The Many Major Missteps of Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4 is a pretty amazing game – God help you if you try to pull me away from it – but it’s filled with flaws both major and minor. Last week, I covered all the minor things that grate on you as you play. Those flaws don’t really bring the game down, but they’re far from the worst of it. Some of the game’s issues don’t just grate, they practically score the surface of the disk. It’s still a fantastic shooter, but these problems hold it back from being the best of the year.

Complete Lack of Ambition

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“It was an issue in Far Cry 3 and it’s an issue in Far Cry 4, as well.”

That line from last week’s article comes up a lot when discussing Far Cry 4, and for good reason: it’s just Far Cry 3 with mountains. Sure there’s a new setting, a new story, and a handful of minor improvements here and there, but beyond that it’s the same damn game, warts and all. Far Cry 3 is spectacular, so following that template isn’t the worst idea, but it kind of makes 4 redundant.

Competitive Multiplayer

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Listen, publishers. We get that players are more likely to sell back their games if they don’t have a multiplayer component, and that eats into your profits. That’s not news at this point, but if you’re going to make a competitive multiplayer mode, make it competitive. It’s boring to run between a flag and capture point ten times in a row without facing any resistance. The mode included in Far Cry 4 will do absolutely nothing to keep a player from trading in their game. Admittedly the two modes here have some more interesting ideas than the Call of Duty rip-off that was Far Cry 3 but there’s no honor in being a better lazy cash grab.

The Protagonist

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This is a little embarssing to say, but I actually really like Far Cry 3’s Jason Brody. He makes for an endlessly entertaining white trust fund bro guide to the island, and his hilariously stupid one-liners prove he was having as much fun as the player. Most importantly, he has an arc as a character. The island transforms him.

I can’t tell you anything about Far Cry 4‘s protagonist, Ajay Ghale. I don’t know where he came from, really, or what drives him to insert himself in the middle of a civil war. I don’t know where he learned to fly a helicopter, or skin a rhino, or kill a man, and I don’t know why someone capable of all these things is cool with being an errand boy. Ajay might not be the real star of Far Cry 4, but that doesn’t excuse him for being lame.

Factions

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Speaking of that civil war, you know what’s more interesting? The civil war within the civil war. Two leaders, one deeply religious and traditional, one devoted to freedom and progress. One wants to keep Kyrat’s women down, the other wants to make money by selling drugs. It’s a really fascinating conflict to deal with, and it’s a real shame that Far Cry 4 forces you to pick sides more or less blindly. When all the cards are finally on the table, you may find yourself on the wrong side. I did, and while I stuck with the faction I chose to keep the flimsy narrative from falling apart, I never felt good about it.

Lack of Vaas

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Obviously Vaas was never going to show up here, but his replacement villains are pretty lackluster. Pagan Min is pretty fun, but there’s just not enough of him, and frankly I’m bored to tears of Troy Baker by now, what with this being the sixth game this year where he plays a central character. The game’s minor villains are each interesting in their own way, but none of them get their much screen time, and they wouldn’t measure up if they did.

All told, Vaas is only in Far Cry 3 for maybe 20 minutes total, and yet I’d still rank him as one of my favorite villains of all-time. Michael Mando’s performance as the psychopath is competely arresting thanks to his fantastic physical presence. No one in Far Cry 4 could move me in the same way. They’re all well-acted developed, but in a year I won’t even be able to remember their names. In a decade Vaas’ definition of insanity speech will still give me shivers.