I have a missile launcher on my back, a flamethrower in my hand, a host of poison grenades and throwing knives, and a killer crocodile that attacks on demand. But as I gaze out on the Yaran military base ahead of me, I know I'm not going to use any of those things. I'm going to pull out the suppressed rifle I got on the second mission of the game, complete with the first set of mods I made in the game's tutorial, and headshot each of the soldiers in turn until Far Cry 6 tells me I've successfully captured the base. I know this because I've done it so many times already in countless bases just like this and it works exceedingly well. Best of all, I can do it without thinking about all the other junk I'm lugging around--or worrying about that stupid crocodile catching someone's attention and blowing my cover.
Far Cry games have long been gigantic open-world affairs, providing players with all sorts of things to do, from driving different vehicles to flying around with wingsuits to hunting animals to experiencing side missions. As revolutionary guerrilla Dani Rojas, all those options are available to you again in Far Cry 6--and more. In fact, the game is cluttered with systems, from base-building to weapon-modding to sending guerrilla teams on missions.
Far Cry 6 is overwhelmingly full of stuff. While a lot of its ideas seem interesting on paper, in practice, they're easily ignored. There's a whole lot to do, plan for, and keep in mind at any given time, and a large portion of it can feel superfluous and overbearing at best, repetitive and dull at worst.
The framing conceit of Far Cry 6 is that you, Dani Rojas, are a super guerrilla fighter, perfectly suited to act as a near-one-person army in the battle to overthrow dictator Anton Castillo. The Caribbean nation of Yara is based pretty plainly on real-world Cuba in terms of its history and situation--it suffered from years of colonial exploitation, it saw a big socialist revolution in the 1960s, and large swathes of the country have fallen into poverty thanks to decades of economic sanctions by the US. But the story steps away from the real-world country and its attendant politics by imagining it falling to a new, fascist leader, one who exploits the nation's "outcasts" (who seem to basically be political dissidents and anyone the regime doesn't like) for slave labor to produce cancer wonder drug Viviro. Castillo got elected on the promise that Viviro would bring wealth back to Yara, but the reality is that he's hoarding all that wealth and that Viviro is made using a disastrously poisonous chemical that kills Yarans in droves.
That setup basically acts to free you up to kill anybody with a military uniform, especially the Yaran leadership, who are known for their intense cruelty. Outcasts forced to work in the Viviro fields are slaves who die from overwork or exposure to the Viviro poison, as well as fodder for medical experiments and victims of sadistic elites who murder them for sport.
Returning Far Cry players will recognize the usual setup: A charismatic but obviously evil villain you love to hate (played brilliantly by Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito), and a cast of wacky characters who assist you in taking him down. Most of those characters just delight in the over-the-top warfare, and so the more pointed emotional moments Far Cry 6 tries to hit don't always really stick, although a few members of the cast are fleshed-out enough that when the war claims them in the narrative, you hate Castillo all the more for their loss. Generally, though, they exist mostly for comic relief, to be quirky as they explain how you're helping them make napalm or joke around about their love for a particularly battle-hardened tank.
That creates a whole lot of tonal whiplash and ultimately undermines what seems to be the point of Far Cry 6, which is that fighting an overarching evil is easy, but building a nation and maintaining justice is hard. You spend a lot of time talking to Clara, the leader of your rebel group, who is pointed about the fact that the real war will start after Castillo is deposed, and she doesn't expect to live to see the better world she's hoping to create. Yara had its revolution before, and then it had another one, before the one you've helped kick off lately--and nobody's life is materially better than it used to be except for the strongmen who take advantage. The characters are aware that outside political influences, corporate interests, and those hungry for power are waiting in the wings for the shooting to stop.
It's a bleak acknowledgment on top of a bleak premise, and a few times, Far Cry 6 really gets close to having something interesting to say. There's the corporate president who takes advantage of Yaran poverty to make billions off Viviro (he's Canadian, not American, somewhat shockingly), who your guerrilla mentor insists you spare so he can fund your revolution rather than the regime. There's the major, insistent implication that Castillo doesn't just target the poor and the political, but also LBGTQ+ people as well, as one character insists that even if he joins up in the battle against the regime and you win, he'll still be trans in Yara--and his revolution will continue, likely with a lot less support.
And there's the repeated acknowledgment that Dani finds all this bloodshed to be great fun, stepping into the same meta territory explored in Far Cry 3, with a lot less to say about it. One side character even jokes that if you stop killing people for even a second, you'll immediately be crippled by post-traumatic stress disorder, so make sure you maintain your homicidal rampage. But the game never really wants to engage with any of these ideas too deeply, and even after you hit the credits, there's a live-game engine at work that'll keep you fighting the military week after week as they retake bases and checkpoints you've already liberated. Far Cry 6 might want to say something about something, but it's not sure what, and it never really finishes its point. When you finally hit the "what now" point of actually trying to make a free country out of Yara, Dani very pointedly just walks out of the room.
Anyway, the usual Far Cry loop continues as you kindle the flames of revolution. You'll attack military checkpoints and bases and capture them for Libertad, your freedom fighter outfit, while completing story missions that are mostly about gathering more forces to Libertad's cause and taking out Castillo's lieutenants. The open-world map is littered with things to do along the way, and in order to build an arsenal of freedom-fighting gear, you'll need to stop frequently to seek out military caches to unlock new guns and Libertad caches that earn you clothes with perks for specific situations, like resisting poison or scavenging crafting materials.
Early on, guerrilla mentor Juan Cortez tells you to make sure you bring "the right tool for the right job," and that's central to what Far Cry 6 is pushing in its gameplay. The idea here is that you want to scan enemies ahead of a fight to find out what bullets are most effective against them and what weapons they have, and adjust your loadout.
But there are a lot of guns, and a lot of mods, and a lot of clothes, to the point where customization often feels way too broad. In addition to guns you can modify yourself, there are also "unique" weapons you can find all over Yara that can't be modified, but which have special combinations of perks for specific uses. And then there are Resolver weapons, which are similar to the cobbled-together weird weapons of Far Cry: New Dawn. One's a flamethrower, one's a harpoon gun that sticks people to walls, one's a sniper rifle that fires a big explosive round, and so on.
Despite all those options, I found that the first rifle I got, with armor-piercing rounds that cut through Kevlar helmets and a crappy but workable suppressor, was effective through a vast majority of the game. Outside of the big fights of some story missions, a lot of the time, you can just sneak into a military location and headshot everyone with the same gun, especially because enemies are, by and large, pretty stupid. You have this whole mess of tools, but the pool of options is so big that the different guns can start to feel only slightly different, and the enemies and situations you find yourself in largely are very similar to one another and don't demand that much brainpower. Choices really just come down to what dumb combination of elements you want to bring into a fight--but if you want to avoid a fight, a series of sneaky headshots are easy enough to land.
The overabundance of choices that saps their meaning extends to everything. Instead of a skill tree or abilities you can unlock, Dani can purchase Supremos, special backpacks that give them what is essentially an ultimate ability that charges up over time and as they rack up kills. Supremos include a missile battery, a thing that launches poison bombs, a jetpack that shoots a ring of fire around you, and a pack that gives you an instant self-revive if you should get too hurt. But really, the missile battery feels like the best choice in the vast majority of cases. You'll unlock a whole host of Supremos if you do the work to find the materials you need to purchase them, but you don't really need them--they're just another bunch of choices you can make as the fancy strikes you.
The thing about Far Cry games is that they're best when situations devolve into ridiculous chaos, and the upshot of all those choices of weapons and gadgets and mods is that they can help make chaos happen in hilarious ways. The explosive Resolver sniper brings down helicopters in a snap, and they often crash into places where they blow up other soldiers or start fires. The missile battery will track a bunch of soldiers as they run around the battlefield, sending them flying in all directions. The poison turns enemies against each other to turn an approaching force into a discordant bunch of maddened allies. And lots of guns start fires, which will burn across fields and blow up tanks of Viviro poison to make for some great action movie moments.
So when Far Cry 6 is firing on those cylinders, as you're grabbing a mounted gun and blasting attacking airplanes or shooting flaming holes in gasoline tanks to make them explode, it's a lot of fun. In fact, most of the story missions are pretty engaging, and doing things like airdropping onto a military ship and taking out its crew or setting a tobacco field on fire feel as good here as they have in past iterations of the game. The Far Cry formula works by and large, and the new additions to it offer some cool ways to make nonsense happen, like when you send a crocodile to tear off somebody's limbs or fire missiles from your backpack to take out a helicopter.
The trouble is that there are so many things to do, find, gather, and use laid on top of and distracting from that core formula. Even after more than 30 hours and having worked through the entire story and most of the side missions, I've still got what feels like a ludicrous number of additional things to cross off my list. Co-op missions, weekly insurrection missions, treasure hunts, recruiting new Amigos, crafting more guns, buying more Supremos, adding more vehicles to my bases, chasing unique weapons, finding roosters for a cockfight minigame, fishing, hunting, gathering materials to upgrade my base structures--it all feels like so much more than necessary, gumming up the works of the fun element of getting into fights and setting things aflame.
Far Cry 6 is often a fun game that feels like it's throwing everything at you, and if you want a heap of content, Far Cry 6 absolutely has you covered. In isolation, a lot of its elements are interesting ideas. Taken together, though, it feels like a lot of disparate things that keep taking your attention back to menus and map icons. It's a lot of exhausting extra stuff, when really, what Far Cry 6 is good at is giving me opportunities to blow stuff up.