PAX East 2012: Far Cry 3 multiplayer impressions

When someone talks about Far Cry 3, usually they’re referring to the upcoming sequel’s single-player mode.  In it, you’re a tourist taking on an army of gun-toting refugees while using whatever feral powers you can get your hands on (along with firepower) to gain the upper hand.  But little do you realize that the game has a huge multiplayer component where you can compete with others in the field of battle and take a chunk of paradise for yourself.  Ubisoft happily invited us to sit in on a recent multiplayer session of the game at their booth this past week at PAX East, and needless to say, we came away pleased with what we played.  Not pleased to the point that we felt like getting a Mohawk (the company was giving them out for free), but pleased nevertheless.

The demo only took place in one map — a seaside village complete with a small shantytown, underground tunnels and plenty of foliage — and it was a Domination match.  Here, it’s basically a Capture the Flag sort of mode, where you try to defend (or overtake) three focal points on a map while keeping an eye out for enemy forces.  Though we would’ve preferred to see all the modes included in Far Cry 3’s multiplayer, this does set the stage for those who want to jump into action.  It also provides markers for each location, as well as who’s got control of it, so you can always run over if you feel like you need to defend it.  (Vocal commands are shouted as well, just in case you miss something.)

Before you start the match, you have the opportunity to choose your load out, whether you prefer to get up close and personal with the shotgun or go with the usual assault rifle and mow down everything in your path.  You also have access to handguns and grenades, which are quite useful in a pinch — like if you run out of ammo or something.

In addition, there's also a new Battle Cry system.  Not only can you try and scare them off with a fake tactic, but you can also score bonus points for your squad through Team Support, giving you perks like a larger scan of the area or the ability to drop a little napalm on someone’s head.  Hardly original in this day and age of first-person shooters, but still welcomed nevertheless.

The gameplay throughout the match felt perfectly intact when it came to us getting what we wanted done, such as putting an enemy in our sights and laying them out or protecting a key point on the map while being able to swivel around and watch for incoming enemies.  The map also provides plenty of room to attack either up close or from a distance, whatever your preferred tactic is.  The other locales within the game should do the same thing, though Ubisoft didn’t quite reveal those details just yet.  Maybe around E3 time, yes?

Even during the most heated of multiplayer conditions, the graphics hold up quite well, as you run through what normally is a quiet area and ravage any enemy soldiers you see.  The blood effects and body physics are impressive as well, and watching a grenade blow up an unsuspecting thug is good stuff.  The sound effects, consisting of player chatter and gunfire, is authentic, if hardly original.  We really don’t mind.

I’ll tell you, though, one really great thing included in Far Cry 3 that I can’t overlook is the kill cam feature.  See, if you’re hit with a lethal blow, you have a way to see who killed you through a virtual freeze-frame, which overlays the current action as it’s happening and gives you an idea of who hit you and where.  It’s a really neat death effect, and provides an idea of where your weak points are, so you can try and improve your strategy.

And just because you’re taken down for the count doesn’t entirely mean you’re done.  You have the option of fighting for your life by tapping the A (or X) button ferociously, which prolongs a circular meter that ticks down your precious moments.  This is vital if you’re surrounded by teammates, as they can come over and revive you if necessary.  Otherwise, just go with a quick respawn.  It’s costly in stats, but at least you can get back into the match.

Far Cry 3 has the potential to be just as good a first-person shooter as some of the more popular fare out there.  Yeah, we could’ve seen more of the game (single-player perhaps?), but Ubisoft has set the stage rather well for its upcoming sequel.  Look for more coverage leading up to the game’s September 4 release date on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.