Far Cry 4 is, for better or worse, Far Cry 3 in a different environment.
It’s the perfect example of the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Far Cry 3 was an absolute treat, pushing previous-gen hardware to the limits and giving a glimpse into the next generation of gaming. It’s successor shows what’s capable on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One unlike any other game. The world of Kyrat is your playground, bound without limitations and only hindered by your desire to explore.
Sadly, it’s also the perfect example of what happens when you play it safe: the lack of innovation and new ideas allow frustrations and issues to become more prevalent.
Make no mistake about it; Far Cry 4 is an open-world game. The amount of things to do and missions to complete is staggering. It’s incredibly easy to get distracted on your way to a campaign objective by four or five different side events that pop up. It’s only natural that you sometimes veer off the path and check out what’s going elsewhere. Stray too far, however, and you occasionally run the risk of leaving the mission area and resetting your progress. I don’t know about you, but I find this incredibly bogus.
There was one instance where I was told to talk to people after a cutscene. I walked towards an arrow on my HUD before quickly being told “hey, you left the mission area. Now you get to watch the cutscene again and you can’t skip it.” Apparently, two of the three arrows on my screen weren’t for the mission I was on. Totally cool.
While this seems like nitpicking, consider the highs of Far Cry 4, like car chases that end with pushing an armored truck into a tree or throwing bait during an outpost raid and watching a tiger rip your enemies apart. Riding elephants into combat, shooting your enemies through your front window as you drive past them, spending hours getting lost in the world of Kyrat performing the smallest of missions before you realize that you forgot what the heck you were supposed to do to progress the campaign and so much more. This game has the ability to be a heck of a lot of fun, but it also has moments of pure frustration that help hold it down.
Ironically, one of the few differences between Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 leads to moments of frustration. Where Far Cry 3‘s party boy Jason Brody was apparently James Bond in a past life, Far Cry 4 protagonist Ajay Ghale is not good with fire arms. He merely returned to Kyrat in hopes of spreading his mother’s ashes across her home country, but instead got caught up in a civil war because macguffins and plot devices. This leads to awkward scenarios where aiming down the scope of your guns is imperfect; your aim is sometimes the opposite of steady. Now, this doesn’t compensate for the fact that some of your foes have a tendency to be bullet sponges, but it still gives off this unique feeling in a shooter: you’re not a skilled shot. Instead, you have to rely on tactics and stealth to survive.
Or, you know, just ride the elephant. Whatever works, right?
This is a “problem” (sometimes it’s a breath of fresh air, other times it makes me want to throw my controller at the nearest wall) because of the enemy AI. They’re adaptive and tactical, choosing not to hopelessly run at you, but instead surround you and attempt to out flank our hero. Grenades need to be held back until the right timing, otherwise you’ll see enemies scatter as quickly as possible before a harmless explosion occurs. It’s as if the game attempts to subtly discourage firefights, which ultimately turn into running for your life as you spam the heal button. Yet, there’s this odd sense of enjoyment from the hundreds of near death experiences. It helps create an uneasy feeling of tension: Kyrat is not a very nice place and the game isn’t afraid to reinforce this point.
You could argue that this is Far Cry 4 at its best: no matter how much planning you do, one slip up and it’s a gigantic scramble for survival. Whether its your planned route to a mission “sabotaged” by the seemingly endless amount of side quests you undertake or a stealth attack foiled by a nosy guard, this is a game that requires both patience and presence of mind. It’s not a perfect experience, nor is it a new one, but it’s still enjoyable nonetheless.