Benefits With Friends: Far Cry 3 Multiplayer

Dudes get kicked!
RPS hugbuddy Will Porter is giggling beside me. (“Hugbuddy”? – Incredulous Ed.) The guilt at what I was doing was not stopping me from doing it: I am a bad bad man and Will’s laughter drove me on. While we were waiting in the Far Cry 3 multiplayer lobby, I experimentally clicked the two thumbsticks down (the game was on PC, but it’s currently only tuned for joypad) and was informed I’d levelled up, and it showed me the new weapon I now had access to. Like the other people at this press event, I’d never before had the chance to plunge into the team-focused multiplayer, but with every guilty click I was giving myself an advantage. Click. Click. Click. I looked at the other screens and no-one was pulling the same trick. This was going to be easy.

It wasn’t easy. In fact, my advantage didn’t matter, and I died as if John was my healer. Far Cry 3’s multiplayer is a class-based, team driven, with an entire social layer outwith the game that I’ll get to later, but in-game that focus means you need to co-ordinate and stick together or you won’t receive benefits of BFFs. It’s not that there’s Left 4 Dead style punishment if you go off on your own, but you have a Battle Cry, a special power that buffs those closest to you on the map, and you get rewarded for being a productive team member.

Stupid me, with my initial “I am levelled to the balls” attitude, when the first round began on Domination, a control point game mode, I left my team-mates and ran off to a different control point than the one they were heading to, face first into bullets. At least I reduced the number of bullets out there that could conceivably hurt my friends, which I count as teamwork of the highest order, but my initial foolhardiness exposed the game’s core. I sheepishly held back more and got to grips.

You kind of know Far Cry 3’s multiplayer already: it feels like a sunny Modern Warfare, with beaches, pools and temples replacing grittily muddied up urban environments. Death comes swiftly, unexpectedly, a bit frustratingly, and mostly because of corners. It’s a slower paced, but it often feels like the action is a trip between respawns. It’s a bit like every multiplayer mode in every big single-player game, really: it feels like an odd, other-world version of the full game. The team-buffs keep things degenerating into a MW style cluster, though.

Depending on the class (typical variations of sniper, heavy weapons, etc), you can boost damage, speed, or health. I’d just captured a scrap yard with three other players. I swept over the map’s points and we were losing, so had a choice of control points to attack. One was being captured and the two others were held: I boosted everyone’s speed and ran off towards the nearest one we could quickly grab. Everyone followed. I kind of got lucky: the offensive buffs work when people are aware of your intentions, like popping an uber in TF2. Later on I boosted everyone’s speed and ran at a CP. They ran off in different directions, a bit quicker than usual, and I was slaughtered. I felt /quite/ the fool.

Defensively it’s easier to pull off a fistbump moment: health boosts are welcome at any time, and sliding in (it has a slide button – wheeeeeeee!) to a control point where a coordinated enemy attack is wearing down defenders and boosting everyone to full health pulled our team together. Without the benefit of chat in the basement room we were playing in (no-one was talking, apart from Will and I. And then, we’d talk about teaming up, then one of us would get distracted), people were sticking together defending because the urgency to stop a captured control point being retaken beats supporting a CP that your team is currently capturing. With chat I could see how co-ordination would slow the pace down and keep some of the unnecessary deaths in check, but the nature of the levels really means a lot of unseen enemies will get you. Another boon of keeping in tight formation is when you do die, you can be revived. Those nearest you can hear your calls for help and anyone can revive anyone: there’s no healer in Far Cry 3’s war.

Boosting everyone, helping the dead, capturing points builds up Team Support points, which gives you virtual currency to spend on one-off special weapons. With enough you can access Team Support weapons, heavy one-shots that really mess with the other side’s progress. The best of these was Psyche Gas: it swamps the enemy team, their vision blurs and everyone looks like a demon. Friendly fire is switched off at that point, and I confess I killed a friendly, but when a demon with a gun is running towards you, you shoot first and apologise later.

The Firestorm mode takes the basics of control point and flambes it. In a bigger map, with more open areas, (though combat still felt cramped), the two teams were each given two stashes of fuel to keep safe. Each stash that’s captured starts a fire: if you capture the second stashes before the first one burns out, a radio is activated on the map. This becomes the active control point, in the midst of an ever raging fire, where the ascendant team is trying to capture it to call in a plane to dump fuel on the fire winning the map; the losers are attempting to douse it to reset the map. It’s a frenetic, embattled, everyone throwing themselves into it sort of capture zone: buffs fly freely as everyone tries to break the deadlock, but they’re still buffing quick-death, speedy respawn fights. I found it tough to break away from any assault: when I was spotted, I was dead.

The spreading fire riffs on Far Cry 3’s elements at least, but I’m still a bit miffed that there’s nothing here that feels like the open-world shooter that’s birthed it. Instead, there’s the real-world. Far Cry 3 comes with a social network of sorts. It’s a combo of friend-making, stat-tracking, weapon unlocking and trading that you can access on the PC and on your phone. The example given is a player, a little stick figure called “Redman” having “intel” to unlock, basically a mysterious package given to him while playing the game that he hopes is a shotgun. He starts the unlock process on the website, via his phone, and keeps checking in during the day. It’s unlocking too slowly for him, and he prods a friend who he introduced to the game. His friend has a speed-up token that he uses to buff the unlocking process. It’s not a shotgun, and the little man is sad. But wait, his friend already has the shotgun, and gifts it to Redman. The power of friends makes him happy.

I’m okay with games that give you scope to fiddle away from your main screen. I’d quite happily poke around my TF2 backpack on the bus, but a social network is a little incongruous that a game series that’s slowly revolving around psychopathy. Still, if there’s enough to interest you in Far Cry 3’s multiplayer, you now have an outlet to make a difference to your loadout while sat on the toilet. Me? I’ll just be doing a poo.


  1. says:

    “(the game was on PC, but it’s currently only tuned for joypad)”

    Should I be worried about this?

    • Cytrom says:

      Nah, ubisoft always takes good care of their PC fans.

    • meatshit says:

      It’s pretty damn hard to screw up the controls on an FPS.

      • Brun says:

        It’s pretty damn hard to screw up the controls on an FPS.

        Is that sarcasm?

      • thematrix606 says:

        You’d think that, wouldn’t you?

      • Contrafibularity says:

        I count myself lucky that the coffee which just went through my nose just about missed my keyboard.

  2. Stevostin says:

    A multiplayer PC man shoot playtested on… joypad, and no journalist goes on strike.

    Really, I can’t get that. I know that I would just refuse to play any FPS on a PC with a joypad, simply because none of my reader will, so how can I get a meaningful impression by playing in such different conditions than they will ?

    • Brun says:

      A multiplayer PC man shoot

      Ah, but it’s not a PC man shoot, is it? It’s a multiplatform man shoot.

    • Choca says:

      The game was actually completely playable with mouse and keyboard, you just had to put the joypad aside.

      The on-screen interface still told you to press the joypad buttons to do stuff but asking the devs for the keyboard equivalent easily solved that problem for me.

      @Stevostin : Il me semble que j’ai encore un screen de toi en train de camper mon cadavre sur Cho’gall il y a des années de ça, pourriture d’orc (j’aime beaucoup tes bouquins).

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It’s pretty routine to go to a multiplatform game event have it on PC, but for there to be no mouse and keyboard. It’s ludicrous, and I always complain about it.

      • Choca says:

        @Jim Rossignol : Then I guess we didn’t go to the same event, we had gamepads too but everyone threw them away to play with the keyboard and mouse. The gamepads kept rumbling all the while in a dark corner, somewhere, it was almost poetic.

        Also I can second that some of us actually complain when we’re forced to play with a gamepad on a PC. Especially when we’ve asked the publisher to get us playing on a PC version before the event.

        The fun part is that, sometimes, even the developer apologizes for not showing their game on PC. Splash Damage complained about having to show Brink on console everytime I saw them before the game’s release.

        Even as an avid PC fan, I have to admit that setting up multiple consoles to show your game is probably easier than setting up the same number of PCs, but if you’re bothering with setting up PCs, then give us a damn mouse and keyboard.

        • Craig Pearson says:

          To be fair, they actually did have a KB and mouse set-up, but they weren’t kidding: it was impossible to play like that. That’s not to say it’ll stay bad: it was just unoptimised.

  3. bear912 says:

    “… I died as if John was my healer.”

  4. Fanbuoy says:

    I’m not quite sure what the overall impression was? A bit mixed?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Sounds like it. It’s the obligatory multiplayer part of a mainstream shooter.

    • Vandelay says:

      I must congratulate Craig on actually being honest about what he saw too. His boredom with the style of FPS multiplayer really comes out in the preview, as does him being unimpressed with the gimmicky social networking aspects.

      It is so rare to read previews that don’t just regurgitate the hype (not normally on RPS, of course.)

      • Donjo says:

        Ah, seemed pretty well rounded to me, he didn’t trash it but he wasn’t sycophantic either.

  5. Blackcompany says:

    I wonder how much development time it takes to make a reasonably good single player/co-op shooter experience?

    I also wonder how much addtional time it takes to tack on obligatory, will-anyone-play-this-for-more-than-a-day multiplayer?

    Lastly, I wonder how much additional time it takes to transform a reasonably good shooter into a spectacular or revolutionary game people never forget?

    Anyone else think the amount of time for both two and three might be about the same length?

    • Choca says:

      As is often the case in this situation, the multiplayer is made by another team (Massive Entertainment, of World in Conflict fame).

      • Blackcompany says:

        Thanks for sharing. I am familiar with outsourcing multiplayer. However, I did not realize it was so common. Or that it was done in this case. Informative, thank you.

  6. Moonracer says:

    The only mechanic that excited me was the Psyche Gas. Turning all players into unidentifiable demons (among other distortions) sounds like a situation that would consistently simulate drug induced paranoia within the game. You don’t know who is friendly, but if you don’t shoot first someone else will. Brilliant!

  7. Iskariot says:

    Even if it has the best multiplayer ever conceived I will still be buying this for the single player only.
    I think I will enjoy this game immensely.

    • Grinnbarr says:

      I don’t understand why big single player games feel the need to have a multiplayer component (or, for that matter, why big multiplayer games have to put in single player content e.g. Battlefield 3). I mean, didn’t STALKER have a multiplayer mode? Surely adding these bits in just takes development time and money away from the real focus of the game and no-one plays them for more than a week anyway. I got Bioshock 2 for a steal in a steam sale and was thinking how lovely it was to just play a purely single player experience… and then remembered it had a tacked on multiplayer too. And GFWL.
      Obviously this doesn’t impact my enjoyment in any way, it just seems mad from the developer’s point of view. Right?

      • Iskariot says:

        I agree with you Grinbarr.
        I would rather see them invest every penny in the best single player possible and enhanced replayability.
        I suppose they hope to attract a few extra customers by adding a multiplayer component, but I doubt it is actually worth the investment of time and money. I do not at all believe that Bioshocks multiplayer for example sold more games. But it is hard for me to judge, I never pay attention to multiplayer anyway.

        The last time I played online is at least 10 to 15 years ago.

  8. Turbobutts says:

    It’s like Cowadoody on tropical vacation. When will developers finally realize that simply copying the biggest game in the genre almost never works? And to make things worse everyone will just go back to COD after a few weeks and the servers will be flat out dead. Why do they even bother putting multiplayer in?

    • SoupDuJour says:

      To be able to tell shareholders that they are doing what they can to prevent people trading the game in.

  9. Reefpirate says:

    Did the multiplayer have a dubstep feature?

  10. thebigJ_A says:

    Incredulous Ed and Dolorous Ed are my two favorite crows.

  11. Secundus says:

    cant wait to buy this garbage on steam sale a month after release and find the multi a complete ghost town. and then find out that the multi team was layed off immediately after release

  12. Thermal Ions says:

    I’d really rather they leave single player games as single player games, rather than this penchant some devs/publishers have for tacking on multi-player in order to “tick a box”.

  13. Josh04 says:

    No word on the weirdo torture-murder mechanic from the end?

  14. RegisteredUser says:

    I am getting so sick and tired of 99% of new game focus/announcements being “OHAI AND IT HAZ MULTIPAYER, ERRR, PLAYER!”.

    So sick and tired.