February 26, 2024

‘Far Cry’ has lost its way, but it’s not too late – here’s how to fix Ubisoft’s Lost Shooter franchise

Have I ever told you the definition of insanity?

It does exactly it. . . the same squeak thing. . . expect again and again. . . beep change.

That. Is. Crazy.

~ Vase, Far Cry 3, which could just as easily have discussed the problems with Ubisoft’s formulaic game franchise.


I loved Far cry.

In fact: the very first Far cry—When it was made by Crytek, it was one of the first games I played after building my first custom gaming PC. I was absolutely fascinated by the graphics and the game itself was hilarious. The binoculars that allowed you to listen to the enemies and their ridiculous conversations cracked me up. (That was when I played games like Half-Life 2, FEAR, Oblivion and so on. What a time to be a PC gamer!)

At least the next two Far cry titles were also very good. Far Cry 2 completely changed the tone and nature of the game, leaving behind the colorful island of the first game and traveling to war-torn Africa. The game also ditched the linearity of the first entry, opting for a more open world and implementing many of the systems that would become standardized as the series progressed, such as Buddies and open world gameplay.

Far Cry3 has taken bits and pieces from both the first two games as well as world design inspiration from a host of other open world titles from Skyrim Unpleasant Red Dead redemption (and stories like Apocalypse now And Lost) and created one of the best open world shooters ever made. A strong story with excellent villains (including Michael Mando’s Vaas) and some pretty wild twists helped Far Cry3 selling more than 10 million copies. In many ways it was the pinnacle of the entire franchise. Much of this success was also due to the meticulous world design, with Ubisoft describing the island as “the second most important character” in the game.

The game was so successful that Ubisoft has been copying and pasting the game into new settings for the past three games. Although the game publisher has done some interesting things since the release of Far Cry 3—namely Far Cry Blood Dragon And Far Cry Primal—overall, the series has become as cookie-cutter and by-the-numbers as Assassin’s Creed. Although the settings have shifted to the Himalayas, Montana and South America, the game’s formulaic design is outdated. I’ve narrowed the series’ problems down to three categories, and I’ll propose solutions for each category as we move forward. We start with . . . .

1. Mediocrity in the open world

While the settings have changed over the past four games, the nature of each game feels remarkably similar and none of the past three compare to Far Cry 3 versions island, which was a dense, but engaging open world. Add to that the plethora of additional side quests, repetitive crafting and hunting, and you essentially have the same game over and over again, just in a new location.

My solution to this is simple: Ubisoft needs to change how it creates its open worlds and structures its quests. Implementing a better port system and more linearity would go a long way toward making these games feel fresh again. A great model for what I’m describing is From Software’s masterpiece, Elden Ring, which completely changes the nature of open world gaming, largely by closing off certain areas but still allowing players to see beyond what they can reach.

In Elden Ring, For example, I often found myself staring across a canyon or into the distance and seeing an area that I didn’t know how to get to. There was either a secret way or a story that I had to complete first to reach these inaccessible areas. This gave me a sense of purpose, a reason to explore and pursue the various unfathomable mission lines. When I finally gained access to a previously inaccessible area, I felt great satisfaction. (I often found out later that there was a hidden shortcut that would have allowed me to reach it sooner, which is also very cool!)

By adding this kind of open world design Far cry would make for a much more compelling adventure. I would adopt some too Elden Rings opacity when it comes to mission lines. Far cry would benefit from players thinking a little more, and not flooding the map with a bunch of different boxes to check off. Let players explore and open quests and discover information about the world in a more organic way.

One of the most fun parts of these games is taking down enemy bases, as this gives players a lot of choice in how to approach the attack (although this often comes down to stealth versus shooting weapons). Give players that level of freedom of choice as they cleverly define areas and story progression throughout the game!

2. Mediocre storytelling

I get the feeling that Ubisoft is really trying to create compelling villains that can hold a candle to Vaas in each of the games Far Cry 3, but they have failed almost every time. I thought the cult was in there Far Cry5 was interesting, but Ubisoft pulled out way too much, turning the weird right-wing religious death cult in the middle of nowhere Montana into a multiracial affair. They should have gone full white supremacist! And instead of making your customizable main character completely customizable, they should have made him/her a Native American. There was a lot of room for a more confused story about religious extremism, racism and the whole nine yards, but instead we got a fairly generic story and cult (among many other problems). Far Cry 6s dictator – despite being played by Giancarlo Esposito – was also fairly standard.

What made Vaas work so well was actually a combination of factors. First, your player character was an actual character instead of a fully customizable non-entity. He was a stranded rich white boy, separated from his companions and forced to survive in a dangerous foreign land. Vaas was a maniac who made the whole thing very personal. The story felt like something out of a Joseph Conrad novel. None of the games since have lived up to the madness in the third game’s story.

I’d like to see Ubisoft stop pulling punches and give us one Far cry game with a story as dark and twisted as the third game, with characters we really care about. It would also be nice if the games stopped patching each other up in terms of crazy weapons and bombastic nonsense, and focused more on realism with an edge of the absurd. Also increase things over the course of the game, including access to a powerful arsenal.

3. Innovation (or lack thereof)

A lot of this comes down to a lack of innovation in game design and narrative design. While the first three games in the franchise were all wildly different from each other, the next three felt largely the same: trademark Ubisoft open-world games. Boring.

There are many ways to innovate in this series. Going back to a more linear but open design could be one (either using the Elden Ring model I talk about above, or even adopt something more like it Dishonored, which gave the player a free hand in every stage, but never opened the entire world).

Ditching many of the current systems could also work. Friends have gotten quite old in my opinion. There’s a lot more that can be done with liberating bases; you could create much deeper bases that require a lot more strategy and time. You could add some sort of Zelda-esque dungeons to this game, with full puzzle-solving and platforming areas. I would play one Far cry game with Zelda-like dungeons and complex bases.

There are plenty of other ways Ubisoft could tinker with the formula and innovate with the game’s many systems. Simply removing towers to unlock maps isn’t enough. Why not just make tower climbing more complex and challenging?

Another innovation I’d like to see: replacing busy work with more satisfying quests. I don’t want to hunt and skin ten deer to get a better holster. How about a cool story quest with a better holster as a reward?

4. Gunplay needs an overhaul

Finally, focusing more on improving gunplay should be a big priority for Ubisoft. As franchisees like to do Duty continue to improve the gunfight every year, From Far Cry lingers in time, ultimately very sloppy in comparison. there is no reason Far cry can’t be a premium first-person shooter, but that would require Ubisoft to double down on sound design, weapon design, things like recoil and so on. I’ve become very picky about gunplay in my shooters because it’s so fundamental to the core experience. If Far cry had photographed almost as well as Duty It’s much more likely that I would put more time into these games.

What would you like to see changed in the Far cry series? Do you have any hope for a more interesting one Far Cry7? Let me know Tweet or Facebook.

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