Yesterday saw the release of Far Cry 6, the latest entry into Ubisoft's tropical, open-world adventure series that may or may not be about any kind of politics.
Far Cry 6 brings the titular series to the current generation, keeping in line with the spirit of the series -- from chaotic gunplay to high-octane capers on the back of a giant bear.
A range of critiques have left Far Cry 6 with a Metacritic score of 76 at the time of writing. For comparison, 2018's Far Cry 5 scored 81, 2014's Far Cry 4 landed an 85, and 2012's Far Cry 3 earned a respectable 90.
The game's story takes place on the fictional island of Yara, heavily inspired by the real island of Cuba. The region is controlled by dictator Anton Castillo, portrayed in the game by Breaking Bad star Giancarlo Esposito.
Throughout the course of the game, protagonist Dani is tasked with uniting three different revolutionary groups in conflict with one another in order to overthrow Castillo, while moving through a vast open-world environment and firing a lot of guns, true to Far Cry form.
It's that very notion that seems to have left critics disappointed in Far Cry 6. While critics generally found the setting of Yara impressive, many added that the franchise is in desperate need of a revival that this instalment has struggled to deliver.
Diego Arguello discussed the classic elements of the gameplay in his review for Polygon.
"It's a cycle that is entertaining to take part in during the first few hours," he wrote. "It's a foundation that has worked well ever since its implementation in Far Cry 3. But it gets old quickly. Enemies don't offer much variety, and encounters almost always end up with you destroying a tank or a helicopter as a climax."
While critics had differing views on Far Cry 6's narrative and gameplay, all seemed to unanimously agree that the setting of Yara is the game's strongest asset.
In his 3/5 review, Eurogamer's Ian Highton wrote: "Luckily though, the open world fun of Far Cry 6 is as good as it ever was. Yara is both enormous and absolutely beautiful, featuring some of the most incredible vistas you're likely to find in any video game this year."
Critics seemed to be divided on Far Cry 6's characters. While some reviewers thought highly of the cast, others found the dialogue and acting disappointing compared to the vigour of previous entries into the series, one so notable for its villains that Far Cry 6's first set of DLC focuses on antagonists from previous entries.
Jason Rodriguez at PC Invasion gave high praise to Far Cry 6's characters in his 8/10 review, and wrote: "Esposito's portrayal of Anton Castillo is extremely chilling, switching from a doting father in one moment to a vicious executioner in the next. Alex Fernandez is also brilliant in the role of ex-KGB spymaster and gadget specialist Juan Cortez. There are many jokes and quips that will make you chuckle, juxtaposed with dark, violent, and horrifying themes."
Meanwhile, Eurogamer's Higton commented on how the relationship between Castillo and his son failed to live up to expectations set prior to the game's launch.
"There are a couple of scenes where Giancarlo Esposito gets to really show his teeth and these are undoubtedly memorable, but more often than not Anton is relegated to just being a bit of a shit dad"
Ian Higton, Eurogamer
"[Castillo is] more often shown lecturing his impressionable young son Diego - a dynamic and a relationship that also doesn't feel as pivotal to the game as originally promised," Higton wrote. "There are a couple of scenes where Giancarlo Esposito gets to really show his teeth and these are undoubtedly memorable, but more often than not Anton is relegated to just being a bit of a shit dad. He lacks the grandiose psychopathy of Vaas, the flamboyant mischievousness of Pagan Min and the stomach-churning creepiness of Joseph Seed. And that just makes for a duller game."
In his 8/10 review for IGN, Jon Ryan wrote: "There are certainly some great character moments throughout, and the decision to return Far Cry to third-person cutscenes is a good one, especially if you choose the femme version of main character, Dani Rojas. That's thanks to an earnest performance by actress Nisa Gunduz, who in no way feels like she's playing second fiddle to the big-name celebrity on the box art."
One thing Polygon's Arguello touched upon as an Argentinian was Far Cry 6's poor efforts of representing the people and culture that the game has based itself upon.
"What bothers me the most is the wasted potential to do it right," Arguello wrote. "Proper Latin American representation in games is severely lacking, but 2021 in particular has been a standout in both extremes."
"Far Cry 6 paints a hopeful picture at times, as every sign in the game -- and all of the graffiti -- is written in Spanish.," he continued. "Recognizing songs on the radio, and even hearing Dani sing over them, made me stop for a second in delight and surprise. But as soon as a character began speaking, the moment was ruined."
"The portrayal of Far Cry 6's guerrillas is similarly conflicting," he added. "The term guerrilla in itself is so overused between the characters in the game ('once a guerrilla, always a guerrilla') that it becomes a catchphrase. The people you help also fall into tropes of Latin American characters: the sassy alcoholic know-it-all; a couple obsessed with sex (who are jokingly called 'animals'); the veteran guerrillero who is constantly chanting 'viva la libertad.' The bad stereotypes are abundant, and although I tried to overlook them, the game's dialogue does not help."
Arguello also highlighted how characters in Far Cry 6 will often switch between speaking English and Spanish in the middle of sentences, which, as he points out, is something that bilingual speakers typically don't do.
"It's been said a number of times, but when Spanish-speaking people are talking in English, we're not constantly cambiando a Español mid-sentence," he said. "Far Cry 6 is obsessed with this fallacy. It comes across as parody at best, and utterly disrespectful at worst."
IGN's Ryan also commented on how the game is trying to accurately portray Latin America, but still falls short of meaningful representation.
"The world itself seems like a gorgeous rendition of South and Central American life, but the script sometimes relies so heavily on specific colloquialisms that it feels like it borders on caricature"
Jon Ryan, IGN
"Far Cry 6 clearly wants to be a more socially responsible game than its predecessors and -- to its credit -- it does make an effort to tackle some social issues, even if the script might stumble a bit over the reality of some of those moments," he said. "But it still feels trapped between presenting an authentic representation of Latin American culture and a gonzo'd-up version designed to please mainstream Western audiences.
"The world itself seems like a gorgeous rendition of South and Central American life, but the script sometimes relies so heavily on specific colloquialisms that it feels like it borders on caricature."
At its core, Far Cry 6 appears to be a perfectly acceptable new entry into the series, reliant on the seminal works of its past.
"Far Cry 6 is some of the most fun I've had with this series in nearly a decade," said IGN's Ryan. "Its cast delivers strong performances across an enjoyable story, even if it's also a fairly predictable one that doesn't always land the bigger swings it tries to take."
However, the series' refusal to evolve has left Far Cry 6 sitting at the bottom of a pile of games that have been repeating the same thing over and over again, which -- to quote Far Cry 3's Vaas -- is the very definition of insanity.
Eurogamer's Highton wrote: "If you were looking for a sequel that would shake up the series and bring about a gameplay revolution, you're going to be disappointed. But if you enjoy that classic Far Cry collect-em-up grind and simply want a brand new sandbox to explore and explode, you're going to be far from bored with all that Yara has to offer."
Polygon's Agruello concluded: "Far Cry as a whole is frozen in time. The few mechanical additions in the series' latest entry don't show much improvement over what Far Cry 5 or Far Cry New Dawn have already explored. And if your interest lies in the search for any semblance of proper representation, you're better off looking elsewhere."