Deep in the heart of a mythical nation known as Kyrat, you play Ajay Ghale; a man returning home to spread his mother’s ashes. But things are rarely so simple. Far Cry 4 places you in the midst of a civil war which leads through a tangled family past. Thrown in are CIA operatives, criminal regimes, drug induced passages to magical worlds, wing suits, gliders, the unsafest aircraft ever and an insane amount of weapons. It’s a decently sized, open world first person shooter that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The story is fun and hilarious, the game play mechanics varied and the game moves at a decent pace without ever grinding.
Returning to his family’s homeland of Kyrat, you play the character of Ajay Ghale. His mother requested her ashes be spread on her homeland, likely knowing the war was still raging, and that Ajay would have to confront and wrestle with a tumultuous family past. Pieces of Ajay’s backstory can be picked up with journals along the way, although much of his history comes through the campaign and story missions.
If this game was released today, I assume people would be screaming about racism or cultural appropriation, in the same way some called for the removal of Apu from The Simpsons. My parents are from India, but I was born in the United States. You could say I’m an ABCD (American Born Confused Desi), and for that reason, Ajay may be the very first video game character I’ve ever been able to relate to. We never get a first person shot of Ajay, but his backstory and accent indicate he’s American born. Kyrat is a pretty obvious stand in for Indian culture (at one point, two characters mention not being able to return to India; so the nation does exist in this world).
The characters Ajay encounters are complex. The decisions you’re required to make, as him, are difficult. Although the villain is clearly morally corrupt, the elements of The Golden Path you decide to side with are more nuanced. The game’s primary theme focuses on a mystical battle of Tiger vs Elephant. The game’s skill tree is split between combative traits (Tiger) and defensive capabilities (Elephant).
Like every setting in the Far Cry series, Kyrat exaggerated to such a satirical extreme no one can take it seriously. The various types of loot have insane descriptions. The game can be played with an online element to join other people in missions, but I never used it. If you’re going to play single player, I’d suggest you don’t login. Loosing an internet connection during a mission will force you to lose all your progress (checkpoints are not saved within missions). There are no passive benefits to being logged in like other online open world games, such as the social media elements of Death Stranding or shared areas such as in Destiny 2.
Many of the mechanics are fairly typical for open world games. Tower climbing missions open the map visually, removing the fog of war. There’s a wide variety of animals that will attack at random, including eagles, rhinos and honey badgers. They can be killed, skinned and used in a fairly straightforward, yet well thought out, crafting system. There are side quests filled with crazy visuals from hallucinogenic drugs, and interesting changes in game play. There are base capture and fortress missions which build pathways for fast travel and unlock some powerful weapons.
I like the character progress in Far Cry 4. Capturing bases was engaging, and got considerably easier with skill, gear and weapon enhancements. I completed all the base and tower missions without any of it feeling like a chore or grinding, even towards the end. Although I didn’t finish all the side missions, with full tower and base capture, I finish the game in 21 hours (according to the in game timer. The Steam client claims I played 32 hours).
The main villain, and those around him, are fairly forgettable. During some boss fights, I couldn’t even remember what their back stories were or why I should care. However, the journey of the main characters, the fighters of The Golden Path, and those leading you to side missions are very well thought out and developed. The game play has a decent amount of variety while still being fun and not overly frustrating.
I liked the difficultly and level/skill mechanics. They kept the game progressing at a good pace. There were some difficult missions, but none of them felt tedious or overly frustrating. The side quests are engaging, helping significantly with difficult challenges. The characters you work with all have fairly complex motivations. Overall, the game has a distinct vintage feel, like a 70s style western, or Indian Jones mixed with Sri Lankan mercenaries.