it would have made unlocking new tools feel so much better.
On the reverse, I guess it’s great that even if you’re avoiding certain zones (looking at you, water zone), it’s not like you’ll be paying by adding more zones to your trek. It’s safe, but I kinf of wish they’d thrown caution to the wind on that.
In my current state of not-much-time, Lost Between Worlds is an incredible amount of fun compared to the base Far Cry 6 package. Yes, it’s feature-light compared to the base game. But it’s such a tightly-designed experience that it’s perfect for short bursts after work or while waiting for your date to cancel on you.
If nothing else I recommend it for the player who might have fallen off of Far Cry 6’s base story but still wanted to experience it’s tight gameplay. You get all the fun of sneaking around and shooting guards, but without needing to drive vehicles across huge maps collecting all manor of trinkets and gear.
Far Cry 6: Lost Between Worlds reviewed on PS5. Review code provided by Ubisoft.
Discussion about this post