Far Cry 4 hands-on preview

It’s hard to shoot when the stock of a shotgun is blocking your view

I spent 17 hours in San Francisco to preview Far Cry 4. After that time (which contained about five hours of hands-on gameplay), I can say two things with certainty: taxiing for an hour after you land because Alaska Airlines cut the line is incredibly annoying, and if you love Far Cry 3, I’m 95 percent sure you’ll like Far Cry 4. That said, I feel the game needs more time before it releases — mainly due to the amount of bugs and weird glitches I encountered.

First off, the scope of the world created for Far Cry 4 is insane, and every inch of the map is dripping with beauty and culture. It is obviously inspired by Nepal, with the cinematic quality of the mountain ranges and the unique architecture. You can tell a lot of care went into all the details. When it comes to close-ups of textures and characters, though, I wasn’t as impressed. Compared to some of the other games I’ve played on the PlayStation 4 (which is the console I played Far Cry 4 on), it held up well but wasn't better than anything I've seen. Sure, the game still looked pretty and whatever you see in the distance you can actually reach, but it is outdone by games that are already released.

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The mixture of stealth and balls-to-the-wall action is still present. Play it either way you like, or mix it up whenever you feel like it. I tried both, and both ways are more than capable. I started off my play with an upgraded sniper rifle and a silenced pistol, taking out targets from far away before getting up close and personal. Eventually, I crafted more ammo holsters from the skins of animals I killed, and ran around with a shotgun too. I wasn’t able to progress past the third upgrade of any path in the skill tree, but it still gave me upgrades like more hipfire accuracy or looting as I melee someone. The highlight of my action was definitely riding into a camp of bad guys on an elephant. Elephants are really destructive, by the way. They just kill everything in they’re path. Dumbo should have been a lot different. Even when I wasn’t riding on the elephant, the elephant would continue attacking enemies, because an elephant never forgets. Also, free a tiger from its cage and it’ll unleash havoc on enemies, but on you as well. Actually, all animals are really dangerous. All of my deaths came from animals. Mother nature is scary.

I also did a couple of story missions. One of them had me choose between two different plans from two different characters. I could rescue soldiers or I could sacrifice them and get intel on a big attack coming. I chose the intel, and that changed the course of events and how the characters reacted towards me — opening up new quests too. Karma events also made the world feel alive, as they pop up randomly and have you do things like take out enemy cargo shipments or rescue hostages.

far cry 4 elephant flipping truck

Add in another player to the fray and things get really interesting. While you can’t do every mission in co-op multiplayer, you can do pretty much everything available in the open world together. The bulk of my co-op time, my partner and I traveled around the map liberating bell towers and tried to avoid being killed by tigers. We found stealth didn’t really work too well for us, so we went with me sniping enemies from afar while he rode an elephant straight into all of the enemies. There was one time when I was flying a little one-seater helicopter (that looked like it was held together with scotch tape and prayers) and my partner was holding onto the side. I tried landing on top of a bell tower so he could hop off and we could capture it. It worked… kind of. He hopped off the helicopter fine, but I didn’t account for the sloped roof. The helicopter started sliding off, which made the propellers hit him in the head, which killed him. I jumped off before I fell to the ground in this death machine. Instead, I fell to my death without the aid of this death machine. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun, and players will have a blast in co-op.

With all that said, I experienced a good amount of bugs and some odd design choices. In co-op, if I or my partner set a waypoint, only the person that set it would see it. So whoever set the waypoint had to drive. A strange driving bug occurred when my co-op partner got in the passenger seat of a truck. Except it didn’t show him in it. It showed him standing next to the door with his arm through it. I looked at my partner’s screen and it showed him firmly seated in the passenger seat. So I started to drive. Wrong move. Though he saw it as sitting in the truck, on my screen he disappeared to under the truck. Then it acted as though I kept driving over something, causing bumps and the truck to keep spinning out.

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Other bugs plagued my single-player experience. Sometimes my character would lose the ability to sprint altogether — and that happened outside of certain quest areas where I thought the game wouldn’t let me sprint. Another time I went to a temple for a quest and I was in the right area, but there was no one to interact with. I had to restart the mission after 15 minutes of exploring the entire area in order to get the person and a certain object to appear.

The worst of the offenses, though, was when the stock of a shotgun took up half my screen. The stock was going through my forearm, with or without that weapon equipped. If I skinned an animal, the shotgun would be moving around the screen. If I aimed down the sight, I wouldn’t be able to see anything due to the shotgun disrupting my view. It was a huge annoyance.

Far Cry 4 is fun. I like the setting a lot more than Far Cry 3, and I can tell that there’s a good story in there. The co-op is a blast and lovers of Far Cry will enjoy this game. That said, I wasn’t wowed by some of the textures, and there are bugs that need fixing before release.

But the most important thing I took away from my time is this: f*ck Alaska Airlines.

Far Cry 4 will be available on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on November 18.