The Far Cry series has always known how to keep players busy, and Far Cry 6 is no different. Yara feels bigger than most open-world playgrounds and is filled with things to do, though unfortunately for completionists, many of those activities seldom feel rewarding enough to pursue. A superb villain made even more special considering Far Cry's prestigious roster of antagonists and plenty of turn-your-brain-off quests keep Far Cry 6 engaging, but it definitely feels as though the Far Cry formula has now been stretched thin.
Far Cry 6's appeal started waning long before the credits rolled with cracks beginning to show after the first of three regions were finished. After completing essentially every side quest and treasure hunt and crossing off every collectible in that corner of the map, I found myself thinking: "I have to do that all over again for the other two regions?" That meant airdropping onto more idols and hunting sites, more convoys, and more people in need who pull our protagonist, Dani, in every which direction.
You of course don't have to pursue these extras, but Far Cry 6 excels at distracting players. Finding an idol to honor awards a minuscule amount of experience compared to completing an operation, but when one idol becomes two and two become three, they add up. They're on the way to your objective anyhow, so what's the harm in stopping? That allure of shiny objects on the edge of your compass isn't exclusive to Far Cry games, but after you've completed a region's worth of Far Cry 6 activities, the idea of repeating that two more times feels exhausting. This is made even more frustrating by the lack of noteworthy rewards for your efforts.
Treasure hunts, for example, often present players with special weapons pre-outfitted with attachments you'd otherwise have to craft. This means they're naturally better suited for the early stages of Far Cry 6 and are far less useful after you've solidified your playstyles with one or two go-to loadouts. The treasure hunts are essentially big puzzles which at least gives them some extra appeal, but what's the point of pining for an unknown reward that's not going to be any better than something you can make on your own?
That's assuming you can craft what you want given the scarcity of resources in Far Cry 6, too. It's easy to find yourself with an excess of crafting materials, but only after you've chased down every rabbit you see and rifled through every container in a compound to turn a 5-minute mission into a 20-minute scavenger hunt. Add this to the open-world equation and you can do a lot in Far Cry 6 without ever feeling like you've done anything at all.
Aside from lackluster rewards, Far Cry 6 finds other ways to consistently feel like it's not holding up its end of the bargain. More evident here than in past entries in the franchise is Far Cry 6's unwillingness to commit to any consequences levied against its protagonist and the player themselves. Dani endures a debilitating amount of punishment through tortuous, life-altering, traumatizing events, but they're coated in so much plot armor that you'd think them superhuman after emerging from these scenarios without emotional or physical scars.
Dani's mentor, Juan, constantly preaches about picking the right tool for the right job as well, but being able to pull weapons from a deep-pocketed backpack means you don't really have to prepare for different scenarios beyond being stacked with options. Far Cry 6 wants players to think carefully about their decisions but, like a caretaker that can't follow through, it has no real consequences to impose on people beyond a quick respawn outside of a compound.
For all its issues, Far Cry 6 still does its signature Far Cry moments well. Those come in the big and small varieties like flying over Yara in a guerrilla-crafted vehicle that looks like it's barely hanging on by a thread. Hearing Dani not only sing along with the songs on the radio but continue to sing them after exiting a vehicle reminds players of one of Ubisoft's key points with this entry that Dani is a person first and a protagonist second.
Reigning king over these big and small moments with plenty of each to his name is Antón Castillo, the dictator played by actor Giancarlo Esposito. When the cutscenes on the Xbox Series X aren't jittering, Esposito delivers on one of the most memorable villains in the Far Cry franchise. His concern for his son, Diego, and contempt for near everyone else is quite the duality to digest. Far Cry villains are often deranged or unpredictable, but Castillo often feels like the opaquest of them all despite his composed demeanor.
Even when it's delivering these bigger moments like the cutscenes Castillo appears in, Far Cry 6 manages to mess those up and pull players out of the moment even if you ignore the choppy animations. At the conclusion of one region's story when you're instructed to leave a character alone, killing them instead resulted in zero consequences or reprimanding from the person who'd directed you differently. During another boss fight, the battle ended not with a helicopter exploding but with it disappearing completely while the whirring effects and lights remained. When wrapping up the final mission, I was distracted by a chest holding a two-star rarity weapon in what one would've expected to be the high-level, loot-filled area of the game. For every high point it hits, Far Cry 6 has a disclaimer attached.
But the "6" in "Far Cry 6" means you know what you're getting at this point, so none of this should be exceptionally surprising. Longtime fans were worried about things like reduced customizations for Dani and the first-person cutscenes, but the real issue here is that the formula feels less sustainable now more than ever. The big, beautiful country of Yara was squandered by Far Cry staples, and it'd be a shame to see that happen to whatever world comes next.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Far Cry 6 was reviewed on the Xbox Series X with a review code provided by the publisher.