Far Cry 4 – 10 Years Later

The original Far Cry trilogy has become a household name in gaming thanks to its mass appeal and engaging first-person gameplay, and a lot of that success can also be credited to the developer’s efforts to constantly keep innovating the gameplay loop that underpins it all despite those improvements being of an iterative nature. Far Cry 2 was one of the first games to pioneer systemic game design in an open-world format, and Far Cry 3 cut back some of the brutal survival mechanics and paired that formula with an engaging story and polished first-person shooting mechanics which made it a hit for the masses.

Riding high on the waves of Far Cry 3’s success, the developer released Far Cry 4 in November of 2014 to some great critical and commercial reception. Far Cry 4 was inarguably the last game in the franchise to have somewhat of a unanimously positive reception, which is why it makes for an interesting prospect to take a look back at the game and see how it holds up almost a decade after its initial release.

Set against the backdrop of the fictional country of Kyrat, Far Cry 4 starts out simply with the protagonist Ajay Ghale arriving in this war-torn country to spread the ashes of his long-dead mother, but things rarely go according to plan in this dictatorship. You are greeted by the big baddie Pagan Min who welcomes you to his homeland and asks you to patiently wait for him while he tends to some commotion outside. However, there is a twist. If you do choose to wait for quite a bit of time – you are allowed to spread the ashes and walk away in peace.

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But if you do not (which is what most if not all people do), you are quickly thrust into an action-packed tale about overthrowing Pagan Min’s iron fist rule and restoring Kyrat’s former glory. It’s a simple story in terms of the plot itself, but Far Cry 4 makes sure to keep things interesting with well-written companion characters that you meet throughout the story and of course, the villain Pagan Man. The original Far Cry trilogy has established its reputation for housing some of the best and most complex villains in all of gaming, and Pagan Man is a great embodiment of those characteristics with his recognizable character design and complex personality. Thanks to these characteristics, he is able to have a commanding presence in every scene he is in – and that’s a big reason why Far Cry 4’s story continues to remain an engaging affair even after all these years.

Far Cry 4 improves over what came before in several ways – but those improvements are iterative as opposed to radical. You will still be shooting your way through waves upon waves of thugs and exploring the Himalayas in a first-person perspective. The shift from the tropical setting that was Rook Islands makes for a really fresh-feeling world, and the many mountains scattered throughout the map also add a sense of verticality which was missing from prior entries. There’s a vast array of different animals to find, villages to explore, and jungles separating the settlements – and while the world design may not feel all that impressive by modern standards, it definitely holds up from a visual perspective with great use of popping colour and big mounds of white snow capping off mountain peaks in the distance.

As for the moment-to-moment gameplay, Far Cry 4 is all about using your wits and coming up with creative strategies to take down your opponents. You could try to use the environments of your surroundings and be a ghost in the darkness, or you could be a trigger-happy madman ready to completely annihilate anything and everything in your path – or a mixture of the two. The stealth options are rather primitive with takedowns and distractions being your only options to cull the herd before all hell eventually breaks loose, but the systemic game design elements make for some really interesting strategies.

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For instance, you could exploit a caged animal like a leopard and unleash that beast upon a group of enemies which can give you just the window of opportunity you need to slip by or move into a more advantageous position. Far Cry 4’s combat encounters are designed in a way to encourage the player to try different strategies, and experimenting with the many approaches to any outpost is something that remains an enjoyable affair to this date.

Far Cry 4 is an open-world game, so it’s important to have a world that’s not only compelling to look at but also compelling enough to explore. Much like the case with its predecessors, Far Cry 4’s map is chock full of things to do – right from Bell Towers that reveal new points of interest on your map to Outpost Liberations and animal hunting among others. It’s not as organic as we are used to in a modern open world game, but it definitely has a distinct charm to it.

This ties in neatly with the element of player progression, where you can earn skills by collecting XP points that you gain from completing missions and side activities peppered throughout the open world. The skill tree isn’t anything particularly special, but you do get a good sense of growing stronger as you start to accrue more and more skills under your belt. By the end, you will be taking down groups of enemies with chain takedowns, charging into battle whilst on top of a giant elephant, and eating up quite a number of hits without batting an eye.

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Far Cry 4 might not have been a revolutionary open world when it was released, but it was a really fun time if you just wanted to absorb yourself in a well-realized world that’s brimming with things to do and people to meet. And we’re happy to report that it largely remains a fun affair to this date as well. The story is simplistic but remains a captivating affair thanks to well-written characters, and while the open world is cut from the same cloth as other games – there’s a distinct sense of fun that you can derive from exploring the beautiful map and ticking down each and every checkbox on your journal.

While your opinion may obviously differ, Far Cry 4 might just have been the last “good” Far Cry game, one that understood what the genre is all about and one that doubled down on the mechanics that work. If Far Cry 4 was released in 2024, it probably wouldn’t have made any headlines. But looking at the game in isolation, Far Cry 4 is a fun open world game and if you missed it back in the day or jumped into the genre later, it might be a great idea to hop back into the mountains of Kyrat and experience the tale of Ajay Ghale and Pagan Min.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.

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