Make War, Not Love: 17 Years of ‘Far Cry’
A history of the Far Cry franchise so far, and what to expect from Far Cry 6
The first time any Far Cry game gives the player control, you’re thrown in a world that will take your breath away — figuratively and literally. Each game boasts stunning landscapes ranging from the foggy cliff sides in the Himalayas to a cluster of tropical islands. Against the backdrop of beautiful environments, the sound of gunfire, screams, and chaos fill the air.
We know the Far Cry franchise for placing players in unique locations where violence hounds you at every corner. Strapped with a gun, it’s a mad fight for survival. However, the longer you play, the more you become a part of the violent world you’re trying so hard to escape from.
In anticipation of the upcoming release of Far Cry 6, here is a refresher of the Far Cry franchise that started nearly 17 years ago and what to expect in Yara, a fictional country in the Caribbean in the middle of a revolution.
Far Cry (2004)
You find yourself in a tropical paradise, wearing a Hawaiian t-shirt, and handed violence instead of a Mai Tai. Developed by Crytek and published by Ubisoft in March 2004, you play as Jack Carver. Your original goal was to escort a journalist to an unknown island, but after being attacked, you spend most of the game trying to find her.
You’ll discover that the journalist wanted to explore the connection with the island and Dr. Krieger, a scientist who hoped to improve humankind no matter the cost. As you wipe our mercenary camps, you’ll also fight and set loose his twisted creations.
Even though the latter half of the game was bizarre and the voice acting not the greatest (save for the one mercenary who is sad that being a mercenary isn’t fun), the game found success and high praise. Not only was it touted as an enjoyable first person shooter game, but for being visually stunning. Some reviewers were torn between shooting at enemies or laying out on the sand with a cocktail.
From this starting point, we’ll watch Ubisoft take Far Cry to new and impressive heights.
Far Cry 2 (2008)
At face value, Far Cry 2 is a game about a mercenary whose goal is to take out an arms dealer called The Jackal. Dig deeper and this game finds inspiration from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a story critiquing imperialism and explores characters descending into madness.
Flying into an unnamed country in Africa, you will find two factions warring upon each other. The one fanning the flames of conflict is no other than the Jackal.
In order to get closer to the Jackal, you join in the conflict and play both sides. The more chaos and violence you cause, the more efficient you and your weapons become. In a moment of irony, we become no better than the Jackal, uncaring of the harm being done to the country and its people.
Struck with malaria at the start of our journey, the more blood you spill, the more sick you become. It felt like another nod to Heart of Darkness, the characters’ physical illness tying into their descent into barbarism.
The story ends with the Jackal reconsidering his role and destroying “every cell of this cancer.” He has a plan to help refugees find safety. To do so requires sacrificing both you and the Jackal, after all, you are part of the cancer, too.
I found that the best writing laid in the nihilist Jackal and the tapes you can collect.
It’s because of these tapes that reflect on death and war, the fact we don’t know who hired us to take out the Jackal, and the Jackal’s elusiveness do fans question his existence. Is he our Tyler Durden? A projection of ourselves?
Far Cry 2, despite its hiccups (fast talking NPCs, repetitive missions, bland environment), is a game that will leave you pondering over it long after you’ve played it.
Far Cry 3 (2012)
One moment you’re partying it up, the next you’re putting pressure on your brother’s bleeding neck. You play as Jason Brody, a twenty-something year old whose aspirations in life were to party and get drunk. Now it’s survival on an unfamiliar island, himself and his friends kidnapped by pirates.
Far Cry 3 immediately gives us two things that were severely lacking in the past two games: a protagonist with a personality and a memorable antagonist.
Jason Brody begins his journey terrified. He shies away from weapons and will go quiet when reminded he will have to save his friends on his own. However, Jason fleeing the pirate’s camp has signaled hope for the island dwellers, the Rakyat. They want the pirates off of their archipelago and will invest in Jason.
The person standing in Jason’s way is Vaas Montenegro, one of Far Cry 3’s chief antagonist. He’s unstable, temperamental, and violent. Yet he’s also humorous, engaging, and introspective. Michael Mando, the face and voice behind Vaas, will leave you on the edge of your seat with his intense performance. His role as Vaas has earned him high praise, being called the “Heath Ledger of video game characters.”
Through Vaas, Ubisoft finds the ingredient needed to push Far Cry to new heights: a memorable villain.
Vaas originally serves as Jason’s foil and nemesis, but it doesn’t stay that way throughout the game.
Jason will learn how to use a gun, grow numb to murder, and is capable of incredible violence. A part of Jason even relishes in this transformation. There is a fantastic mission where Jason’s change is called out. Ready to take down Vaas, we’re instead thrown into a psychedelic trip. A question arises, “Who are you, Jason? What kind of man are you?” Jason will watch an image of himself, gun held to his head, flicker into Vaas. “You are me. And I am you.”
The story doesn’t end with Vaas, but the game feels empty without him. It’s becoming more apparent Jason is being used by Citra, leader of the Rakyat, but Jason can’t quite see that yet. As he moves through the islands leaving dead bodies in his wake, Vaas’ infamous ‘insanity’ quote carries more weight. The cycle of violence continues thanks to Jason.
At the end of the game, you will guide Jason’s decision in remaining on the island or leaving. Do you break the cycle or keep it going?
Far Cry 4 (2014)
The roads are bumpy in Kyrat, Ajay Ghale’s body rocking violently left and right along with the prayer beads hanging on the rear-view mirror. Radio Free Kyrat plays loudly through the radio, today’s discussion on heroin being flown out of the country. “Pagan Min got to have Tony Montana level cash — ” Rabi Ray Rana speculates before he cuts out. There is a crackle over the radio and boisterous, marching music soon fills the air.
Leaving the truck, binoculars noting the nearby propaganda tower, it’s hard not to stop and take in the beautiful environment that is Kyrat. Based on Nepal, the game boasts picturesque landscapes that make it hard not to sigh dreamily. The sound of gunshots and screams quickly ruins the moment.
Ajay never meant to find himself in the middle of a civil war. He came to Kyrat to spread his mother’s ashes, but that’s easier said than done. Finding himself both unable to leave the country and fulfill his mother’s wishes, he’ll begrudgingly ally himself with the small rebel force fighting against Kyrat’s despot: Pagan Min.
Just like Far Cry 3, Pagan Min is an antagonist who steals the spotlight. He’s maniacal, charismatic, and an absolute psychopath. Our first introduction of him is us watching him murder a guard for not following his instructions, then comes over to give us a hug. But Pagan Min and Ajay share something in common: they love Ishwari (Ajay’s mother) dearly. It’s why throughout the game, we see Pagan consistently holding himself back with Ajay, patiently trying to bring him into the fold despite him destroying the foundations of his empire.
The rebel group, the Golden Path, we’ve allied ourselves with are no better than Pagan Min. Led by two leaders, they each hold a very different idea of how to liberate Kyrat and what Kyrat will look like in the future. The game will often force you to pick one over the other, leading to uncomfortable interactions. There is no right or wrong choice, they’re both equally troublesome and it’s only when you’ve committed do you see the issues.
But my favorite part of Far Cry 4 is the environment and the Shangri-La side missions. The way the multicolored prayer flags flutter across the backdrop of snowy mountains. The soft tinkling of bells in the temples, incense wafting through the air. And in Shangri-La, accessed by collecting thangkas (paintings featuring deities), you act as a Kyrati Warrior, cleansing the mystical landscape of demons with an immortal tiger and elephant.
This is what I enjoy the most about Far Cry 4 is that it’s not a game that purely revolves around armed conflict with a pretty landscape. With unique side missions like Shangri-La, you can explore, learn, and interact with Kyrat’s culture. This makes Far Cry 4 a game you can’t help but lose yourself in.
Far Cry Primal (2016)
In Far Cry: Primal, it’s about survival of the fittest. Thrown in Europe in the year 10,000 BC, you play as Takkar, a hunter from the Wenja tribe. Different tribes have become a threat to the Wenja people, scattering Takkar’s people across the land or killing them. Takkar becomes the de facto leader, reuniting and protecting his people. Primal is a far cry from the other games in the franchise. There are no guns, flamethrowers, and charismatic villain taunting you at every twist and bend. You have a bow, spear, and club to solve your problems.
Primal feels like an experiment of how else the Far Cry franchise can grow in a different timeline and environment.
While the stealth, bows, and clearing outposts are familiar, Ubisoft provided something new to the equation: companions. If you’re bold and brave enough, you can tame wolves, cave lions, bears, mammoths, and even sabertooth cats. With a whistle, you can summon them to your side and use them to take down enemies. Taming and using these animal companions requires strategy, each having different strengths and weaknesses.
But wait, there is more! Some of these animals can act as mounts. You can ride a sabertooth cat into battle! How is that not amazing? I would argue the companion system makes Primal memorable. That mechanic of having companions will end up translating in future games where you can have an assortment of human and animal allies to call up.
Primal’s story has us watching Takkar grow as a leader and strengthen the Wenja tribe. Each time you clear an outpost or confront enemies, the Wenja tribe grows. The bigger you become, the greater the benefits (i.e. more resources, animal skins). The story ends with Takkar securing the safety of his tribe.
While the game is enjoyable, I couldn’t help but miss the larger-than-life antagonist and character interplay. I didn’t fall in love with the game. Critics have complained that one of the downsides of Primal is its characters speaking in Wenja — a language that imitates other prehistoric sounding languages — which forced players to read subtitles. But to me, that didn’t bother me. If anything, it speaks to Ubisoft going above and beyond in creating a location that could have existed ages ago.
So if you want to embrace your inner caveman, hop on a mammoth, and fight with your trusty spear, then Primal is the game for you.
Far Cry 5 (2018)
It’s not all amber waves of grain in fictional Hope County, Montana. A doomsday cult, Project at Eden’s Gate, has taken control. You join a small rebellious group of Hope County residents who will fight the cult and try to reclaim your home.
The leaders of Eden’s Gate — Joseph Seed’s family — rule their portion of the county with armed followers and catchy choir music. Book of Revelations verses and commentary on the world echo across Hope County. It’s time to prepare for the end of days. If you follow Eden’s Gate, you’ll survive and find paradise.
Many of Hope County’s disenfranchised will follow Joseph. Those harder to persuade find themselves drugged (Bliss, a hallucinogenic drug) by Faith, conditioned by Jacob Seed, or killed.
But there is hope, and it’s bundled in a collection of unique, humorous, and wonderful companions.
Far Cry 5’s companion system allowed players to take two allies out with you. Each bear unique skills, weapons, and talents to help root out Eden’s Gate. You can roam about Hope County with Boomer, the best dog in all of Montana. Take point with Grace Armstrong, a veteran and badass sniper. Or even watch the world chaotically and clumsily burn with Sharky and Hurk. Mix and match companions and it can lead to unique interactions between them.
However, Far Cry 5 is memorable thanks to its antagonists, specifically Joseph Seed. Greg Bryk, the voice actor behind Joseph, breathed life into the game before its release. With nail-biting trailers, live-action short films, and in character interactions with fans on Instagram, Joseph Seed became a larger-than-life figure both in the game and outside of it. He’s reflective, soothing, and “dangerous in the depth of his love.”
With the release of The Book of Joseph, snippets of the Seed’s past and hardships added another layer to the cast. With the Deputy being a blankslate character, fans gravitated towards its rich in personality and lore villains.
As the Book of Revelations ran parallel with the plot, the theory of that the Seeds representing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse grew with it. Which makes it all the more fitting when the game turns Joseph’s prophecy into reality at the very end.
Fans have complained that the nuclear ending is far fetch or a result of the Bliss. But if you replay the game, take the time to listen to the Seed family dialogue. They’ll often allude to a fraying country. Or listen to the radio stations. Sometimes news from the outside world will trickle through and reveal a world ready to explode. Literally.
Far Cry: New Dawn (2019)
New Dawn takes us back to Montanna 17 years after The Collapse. With Hope County’s survivors tucked away in bunkers, the world changed without them.
Animals and wildlife emerged, transformed by the radiation. White furred deer with pink antlers will skitter across fields of neon violet flowers. Look up at the sky and you’ll find it bursting with auroras. Despite its beauty, we can find the scars of nuclear fallout across the county. There are hills forever blackened and swimming with radiation. Even Bliss has become transformed into gaseous fumes that will chip away at your health.
Despite all odds, humankind will emerge and try again. Small communities will form. But there are those who want to leech off of the labor of others. The Highwaymen are a widespread group of marauders who move through community to community pillaging and recruiting.
Are you a problem solver? Or a problem maker? Give the wrong answer and you’ll find a motorcycle helmet crushing your skull in.
Mickey and Lou, known better as the Twins, are in charge of the chapter of Highwaymen, making everyone miserable. Mickey is sharp with her words and knows how to command the space she’s in. She doesn’t want to turn us into some hero or martyr, understanding that a unified resistance will jeopardise their operations. Lou acts as the muscle and can lose herself in her own violence until Mickey taps her shoulder. They’re dangerous and efficient at what they do: making problem solvers out of everyone.
I have to admire the Highwayman for their style. They’re just as brightly colored as the world, will blast music from their outposts, and cover everything they touch with graffiti. Their presence has turned Hope County into a violent playground. You can up the difficulty in taking Highwayman outposts by “scavenging it.” My recommendation is to grab a friend on New Dawn’s co-op feature. It’s fun to strategize how to take it over or just go guns blazing for the ultimate mayhem experience.
In New Dawn, three stories simultaneously will play: Hope County survivors trying to create a long-lasting home, the evolution of Eden’s Gate and Joseph as the Father, and the Highwaymen destroying the efforts of the survivors.
Joseph is no longer the self-assured leader, doubts and despair plaguing him in the Collapse’s wake. He once envisioned his siblings being with him and a world free from “locusts.” He feels small, and it’s uncomfortable.
But what really makes New Dawn a game I have to admire is how visually appealing the game is. Ubisoft developers took the Far Cry 5 map and gave players a Hope County warped by radiation and time. Fall’s End transformed to a psychedelic scrapyard. John Seed’s bunker barely held after The Collapse, now flooded and just as unnerving as it was in Far Cry 5. But the most impressive of missions have to be the ones where we’re moving through Bliss-heavy locations.
All the dumping of Bliss into the waters and the effects of nuclear radiation has transformed it to an even more harmful substance. The only way to move through those areas is with fire. The fire will turn a deep pink when Bliss is in the air. In missions like The Prophecy, we return to Dutch’s island and greeted with the specter of Joseph Seed. With so much Bliss in the air, it’s hard to determine if we’re hallucinating or not. As Joseph recounts The Collapse, you’ll watch a pink imitation of a nuclear explosion go off in the distance. It’s wowing!
Thanks to radiation and Bliss, Ubisoft could experiment and create these otherworldly moments. While it will lead to some moments that had me feeling it was too fantastical (i.e. the apple tree in Joseph’s northern retreat and its effects), New Dawn left me impressed.
I appreciate New Dawn because it gave us closure on the allies and friends we made in Far Cry 5. While that closure was painful (such as hearing what happened to Mary May) it was great to see familiar faces still trying to fight the good fight. It’s the people who try to make a home for everyone that gives Hope County its name.
What to expect in Far Cry 6
Far Cry 6 takes us to Yara, a fictional country modeled after Cuba. Ubisoft paints Yara as a living “postcard frozen in time” where you’ll see vintage cars and buildings, the modern world having yet to touch the country. I imagine that communication with the outside world is out of the question, Yara’s people isolated and alone in its struggle against El Presidente.
Anton Castillo, played by Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito, rules the country with an iron fist.
Ubisoft has described him as intelligent, charismatic, and strives to create a Paradise out of Yara. However, not everyone approves of Anton’s extreme methods of making this dream a reality. We watch in the game’s trailer revolutionaries protesting in the street, casting Castillo with horns and promising him an end to his rule.
As this revolution is growing, running parallel to it is the grooming of Diego, Castillo’s son, to take up the mantle as ruler. Castillo paints Yara’s people as indecisive, lost, and “strangled by their own freedoms.” It is his job, and soon Diego’s, to steer them in the right direction.
However, Far Cry 6 will not have us walking in Diego’s shoes. Instead, we will play as Dani Rojas (who you can play as either male or female). Navid Khavari, the game’s Narrative Director, describes Dani as “a former military drop out, [who] really didn’t want anything to do with the revolution.” Navid promises a fully voiced and performance captured actor for Dani, promising us a character with personality unlike Far Cry 5 and New Dawn.
However, this doesn’t mean Diego is simply a prop for the trailers. Navid revealed that Diego’s character and psyche will be explored in the game as he tries to grapple with not only being a teenager, but the son of a dictator. Will Diego “follow in his father’s footsteps [or] does he forge his own path”?
Ubisoft promises players a diverse and wide range of characters and a companion system. We already got a sneak peek of one companion: Chorizo, a paraplegic dachshund with a wheelchair. This good boy can carry ammo and repair tools for us.
While an official release date has yet to be confirmed by Ubisoft because of delays, we cannot wait to run around in Yara with Chorizo!
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