Far Cry 4: All the island antics in a mountain setting

November 26, 2014


At one point during Far Cry 4, I literally rode an elephant through a crowd of flamethrower-wielding enemies while being chased by tigers. The situation did not end well for me (who’d have thought), but during the loading screen I remember trying to retrace my steps, wondering “how did I get to that point?” At another section in the game I needed to climb a radio tower, and instead of going the long way and fighting all the way up, I flew a tiny one-seater helicopter to the top of the tower and just landed at my destination. I couldn’t believe it worked, and this notion seemed to be a repeated theme during my playtime.

Far Cry 4 is a carbon copy of its predecessor in almost every way. The progression across the map through outposts and towers is the same, the types and variety of sidequests and collectibles are the same, the upgrade system is the same, heck… many of the weapons are even the same. This is all fine, because it’s really fun. Far Cry 3 successfully carved a lot of new ground with its open-world setting mashed with its FPS gameplay, and while Far Cry 4 doesn’t innovate on the formula, it does a good job of recreating what made the last game so special.

The real star of Far Cry 4 is the world, as the mountain nation of Kyrat provides a wonderful backdrop for emergent gameplay. The Himalayan Mountains are picturesque in the distance of nearly every scene, and while the game doesn’t seem to be pushing the newer hardware as much as some other recent titles, it does look very good. Beyond just the aesthetic, however, there are a ton of interesting things that just seem to happen in the game’s world.


Most of the unscripted interactions come from the wildlife that populate the region, as there are a ton of different animals and they are not shy about getting up close with you, another NPC or each other. There is nothing quite like the feeling of running away from an encounter close to death and seeing a pack of wolves jump out at random. Birds will swoop in and attack when you least expect it (and they will make you jump each and every single time), and they will even strike at the other animals you’re hunting. I watched an eagle swoop in at one point while I was chasing a pig. It just grabbed it and flew away; I was too stunned to even try pursuing.

There is an absurd amount of things to do in Far Cry 4. In addition to the roughly 20-hour campaign, there are enemy outposts to liberate (which provide your fast-travel locations) and radio towers to hack (which reveal sections of the map). Each enemy outpost that you manage to conquer opens up at least four or five more side quests to complete. While most of these are the standard “go here and kill this person” variety, they provide good excuses to explore the world.

While on your way to finish a side quest, you will inevitably get distracted at least once or twice by a hidden collectible nearby or a quick “karma” event popping up, which can be completed to increase your standing within the rebellion. The feeling of completing just “one more thing” before calling it quits for a play session is strong, as whenever you finish something, there always seems to be something else nearby.


There are both cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes, but these both feel very lackluster and not worth the time. The actual shooting mechanics of Far Cry 4 are passable, but when put into a competitive multiplayer match, it actually becomes clear that they aren’t on the same level mechanically as the larger players in that space. The cooperative multiplayer feels like big missed opportunity, as none of the story content is playable in this mode, which pretty much just leaves open-world content. One very neat part of the cooperative multiplayer, though, is the PS4-exclusive “Keys to Kyrat” system. With this system, a person with the game can actually have a friend without the game join them for some fun. This is a very neat feature, and one that I hope to see implemented in more titles going forward.

The story of Far Cry 4 is the one place that I do feel it takes a significant step back. Far Cry 3 did not have a great story by any means, but it is leaps and bounds above what you get here. There are some interesting choices that you get to make along the way that do provoke a lot of thought, as they aren’t necessarily easy black-and-white decisions. None of these affect the game in too large of a way, however. The biggest gripe with the story is that it doesn’t go anywhere. You pretty much know within the first 15 minutes what the last 15 minutes will be.


Even with a lackluster plot, the acting in Far Cry 4 is pretty brilliant. There are two standout performances here: one from the now ubiquitous Troy Baker as the antagonist Pagan Min, and the other from relatively-unknown comedian Hasan Minhaj as radio personality Rabi Ray Rana. Troy’s Pagan Min is just the right mix of deranged and evil, very reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker. Every time you see him in the game, you just wish there were more to take in. Rabi Ray Rana, on the other hand, can be heard in any car you drive throughout the game as the voice of the rebellion, and his commentary on the social climate of Kyrat had me laughing so hard that I found myself driving extra distances just to try and hear every piece of dialogue he had.

The difficulty of Far Cry 4 is a bit uneven, as the beginning of the game is very simple and so is the end (once you’ve fully upgraded and unlocked the best weapons). There is a period in the middle, though, where you may want to push forward but find yourself facing a wall. The game expects a good deal of side content completion along with the money and skill points to match, as they do outpace themselves if you stick too closely to the critical path. If you stay a little ahead though and take the necessary time to unlock the better skills and purchase some decent weapons, you’ll find that most of the game breezes by fairly easy.


Far Cry 4 doesn’t do anything new, but it doesn’t have to. I had a great time exploring Kyrat, and experimenting in this setting (and also riding elephants). The story is disappointing, and a little more variety would have helped, but I still enjoyed this game as much as Far Cry 3. Now all I can hope is that Ubisoft breaks its current trend and innovates for the next sequel in the series. For as good as this game is, I don’t want to play Far Cry 5 next November.

Pros: Fascinating open world, fantastic voice acting, tons of things to do
Cons: Lack of innovation, lack of plot development

Score: 4/5

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