I've been with Far Cry 4 now every single day since launch. I've hunted the animals, taken down Pagan Min and his governors and I've explored as much of Kyrat as I can possibly handle.
I've taken this game in from all sides, and I can safely say that it's one of the best, largest and most engaging games I've played this year. It's addictive, it's dynamic and, quite honestly, it's beautiful.
Far Cry 4 doesn't arrive without its shortcomings; but, they're so easy to ignore in the overall picture.
This game, put quite simply, is an incredible blast.
What really put Far Cry 4 over the top for me in terms of pure enjoyment was how much time I spent with it in an idle stance. I don't mean that literally, that I was just standing still and not doing anything at all. I mean that I wasn't pushing the game forward by doing missions or liberating outposts.
There's so much to do and see in Far Cry 4 that's completely off of the main path of the game that I'd find myself in one area for an hour or so quite regularly. Maybe I was caught witnessing the crazy animal food chain in action, or maybe I kept getting tied up by Karma events near the citizens.
This wasn't exactly happening on purpose. I'd set a waypoint on my next objective, maybe a main mission or one working for the game's warlord. I'd set that waypoint, and I'd head towards my destination. Only something dynamic would happen, and I'd find myself pushed or pulled in a direction I really wasn't expecting.
It's relentless in its variety this way. Some might find that active inaction annoying, I suppose. They might fast travel everywhere and aim to wander around Kyrat as little as they possibly can. I, on the other hand, embraced it. I loved finding all the extra doodads I came across. I loved hunting animals. I loved the world of the game.
It never bored me.
Incredible Villain Meets Middling Story
The story of Far Cry 4 starts off really, really well. You'll meet Pagan Min, this iteration's insane villain, near the beginning. You'll fall in love with him almost immediately. He's great, certainly on the same level as Vaas from Far Cry 3
Then he goes away. You'll interact with his governors, you'll help the Golden Path by working missions between its offsetting leaders and you'll hear Pagan over the radio occasionally, but that's really it. There's a story here, and there's even a surprise or two, but I found myself returning to Kyrat less for the story than really anything else.
When Pagan Min does show up, though, it's wonderful. He just doesn't show up enough for my personal taste. He's like Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs; he's horrible, abject and charismatic at the same time. You love when he's on screen, but you're sort of terrified by him at the exact same time.
Ubisoft deserves kudos for creating Pagan Min. They also did something interesting with the set up of Far Cry 4. That intrigue wears off, though, and you'll quickly stop caring about the set up, start wondering when you'll see Pagan next and start showing up just to explore like I did.
Kyrat is beautiful, though. The lush vegetation, diverse wildlife and terrible tundras balance each other beautifully.
When you stop just to eyeball the horizon, you'll see a world surrounded by enormous mountains and snowy peaks. It's gorgeous, and that effect remains true throughout the game.
Compound that environment with really strong lighting and detail on each character, and you'll find yourself wowed on a regular basis as you start playing the game. It'll do some odd glitching every now and again, and I noticed a fair bit of NPC pop-in at really odd moments, but the illusion stays up long and consistently enough to keep you thinking that Far Cry 4 is certainly one of the best looking games this year.
For me, personally, that might go double because of the Nepal-esque art design. The stuff like prayer flags, choice of color and actual art in the game is something I don't think we see enough in the medium. Ubisoft worked hard to create these things, and I enjoyed them in the midst of an already gorgeous canvas.
Multiplayer as a Boxart Checkmark
The only thing that really feels like it showed up with less effort is the multiplayer. There's competitive stuff, but it never held my attention for more than 30 minutes at a time. Whenever I booted it up, which I did often during the review, I found myself wishing I was back in the single player side of Kyrat.
The cooperative play was a bit more intriguing, though. It's more for the fun type of play I found myself enjoyably distracted in single player. You see, there are no campaign missions when you turn co-op on. Instead, your friend will join the game as the crazy, loud character named Hurk, and you'll hunt, take outposts and climb towers together.
You'll, essentially, tool around the afore-described environment. It is rather aimless, yes, but the game is so dynamic in its side-stuff that I found these moments incredibly fun rather than pointless.
The competitive stuff felt entirely pointless, yet the pointless stuff in the cooperative modes felt effortlessly fun. I hope that makes sense.
As I walk away from Far Cry 4, I can safely say that it's one of only a handful of games from the last year that I truly felt earned all of the time I dedicated to it.
I got lost in Kyrat. I loved that feeling, and I loved how this game pushed me to explore simply because of all the interesting things I was able to do in it. There's a campaign with diverse missions, sure, but I found myself getting more enjoyment from the playground around these written missions.
You really can't go wrong with Far Cry 4. If you're cool with the FPS genre, this game will easily reach the value you spend for it. It's enormous, well made and fun.
Disclaimer: We purchased Far Cry 4 for the PlayStation 4 with company funds.
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