A Ranger In Far Cry 4: Part Three – Taking A Bow

This is the third and final part of my diary of playing Far Cry 4 as a bow-toting ranger. Here are parts one and two.

By rights I should sit back from my desk, blow the foam from the tops of my bubbling test tubes, and loudly declare, “MY EXPERIMENT HAS BEEN A SUCCESS!” But as is so often the case with science, it would have been failure that produced the most interesting results. Failure led to penicillin, the high five, and the satsuma. I have no satsuma.

Playing Far Cry 4 with just the bow and arrow proves to be entirely viable. In fact, it proves to be an enormous amount of fun. It doesn’t change anything drastically, doesn’t render the game fantastically more difficult, and doesn’t create too many hilarious anecdotes. In fact, I’d positively recommend playing the game this way.

While the bow is rather unsatisfying in terms of progression, it starts off incredibly powerful. Once you’ve added a sight to the stick, there’s really no more that can be done to it. Upgrade your quiver to the maximum animal skins will allow and you’ve got fifty regular arrows, and ten fire arrows and ten explosive jobbies. You’re packing. And the three are a surprisingly adept combination.

Regular arrows can take down most foes in a single shot, even if you miss their face. Tougher enemies may require two new holes in their bodies, or just one to their head. The toughest enemies, those bumbling around with flamethrowers and special suits, take a whole bunch, but here is where you switch to one of the specials and watch them blow themselves up.

With the main arrow so powerful, the fire and explosives end up mostly being there for pure entertainment reasons, or when you’re hugely overwhelmed. Seven of them all piling in at once means the relatively slow reloading time for the bow becomes a little impractical, but if you can set the whole lot of them on fire, or blast them all into the sky, it doesn’t prove too much of a problem.

Archery only becomes useless when someone’s right on top of you, and in my guise as a ranger, it’s wholly appropriate for me to stick them with my dagger. Risky, and definitely a cause of occasional deaths for me, but still not resorting to pop guns.

That’s not to say it hasn’t been slightly trickier. There have been bases I’ve attempted to clear multiple times, thwarted by the limitations of not being able to blast a dozen guards at once with a machine gun. Picking them out one by one gives much more opportunity for them to notice their colleagues are having impromptu naps, and while there’s a huge pay-off in terms of the attacks being silent, it’s meant a much more meticulous process of picking them off. It’s also led to far more elaborate ways for things to suddenly go horrendously wrong, creating the best moments in the game as I frantically scramble to get back on top of an ever-escalating calamity.

I confess, it has also turned me into a gun-wanting madman. I’ve never been one for caring of the brand of shooty-gun-stick in games. I like the one that lets me hit the target most accurately, and don’t tend to make much more fuss than that. But restricting myself from using them, I’ve found this mad urge to get the biggest, angriest gun, and just walk around spraying bullets into the air. I suspect, with this experiment concluded, I may spend a bit of time playing the game as the most ridiculously trigger happy lunatic that ever walked the isle.

But I also suspect I’ll quickly return to the bow. There’s something so satisfying about accurately aiming a one-shot weapon. And never more-so than when hitting a moving target with some well-practised pre-emptive aiming. It’s a superbly satisfactory way to play the game.

I think this is all testament to quite how great a game Far Cry 4 is. It’s unquestionably not a big step forward from FC3, even perhaps just an iteration of it with a whole new daft, ignorable storyline. But it’s such an adventure playground of silly fun. And that it has the room to let you ignore a huge proportion of its content – the arsenal of guns and ammo that are so central to its structure – is really worthy of remark. It has space to let you approach it as you wish. And I really have been, ignoring main missions for hours and hours, instead merrily filling in ?s and taking over bases and radio towers, all as the great ranger I now know I truly am.


  1. GernauMorat says:

    I’ve actually being playing mainly like this, and it really is fun. Best bow since Crysis?

    • Jamesworkshop says:

      well to be fair you could have a bow and be invisible

      compare it to tomb raider or a fav to me the bows in gothic 3

    • w0bbl3r says:

      Crysis 3’s bow is for girls compared to this one.
      I do use the odd assault rifle when I am stuck having to fight. But I do try to stick to the bow as much as possible.
      I like to snipe open an animal cage, then perhaps use a fire arrow to set the other side of the base on fire. Then you can watch the men on that side of the base frantically scrabble away from the base, right into the open arms of a huge black bear. That is very satisfying. Killing everyone in the base without actually physically killing a single one of them :) I’m a pacifist, don’t you know? And an animal lover. That’s why I save the animals by thinning their numbers, as all great animal conservationists do.
      I have to say this is the best far cry I have ever played. A huge fan of the first when it was released, I even enjoyed the second. I LOVED the third, and of course blood dragon.
      But the new little changes and new additions here just make this something so special.
      I don’t play the story missions much, or even the side missions. I just ride around on an elephant, stomping around sticking arrows into things (and people)
      Great game, definitely my game of the year.

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      phuzz says:

      I’ve not played FC4 yet, but the bow look pretty similar to the one in FC3, and that stayed in my inventory from pretty much the first moment I picked it up.
      The only thing it’s lacking is the (implausible) pinning the ragdoll to a wall ability of the HL2 crosbow.

  2. padger says:

    Time you bowed out, John.

    Ah, that’s good. Pleased with that one.

  3. ffordesoon says:

    As with FC3, I think FC4 could easily have been my game of the year if it wasn’t coated in a thick layer of Ubicrap. I like this one more than 3, because it’s got less of the annoying bits and more toys to play with, and the avuncular despot Pagan Min is a more interesting character than Vaas the garden-variety psychopath. But Ubisoft has this way of making games I feel like I should love so irritating in so many minor ways that I ultimately can’t love them.

    It doesn’t help that their games are so formulaic now that it’s impossible to tell the aggressively mediocre dross like Watch Dogs (I refuse to type the underscore) from the good (if also annoying in about a hundred different ways) games without playing them, sometimes for a long time. I played Watch Dogs for thirty hours, and I think I had fun for maybe five of them? And I don’t mean that the first five hours are fun and everything after sucks. I mean that across thirty hours, I had five hours’ worth of fun. And that’s being generous; the fun I had was “this game is pretty okay” fun, not “I LOVE THIS GAME” fun. And even the best moments reminded me of games I would rather be playing. God, what a polished turd that thing is.

    Far Cry 4 is not a polished turd. Far Cry 4 is pretty darn great. But it still suffers from being lashed to the same irritating, needy design tics as Watch Dogs, and even if the base game is worlds better, my GOTY is always something I can recommend without qualifications. FC4 fails that test.

    Yes, this little soliloquy is probably a more appropriate post for whichever Bestest Best entry is given over to FC4, but as I’m not one hundred percent sure such an entry will happen, and I wouldn’t have written the same thing then, so nyehh.

    • sinister agent says:

      Ubisofts Game Ruining Department is the second best in the business. Only Kojima is more capable of sabotaging great games.

      • ffordesoon says:

        Aw, Kojima’s alright. Utterly batfuck crazy and too obsessed with fulfilling his dream of directing a movie, but alright. And whatever you think of his artistic decisons, they at least feel like artistic decisions rather than the imposition of a house style from on high.

    • Cinek says:

      “Pagan Min is a more interesting character than Vaas the garden-variety psychopath” – there’s a differenced between these two?! Sorry, but both are totally unmemorable, uninspiring (in terms of writing), copy&paste characters. As far as I’m concerned Pagan is a simple reskin of Vaas. So is most of that idiotic campaign – there’s just so many similarities it’s hard to believe (they even copied flipping knife thing! Even that! WTF?!).

      Don’t get me wrong – game itself is really great, but it’s great because of everything that doesn’t come on contact with campaign. Campaign and it’s characters are… jeez…. I don’t know even how to describe this laziness of writers combined with cliches, boringness, and no ability to skip all that shit. :/

  4. steves says:

    “Picking them out one by one”

    Spoken like a true gentleman sniper. Whilst I thoroughly respect and admire archery as a means of killing silently from a distance, I like to mix it up with a rifle too. I will even reload after each shot to simulate a proper bolt-action!

    I could go as far as “you can pry my silenced sniper rifle from my cold, dead hands” with this game (which happens quite a lot), but even knowing full well that ‘silenced’ guns are nonsense*, that is always my approach to taking over a base. “Spraying bullets into the air” is just so…vulgar, and also very wasteful. Archery and sniping are enviromentally-friendly murder tactics;)

    link to arstechnica.com
    That is a really interesting read


    I just wanted you to know that I went to bed right after reading the previous episode and had a bizarre dream in which I was playing a game that was a mix of Far Cry 4 and Firewatch, in which I rode a giant cartoon giraffe (not just Firewatch style stylized cartoon, it looked more like a balloon animal) to the border of the game world where there happened to be a racetrack beyond an invisible wall.

  6. bill says:

    The Satsuma came from failure? I want to know more and wikipedia tells me NOTHING!

    It didn’t come from Satsuma though, I knew that much.

  7. Pundabaya says:

    I have to say the bow disappeared from my usual armoury once the auto-cross (aka Satan’s Stapler, because it sounds kinda like a staplegun, and appears to operate wholly via evil magic ) became avalable. If you want to let loose after your archery shenanigans, I do recommend the Buzzsaw (unlocked via doing all the towers). It’s one of the most hilariously overpowered guns ever seen in a FPS. 400 rounds in a belt, one of which will off the average mook. It’s a machine gun. It destroys Heavies in less than a second.