I don’t know what it is about open-world sandbox games that compels me to try and do every little thing. Collect X amount of this thing, do all X amount of side quests, ride X amount of different something-somethings. You get the gist. The joy — and often times, the drawback to most open-world sandbox games is that there is so much for you to do.
The big question? IS THERE SUCH A THING AS TOO MUCH CONTENT? In short, yes. Still, it isn’t quite as simple as that. A terrible trend that has been prevalent in sandbox games since their inception has been over-saturation with meaningless added content. Developers often make the mistake that if a game is labeled an RPG, that it should be packed like a slurpy can of ham with hours of fetch quests and escort missions. I don’t see this going away any time soon, and I’m not necessarily complaining. If they want to ensure that we as gamers get what we pay for? Shooot, I’d take that deal. This is a bigger topic for a later time. One which I could blabber on and on about like if one of my kids snorted a bag of Pixie Stix. I’m digressing way hard, so let me get back to my point.
What the hell was my point…?
Oh, yeah. I remember. The best way to include this tedium, and to help encourage players to push for every objective is to immerse the player in the world, and provide them with quality entertainment. That way, even if you are playing a way over-done and tired quest where you have to protect a village of no-names from spawn after spawn of unsavory individuals, then you are still having a good time doing so.
Farcry 4 does this in spades. Looking at the map when you first venture out into the harsh and fictional land of Kyrat was daunting at first. Well, I guess it actually still is. Over 20 hours in, and I’ve yet to even reveal the whole damn thing. This is both an engrossing and tedious thing, as my younger and older selves in my mind vie for domination. The young child in my head is giddy with excitement with all there is to do in Kyrat, but the crotchety old fogey in me gets overwhelmed at times.
Technically speaking at this point, I have completed 50% of the total game. Not 50% of the story, mind you. In that percentage, it includes all of the side quests, loot, and collectibles at your disposal. In reality, I’ve only played two story missions. Just let that sink in. I’ve been playing for 20 HOURS, and I know next to nothing about any of the characters.
This is one of the things that Farcry 4 does best. It provides you with a wealth of different things to do and places to explore, and it does so with gorgeous visuals and incredible attention to detail. It’s one of the most stunning, and downright most fun to play games I’ve experienced so far on the Xbox One. The content isn’t just about quantity (which, there is almost TOO much to do), Ubisoft also provides a lot of ways to make the potentially tedious tasks more interesting. The world of Kyrat is fully realized, and it feels like a living, breathing world. I will try and take over an outpost utilizing stealth (channeling my innermost Sam Fisher), and I will look to the right and suddenly there is a FUCKING BENGAL TIGER there pouncing on me. Because of the way the game is designed, there’s no telling what will happen next in any given situation, no matter how skilled you are, and I absolutely love that.
From saving a hostage only to have them immediately get murdered by an eagle, or to me almost being mauled to death by a bear only to have it abruptly run over by an oncoming car, Kyrat is filled with total, utter chaos. The wildlife serves an ultimate purpose, allowing you to hunt them and take their hides for useful upgrades on your gear, but it also allows you to completely mix things up and turn a dangerous firefight to your advantage. Are these soldiers giving you trouble? Throw in a piece of animal bait and watch big predators unleash doom and panic upon them. That, or just ride a god-damn elephant in there and laugh like a child as Dumbo smashes the entire village to death. It’s much like an Elder Scrolls game, only with guns, and way more random chaos.
That being said, it’s not perfect. I for one hate collectibles, but I’m also tortured by being an insufferable completionist. Kyrat is absolutely brimming with masks to find, journal entries to peruse, and bells to spin, so much so that it is eye roll worthy. It is very time-consuming, especially if you don’t have a buzzer, one of the many vehicles at your disposal (I learned about that much too late and could’ve saved a lot of time). I’ve also heard of issues with the story, which I can’t yet attest to, since I’ve had so little time dealing with any story. 2012’s Farcry 3 also had somewhat of a lackluster conclusion despite great performances from the voice actors. With this particular game though, that isn’t really an issue for me.
Personally, I think that Farcry could be immensely successful if it abandoned the story aspect altogether, and pushed much further with survival in a hostile land. I don’t care who is whose son in Kyrat. I just want to have a good time struggling against the wilderness and hostile enemy forces. Make it so that you have to build your own shelter and literally hunt for food to survive. Man, that would be cool. Make that game, Ubisoft! I would buy it faster than a real life portal gun.
It’s hard to knock a game that gives you so much content, and still leaves you wanting to play more. Farcry 4 is simply damn good fun, and will keep you busy for hours on end. If you’re looking for a deep FPS with a beautiful world, pick up a copy of this game. You definitely get your money’s worth.
Stay tuned for my full review some time soon once I’ve completed the game. I realize it’s been out for many months now, so I appreciate you taking the time to hear my thoughts. If you haven’t played it yet, I hope you take the opportunity directly after reading this.
What are your thoughts on Farcry 4? Have any hilarious Kyrat-related anecdotes? Feel free to share in the comments below!