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Ranking the seven games in the Far Cry series isn't an especially easy task given that for the most part it's been a widely varied collection of shooters: Far Cry 1, 2, and 3 were all distinctly different from each other, and while Far Cry 4 and Blood Dragon were quite similar to Far Cry 3, Primal threw us a curve and plopped us in the Stone Age. Another issue with ranking them: the Far Cry games are all pretty good! There are no clear stinkers in the pack meaning there's no one to really dump on. This makes things harder.
But just because something isn't easy doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Below we've cobbled together a highly-unscientific ranking of the Far Cry series (sans Instincts, which only appeared on console). As with all of our rankings, this list is iron-clad and inarguable, so we expect nothing but collective head-nods of sycophantic agreement in the comments.
Here they are, the Far Cry games listed from worst to first.
Developed: Ubisoft Published: Ubisoft2013
Samuel: Blood Dragon is a pleasingly concentrated and beautiful slice of Far Cry 3, wrapped in a joke that maybe wears a bit too thin. It essentially offers everything the main game does, but in a sillier and more explosive framework, designed as it is to poke fun at '80s movies and games in general—the latter of which is a contentious point for some.
But it's so clearly enjoyable for what it is. Neon versions of Far Cry 3's creatures wander the landscape, and it's refreshingly streamlined, with no crafting and simpler progression systems. Throw a cyber heart to lure a Blood Dragon, watch the beast turn up to wreak some havoc, then move onto the next outpost. If the 20+ hours of game waiting in Far Cry 3 or 4 seems daunting, this is a pleasingly complete microcosm of the Far Cry experience.
Developed: Ubisoft Published: Ubisoft2016
Chris: Cranking back the clock—way back, to 10,000 BC—would seem a good way to take the series in an entirely new direction. There are no guns in Primal, of course. No cars, no aircraft, and absolutely no radio towers (thankfully). In some ways, it's pretty amazing that the familiar gameplay of Far Cry fits so well in an environment without automatic weapons and off-road vehicles.
The flip side is that Primal feels too familiar to really stand out. Stone Age or not, it's still unmistakably a Far Cry game and never really feels like a fresh experience. The ability to tame animals to fight alongside you is new, and while combat restricts you to bows, clubs, and spears (there is, enjoyably, a bee-filled pouch that acts as a grenade), the hunting and crafting you spend much of your time doing isn't any sort of departure from the series. Despite sending you thousands of years into the past, Primal winds up feeling a little too similar to Far Cry 3 and 4.
Developed: Ubisoft Published: Ubisoft2008
Chris: Far Cry 2 is the favorite of several of the PC Gamer staff, but favorite doesn't automatically mean best*, and loving something doesn't mean you need to be blind to its flaws. From crippling you with malaria before you even manage to escape the intro, to restricting your sprinting to a few steps before running out of stamina, to roadside checkpoints that repopulate with suicidal bad guys the moment you glance in another direction, traveling the map can quickly become an exhausting and frustrating affair.
Making up for that, however, is everything else. The location, a sun-scorched province in Africa, is one of the most convincing environments a shooter has ever visited. The fire system is still fantastic, better even than the ones in later games, where flames spread through dry grass, up into trees, and across buildings, useful for flushing out and trapping enemies, but also often requiring the player to scramble to safety. The story is refreshingly nihilistic and bleak, the sprawling map leads into another, bigger one halfway through the game, and the gunplay (provided you're using guns you bought, as the ones you pick up off the ground are garbage) is fantastic.
*Note: I do really think it's the best, but we held a staff vote and I'll abide by the results.
Samuel: I appreciate the ambition of the story and the presentation of the world, though it's not particularly enjoyable next to the more recent games. I know that's an unpopular answer: Far Cry 2 is a favourite among game design academics, and fair enough. But sometimes you want to ride an elephant into a base, and that's okay.
I too appreciate Far Cry 2's fire and buddy system. Another touch I love about this game, that I assume Firewatch later borrowed, was the idea of the map being an object you hold in your hand. I haven't played the game in years, but I'll always remember that as a clever way of heightening the reality of that world.
Developed: Ubisoft Published: Ubisoft2012
Chris: Rather than casting you as an ex-Green Beret or hired merc, Far Cry 3's Jason Brody was supposed to be just some random bro who finds himself in way over his head. Naturally, you're still completely capable of killing hundreds of people, flying wingsuits around, and doing everything else the trained killers from the previous games could, but for at least an hour or two Brody yammers on about how he's just a bro who doesn't know what he's doing. It's not especially convincing.
This game also served as Far Cry's dive into crafting, which was largely baffling: having to hunt multiple animals to make a wallet that could hold more money, for instance. Far Cry 3's animals are much more fun when they're the ones doing the hunting, leaping out of the jungle to attack goons and rebels alike, who are often already in the process of attacking one another. The whole island is like a explosive set of dominos, where tipping one leaves a chaotic mess in its wake. There are times when just watching the carnage is as enjoyable as participating in it.
Luckily, you can break from the extended and often not-great story missions (you're trying to rescue your friends and repair the boat to escape, despite having access to lots of working boats, but whatever) and do whatever the heck you want. And, it solved one of the big issues with Far Cry 2: once you took over an outpost, it was yours. Enemies didn't repopulate, and they certainly didn't repopulate the moment you drove off-screen.
Tim: My memory is so shot to pieces now that the two main things I recall about Far Cry 3 are that 1) it was my favourite Far Cry, largely because it ditched the whole "having malaria as a gameplay mechanic" thing, and 2) what I loved most about the game was its . For some reason I found collecting each of these—from the meaty Bull shotgun to the deranged Shredder SMG—absolutely compelling.
Unlocking them required an arduous amount of macguffin collection (this being a game that routinely tasks you with skinning 10 mongeese to craft a new wallet), but the chase for these white whale weapons was what drove me to keep going. Once I had them all my interest flamed out fast. An itch/scratch relationship I recognise only too well from my exotic weapon collection in Destiny. Actually, the other thing I remember about Far Cry 3 is that it genuinely felt like going on holiday. A ridiculous, action movie holiday accompanied by assholes, but a sunshine break nonetheless.
Developed: Crytek Published: Ubisoft2004
Chris: It's hard to say how the original Far Cry holds up after a decade—we haven't played it in nearly that long—but at its release it was almost shockingly good. While it demanded a lot of our hardware at the time (it was a Crytek game, after all), it at least had some flexibility in graphical settings and still looked pretty great even on mid-range PCs.
James: The original Far Cry stood out for its massive open environments and the aggressive AI soldiers within. Firefights didn’t take place in a tightly scripted series of corridors—thick vegetation and a rudimentary stealth system turned encounters into an improvisational game of cat and cat and cat and cat and mouse (you). A few hours in, monsters get thrown into the jungle combat stew, and suddenly the enemy mercs are no longer sitting comfortably at the top of the food chain—not that they’re eating the monsters or you, I hope. Luring men to monsters and then hiding in a bush became the new headshot, an early push towards testing more skills than how quickly a player can point and click.
By today’s standards, Far Cry’s take on sneaky open arena combat feels noticeably dated, with enemies that have acute senses and preternatural aim anyone would envy. This is also before the era of elaborate back-stab animations, so stealth takes more patience and guesswork than it should, but even so, it’s easy to appreciate Far Cry for its obvious influence on open-ended island-hopping FPS design.
Developed: Ubisoft Published: Ubisoft2014
Chris: For a series that had been reinventing itself with each release—Far Cry 1, 2, and 3 were all markedly different from one another—Far Cry 4 was a noticeable departure. It built on the gameplay of the previous entry without completely reimagining it. Coming just two years after Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4 felt incredibly familiar, but the changes it did bring were all for the better.
Rather than the overly vocal Jason Brody, protagonist Ajay Ghale is more subdued and quiet, letting the player fill in the blanks of his personality. Instead of simple bad luck stranding him among scores of warring soldiers and freedom fighters, Ajay has a real reason for being in the region of Kyrat: he's returned to scatter his mother's ashes, and the region's rebels are a military group founded by his father. What's more, Pagan Min, the colorful and charismatic baddie, once had an affair with Ajay's mother, making Ajay's appearance in Kyrat a personal one in several respects.
Kyrat itself is a wonderful and chaotic playground, sprawling and mountainous and with plenty of new ways to get around in it, like gyrocopters and a grappling hook, plus the familiar wingsuit that this time can be accessed almost immediately. The insanely aggressive wildlife makes a return, allowing us to unleash them on unsuspecting enemies and providing no small amount of random, ridiculous carnage. Plus, you can ride elephants, bowling over vehicles and tossing enemies into the air.
Alongside the scripted story missions, outpost takeovers once again comprise the most enjoyable part of the game, freeform assaults that can be accomplished any way you like. Outposts are bolstered by the addition of strongholds: massive and well-protected forts that are even tougher and more fun to liberate. This being a Ubisoft game, the map is littered with all sorts of other activities, challenges, and points of interest. They don't all really add much but, but they do ensure there's something to do just about everywhere you roam. Throw in co-op (except for story missions) and Far Cry 4 is a heavily packed and gloriously fun sandbox of destruction.
The official Far Cry 5 reveal is still a couple days out, but Ubisoft today released the first full-on promotional image for the game, and it is—to put it mildly—provocative.
The image depicts a group of heavily-armed, heavily-bearded men, plus one woman and a wolf, positioned in a very Last Supper-like pose around a table festooned with a slightly-modified US flag—crosses instead of stars—and with a vaguely menacing messiah figure at the center. There are guns and ammo all around, of course, and a badly-beaten man sitting in front, his hands bound and the word "Sinner" scrawled across his back.
Bringing the series to America in what appears to be a very believable context of religious extremism and right-wing survivalists is a bold move. Previous Far Cry games have been set in remote locales crawling with fictional villains (and even mutants at one point—how far it's all come) and were easy to dismiss as pleasantly distant and fully fictional. That may not be so easy with Far Cry 5, which is bound to upset some people—although I think it's the most interesting thing Ubisoft has done with the series since Far Cry 2.
The Far Cry 5 full reveal is set to take place on May 26. Have a look at the full art below.
Ubisoft has rolled out a brief teaser for the recently-revealed FPS Far Cry 5, confirming that the game is headed to the remote, rugged environs of Montana.
The teaser is simply a clip of a young man out for a job through grassy, wind-kissed field and a , and the very homey "Welcome to Hope County, Montana" logo laid overtop. But it jibes very well with a recent leak on Reddit from a self-proclaimed participant "in a focus group in a major metropolitan area" that took place last year, where Ubisoft apparently showed off its ideas for the game.
"The general thrust of this game is that it will take place in present day, and feature the protagonist taking on a Jim Jones or David Koresh-like religious cult in a small town in Montana that's been populated by, essentially, Doomsday-preppers bent on furthering their cause. So, modern-day weaponry and modern-day vehicles, plus a hilly, mountainous backdrop," the post says.
"They showed us some basic promotional videos featuring a heavily—HEAVILY—religious angle to the evil. A person (presumably the protagonist) walking through a town that was completely empty, only to walk into a church to discover the congregation is made up of everyone in town staring in rapt attention at a shirtless lunatic leader brandishing an assault rifle in one hand and a Bible in the other."
The Redditor acknowledged that the information was a year old and so could quite possibly be out of date, but religious extremists taking over an isolated small town does seem like a reasonable basis for a Far Cry-style videogame. And if you're going to do that kind of thing, where better than Montana?
The full Far Cry 5 worldwide reveal is set for May 26, which is this Friday. We'll keep you posted.
Update: The post originally referenced a video of a slightly-polluted Montana river, which unfortunately turns out to be unviewable in the US. I've replaced it with the one above, and if you happen to live elsewhere (or want to check out one of the other three Far Cry 5 teasers that are now online), you can take a shot at Ubisoft's primary YouTube channel.
Ubisoft announced today that four of its biggest franchises will be returning for its 2017-18 fiscal year (which we're currently in, and ends March 31, 2018). Far Cry 5 and The Crew 2 are both on the way, and the oft-delayed South Park: The Fractured But Whole is (hopefully) coming, too. The publisher also teased a new Assassin's Creed, although details—like, for instance, a subtitle—are being held back, possibly for a full-on E3 reveal. (Though Egypt is heavily rumored to be the setting.)
"Over the last three fiscal years, Ubisoft has—with remarkable success—created numerous new brands and rebooted Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said in a statement. "These successes have strengthened our visibility for the coming two fiscal years, with a line-up of releases principally comprised of established franchises. In 2017-18 we will see the exciting returns of Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, The Crew, and South Park."
The Crew is probably the one semi-surprise of the bunch: It had something of a rough launch in 2014, and it was actually one of last year's Ubisoft anniversary freebies—not exactly a sign of a highly lucrative money-maker. On the other hand, Ubisoft recently announced that it had hit the 12 million player mark, which is no small feat, and it hasn't given up on the game by any measure either, releasing the cops-and-robbers expansion Calling All Units in November 2016.
It's an ambitious lineup, but a strong FY2017-18 (and beyond) has to be even more important than usual for Ubisoft: The conflict has gone quiet in recent months, but Ubisoft is still facing a possible hostile takeover attempt by Vivendi. The company needs to do everything it can do to bolster its position—and as quickly as it possibly can.
Naturally, details are in very short supply at this early stage, but tweets from Ubisoft UK at least give us some logos to look at.
It was rumored in January, and then effectively confirmed in February, that despite releases in the franchise coming every year since 2009, a new Assassin's Creed game would not come out in 2016. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said at the time that the long-term goal was not to "come back to an annual cycle, but to come back on a regular basis" when the series returned, which it was assumed would happen sometime in 2017. But Tommy Francois, Ubi's vice president of editorial, told IGN that it may take even longer than that to get things back on track.
"We believe alpha for these games needs to be one year before release. We're trying to achieve that. That's super fucking blunt, I don't even know if I'm allowed to say this. This is the goal we're going for: Alpha one year before [release], more quality, more polish," he said. "So if this means biting the [bullet] and not having an Assassin's game, or a Far Cry [in 2017], fuck it."
Getting to an alpha state as quickly as possible is vital, he explained, "because the more time we have for this the more polish we have, the more time we can change, refine, swap systems. You just can't take shortcuts."
He also clarified that the pause isn't an attempt to dodge over-saturation Francois said Far Cry has "only been going up in sales" but strictly a creative decision, to give studios a chance to get away from the usual "Ubisoft open-world formula" and try different things. "I do think we need to break that formula," he said. "This year we've given Far Cry and Assassin's some time to decant, innovate, and polish. The objective behind this is exactly that."
Ubisoft hasn't been shy about delaying other major projects in recent months, either: In August it pushed back two planned Division expansions in order to focus on straightening out the core game, and earlier this month it pushed South Park: The Fractured But Whole, which had been slated for a December release, into early 2017.
Ubisoft have announced that the next game they will give away as part of their 30th birthday celebrations is mediocre racing game The Crew, so consider this a warning that you’ve only got another few days to grab the wonderful, lovely, delightful platformer Rayman Origins for free.
Back in June, Ubisoft announced that it would give away a free game every month for the rest of the year as part of its celebration of 30 years in the business. First up was Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and then in July we got the stealth classic Splinter Cell. For August, Ubi is taking things in a slightly different direction.
We could not celebrate Ubisoft 30th anniversary without talking about Rayman. Created in 1995 by Michel Ancel, Rayman is one of the few platforming characters that has been created at the 32-bit era that is still alive today, Ubisoft wrote in the blurb accompanying the freebie. Rayman 1 was released on Atari Jaguar and is today the Ubisoft game that has traveled across the most different platforms.
The writeup also includes an interesting bit of trivia: Rayman was designed without arms and legs for the simple reason that arms and legs are really hard to animate. Being limbless gives Rayman more speed and dynamism, and it also enables many of his abilities, like the throwing fist and the car shoe.
Rayman Origins, the actual free game in question, is a back to the root 2D platformer that was originally released in 2011. And it's really good, too: A beautifully animated, brilliantly scored, exquisitely judged platformer, as we said in our review. You can't get much better than that.
Rayman Origins isn't actually free yet: Despite being the game-of-the-month for July, Splinter Cell reamins on the table for now. The Ubi 30 giveaway page says Rayman Origins will take its place in mid-August.
Update: There actually is a firm freebie date, not on the Ubi 30 page but on Twitter: Rayman Origins will go free on August 17.
Hot on the heels of Fallout 4’s Survival Mode, which brings exhaustion and dehydration back to the world of post-apocalyptic entertainment, Ubisoft have announced that Far Cry Primal [official site] will be getting the survivalist treatment.
The keystone of that survival mode is the change in the exploration, crafting, and difficulty of the game to make it even more realistic. After that, there are options the player can activate to go further.
Survival mode will arrive as part of a free patch on April 12th. We called this earlier in the month, of course, when we made Robert Zak play the game wearing nowt but a loincloth. More details below.
When Far Cry Primal [official site] was unveiled, I shrugged with semi-feigned disinterest, aware that the series has hit milking point, but unable to dismiss the inner teenager tugging at my inner sleeve saying But – but it’s got cavemen and tribes and woolly mammoths and – and you can ride them, and throw spears and stuff! Yes, the prehistoric era taps into a primal fantasy in me, but when that’s overlaid with an advanced radar, an owl endowed with the abilities of a military drone, and heat-vision that conveniently colour-codes every object, footprint and smell, the fantasy kind of tapers off.
By shutting off as many aids and HUD elements as possible, I intended to reclaim the fantasy.