Far Cry 6 review: Lessons learned from the recent Assassin's Creed games
One of the biggest games of 2021 arrives this week.
Remember when 2015's Assassin's Creed Syndicate was released, and the world seemed to be... not fed-up, exactly... but definitely had their fill of the AC franchise, which felt like it was merely changing some skins rather than developing the gameplay in any significant way.
And then arrived 2017's Assassin's Creed Origins, and the two more AC games since then - Odyssey and Valhalla - seemed to right the ship, streamlining the gameplay (if not the length of the campaign), honed down to only the most fun elements.
It feels like Ubisoft has learned similar lessons for its other huge open world series, with 2018's Far Cry 5 feeling like a bit of a retread of the franchise entries before that one.
The initially intriguing set-up of staging the action within America quickly fell away when the been-there-exploded-that basics returned. You assassinate one charismatic wannabe dictator, you assassinate them all.
And so, it does feel like Far Cry 6 has cut away a lot of the fat. While the gameplay loop of 'clear the map, go to a place and shoot the people' remains as standard, it doesn't feel as fetch-quest'y. The missions don't feel like busy work, there is less of the 'get a thing from Guy One, but he'll only give it to you if you get a different thing from Guy Two' and so on.
The game doesn't quite reinvent the wheel so much as stick on some new tyres.
First and foremost, yes, there is another charismatic dictator at the centre of things, this time played by Breaking Bad and The Mandalorian star Giancarlo Esposito.
However, as the leader of the fictional island of Yura (basically Cuba), the performance and the plot he's been placed into definitely makes him stand out as one of the greatest video game baddies of recent years.
The visuals have been given a lovely polish, with the vistas on the island giving off a genuine sheen of sweaty and gritty action. Gameplay has also been honed down to its most entertaining mechanics, with plenty of compounds to clear of the dictator's soldiers, turning the red flags of iron fist ruling to blue flags of freedom.
But the way to do it does feel like you really do have the option of going sneaky-sneaky, the buzzy joy of completing a mission without the alarm going off... OR, if you feel you're sufficiently well-armed, you can of course go in guns-blazing.
Not everything works that simply, with the upgrade system feeling both a little lacking and a little too complicated, and the 30-hour campaign length feels like the right amount of time in this world, but also has a tendency to drag just a little bit towards the final 10-hour chunk.
All in all, if you already love Far Cry, then you'll love this, but if you found yourself thinking it was getting a bit stale, there is enough here to win you back over. Plus, it is actually a great entry for series newbies.
Far Cry 6 is available on PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Luna and Stadia right now.
Clips via Ubisoft