The Many (Major) Missteps of Far Cry 3

I've been having a blast with Far Cry 3, but no game is perfect and neither is this one. I already covered the game's more annoying minor issues, the ones that pop up frequently but aren't that bad, really. They don't significantly detract from the quality of the game, but they're there. You can work around them, but you can't avoid them. You deal with them. They're the kind of flaws you can love the game in spite of.

But Far Cry 3 has major issues too, and they're much harder to deal with.

These are the ones that threaten to destroy all the goodwill the game builds up by being so awesome in so many other ways. These are the ones that don't just annoy; they infuriate. These are the ones that keep it from being the best game of the year.

No New Game +

Last time, I told you that I was considering starting the game over because "there's no one left to kill." I'm not going to do that anymore. Why? Because I don't want to give up all my upgraded skills from a dozen hours of earning experience points. I don't want to give up all my upgraded gear and weapons from a dozen hours of skinning the right animals and earning enough money. I don't want all the collectables to repopulate after a dozen hours of methodically hunting each down.

I don't want to start over from scratch; I just want to start over.

This might actually be the game's biggest flaw because it's literally the only thing stopping me from playing it right now. I'm out of guys to kill but I'll be damned if I'm giving up my wingsuit.

The Co-op Missions

In theory, co-op in Far Cry 3 should be a no-brainer. Just drop a few of my buddies into my world and unleash us to do whatever dumb, demented stuff comes to mind. But that would make too much sense, wouldn't it? Instead,Far Cry 3 delivers a series of claustrophobically linear, poorly designed missions that abandon literally everything good about the single-player campaign.

If you liked all the deranged, well-written characters of the story mode, that's gone. If you liked the freedom of exploring an entire island, that's gone. If you liked using all that space to pull off crazy strategies, that's gone. If you liked the interplay between nature and humanity as rampaging animals interjected into your fights, that's gone. If you liked enemies that take a realistic amount of damage, that's gone. If you liked having a mostly glitch-free and responsive experience, that's gone.

There is nothing good about Far Cry 3's co-op. It was a complete and total waste of resources.

Competitive Multiplayer

If I were to tell you to design the most cynical, creatively bankrupt multiplayer mode possible for Far Cry 3, a game otherwise brimming with imagination, what would you come up with? A progression-based Call of Duty ripoff with customizable weapons, perks, and kill streaks? Hey, what do you know? Ubisoft did too! Coincidence!

This is less offensive than the pile of filth that is the co-op mode because at least it works, but it's no less boring. There's just nothing special about it at all and I don't know why I'm supposed to play it over any of the other dozen Call of Duty clones.

I'm going to have to talk about the story in detail now, so if you haven't beaten the game yet and don't want it spoiled, stop reading now.

The Second Half of the Game

Far Cry 3's early hours are defined by Vaas, that guy with a penchant for talking about the definition of insanity. Once he's gone, though, the game loses its magic. Hoyt, the next big bad on the roster, just can't hack it on his own and the story ends up puttering across the finish line instead of roaring. There are still a few really good moments post-Vaas, but by and large, the game gets pretty boring.

But it gets frustrating too. Even though the mechanics only get stronger the further into the game you go, the mission design gets uncharacteristically restrictive. "Here, have a scripted turret sequence," the game says dismissively. "Or I don't know, some instant-fail linear stealth missions. The kids like those, right? Instant-fail linear stealth missions?"

Not even a little bit, Far Cry 3. Not even a little bit.

Killing Vaas Too Early

I wasn't kidding about this one. Far Cry 3 lives and dies by Vaas. Michael Mando absolutely crushes it with his performance as Vaas with the kind of hard emotional swings at the drop of the hat that make a person truly scary. Every scene with Vaas is arresting and unsettling and terrifying in all the right ways. He's the kind of character that sticks with you for years, like Andrew Ryan or the G-Man.

Then the game tosses it all away halfway through. And for what? For Hoyt? Please. In most games, Hoyt would shine as a fun, dynamic villain more interesting than most, but next to Vaas, he's like a plank of wood with a face drawn on it.

I'm not even saying that I needed to have been Vaas the whole time or whatever. I just wanted more Vaas.

And that's it — between this post and the last one, that's everything I don't like about Far Cry 3. I wouldn't care enough to list it all out like this if I didn't love the game so much. It does so much right that the things it does wrong stick out that much more, and this is just a way to process it all.

Seriously, Far Cry 3 is a wonderful game. Go play it if you haven't already.

9 Comments
10 Comments
Posted by whatisdelicious

I've been having a blast with Far Cry 3, but no game is perfect and neither is this one. I already covered the game's more annoying minor issues, the ones that pop up frequently but aren't that bad, really. They don't significantly detract from the quality of the game, but they're there. You can work around them, but you can't avoid them. You deal with them. They're the kind of flaws you can love the game in spite of.

But Far Cry 3 has major issues too, and they're much harder to deal with.

These are the ones that threaten to destroy all the goodwill the game builds up by being so awesome in so many other ways. These are the ones that don't just annoy; they infuriate. These are the ones that keep it from being the best game of the year.

No New Game +

Last time, I told you that I was considering starting the game over because "there's no one left to kill." I'm not going to do that anymore. Why? Because I don't want to give up all my upgraded skills from a dozen hours of earning experience points. I don't want to give up all my upgraded gear and weapons from a dozen hours of skinning the right animals and earning enough money. I don't want all the collectables to repopulate after a dozen hours of methodically hunting each down.

I don't want to start over from scratch; I just want to start over.

This might actually be the game's biggest flaw because it's literally the only thing stopping me from playing it right now. I'm out of guys to kill but I'll be damned if I'm giving up my wingsuit.

The Co-op Missions

In theory, co-op in Far Cry 3 should be a no-brainer. Just drop a few of my buddies into my world and unleash us to do whatever dumb, demented stuff comes to mind. But that would make too much sense, wouldn't it? Instead,Far Cry 3 delivers a series of claustrophobically linear, poorly designed missions that abandon literally everything good about the single-player campaign.

If you liked all the deranged, well-written characters of the story mode, that's gone. If you liked the freedom of exploring an entire island, that's gone. If you liked using all that space to pull off crazy strategies, that's gone. If you liked the interplay between nature and humanity as rampaging animals interjected into your fights, that's gone. If you liked enemies that take a realistic amount of damage, that's gone. If you liked having a mostly glitch-free and responsive experience, that's gone.

There is nothing good about Far Cry 3's co-op. It was a complete and total waste of resources.

Competitive Multiplayer

If I were to tell you to design the most cynical, creatively bankrupt multiplayer mode possible for Far Cry 3, a game otherwise brimming with imagination, what would you come up with? A progression-based Call of Duty ripoff with customizable weapons, perks, and kill streaks? Hey, what do you know? Ubisoft did too! Coincidence!

This is less offensive than the pile of filth that is the co-op mode because at least it works, but it's no less boring. There's just nothing special about it at all and I don't know why I'm supposed to play it over any of the other dozen Call of Duty clones.

I'm going to have to talk about the story in detail now, so if you haven't beaten the game yet and don't want it spoiled, stop reading now.

The Second Half of the Game

Far Cry 3's early hours are defined by Vaas, that guy with a penchant for talking about the definition of insanity. Once he's gone, though, the game loses its magic. Hoyt, the next big bad on the roster, just can't hack it on his own and the story ends up puttering across the finish line instead of roaring. There are still a few really good moments post-Vaas, but by and large, the game gets pretty boring.

But it gets frustrating too. Even though the mechanics only get stronger the further into the game you go, the mission design gets uncharacteristically restrictive. "Here, have a scripted turret sequence," the game says dismissively. "Or I don't know, some instant-fail linear stealth missions. The kids like those, right? Instant-fail linear stealth missions?"

Not even a little bit, Far Cry 3. Not even a little bit.

Killing Vaas Too Early

I wasn't kidding about this one. Far Cry 3 lives and dies by Vaas. Michael Mando absolutely crushes it with his performance as Vaas with the kind of hard emotional swings at the drop of the hat that make a person truly scary. Every scene with Vaas is arresting and unsettling and terrifying in all the right ways. He's the kind of character that sticks with you for years, like Andrew Ryan or the G-Man.

Then the game tosses it all away halfway through. And for what? For Hoyt? Please. In most games, Hoyt would shine as a fun, dynamic villain more interesting than most, but next to Vaas, he's like a plank of wood with a face drawn on it.

I'm not even saying that I needed to have been Vaas the whole time or whatever. I just wanted more Vaas.

And that's it — between this post and the last one, that's everything I don't like about Far Cry 3. I wouldn't care enough to list it all out like this if I didn't love the game so much. It does so much right that the things it does wrong stick out that much more, and this is just a way to process it all.

Seriously, Far Cry 3 is a wonderful game. Go play it if you haven't already.

Posted by SlashDance

Could not agree more. When I realized that there was more of Vaas in the marketing campaign than in the actual game, my opinion went from "this game is amazing" to "eeeeeh I guess it's pretty good". Seriously, the dude is on the fucking box and you see him what, 4 times ?

As you said, it's still a great game, but I really wanted more of that dude.

Posted by whatisdelicious

I hadn't even thought about the marketing. You're totally right. Any time they showed off the story, it was almost always something with Vaas. If they realized he was the best part of the game, why show it all off? Why not give him more to do? I think there were only a couple Vaas scenes in the game they didn't show off in some preview or another.

Posted by PhilipDuck

Yeah you're correct on all your points, i hope Ubisoft don't just toss Vaas, they could do a prequel.. and include Vaas.. I don't know it was a wasted opportunity with that character which left the second half of the game bland.. In the first half you were excited to encounter Vaas and then they just throw it all away...

Posted by SlashDance

@whatisdelicious said:

I hadn't even thought about the marketing. You're totally right. Any time they showed off the story, it was almost always something with Vaas. If they realized he was the best part of the game, why show it all off? Why not give him more to do? I think there were only a couple Vaas scenes in the game they didn't show off in some preview or another.

If I had to guess, I'd say they didn't quite expect such a positive reaction to the character after the first E3 demo, and it was too late to change the plot so they decided to focus the marketing on him, going as far as to put him on the box and getting the actor to do a bunch of live action shorts.

Posted by hbkdx12

No New game + is is the biggest bummer and a lot of open world games that let you upgrade your abilities and such never seem to include it or capitalize on it. It's one of the main reasons i don't replay open world games other than to just screw around from time to time. As far as I'm concerned, Batman: Arkham CIty raised the bar for NG+. With a game that relies somewhat on metroid-vania style back tracking and staggered/limited progression based on certain equipment, if they can implement NG+ and not have the game be broken and still work even when you have all your gadgets up front, then whats the problem with a game like this just letting me start over with everything i've acquired? There shouldn't be.
 
Haven't touched the MP or co-op. Not sure if i even want to. Probably gonna sell the game and i can get a few extra bucks if i have a fresh Uplay code
 
Vaas is definitely the best thing going for the game. The story is just so...unbelievable as it continues to go on. With all the mysticism and all the shit that the game throws in your face, i can't imagine that anyone wasn't waiting for some kind of fight club-esque twist. I know i was. And it never happened and the story just denigrates into some scared kid who unrealistically acquires/has such extreme athletic and combat prowess that he can take down a well organized slave trader and be the symbol of hope for an entire tribe of people while trying to save his friends. This just makes no sense. I'm all for suspension of disbelief but jeez.

Posted by whatisdelicious

@hbkdx12: Who would've thought that it'd be a couple of Batman games that raise the bar on so much? But honestly, Far Cry 3 doesn't even rely on Metroidvania stuff. You can get anywhere at any time. The wingsuit made stuff easier occasionally, but I'm pretty sure you can always get anywhere if you look for a way. Like there's one relic that's really deep in the ocean that's way easier if you've upgraded your lungs, but you can just use the Deep Dive syringes and get to it that way. So I don't even think the game would break at all if they just dropped you in with all your stuff. But then again, sometimes games like this just let you keep everything that doesn't break the game early on. Really, there's no good excuse for why this doesn't have a NG+ mode beyond "it takes more work."

Definitely don't bother with any of the multiplayer stuff, and you're totally right about the story just being unbelievable. The lead writer has been saying in interviews lately that it's a commentary on other games, that your skinny white guy character is just an unreliable narrator who sees things through a Hollywood "this is what I would expect an island adventure to be" lens, but I don't buy it. Who's he an unreliable narrator to? There's never any indication that he's telling this story to anyone but us, and they never really play with the relationship between him and us enough to justify calling him an unreliable narrator.

Posted by Jace

@whatisdelicious: As fucked up as this sounds, if they sold NG+ DLC for Far Cry 3, I'd probably buy it. I fucking love this game, despite its flaws. It's my second favorite game this year, just behind GTA IV+DLC.

Edited by EXTomar

If I have a complaint it is that Far Cry 3 should have tried to tell and show as little story as possible. The background elements and setting have enough "mysterious" elements that telling the player almost nothing would added to the atmosphere. Your goal should have been to rescue his 5 friends where the game should avoid explaining why his friends were being held.

Posted by SonnyCheebah

If you have the PC version, there are some mods that essentially allow you to play this game in NG+ mode.