Admittedly, I hadn’t been big into the Far Cry series before this. Aside from the lovingly campy Blood Dragon, The Far Cry series more realistic visuals never particularly caught my eye, no matter how charming its villains were. However, with Far Cry 6, that all really started to change thanks to its way more bold changes to gameplay.
I was lucky enough to get to try an early build of Far Cry 6, along with a chat with the game’s Lead Designer, David Grivel. What I saw was a bold new direction for the Far Cry series, all without a hint of cavemen- while the basic foundation of the game was the same, a lot of the things you could do in the game felt more gameplay-centric. That is to say, there was this underlying coat of fun, breaking away from the more realistic visuals of previous Far Cry games to make sure the actual moment-to-moment gameplay was enjoyable.
There’s No Dirtier Job Than Revolution
As far as setup goes, Far Cry 6’s plot is an old classic- it’s a tale of Revolution, as the young Dani Rojas joins a group of revolutionaries to overthrow Castello and free the country of Yara. Like any good story Dani doesn’t start out as a willing revolutionary, but as we should all be familiar by now eventually grows into it.
Honestly, there’s not much to say about the story considering how little of the main plot I got to see in the demo. Giancarlo Esposito is amazing as Castillo, playing a cold and terrifying dictator that isn’t cartoonishly evil, but the game also doesn’t get ahead of itself and pretend that you should feel conflicted about wanting to kick his teeth in, either.
You also have your supporting cast- the Ex-CIA and “Most likely to have violated the Geneva Convention on a weekly basis” contender Juan, the head of Libertas, Clara, who make the biggest impression over the rest of the cast.
Juan’s antics aside, I really liked Clara as a character, who plays the tired Revolutionary well. Unlike a lot of dramas she’s never cruel- which helped get rid of the stereotype that a girlboss has to basically have the same terrible presence as a dude, just with a lady voicing them. That being said I didn’t see much of her in the demo, so maybe it’s too soon to start praising the characters.
Resolver- It’s A Way Of Life
David Grivel, the game’s Lead Designer, also took some time to help explain some of the more interesting choices in the game- particularly that of its Resolver system, with a whole category of weapons and equipment seemingly made of junk to create some of the most unique weapons in the Far Cry experience.
“Resolver is a real life philosophy that started in Cuba. It’s for you to make do with whatever you can find”, David explains. “For us, we started looking at what kind of objects of every day can we mix and match to make some interesting weapon, or Supremos (the backpacks)”.
“So like the CD launcher is the perfect example of a weird mix of- no one uses CD anyways, why not put them in a launcher somewhere? That’s exactly the philosophy that the team approached for this kind of thing. It was a lot of fun trying to come up with these things for sure”, he says.
Now despite being a category of weapon, they’re not their own slot- Resolver Weapons can fill either or all 3 of the main weapon slots, though they come with their own tradeoffs. They’re a great way to work in the more ridiculous weapons, like flamethrowers or EMP guns. Like David mentioned, they also sport a junker aesthetic, being born of a cobbled mess of real-world items.
” I think my favorite would be the Sniper Rifle that fires explosive rounds. So this one is made out of a Motorbike exhaust and some other miscellaneous parts and what happened is like, when you fire it at something, it attaches to it- and a few seconds later that thing blows up, It’s a lot of fun to experience that in the game.”, David explains.
During our hands-on, we got a glimpse at more of these weapons, which were all along the same sliding scale of zaniness. There was a nailgun which let you dispatch enemies brutally but silently, as well as my own personal favorite- a shotgun-pistol with a shield, making you basically a space marine as Dani charges into battle, no longer bound by mortal concepts such as “cover” or “stealth”.
If you did want things to be a little less loud and exploding, there were Resolvers for that too, of course:
“And then another example is called the Zesusito, it’s an EMP rifle. It’s exciting because in previous games I always wanted to steal enemy helicopters and things like that. But there was no way, because if the helicopter’s in the air then you have to shoot it down and then it’s gonna blow up”.
Of course, an EMP gun is no fun with nothing to hit with an EMP blast. While I personally didn’t see them, he introduced more vehicles you can look forward to disabling then stealing in the game, on top a seemingly minor game-changer. If you agreed to be quiet and use the EMP for now, you could also include several tonnes of loud explosions, as David explains:
“EMP allows you to deactivate [vehicles] or disable it and then it will land -or crash land- but it’s still usable so you can steal it. That offers a new dimension for Helicopters, but also for tanks which are a new addition also to the brand, also a lot of fun . Tanks and breakable trees- by the way both are new to the brand. Breakable trees to me, its a small thing, like its not new, but for us it really added a dimension of “now you can just go off-road and have fun with it and not have to worry about being stuck against a tree somewhere”. So that plus the tank plus the EMP, I think thats a fun combination”, he says.
An extension of the Resolver System, Far Cry 6 also introduces the new Supremos, which take the form of high tech backpacks. These give your characters a variety of skills, which build meter like an ult. At first I was pretty ready to scoff at it, but the first Supremo you get literally starts chucking grenades, blowing apart the gate to a plantation you’re raiding.
Collecting depleting Uranium for Juan, one of your allies, gets you access to more Supremos too, though I voiced my concern that I’m pretty sure the Cuban revolution didn’t quite use grenade backpacks.
“Yeah, that’s the thing with the Far Cry Brand, there is a visually realistic aspect to it but there is also what we call a double UTF layer to it. Either it comes in the form of drug sequences or things like that- or some, in our case, it also takes the shape of these crazy backpacks. So although you’re right, [the Supremos] aren’t part of any revolution, this was part of our Resolver approach to see what kind of tool could the player be using.”, David laughs.
“Each of these Supremos are based on a different Far Cry playstyle- you have some which are more explosive like the one you mentioned, you have some that are around fire, like the Furioso, which was also in the demo- that creates a circle of fire around you”, he explains.
He also explained that unlike many first-person shooters, realism wasn’t at the top of their priorities- Far Cry is a game after all, and a lot of thought went into designing a fun game first, such as with the reactions you can play around with the poison status.
” So what’s interesting about the poison is that poison + fire = explosion. That sounds small on its own, but when you mix that with the world of Far Cry and all the other things that are happening, it can create some cool and chaotic moments”, he happily explains
“So for us, the Supremos at the end of the day, it was created to be part of this part of an anecdote factory and contribute to the arsenal of the player”.
And he had a point- by later on in the game there’s so many different Supremos, and activating each one gives you a moment you’ll definitely want to tell your friends about during your lunch break the next day.
Of course, players wouldn’t know this if there wasn’t a reason to dig through Far Cry 6’s toybox- so David says he had to make sure to design encounters that would make players consider trying new toys.
“You know what Juan tells you over and over in Isla Santuario, the starting island: Use the right tool for the right job”, he says. “I think that’s a really good philosophy we try to apply on many aspects of the game.
“So poison and fire is a good example- if you see an enemy with the poison thrower, using fire is probably a good idea. Now that doesn’t mean that you have to change ammo type every 3 seconds- that’s not the message- you can still very much use bullets. But we try to use this more unique flavors, and try to encourage the player to experience that. So the players can use them, but of course the enemy can use them as well. So you kinda have to adapt to these things, which is a lot of fun”, he explains.
My personal favorite, however, was the Furioso- whose main skill creates a circle of fire around you, setting off explosions that would make Michael Bay blush.
But it also had one more ability- it gave the player an air dash, that also ignited the ground under you while you did. Anyone who’s read my other reviews would know that air dashes are basically the secret to making any game fun, and sure enough with the Furioso I was just zipping around humming Mick Gordon’s discography to myself watching every living being around me take damage whether I wanted to or not.
Considering how drastically Far Cry changes when you have the ability to dash through the air, it was hard to not ask about how long they’d had that idea. According to David however, revolutionaries zipping through the sky has pretty much been part of the plan for as long as Resolver has.
“Yeah, that was pretty early, because its when we started looking at the backpack, it kinda has a propeller on the back which shoots fire, so what else could it do besides shooting fire? So just having a quick dash like that was an interesting little thing for us to do”, he says.
Now, there’s some bias to the coverage here considering my own tastes for ultra violence and abhorrence for the crouch button as anything more than a tool for asserting dominance. But thankfully David was also kind enough to explain what the game was supposed to be like for the more subtle player, such as with the Stealth Supremo, the Volta.
“Now I talked about EMP against vehicles, but there is of course the classic “EMP deactivating electronic system” meaning EMP deactivates alarms, security cameras, automated turrets. So that’s a great, great tool for a stealth player”, he explains.
“You could go, for example, inside an enemy base, and trigger that supremo. It doesn’t make sound because, you know, it’s an EMP. It will deactivate all of that for you within a certain radius around you”, he says. “Suddenly if you’re the type of player who likes to sneak around, wanna take down some enemies, this is a great way for you to build on that”.
Of course, stealth isn’t all skin-tight body suits and EMP grenades. He also explained how it was important to give players a way to be sneakily chaotic, with the only thing hidden being the player’s involvement.
“Another example of stealth, lets call it the chaotic stealth, is the Supremo that fires poison canisters (this wasn’t in the demo). What poison does onto the enemy, they don’t know exactly where you are but they will start attacking each other. Which is another type of stealth in my head because you distract them by making them go attack each other while you sneak around and do what you have to do”, he says.
Poison acting as a mind control was quite a novel idea, I thought. According to David, it was to make sure each damage type was unique in its own way:
“We felt it was too similar to fire really, you just take damage over time. We thought it would be interesting if there was a twist and they would start turning on each other”, he says.
Two Types of Players
Now obviously, for someone like me, the ability to basically become a Yaran Space Marine dashing through the sky with my shield and shotgun eviscerating fascists is great. But that’s not to say that’s the entirety of the experience. The classic Far Cry guns are here, with more grounded weaponry all waiting for you like assault rifles, that you can also upgrade.
I know a lot of people who like their shooters more realistic, and according to David the dichotomy is entirely intentional:
“That’s kind of the idea for us also, we have traditional weapons, and even then we tried to add a layer of crafting, of DIY where you can have more attachments, with some of them looking more DIY and some of them looking more professional”, he says..
“That’s also for different types of players, right? Some people really like ‘no nonsense, just give me an AK 47 with a proper scope and silencer’ and, there you go, you have that option”, he explains. “But also if you wanna have fun in more different, exotic ways, then we have the Resolvers, the Supremos, we have the gadgets, also, which is another way to create chaos. By gadgets we mean of course, like the molotovs, the EMP grenades, that kinda stuff. So its different avenues, for different players. But yah, for me, it’s a success if you love the Resolver weapon and you didn’t feel you want to change again, its like- great, they are supposed to be the cool new addition to the brand, yeah”.
The Dog That Won Over Ubisoft
On top of guns, grenades and tactical smartphones, Far Cry 6 also has Amigos. These are recruitable animal sidekicks, which have different effects when you bring them into battle. The first of these is Guapo, a charming Alligator in a Hawaiian T-Shirt that does, as one would expect, incredible acts of violence. Even the mission you’re first introduced to the Amigos system is great- if done right, Guapo will tower dive an outpost, killing every single Yaran guard with the misfortune of being in melee range, while you sneak in undetected and well up with pride over a fictional reptile.
Of course, while I didn’t try it out personally, David told me other Amigos also won people over, such as Chorizo, the Daschund that literally charmed its way into a bigger role in the game.
“Chorizo, the little dog that everyone loves, it started as a secondary character. It started as just the dog of an NPC, that’s it- period. One day one of our concept artists created that first concept art of Chorizo, and just sent that to the team as a sort of ‘hey, look at this’ you know, kind of casual, right?”, he says. “By the end of the day, everyone was so excited by that picture that they had it as their wallpaper on the screen”.
“And that’s the moment where we’re like ‘there’s something special happening here, we should definitely see how we can make it so the player can spend more time with that little dog’, and thats where the idea of making it a real Amigo became a real thing”, he says. “Before that he was just a secondary character. That’s just how it went, right? One second you’re just focusing on something, like the weapons or whatever, then someone comes up with something cool, then if we can integrate it in the game, then let’s do it!”
He also highlighted the importance of going with the flow of the team, rather than yelling orders from on high:
“Yeah you know it’s the vox populis. It’s the popular vote in that case . People will tell you even unconciously (sic) what they really love. And again, when I was walking on the production floor, and I saw like literally 90% of the screens had this dog as a wallpaper, I was like ‘well , we should acknowledge this’. Looks like people respond to that, so I’m really happy about this”, he notes.
Unfortunately you can’t bring your Amigos with you everywhere. During the second big sequence I got to play, neither Chorizo nor Guapo could tag along, so I was made to rough it without them. I really like how the Amigos are balanced, making it so they’re not the big must-have part of your lineup. Like David mentioned earlier, they seem to be part of his Anecdote Factory- it’s not that you need an alligator killing fascists, but moreso a case of how much funnier life is when you do.
Similar to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Far Cry 6 also adopts a Gear System, letting you collect various pieces of gear that give you different passive buffs. There’s still an experience level, on top of all this, but it’s more for unlocking more crafting recipes. With each piece of gear having its own abilities, David talked about how you can really mix-and-match to make sets to really play the game by your own rules.
” It’s not just stealth and combat, there’s also things that help you tag enemies, there are things that help you do more to the reconnaissance phase of the game, or just things that help you hunt, things that help you fish, things that help you drive vehicles”.
“We tried to support the main playstyle, stealth and combat, yes but all these other more specialized playstyles that a player might be interested in. And because most of the time these are supported on gear, there are 5 pieces of gear that you can swap- you can mix and match for whatever you want”.
“You can have a bit on stealth, a bit of gear that helps you with movement, a bit of gear that helps you with vehicles, etc. It’s up to you to find the playstyle that fits you”.
“One thing that we also did if you like literally playing with fire so much, we created in the game a set of gear that you can find in the world or buy at a vendor, that is protecting you against fire.”, he says.
“If you equip the whole set you’ll pretty much not have to worry about fire anymore. For instance the gloves, they auto-extinguish fire on you when you’re on fire, and the rest just reduce drastically the amount of fire you’re taking. So if you use that supremo or the flamethrower or molotov, you can also use that in combination to avoid setting yourself on fire during missions”.
There’s also a lot of room for unique deals with this- early on, one of the quests you do can get you a neat watch, which is made in our world by Hamilton. It’s also available in limited quantities, though you’ll be able to get your hands on your own if you’re in Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand.
Another really cool thing in Far Cry 6 is the presence of Co-Op, baked into the story. During any of the game’s quests, you can jump in to your friend’s game, letting you double the amount of chaos together. We don’t know much about the limits of co-op- we only got to try one of the missions this way, so I couldn’t test things like “what happens if someone’s much further along than you” and other things.
Still, for a lot of people I can imagine the ability to play through with friends is going to be a big deal, and the absolutely zany gameplay is going to make it the source of a lot of great stories in friend circles.
Far Cry 6 is almost out the gate, on track for its October 7th launch date. According to David we can look forward to the game looking amazing on next gen hardware, with 4K 60fps support. That being said, even if you’re playing on the previous-gen consoles, you won’t be left out- these versions were used as a reference point for the game, and David says yyou’re sure to be able to enjoy the chaos here as well.
In a nutshell, the game is Far Cry at its absolute wildest- you’re still doing all the standard Far Cry antics like hunting animals, exploring big worlds and the like. But the double down on more fun gameplay definitely looks like it’s going to be a big hook for new players, and you’ll definitely want to check it out for yourself once the game drops.