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Far Cry 6 review: Plenty of style, little story substance

Combat and exploration are as fun as ever in Far Cry 6, but the characters are a bunch of duds.


I've played every entry in the Far Cry series, which spans back all the way to 2004. Why? Not for the crazy playground violence or the open worlds, but because the characters were so interesting. Previous antagonists Vaas (Far Cry 3) and Joseph Seed (Far Cry 5) were so compelling I couldn't resist playing, just to see what would happen next. Far Cry 6's cast brings the star power, with the game's big bad guy Anton Castillo voiced by Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito, but doesn't push the narrative in the same way as the franchise's best characters historically have. 

It's not all a bust. Far Cry 6 makes a swath of improvements to the core game, making it easily the most enjoyable gameplay experience in the series. When jumping into Far Cry 6, I quickly noticed how streamlined it was compared to previous games. One of the biggest gripes about Far Cry, Assassin's Creed and other Ubisoft titles is the similar user interface and quests. There's always a series of points on the map to discover in order to "unlock" the rest of the map. That's not the case with Far Cry 6. From the start, you're able to run, drive or fly to wherever you want. Though you'll deal with the consequences of not being where you're supposed to, it makes the game's world feel more organic and free.

Sections of Yara, Far Cry 6's fictitious Caribbean island that bears a resemblance to Cuba, have indicators of what your level should be, as the higher the level, the tougher the enemies are. If you try to jump into a level 10 part of the island while you're only level two, be ready to see a tank show up and blow you away. I much prefer this method of exploring the map rather than being forced to find some point to magically make the island discoverable like in previous Far Cry games. 

There's also a lot to do on Yara. You have the main story missions, side missions, treasure hunts, checkpoints, supply drops, ambushes and missile bases that are available to overrun. Far Cry invites you to procrastinate, as I often found myself drawn to treasure hunts or side quests while on the way to a story mission. There's also plenty of collectibles, puzzles to figure out and vehicles to steal. 

Weapons are plentiful in Far Cry 6. Along with the typical guns, such as the AK-47 assault rifle, Spas-12 automatic shotgun and SVD sniper rifle, there are unique guns that have their own perks. There are also Revolver weapons, which are high-tech and only made available by collecting uranium. My favorite is the Pyrotechno that shoots fireworks and is strong enough to take down a tank. 

The Supremo is another fun weapon type. It's a backpack that can deal damage or offer other benefits. The Exterminator is the first one available, and it launches several rockets to wherever you have trained your crosshairs. Far Cry 6 offers the best selection of weapons in the series thus far. 


A Supremo backpack.


There's also plenty of vehicles. Many are in the style of the classic cars from the '40s and '50s found in Cuba, but there are a wealth of other combat-ready vehicles. Each one can be decked out with machine guns and a bumper that can ram into other cars or flip them over. Helicopters, planes and boats can also be acquired to conquer the land, sea or air. 

In other words, Far Cry 6 really does improve upon the franchise formula by making exploration and combat more gratifying. The problem is that the characters and plot are either too contrived or, worse, too boring, to entice you through the 25-hour campaign.

Dani Rojas is the protagonist of Far Cry 6 and he or she, depending on your choice at the start, will go from a person trying to leave their home country of Yara to being a legendary guerilla fighter. 

The "guerilla" part is key, obnoxiously so. Every single character in the game will use that word over and over and over again. They'll say how they're a great guerilla, speak about guerilla mentality and tell you to think like a guerilla. The word is used so much it loses all meaning. Far Cry 6 being stuck on this one-dimensional note makes the characters and setting harder to get invested in. 

The characters you meet, who you convince to join the cause also don't have compelling reasons to do so. In one instance, Dani has to convince these legendary guerillas who fought for freedom in 1967, and they're all older with some holding onto their glory while others want to walk away from it. The game was trying to tell a story about rebels fighting for freedom, but the execution was such that I simply didn't care about the outcome.  

Then we come to the villain Anton Castillo. As a fan of Breaking Bad, I was excited Giancarlo Esposito came on to play the dictator. But aside from some typical monologues of how he has to be in power in order for the country to prosper, his time on screen is mostly spent trying to convince his son Diego to follow in his footsteps. It felt less like I was taking on some evil dictator and more that I was seeing a dad trying to make his son love him. I don't feel like he's a menacing dark force that's playing 4D chess and always a step ahead. He talks a big game, but he doesn't show it. 

With a relatively weak antagonist, Dani needed to carry more of the story's weight. That's not the case. Dani talks more than typical Far Cry heroes have in the past, but the "smart ass with a heart of gold" character is too bland to mean much.

And that's essentially what prevents Far Cry 6 from being an amazing experience. Those who buy Far Cry titles for the crazy action will have a hell of a time, but anyone who wants to feel something while the story progresses will wind up disappointed.