I'm only a couple of hours into Far Cry 4 - we didn't receive any pre-release review code - and it is very Far Cry so far. In just that little play time I've scaled radio towers, ziplined down from radio towers, hang-glided off mountains, driven jeeps off mountains, delivered packages under a time limit, stabbed people in the throat with knives, shot people in the throat with arrows, baited a bear into killing a guy, and hunted and skinned different kinds of animals in order to make a fetching bag.
Are you playing it? Hop below for some very brief thoughts, and to leave your own impressions in the comments.
I'll have a proper review to come later this week, but here are my first impressions:
1) It took me two hours to get it to work.
Because I had a HOTAS flight stick plugged in, and apparently that causes Far Cry 4 (and previously released Ubisoft games?) to hang on launch. This is obviously an easy fix, but it took me a while to work out that this was the culprit. Dashed were my dreams of piloting an elephant like a fighter jet.
2) Bloody heck, it's pretty.
From the first scenes it sells Kyrat as a paradise, and does much more successfully than any previously visited tropical island. Maybe that's simply because I'm more inclined to enjoy verdant forest thrust alongside tall snowy mountains instead of beaches and palm trees, but I'm enjoying the crisp blue skies and the increase in opportunities to fling myself off high ledges.
3) I'm not really sure what my character's motivation is.
Pagan Min seems like a bad bloke, but I've instantly fallen in line with a rebel army looking to take back the country. What are the bets their motives aren't pure? And what are the bets this only derails the reason I'm supposedly here: to scatter the ashes of my dead mother. In fact, as I crawled through a wolf den, firing arrows at explosive barrels to help an old lady in turn to help a young lady, I feared I might already have been derailed.
For a game about a civil war, right now both sides seem weirdly apolitical. Trailers have already established Pagan Min as a dictator, an indiscriminate murderer, and the intro to the game makes clear he's using torture, so perhaps he's simply in it for power and money. But what do the freedom fighters stand for beyond "not this guy"? The liberal application of bunting perhaps, but I think they ought to maybe have given me a pamphlet with their manifesto. Something to suggest that I should join their case.
This is all made worse by the overarching scatter-the-ashes quest reminding me of this Louis CK bit every single time I have to snap a dislocated wrist back into position.
4) At some point Far Cry turned into Skyrim-with-guns and I didn't realise.
I think this was an observation people made about Far Cry 3, but it never gave me the feeling that Bethesda's open world RPGs do. Far Cry 4 already has. I'm hunting deer, picking flowers, crafting potions, levelling skills and at regular intervals the game sings about "NEW ACTIVITIES" that have just been unlocked. It's a big, pretty, adventuring playground, and the whole experience feels more like Oblivion-with-guns than Fallout 3 did. So far it feels more like Skyrim-with-guns than it does Far Cry 2.
5) I'm having fun.
I liked Far Cry 3 a lot and so far this is that exact formula but in a place that feels fresher and more immediately varied. I will have analysis of systems and missions later, and I'm curious whether the repetition wears me down as I make my way through it, but for now I'm looking forward to playing more.