Making Friends With Yaks and Snow Leopards in Far Cry 4

Chaos in the Himalayas.

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With the help of my trusty wingsuit, I've just soared across a massive chasm high up in the Himalayas. My mission is to take down the leader of a small but heavily militarized outfit of bad guys. This high up, in the ruins of an old monastery, the scenery is dominated by snow, rocky cliffs, and howling winds. But though my mission seems like a challenging one, I've got one secret weapon at my disposal: yaks.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Yaks? Surely I must have had a sweet crossbow, some C4, or even one of those shotguns that are kind of impractical in most situations but the reloading animation is so awesome that you use it anyways. Well, yes. I had all of those things. But remember: this is Far Cry, a game where half the fun is using the majesty of nature to your advantage. And let me tell you, there is nothing more majestic than a yak.

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It took a little while to get things going. At first, I wasn't sure what to do with these rugged beasts milling about just outside of enemy territory. Foolishly, I approached them thinking they were docile creatures who wouldn't hurt a hair on my head. I continued to think that as they began dragging their feet on the ground while lowering their heads in righteous indignation. Were they scratching their feet? Prostrating themselves to their new human overlord? No, they were just gearing up to stampede right at me.

So that's how I died the first time in Far Cry 4. I'll admit, I was a bit naïve to think I could waltz up to these yaks and just sic them on those enemies stationed only a stone's throw away. The second time I tried a new tactic, realizing that Far Cry 4 now gives you the ability to carry around bits of meat to use as bait. I threw a few hunks of meat toward the yaks thinking I could rile them up with a taste for blood. But these yaks, being herbivores, really couldn't care less. So I did what any reasonable person would do and unloaded my entire supply of bait in a frenzied display of anger.

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Now that seemed like a great idea right up until the point that a snow leopard appeared from out of nowhere and pounced on me. Turns out, snow leopards actually are attracted to the smell of raw meat. Lesson learned! So, after a bit of brainstorming, I decided to employ the big takeaways from all of these deaths: snow leopards love tasty flesh and yaks will charge at you if you get too close. Somehow, some way, this would be my strategy for completing the mission.

And so, on my third attempt at a mission whose primary goal I had pretty much forgotten at this point, I set my plan into motion. I crawled up onto a nearby ledge and hurled a few bits of meat in the general direction of a few key enemies. Then I dashed back down and greeted my yak friends, taunting them enough to draw their attention. In a fit of rage, they began charging me. But I knew better than to stand still. Just as they dashed toward me, I turned tail and ran, luring them through an enemy outpost that was now in full panic mode thanks to the sudden appearance of a bloodthirsty mountain cat.

With the first few enemies either distracted or mauled to death, I continued kiting the yaks along toward another group of foes. After introducing them to my angry yak friends, I took off toward a quieter and much safer corner of the outpost. On my way I encountered a bear in a cage, so naturally I released it as a sort of insurance measure against any more enemies I might encounter.

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It was all such wonderful chaos. The enemy encampment was awash in cries of terror and gunfire and very angry wild animals. A few moments later, I stumbled onto the leader of the group. Hey, wasn't I supposed to kill this guy or something? Probably. So I took out my assault rifle, popped his bodyguards, and set my sights on my primary target.

Then the bear showed up.

He had been following me ever since I released him from the cage, and in the few seconds it took me to reload my gun, he came running up and stole my final kill right out from under me. That commander didn't even see it coming. I mean, sure, he probably he did. This bear was huge. And loud. And very, very angry.

But that was it. I had completed my mission, and I managed to do it by firing only a scant few rounds from an actual gun. Everything else was nature at work, or at least some virtual approximation of nature where men carry giant hunks of meat in shoulder bags everywhere they go. But who cares? It's Far Cry, it's the snowy Himalayas, and it's wonderful.

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