Ubisoft recently released the latest game in their long-running Far Cry series. Far Cry Primal sees you take control of a Mesolithic hunter called Takkar and slowly work your way towards becoming leader of a local tribe. While the game appears to be garnering praise, I think it’s time to share my thoughts on how to improve the Far Cry series now that Ubisoft is releasing titles semi-frequently.
- Stop making us play as the ‘protagonist’: InFar Cry 2, you play a mercenary hired to kill an arms dealer known as ‘The Jackal’, who has been supplying arms to both sides in a brutal African civil war. After your mission goes to hell, you start running missions for both sides in the conflict, usually disrupting the other side’s resources. In Far Cry 3, you play as Jason Brody, an American who must fight a pirate empire on a South Asian island to rescue his friends. In Far Cry 4, you play Ajay Ghale, the son of an iconic revolutionary in the Himalayan country of Kyrat, who becomes the guiding force of his father’s revolutionaries to take down the country’s dictator. Ever since FC2, we have always played the linear good guy and I for one miss the days where I played both sides of the conflict and had the option to skip every pre-mission ramble by aggressively clicking the button to accept my payment. I want to see a return to someone doing their job and making money rather than the undeniable hero. And before you say: “Well, what about the choices of ending…”
- Make both endings to your game equally legitimate: In FC2, you have two choices at the end of the game- ensure that some dynamite detonates, allowing fleeing civilians the chance to escape OR ferry a case of diamonds across the border before killing yourself. The Jackal, the arms dealer you were sent to kill, will do the other task. Both endings are bleak as you either die ensuring the dynamite goes off or get killed at the border. If you allow the Jackal to take the diamonds, a final still taken by an NPC ally of yours shows a guard holding the case of diamonds, hinting that the Jackal sold you out. Compare that to FC3, where in the end you can choose to save all your friends and leave happily ever after (and straight into therapy) OR you can brutally murder your friends in a ritual sacrifice and go off to have sex with the crazy leader of a local tribe, who then stabs and you and tells you that you’ve died like a warrior and the child she just assumes you have put inside her will become the tribe’s next leader. FC4 firstly has a fake ending twenty minutes into the game, where you can choose to hang out with the crazy dictator who kidnaps you relatively soon after you arrive in Kyrat. At the end of the game, you have three choices:
- Kill or spare the dictator, Pagan Min. The game simply ends if you kill him. But if you let him live, he reveals more about your family history before boarding a helicopter. Here you get
- Shoot down Pagan’s helicopter or let him escape. You get 30o,000 rupees for looting his body if you shoot his chopper down.
The next choice comes a little later as the leader of the rebels you installed enacts their plan, both of whom are just pure evil. Pro-progress Amita bolsters the new national army with child soldiers and most likely has her own sister murder. Meanwhile, pro-tradition Sabal executes all of Amita’s supporters and turns Amita’s sister into the highest of religious figures. Here you can choose to finish the game by killing or sparing the new leader of the rebels.
Do you see the problem? For a ‘choice of ending’ game, the choices are never really equal. In FC2, you have the choice between a rock and a hard place, in FC3, you have the choice between your family and friends and ritual murder and FC4 makes you choose between two new dictators and then just allows you to retcon everything if you wish. I’m not sure how Primal will end as it plays like a very different game but please Ubisoft, let’s have some equally valid choices in the future.
- Change up the character tropes: So ever since FC3, there has been a core cast of tropes that the games have used- crazy drugged-up zealot (Dr Earnhardt, Longinus and Tensay), a psychotic main antagonist (Vaas, Pagan Min and Ull), a strong-willed female ally (Citra, Amita and Sayla). While these are well and good, they are becoming somewhat predictable. Why don’t we get a villain just trying to survive or who is actually entirely justifiable in their actions? How about a female protagonist? Just because you have found a format that works, doesn’t mean that should be the only format you use. Be bold and explore.
- Stop with the mandatory drug trip missions: Missions where our character is drugged are now boring and it seems like a lazy storytelling device. The Reggie and Yogi stuff in FC4 was just the exact same chase mission over and over and while that was optional, you were also drugged every time you went into the mines because there was a hallucinogenic fungus AND when you destroy an opium lab. While the drug trip can be an interesting narrative device, it has been heavily over-used in the Far Cryseries and I think it would be a good idea to retire it for the time being. Find another way to spice up gameplay without jumping straight to drug trip.
What do you think they should fix within the Far Cry games? Is Primal a refreshing break from tradition or just prehistoric more of the same?