Hey guys, this is Oracle from the Red Eye Report. Far Cry 6 came out recently. I played through it, and I found the game to be incredibly tedious and uneven story wise. Something kept bothering me. Far Cry 6 plays well. Combat is a smooth experience. Ubisoft has built a beautiful and expansive world in Yara, and you have many options to traverse it as well: helicopters, horses, planes, tanks, and all manner of cars, and when you’re driving those cars, you’re blasting the radio and will often sing along to the tunes. That’s a nice touch. The more I reflect on Far Cry 6, the more I realize that it has many of these little polished touches. The sound in general is top-notch. Little audio cues reward you as you move through the combat. The jungles of Yara sing with wildlife. The game has an outstanding lead villain, Anton Castillo, played by Giancarlo Esposito. He’s evil, but he’s complex. As his story unfolds through cutscenes, you dive into the various layers of Castillo’s past and his motivations.
There are some real highs in Far Cry 6. I guess that’s why I felt so unsatisfied when I finished it. It was an okay game, I’d probably give it a 6 or 7 on a 10-point scale, but I knew it could be so much better. Far Cry 3 is considered by many to be the high point in the Far Cry series. When it came out in 2012 it established the winning blueprint for Far Cry games. I played it back in 2012, and I remembered it being a good game. But was my affection for Far Cry 3 based largely on nostalgia? Was the game as good as I remembered it, or is Far Cry 6 following the same blueprint as Far Cry 3, and I’ve lost my appetite for the Far Cry formula? There was only one way to find out. I fired up Far Cry 3 and gave it a go on PC.
The first thing you’ll notice about any AAA game like this are the graphics. Far Cry 6 is a good-looking game. I was able to run it maxed out on a 3070 card with a capped framerate of 60 FPS no problem. I will say that Far Cry 6 had a consistent level of detail issue for me. Things like clothing and dashboards in cars would load a super low-res texture, and when I say low, I mean N64 quality graphics. It was a little jarring when the rest of the world was a beautiful ray-traced visual feast. This low-res texture problem occurred on the weapons when you brought them up to look down the sights, making serial numbers and other details unreadable. I assume this is a bug. Like I said though, it persisted throughout my entire playthrough of Far Cry 6.
So how do the graphics of Far Cry 3 hold up? It turns out…really well. From top to bottom, Far Cry 3 looks great. The foliage on the Rook Islands is fantastic. The water looks watery. The only area where I would say Far Cry 6 beats Far Cry 3 hands down is draw distance detail. Far Cry 3 has an impressive draw distance for 2012, but when you’re looking super far, like jumping out of a plane far, or at the top of a tower looking at a beach miles away, you will see a basic tile pattern of textures. The rest of game looks so good the tiled textures stand out, and I will say, these occurrences are rare. The animations for enemies are relatively basic, but they’re adequate. Far Cry 6 doesn’t improve on any of these enemy animations. In fact, Far Cry 6 might be a step back from Far Cry 3, but that might have more to do with combat and enemy AI.
Let’s get into the combat. One of the things that immediately stood out to me about Far Cry 3 was just how raw and savage the combat can feel versus Far Cry 6. I mean raw in a good way too. I played both Far Cry 6 and Far Cry 3 on PC and Far Cry 6 quickly devolved into a headshot parade. Don’t get me wrong, I like me some headshots, but I didn’t need to work for them in Far Cry 6. If I shot someone in the head, let’s say across the room or a road, the rest of the enemies would not react. In Far Cry 6, when enemies detect your presence, they do this deer in the headlights thing, where they stop in their tracks and stare at you for almost a full second. I could perform headshots on the enemies in Far Cry 6 using a trackball and my feet if I needed to.
The enemies in Far Cry 3 are another matter entirely. First of all, they don’t stop and hang around for you to shoot them. They are running for cover or advancing and advancing quickly. If you nail an enemy in the leg as they’re running for cover, they might stumble, but they’re still moving. Combat encounters in Far Cry 3 are so much more intense and focused than the encounters in Far Cry 6. In Far Cry 6, you can be at a checkpoint that you’ve captured, and enemy vehicles will just keep coming until you have a pile of enemy bodies and a scrapyard of trucks, tanks, and helicopters. It just doesn’t make sense, and honestly, it gets annoying. These battles were rarely challenging.
Far Cry 3’s equivalent to this is a patrol driving up with a few vehicles. If you can’t nail the vehicle with an RPG or get the jump on the enemies before they dismount, enemies will fan out and take cover and advance to your position in the jungle. This makes for very high-tension and exciting combat in Far Cry 3. There’s no wanted meter like Far Cry 6 either. If you take the patrol out, and nobody else is around to reinforce, that engagement is over. Combat doesn’t feel arbitrary.
Outposts are another good example of the combat differences in Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 6. A checkpoint in Far Cry 6 might have 6 enemies, the outposts can have as many as 20. Because of the delayed reaction time of the enemies, you can quickly dispatch most of these enemies. No matter how late in the game you are, a headshot with armor piercing rounds, which you can craft at the beginning of the game, will take down an enemy. You can easily take out any security systems and cameras ahead of time. If the enemies manage to sound the alarm and call in reinforcements, you can take out incoming choppers and trucks with tracking missiles or hit your panic button, the supremo, and launch a flurry of heat seeking rockets that will take out a huge chunk of the enemy force.
You can take out security systems in Far Cry 3 with a well-placed shot, but many times you will not have a vantage point to get all of them in one go. Plus, if guards are near the alarms that you destroy, they will quickly catch on and go on high alert. In the later stages of Far Cry 3, I would recon an outpost and make the decision to go in and disable the alarm by hand, which would disable all the alarms in the camp. This decision was based on reconning the area, seeing where enemies were posted, identifying a straggler that I could lead off with thrown rocks, and expose a path to an alarm. Once I was in the outpost, I had earned skills that made close quarters combat much more dynamic. I could perform a takedown on an enemy and drag their body out of view or pull the enemy’s knife out after I had killed them and throw it to kill another nearby guard. By the end of Far Cry 3, I had accumulated an impressive array of skills, and every action that I was able to pull off to take down the outpost felt earned.
Far Cry 3 outshines Far Cry 6 in every aspect when it comes to skill tree and general progression systems. You begin the game with basic weapons like a Glock and an AK-47. They’re loud and unwieldy. Enemies and animals are moving throughout the world quickly. You start with 2 health bars. By the end of the game, you can get 6 health bars. You can acquire skills for takedowns. You can make yourself more resilient to blasts. You can reload faster. You can get skills that will enable you to collect crafting resources and money faster. Far Cry 3 is dotted with radio towers that you need to scale and activate to reveal the map. Those get progressively more difficult. The enemies start out as unarmored pirates that can be taken down with a few body shots. As you progress, the enemies’ armor goes up, and their weaponry becomes more lethal. Snipers and enemies with rocket launchers can make for a bad day if you get caught in a tight spot.
You need to upgrade your weapons in Far Cry 3 to keep pace. By the time you get to the second half of the game, the AK-47 and the lower caliber sniper rifles simply won’t cut it. You’ll need the .50 cal sniper rifle to perform headshots on the armored machine gun and flamethrower enemies. You’ll want to get weapons that can support attachments like extended clips and reflex sights. Those guns become available as you activate towers, or you can buy them with cash that you’ve collected. Once again, it all feels earned.
Far Cry 6 lacks this sense of progression. Skills are tied to your gear, and you pretty much have everything you need from the jump. It seems like Ubisoft wanted to make things easy and on demand for the player. If you want a car, just call it in, one will be dropped off for you. Enemies don’t become more difficult as you progress through the game. Special forces get called in when you have a wanted level, and this is the closest the combat of Far Cry 6 gets to Far Cry 3, but you can quickly dispatch them with headshots or your supremo. Even taking over checkpoints and outposts feels arbitrary. There are so many in Far Cry 6. One third of the map probably has just as many outposts as the entire Far Cry 3 map does. It was great to get to the end of Far Cry 3 and have taken over all the enemy outposts. I truly felt like we were closing in on the enemy and taking away their options. That didn’t happen for me in Far Cry 6. After the credits, it was like, welp get back to work, this place is still a shitshow. It was incredibly dissatisfying.
Crafting in Far Cry 3 is brilliant. You need to craft your various carrying holsters and munitions pouches out of animal hides. Your ammo capacity is considerably less in the beginning of the game than what it ends up being by the end. You will need that ammo for later battles. The enemies are vicious and heavily armored. I was making many more “right tool for the job” decisions in Far Cry 3 than I ended up making in Far Cry 6. I’d ask myself, “Do I want to use my sniper rifle here or get the jump on them with my light machinegun or even go for a stealth kill?” The jungles of Far Cry 3 are dangerous as hell early to mid-game too. You’ll often hear a tiger or other deadly animal growling in the underbrush as you are trying to avoid an enemy patrol. You don’t want to start shooting, because then you’ll alert the patrol. If you get lucky, the tiger might attack the patrol and you can move in to mop up the mess. These encounters are truly dynamic, and they don’t feel forced.
So what are the major takeaways here? Number one, Far Cry 3 is a fantastic game that still holds up in 2021 despite it being nine years old at this point. The graphics are surprisingly good. The menus can be a bit clunky in the beginning. Tasks like crafting and buying and selling items lack some of the modern-day polish that Far Cry 6 has. Other than that, Far Cry 3 blows Far Cry 6 out of the water gameplay wise. If you want a sandbox where you can do whatever the hell you want, okay, Far Cry 6 is the better choice. If you want a well-crafted gameplay experience in a first-person shooter, it doesn’t get much better than Far Cry 3.
Here’s my number two. Ubisoft is getting it wrong regarding what players want from a Far Cry game. More is not better. Convenience is not better. I don’t need to always have a vehicle on hand. Not having one immediately, causes me to make decisions on how I will traverse an area, which then opens other encounters, whether that’s with wildlife or patrols. Enemy encounters should feel natural, not just an endless stream of enemies and vehicles beamed down from some angry god. When I take out a patrol or capture an outpost, I want to feel like I’m making a difference in the overall war.
Number three: Fix that freaking combat. Lose the deer in the headlights pause. Thanks for the super-rewarding sound effects for scoring a headshot but let me earn it and everything else in the game. If I don’t bother to earn skills and resources, make it clear to me that they are necessary for me to progress in the game.
I’m super glad I played Far Cry 3 again. I plan on playing Far Cry 4 here soon. I’ll write up another article and a video for that one. A part of me is still holding onto a sliver of hope for Far Cry 6 and maybe an expansion to rectify the major flaws it currently has. The world that Ubisoft has built and the things inside it create a fantastic sandbox simulation. There are huge gaps in the gameplay though. We’ll see how Far Cry 4 compares to 3. I’ve seen mixed reactions to 4. Until then, check for more of my reviews on theredeyereport.com and download the Red Eye Report podcast for reviews and other random internet, culture, and news commentary. I’ll see you later.