Far Cry 6 has always been a game of controversy, whether Ubisoft likes it or not. Although it is set on a fictional Caribbean island called Yara, it is inspired by very real Cuba. Furthermore, it is clearly based on some political history of the country with the plot revolving around revolution, a dictator and guerrilla warfare. All of that will make it hard for Ubisoft to draw the usual view that its games are apolitical.
And yet, it succeeded, spurring another debate about how the game approaches (or steers clear of) real-world politics. Navid Khavari, Far Cry 6 The narrative director, quickly began, refutes Ubisoft’s claims with a blog post that firmly asserts that “our story is political,” but the terrifying speech has already begun. Ubisoft’s initial comment will surely linger in the minds of many players when they enter the game on October 7.
Or at least, it hit my brain when I played the game’s 5-hour demo. While Ubisoft’s insistence that their games (some of which are military shooters) are apolitical is absurd, I almost understand why the studio made that statement regarding Far Cry 6: That’s because it’s more interested in Hollywood action and comedic antics than engaging social satire.
Far Cry 6 opens with some images loaded. We are introduced to the ruthless dictator of Yara, Antón Castillo, who is voiced by and modeled after the actor Giancarlo Esposito. After a brief history lesson on the island, we fell into immediate unrest in the streets of Yara. Military forces are patrolling and shooting at protesters, making Yara look like a war zone. It looks old-fashioned, but it’s reminiscent of the images we saw a year ago during the George Floyd protests.
Before long, I was dashing through the back alleys as Dani Rojas, a freedom fighter seeking to overthrow Castillo’s oppressive regime. It’s a gripping opening scene as I dash through the battlefield unarmed, trying to slide into a manhole before being shot down by stray bullets. The stakes are high, and that’s largely because I’ve witnessed this kind of violence in the real world. This is not an imaginary scenario; It’s a place I’m uncomfortably familiar with.
But Far Cry 6Its actual plot is much less involved. It turns out that Yara is home to a miracle drug called Viviro, which is highly effective in curing cancer. Castillo’s cruel rule is based entirely on his desire to sell drugs, which has resulted in forced labor to keep his paradise alive. Some parts of that premise certainly reflect real-life political strife, but for the most part it’s an action movie setting that you’ll see James Bond mixed into (Yara’s story isn’t really that far away). Level of comfortestablishing Bolivia’s water monopoly).
Some of the missions I’ve played definitely have a Hollywood flair to them. During an initial highlight, I broke into a Viviro field armed with a flamethrower and started burning the trees. The guards began to return fire, culminating in a gunfight that emphasized “fire” in the gunfight. It’s an excellent setup that highlights the game’s solid gunplay, although it’s (forgive me) a far cry from what I experienced during the really tense opening sequence.
I can’t really pin down a daring thematic lesson from my first few hours playing the game. But I can easily recall the experience of swinging between two large boats with a grappling hook while a reigning helicopter dropped bombs all around me. Far Cry 6 seem more invested in action. And at least it can back it up.
The further I move away from the intro, the Far Cry 6 break up with reality. That was especially true during the demo’s final hour, when I put the plot aside and freely explored Yara. I soon found myself in the middle of a wild quest involving a killer chicken named Chicharrón. I chased after him as he terrorized the fruit vendors, planted explosives, and led me into a series of gunfights against Castillo’s forces. Even the chickens hate this guy.
Once done, I can summon Chicharrón as an “amigo” that can attack enemies on command. It was a moment when I realized that Far Cry 6 more interested in farce than satire. There is a thin line between those two. Satire spins the real world on top of it, using comedy to expose truth in a fun mirror-reflection fashion. Farce, on the other hand, is less invested in opinion creation; it’s just trying to entertain its audience with goofy caricatures and bigger-than-life antics.
When I hit an alligator on a beach full of troops, it’s a farce. When I healed myself by putting a big Cuban cigar on my wound, boy, oh boy, it was a farce. I might as well have watched Woody Allen’s Banana.
There’s nothing new to the Far Cry franchise, mind you. It’s always been a series that strikes a balance between complex themes and absurd humor. However, it is a difficult road. The game remains rooted in real-world history and violence, even when we’re dealing with a fictional island and an unlikely miracle drug (tobacco is a cancer cure!). It wanted to reflect reality, but kept its ugliest parts at arm’s length to keep players entertained. After all, history is a kind of reputation.
In the same blog post where Khavari stated that Far Cry 6 is political, he also set some realistic expectations for what it will offer players on that front. “If anyone is looking for a simple, binary political statement, especially about the current political climate in Cuba, they will not find it,” Khavari wrote. That is an honest statement. I don’t know that we’ll ever get the critical comments from a massive AAA open-world game geared towards mass appeal. Though it makes me wonder why the Far Cry series is so obsessed with historical reference points that it has very little to say.
I think a lot of players might care less if they walk away Far Cry 6 with a deep understanding of Cuba’s history and political revolutions. Its vast world is filled with comedic potential, perfect for content creators. And anyone looking for a fun co-op experience is sure to have a good time driving around when a friend shoots down a plane in the air. In those respects, Far Cry 6 offered so far. My first five hours were filled with pranks and gripping action sequences.
Just don’t expect Yara’s political struggles to get the depth they deserve. It’s a fight we’ll never win when it comes to Far Cry.
Far Cry 6 launches October 7 for PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Google Stadia, and Amazon Luna.