Far Cry 4 Preview - What Will You Find in Shangri-La?

Joshua Vanderwall | 13 Aug 2014 04:00
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Since its announcement earlier this year, Far Cry 4 has received some criticism for its apparent portrayal of subjugation of a dark-skinned person on the cover art, as well as a ton of fan-fare for its depiction of companion elephants wreaking havoc among your in-game foes. The former seems to have died out for the most part, as people eventually came to realize that the game's ultimate villain may, in fact, not be the nicest guy. People seem to largely focus on the latter now, which is perfect, because weaponized elephants are amazing, and that's where we really should be focusing our attention.

I got to visit Ubisoft in Montreal and check out some of the other aspects of Far Cry 4, and I was notably impressed. From the broad scope of the environments to the finest detail, the team has poured a lot of attention into bringing this world - as well as its history - into sharp focus for the player.

Far Cry 4 puts you in the shoes of Ajay, a Nepali native from a fictional region called Kyrat. Although he's only in Kyrat for a personal mission completely unrelated to the goings on in the area, he gets pulled into the ongoing civil war, where his people are struggling to overthrow the tyrannical Pagan Min. I thought it was particularly bold of Ubisoft to use an internal war in Nepal - Nepal was, as recently as 2006, embroiled in an actual revolution of the common people against an authoritarian power - as the backdrop for the player experience.

The first of the two hands-on demos showed off the options a player will have in approaching any given objective. "[Far Cry 4] is all about tools and toys," said Creative Director Alex Hutchinson. The team was eager to remind me at any opportunity that Far Cry was trying to give players options, choices, and decisions to make. Hutchinson described the "axis" of Far Cry 4 as "islands of challenge surrounded by opportunity. Here's the challenge, here are the tools, do what you want."

You'll have an assortment of weapons to choose from, and many of the encounters - the aforementioned "islands of challenge" within the open world - will be approachable from any number of different angles. "Players should be able to do as much of what they want as they want," said Hutchinson. "What we're sort of doing is providing opportunities."

The first demo took you to an abandoned temple that was seemingly under excavation by Min's forces. After a short wingsuit flight from a nearby ridge, you'll find yourself at the entrance, where it is immediately apparent that the ruined temple is moderately fortified, with 10 or so soldiers patrolling the grounds and digging in the ruins. You're required to identify the captain, murder him with a knife (apparently shooting him isn't sufficient for your purposes), snap a picture of his mangled corpse, and then escape using your Wing Suit. Of course, going in the front entrance with your assault rifle at the ready might be appealing to shooter aficionados, but stealth-focused players are given options to take a sneakier approach with the near-silent crossbow, isolating targets and taking them down one by one.

I'm not terribly sneaky in games, however, so I took a hybrid approach, where I took down as many as I could before the others noticed and took up defensive positions, at which point I just took cover, equipped my assault rifle, and went full Leeroy. After a couple of attempts, I managed to take out the supporting soldiers, shiv the captain and snap a picture of his corpse.

Then, I was instructed to escape. The wingsuit flight down the mountain was harrowing to say the least. This is one of those scenes in the game where you'll really develop an appreciation for the level of detail, as well as the general scope of the environments. Navigating your way through valleys, around peaks and outcrops, and eventually down to safer territory is invigorating, and does an amazing job of conveying the breadth of the world that you're exploring.

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