Far Cry 4 is fun. The combat is smooth and satisfying, the graphics are frankly gorgeous and it takes plenty of time to complete it. If you enjoyed Far Cry 3 then you’ll no doubt love this too. One thing is wrong though, it’s hard to get invested in it.
Let’s start at the beginning though yes? Far Cry 4 is the story of Ajay Ghale, who has been tasked by his recently deceased mother to scatter her ashes in her home country of Kyrat. Ol’ Mama Ghale forgot to mention one thing though! Kyrat is a war torn country with more oppression than any free person is comfortable with. Ajay’s mother has sent him here with the intention of him getting caught up in all the violence and finally help free Kyrat from its ruling Tyrant, Pagan Min.
Pagan is one of Far Cry 4’s highlights. He is wickedly tyrannical, skipping back and forth between best friend and worst enemy more times than you can count. Voiced by Troy Baker (like a lot of other characters nowadays) and you get the sense that he is stir crazy. Following a frantic entrance sequence, Pagan is introduced to you in all his crazy magnificence. Then he disappears. Possibly Far Cry 4’s biggest criticism is that there just isn’t enough Pagan Min screen time. He occasionally contacts you via radio to have a thrilling chat but that’s basically it until near the end of the game. Compare this to Far Cry 3’s Vaas, who turned up more often and in more threatening ways. Pagan is just as great to hear but I feel he has been criminally underutilised.
You might fail to notice this though, with all the side activities you’ll end up doing. The crafting system returns from Far Cry 3, where you have to hunt down animals for their skins to craft into upgrades. Some are rather easy to hunt, like pigs, but other animals like Rhinos are downright insane. These aren’t necessarily required to progress the story but it doesn’t hurt to have an extra 3 guns to hand during combat. Outpost liberation is also back, with increased rewards for doing it without being seen.
All these missions are varied and difficult, but with one critical fault. Gyrocopters. These new additions to the series allows you to fly a one man helicopter around Kyrat. These are fun to fly but essentially game breaking. Liberating outposts became a simple case of flying higher than enemies could attack you, and rain grenades down on the outpost. Outpost Liberated, no fun had. Of course you can choose not to do this, but considering it was heavily marketed before release, it’s almost expected of us right?
Aside from the Gyrocopter, other vehicles return too. Quad Bikes, handgliders, snowmobiles and everything in between allow you to roam the vast and varied landscape of Kyrat. It’s during these moments that you truely appreciate how amazing Far Cry 4 looks. I often found myself seeking out gliders just so I could glide hundreds of feet in the air and absorb the breathtaking scenery. Then making the long trek to Kyrat’s highest peaks to witness the amazing snowy landscapes. Far Cry 4 truly is beautiful.
Now all these points are well and good, but what is Far Cry 4 about? Ajay Ghale. It’s his story, regardless of how you see it. So why is he so boring? Most of the time when you hear him speak, it’s like he just doesn’t care. This was my biggest gripe with Far Cry 4. Cast your mind back to Far Cry 3 and you will remember the story of Jason Brody. He began his adventure as a whining boy, and we saw him evolve to a ruthless killer as he was trained and drugged up to the eyeballs to become a warrior. His motivations shifted from saving his friends to basically just killing for the sake of it. It was a fully thought out character arc. Ajay’s character though? He just seems bored, and that made me bored with him in turn.
It’s a good job that the game world isn’t boring then! So much happens in Kyrat that you’ll never be able to just sit around without hearing animals or gunfire somewhere nearby. Never have I played a game before that made me paranoid about the local wildlife. There was one occasion where I was preparing to ambush an outpost that I had crept up to, and then realising that I didn’t need to because an elephant was clearing it out for me! This is of course a two sided coin, as you always have to check your surroundings for deadly predators hunting you down. Then add in the fact that there are now enemies that can instantly tame animals in the surrounding area to use against you and you suddenly have a much bigger problem ahead of you. Fun and frantic mayhem.
So overall, I have mixed feeling about Far Cry 4. It was fun to play, with more combat opportunities than ever before. The world is huge and breathtaking, but devoid of interesting characters outside the main antagonist. I definitely enjoyed it, but I probably won’t be going back to it anytime soon. I hope that Far Cry 5 (which will no doubt be sometime in the future) is the perfect blend of Ajay’s combat experience with Jason Brody’s intense story.