A few thoughts on Far Cry 4

Horizon Zero Dawn is out! I played the first hour or so before bed and it made a great first impression on me. That’s bad news for Far Cry 4 which is going to be set aside so I can focus on HZD for a bit, but I wanted to share some thoughts while they’re still fresh in my mind. At this point my FC4 game is about 50% complete and I’ve got somewhere between 25-30 hours into it.

This is the 2nd time I’ve played Far Cry 4. I bought it on the Xbox One quite some time ago and never got very far. I’m not sure why, but I suspect I was approaching it too seriously. Far Cry 4 is an over-the-top kind of game. It is very violent and kind of deliberately controversial. For instance to upgrade your gear you need to kill tigers, leopards and rhinos for their skins. Your main goal is that you want to get somewhere to spread your mother’s ashes and you seem to have no qualms about killing hundreds of people to get there. Stuff like that. It’s designed to be ‘extreme’ more than anything, so you just need to go into it with a “Why so serious?” kind of mindset and roll with it. I have trouble doing that sometimes and I bet that’s why I quit the Xbox One version. I was probably mad that the game made me kill a tiger or something. Moral outrage is right in my wheelhouse.

But this time around, I’m having a blast. There’s a lot of good stuff in Far Cry 4. The environments (it takes place in Kyrat, a fictional country in the Himalayas…think Nepal) are breathtakingly beautiful, the gunplay is fun and varied (everything from bows and throwing knives to flame throwers and RPGs) and there are a ton of ways to get from point A to Point B. Fast Travel is a thing, but so is riding an elephant, flying a gyrocopter, leaping off a cliff and using a wingsuit, or more mundane modes of transport like cars, trucks, boats and ATVs.

It’s really hard to get bored in Far Cry 4 unless you try to do everything. I’ve seen complaints that there is too much to do, and if you’re compulsive enough that you try to clear every point of interest and activity on the map you probably will get bored. Thing is, there’s no need to. Do the stuff you enjoy. If you hate stealth, skip the assassination missions. If you’re not here to drive fast, skip the racing missions. You don’t need to do it all.

As in most open world games, there are some RPG elements to Far Cry 4. As you do things, you earn experience and cash. You use the former to unlock skills from a skill tree and the latter to upgrade your guns. At my 50% point I’ve unlocked almost every skill and purchased almost everything there is to purchase. The point is the developers gave you so much stuff to do so that you can pick and choose and still earn ample exp and $$ to level up your character and keep him competitive with the locals.

So all in all I really like Far Cry 4, but I do have some gripes.

First of all, the wildlife is insane. I’ve died more to animals than to people and I think this leads to a lot of fun encounters. Once I was tasked with driving the enemy out of a village and right at the start of a firefight the bad guys pissed off a pair of elephants which went on a rampage and killed all of them for me. I literally crouched on a hillside, watched the mayhem, and got credit for clearing the village. Thanks elephants!

But the eagles… OMG the eagles. Eagles constantly attack you and NPCs in Far Cry 4. The first couple of times it happens it’s pretty cool, but the 30th or 40th time, it starts to get annoying. They rarely do enough damage to seriously harm you so they’re just kind of an interruption. Sometimes they’ll give you away when you’re trying to be stealthy but the enemy is more likely to start firing off hundreds of rounds trying to shoot the eagle than come at you. They seem to also realize the wildlife is the real danger here. Anyway I’d like to see the eagle attacks toned down in frequency.

Second is the pirate radio guy, Rabi Ray Rana. One of your tasks in the game is to shut down propaganda broadcasts, and Rabi Ray Rana will then fill the airwaves with his endless prattling and some music. I have two issues with RRR. First he talks about shit and shitting constantly. I guess that’s funny for some but it’s not my thing. But worse is that he doesn’t have enough material so you hear the same routines over and over and over again. And if he starts one of his spiels and you stop and get out of your car to pick a flower, when you get back in he re-starts his routine. So for Far Cry 5, please give us a better radio experience (you can of course turn him off but I kept thinking of games like GTA where you actually look forward to hearing what is on the radio).

Those are both pretty trivial grips, but my last one is money. There is SO MUCH MONEY in this game that it feels like the balance is out of whack. As I said, I’ve purchased literally everything I am able to purchase at this point and I’m half-way through. I don’t bother looting chests or corpses any more because I have more cash than I can carry (literally, your wallet holds a fixed amount, and even with mine upgraded a few times I still have too much cash). I think the game would be more interesting if you had to struggle a little bit when it comes to money. Instead I’m like “Well my body armor is down to 80%…might as well spent 20,000 rupees and buy a new set.”

In a game this huge, that’s a pretty small list of gripes. If like me you skipped on Far Cry 4 when it came out, I urge you to give it a try as long as you’re able to turn off your moral filters and accept that it’s ok to slaughter 4 rhinos in order to craft yourself a slightly larger wallet.

Note: Trying something different with this post. I turned some short video clips into animated gifs using ShareFactory. Not sure I’m happy with the results. I always feel weird uploading a 10 second clip to YouTube but maybe there’s no way around that, eh?