E3 2014: I Rode an Elephant in Far Cry 4

Daniel Hindes attempted to liberate one of Far Cry 4's outposts with stealth, guile, and an elephant stampede.

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A hands-on session with Far Cry 4 allowed me to get a better sense of the new mechanics first revealed at yesterday's Sony press conference. The section of the game I played required me to liberate an outpost. Far Cry 3 players will recall outposts under enemy control are found throughout the world; liberating them increases the presence of friendly non-player characters nearby. Outposts in Far Cry 4 function similarly, however, they are far larger, and far more difficult to liberate, than their Far Cry 3 counterparts. Picture these as "super outposts" and you'll be on the right track.

I was given the option of choosing from multiple weapon loadouts to begin, and I selected the stealth option. This armed me with a rapid-fire crossbow, as well as throwing knives that allowed for silent, ranged takedowns. I started by using the new grappling hook to scale a rock wall and reach the outpost's main grounds. The grappling hook could only attach to certain predefined points in the world.

Once inside, I threw a piece of bait near a couple of guards. This attracted a snow leopard, which started mauling them.

Once inside, I threw a piece of bait near a couple of guards. This attracted a snow leopard, which started mauling them. I used this opportunity to sneak around and take down a few more enemies with the crossbow and throwing knives. Far Cry 4's outposts follow exactly the same rules as in Far Cry 3: they are liberated by killing all enemies within, and those enemies can activate an alarm to call reinforcements. The latter happened, despite my caution, and I was quickly overwhelmed and killed.

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For my second attempt at liberating the outpost, I took the option of riding an elephant into battle. Elephants function as both wildlife and a vehicle; unlocking a skill gives you the ability to ride them. You're in full control of the elephant once you've mounted it, and have the ability to sprint and perform a devastating melee attack with the elephant's trunk. I used this melee attack to smash through the wooden doors of the outpost, and then I sprinted into a group of enemies who went flying from the impact. I was soon swarmed by more guards, however, so I dismounted the elephant and continued on foot while the pachyderm continued to overturn cars and charge enemies by itself. Eventually, we liberated the outpost, and the hands-on session ended.

From what I played, Far Cry 4 appears to be a considered iteration of the formula established by Far Cry 3, rather than the significant difference between that game and Far Cry 2. I think of Far Cry 4 as Far Cry 3 in a new world, with new mechanics, new wildlife, new vehicles, and a new story--the Fallout: New Vegas to Fallout 3. This is a strong foundation to build upon, and the experience of simply tackling a larger-size outpost to those featured in Far Cry 3 showed nothing had been lost or upended in the process.

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