PAX 2014: Hands-On Impressions with Far Cry 4 and its Wildlife

By Published September 01, 2014 at 12:55 am
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Far Cry 4 has had an interesting journey since its unveil earlier this year. Far Cry 4 features lush environments and gameplay ingenuity, but initially struggled to communicate why it takes the franchise into new themes and settings.

Some of the Himalayan air has cleared between Ubisoft and the community, allowing folks like us to judge Far Cry for what it is as a game.

A first-person action game that usually rests on its shooter laurels, Far Cry 4 has an exotic, polished presentation that inspires players to explore their surroundings and discover new approaches to each challenging combat situation. Here’s our hands-on preview of Far Cry 4 from the PAX Prime demo.

You can also check out some in-game footage shot during our demo here.

Environment 

Developed for PC and new consoles, Far Cry 4 is tasteful without distraction. There are no excessive lens flares from the camera and the explosions don’t stack up 12 stories high, allowing the presentation to draw more attention to the player’s initial surroundings. I started the demo outside a Himalayan fortress, nestled between a couple of titanic snowy peaks and surrounded by luscious foliage.

My first Far Cry experience brought out the explorer in me, as I spent some time moving through the fictional country Kyrat’s greenery to get an up-close look into the detailed environment. Like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Far Cry 4 is a game that’s hard not to get enraptured by. The game has detailed terrain, wildlife, and moments of solitude that few shooters -- and even first-person action games -- can offer. The new consoles are now one year into their lifecycle, so Ubisoft can invest in a high-performing design for that generation, instead of porting the last-console version to Xbox One and Playstation 4.

Multiple Approaches

Like some scenes in Wolfenstein: The New Order, Far Cry 4 has a more open-world layout than other mission-based FPS games, allowing the player to experiment with how she approaches each skirmish. The fortress in the demo had its front doors shut but its back doors slightly open. This means I could initially either storm the fortress on my elephant friend or I could enter from behind and gain a tactical advantage with the slope of the landscape. I enjoyed causing some initial havoc on my mount but hopped off to further surprise the enemy from the back of the fortress.

The fortress’ layout also presented a few different options with the placement and variation among its structures. I felt safe moving around the perimeter structures to remain hidden and, when engaged with the enemy after moving close to the center, moved up and down those structures to keep enemies guessing – often firing down on them or crouching around a ramp to catch them off guard. When I wanted to have some fun picking off the remaining opponents, I could climb up a structure and zipline to another point in the map, firing down on enemies in the process.

What to Look for in Months Ahead

We’ve only tried a piece of the Far Cry 4 campaign, so there’s a lot to learn from Ubisoft’s upcoming FPS. Perhaps we’ll find out more information about the cooperative gameplay, or maybe Ubisoft will have some multiplayer footage to share with us in the coming weeks. For now, I’ve experienced a fluid moment from the single player – one that is challenging but lets me create the combat scenarios I’d like to play out. Let’s hope Ubisoft can consistently offer this within its beautiful Himalayan landscape. 

Far Cry 4 releases on PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 on November 18. Perhaps I’ll be celebrating my birthday in Kyrat.

- Nick "stuBEEF" Pinkerton.

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