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Far Cry 6 is more RPG than ever

You say you want a revolution

A Far Cry 6 character runs through a dusty, sunny street firing a rifle to his left

Like seemingly every other series in Ubisoft's catalogue, Far Cry is slowly but surely becoming an RPG. Not in the traditional sense, in which you create a character and immerse yourself in them through gameplay decisions and specialisation, but in a similar way to Assassin's Creed Origins – that of a soft reboot that places gear and character level at the fore of customisation.

This transformation has been gradual. It started back in Far Cry 3, which added the first skill tree, before evolving to incorporate AI companions in Far Cry Primal that would be refined and fleshed out in Far Cry 5 with the inclusion of human 'guns for hire'.

Far Cry 6 draws most of its revisions from New Dawn, which may be concerning if – like me – you found its bullet sponge enemies, weapon rarities, and floaty damage numbers a little overbearing. Thankfully, that's not the case here. Ubisoft has clearly taken care to trim away some of the fat, and the result is a leaner first-person shooter with RPG systems that complement both the setting and the gameplay.

Skill trees are gone, weapon and armour customisation is in. No more investing skill points into traits like steadier aim or additional gun slots; instead you can carry four weapons from the off, and stat buffs and abilities are tied to pieces of armour. There’s plenty of variety: you can grab helmets that tag containers through walls; hoodies that improve stamina recovery; shorts that confer a speed bonus after sliding; shoes that mysteriously gather any crafting materials you drive over; and even gloves that automatically extinguish you, should you become engulfed in flames.

New Dawn’s weapon and enemy rarity system has been toned down. You won’t run into any goons with golden badges above their health bars, although you will find that some regions are gated by higher-level enemies with better gear. Unlike in Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey, this doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve stealthy one-hit kills against tougher opponents, but you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the right kit, such as armour-piercing rounds to get through an enemy’s helmet. Guns and gear have levels that loosely correspond to your overall ‘guerrilla rank’, so you’ll start with antique WWII SMGs and rifles, before graduating to modern weapons and eventually state-of-the-art hardware.

Crucially, higher-level weapons don’t come with attachments as they did in New Dawn. You’re free to tinker with a huge assortment of optics, muzzle attachments, mods, and ammo types no matter what gun you’re using.

Far Cry 6 also introduces ultimate abilities in the form of jury-rigged superweapons called supremos. These all come in the handy form of a backpack, but their uses differ wildly. Exterminador, for example, unleashes a deadly salvo of rockets that home in on nearby enemies, while Fantasma unleashes a toxic cloud that causes enemies to attack each other. There are supremos that let you see through walls, leap across the battlefield, revive yourself, unleash an EMP blast, or send yourself into a bloodthirsty frenzy that makes you practically unkillable as long as it lasts. These abilities recharge over time, although you can reduce the cooldown by racking up kills, so you’re only ever likely to use them once or twice during a single firefight.

Supremos are the closest Far Cry has ever come to having class archetypes, and after just a few hours of gathering gear and crafting mods, I can see the green shoots of character builds ahead. The Furiosa supremo launches you forward, leaving a ring of fire in your wake. To this I add some shoes that award speed boosts after headshot kills, some parkour shorts, a rifle with armour-piercing rounds, and a watch that greatly improves damage resistance while sprinting. I dub it my Dani ‘deathballer’ build.

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You can customise vehicles to a similar extent, although it’s hard to care all that much about strapping a heavy machine gun to the roof of a ’57 Fairlane when you can sneak into an army base and make off with a tank. Still, there’s something to be said for motoring along a coastal highway in a classic car as son cubano crackles through the radio.

Montana is an unimaginably beautiful part of the world, but a great deal of its charm is lost in translation when running down Far Cry 5’s cultists outside backwood bars. I can’t say if the fictional Caribbean country of Yara does any better at conveying what makes countries like Cuba, which it so clearly apes, special, but I can say that this is a gorgeous, diverse, and warm open-world setting. I want to be here. I want to wake up here and go to bed here, and more importantly I want to make it even better by deposing its ruthless dictator, Antón Castillo.

It’s also much more cohesive than Far Cry 5’s approximation of Montana. Roads cover only a small portion of the map, and getting around in the dense mountain jungles requires a more considered approach than aiming your pickup truck at the gaps between trees until you reach your destination. Fortunately, these expeditions are made significantly easier thanks to the addition of horses, which you can use to bomb along tiny mountain trails. And there are plenty of places which even a horse is unable to traverse, so those climbing mechanics that have been gathering dust over the last few entries get to see daylight again. Getting around Yara is pretty challenging, and I’ve missed that.

All of this feeds directly into combat encounters. The island is packed with verticality and foliage, and it all feels natural. Stalking enemy bases and carefully planning your attack is an experience that’s slowly faded away since Far Cry 4, but it’s right back at the core of Far Cry 6. Random encounters also appear to have been dialed back; there are definitely moments when a jaguar will come steaming into a firefight, or a truck full of soldiers unloads right in front of you, but they feel like a memorable exception rather than the rule.

Tonally, Far Cry 6 already feels like a step in the right direction when compared to Far Cry 5 and New Dawn.

“Bullets first. Politics later,” Yelena Morales, leader of the revolutionary faction La Morales, says in an attempt to dismiss an offer of help from a less extreme guerrilla outfit. It’s a deft summary of the Far Cry series in recent years – overwhelmingly focused on shooting and chaos, but rarely interrogating the hot-button issues it adopts, somewhat exploitatively, as its set dressing. Far Cry 6 may or may not buck this trend in any meaningful way – such weighty questions can only be properly assessed in the final game – but, so far, it does have more to say than any of its predecessors.

There are references to Yankee blockades, and tensions between different revolutionaries who each view their method as the only way to success. “Yanquis might pay you to park their cars or pick their fruit, but you’ll never be one of them. The American dream doesn’t come in our colour,” another guerrilla says.

Again, it’s too early to tell if this will amount to much of a statement – intentional or otherwise – or if this is mere posturing, but I’m more invested in this story after a few hours than at any point in the liberation of Hope County.

Far Cry 6 is shaping up to be the most coherent entry to date. Ubisoft has applied crucial revisions to its systems, dimmed the chaotic encounters, and settled on a narrative that’s more grounded and believable than the series has been in nearly a decade.

And it hasn’t forgotten to be fun. Watching your pet crocodile enter into a death roll with a corrupt government official in his jaws; cauterising a wound with a lit cigar; sitting down at your guerrilla base for a game of dominos. Yep, this is all very Far Cry.

Far Cry 6 is set to release on October 7, 2021, and you can pre-order it here. If you’re after something similar to play while you wait for launch day then check out our lists of the best FPS games and the best survival games on PC.

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