Far Cry 4

The big­ger they come, the big­ger the satchel you’ll make from their skin

XBox: The Official Magazine - - PREVIEW -

18 NOV

This ar­ti­cle be­gan life as a med­i­ta­tion on the fragility of choice within nar­ra­tive con­straints, but then we re­alised we’d spent 400 words not telling you a damn thing about ele­phants. If Far Cry 4 is proof of any­thing, it’s that there’s no earthly predica­ment that can’t be re­solved with a tri­umphant shout of “ele­phants!” Courier try­ing to es­cape on a quad­bike? Ride an ele­phant into the road and let 3,800 kilo­grams of bone and bris­tle do the rest. En­emy fortress prov­ing ob­sti­nate? Cover a friend’s ele­phant with C4, send she and it through the gate and hit that big red but­ton ( your friend may wish to jump clear first). If you like, you can follow aboard an ele­phant of your own. With two pachy­derms on the warpath, any­thing that isn’t a build­ing will soon be a hairy sack of soup.

Ti­bet noire

But what if you want to keep a low pro­file? Well, then you should elicit the ser­vices of an en­tirely dif­fer­ent and even more terrifying an­i­mal. We re­fer, of course, to the dread­ful honey bad­ger. It may look like a tetchy sock­pup­pet, but there’s no equal for fe­roc­ity or tough­ness. Not con­vinced? Lis­ten out for that dis­tinc­tive yap­ping, then toss a hunk of goat meat into an out­post and en­joy the re­sults. If you’re tack­ling one of the as­sas­si­na­tion mis­sions that crop up at ally-con­trolled bases, now might be a good time to sneak down the flank and cap the tar­get (don’t for­get to take a photo to claim your re­ward). Or, you could com­man­deer a mor­tar em­place­ment and im­mo­late honey bad­ger and hu­man alike. Just be care­ful not to at­tract the at­ten­tion of another honey bad­ger in the process.

As the above hope­fully il­lus­trates, Far Cry 4 is the kind of game that twirls out of con­trol very quickly. Ev­ery­thing from roam­ing wildlife through pa­trolling sol­diers to the self­prop­a­gat­ing fire sys­tem is de­signed to spill over into ev­ery­thing else. That was true of the third game, of course, and struc­turally, not much has changed. The world map is

still a smoggy wilder­ness that must be grad­u­ally laid bare by scal­ing ra­dio tow­ers, a me­chanic pil­fered shame­lessly from As­sas­sin’s Creed. There are still outposts to con­quer, and you’ll still (dis­ap­point­ingly) have to break off at in­ter­vals to har­vest an­i­mal pelts for a big­ger back­pack. Many of the 2012 ti­tle’s smaller flour­ishes re­turn, too, such as caged tigers that can be freed to cre­ate a dis­trac­tion, and melee take­downs that end with your flick­ing the vic­tim’s knife into the next guy along. All wel­come re­turns.

But if it builds on the same foun­da­tion, Far Cry 4 builds higher. Kyrat is es­sen­tially Skyrim with a thick seam of Bud­dhist ar­chi­tec­ture – follow the wind­ing dirt tracks to the top of the map and, pro­vid­ing you aren’t eaten by leop­ards, you’ll get to ad­mire the view from a snow-capped peak. It’s also more elab­o­rate than its pre­de­ces­sor. Sec­ondary mis­sions feel more tai­lored, with stronger sup­port­ing nar­ra­tives – at one point dur­ing our hands-on, a ter­ri­fied man camped out in our safe­house, bab­bling about raiders – and there’s a greater va­ri­ety of side ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing hostage res­cue sce­nar­ios that grant ‘Karma’ you can spend to sum­mon al­lies to the fight. Be­cause that’s what karma is for, ap­par­ently. Somebody should prob­a­bly no­tify the Dalai Lama.

Gun­smith

Weapon cus­tomi­sa­tion is more or less as-was, but abil­ity pro­gres­sion has been boiled down. There are now two skill trees: the Tiger, which cor­re­sponds to of­fen­sive abil­i­ties such as aim­ing while lug­ging a corpse, and the Ele­phant, which cov­ers vi­tal­ity up­grades and recipes for meds. Your health is still chopped up into in­di­vid­u­ally self-re­plen­ish­ing bars – if you’re short on sy­ringes, you can patch up a bar at a time care of a squealin­duc­ing ‘heal’ an­i­ma­tion. Ex­pect to see plenty of those if you’re tack­ling one of the game’s new fortresses. Es­sen­tially outposts writ large, th­ese fear­some con­crete bar­na­cles are best in­ves­ti­gated with a friend in tow. Even if you kill off all the lo­cals, trou­ble­mak­ers may ar­rive by he­li­copter.

Plots tend to go ne­glected in an open-world game, which is why we’ve saved this para­graph till last, but Far Cry 4’ s jour­ney of self- dis­cov­ery may prove more en­gag­ing than the pre­vi­ous game’s whiny fish-out-of-wa­ter story. New lead Ajay Ghale is the son of lo­cal re­sis­tance lead­ers, charged with car­ry­ing on the fight after re­turn­ing to Kyrat to bury his mother’s ashes. The re­gion’s im­mac­u­lately tai­lored tyrant Pa­gan Min seems to know rather a lot about him. There’s a nasty per­sonal rev­e­la­tion wait­ing at the bot­tom of that par­tic­u­lar well, as sure as Luke Sky­walker’s dad is Darth Vader. Ed­win Evans-Thirl­well

Ele­phants do not ap­prove of il­le­gal park­ing.

This is pretty unimag­i­na­tive for co-op play. Why not put one player in a mi­cro­light?

Un­lock­able ele­phant warpaint en­sures that vic­tims will at least be treated to an ar­tis­ti­cally pleas­ing death.

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