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- Far Cry 6
The Far Cry 6 gameplay reveal shows that once again Ubisoft is instilling the weird, dark but zany tone its famous for into the game. For some reason, the company thinks nothing drives home the despair of living under a fascist tyrant like pastel spray paint and hot rods. So, despite what will likely be an engaging portrayal of Yara’s despotic El Presidente Anton Castillo by Giancarlo Esposito, you can count on constant jarring moments like a Macarena CD shooting gun to destroy any suspense.
Why does every Ubisoft game have to be packed with over-the-top attempts at humor?
Ubisoft has received criticism for reusing gameplay elements (Ubisoft towers), but it’s just as bad at recycling plot elements. Practically every title it creates uses the same “plucky rebels against a despot” formula. Far Cry, Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed, and lately Ghost Recon all center around some variation of this theme. There’s a lot of room to tell a unique story with this type of plot, but regardless of whether the game is set in Central America, San Fransisco, or London, Ubisoft continues to shy away from the darker elements of these games and add a bunch of out-of-place jokes and edgy aesthetic.
Yara, the setting of Far Cry 6, is basically “not-Cuba,” and though the Castillo regime is “fascist” instead of communist, its lot is essentially the same as its real-life counterpart. Anton Castillo’s father was president of Yara until a revolution occurred, and he was executed in front of his son. Afterward, the country’s economy spiraled downward, and Anton was able to come to power by promising a return to the prosperity seen under his father’s leadership. However, he believes the people of Yara require an iron-fisted ruler due to their past rebellion.
Obviously, the people of Yara aren’t too into forced labor, and a resistance movement begins revolting against Castillo and his loyalists. Pretty heady stuff, right? Well, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an expert when it comes to the history of Central American revolutions. However, a quick Google showed no record of a weaponized Dachshund in a tiny wheelchair participating in any of them.
Amid the death and turmoil in Yara, players will take control of revolutionary Dani Rojas and charge against Castillo’s army. Instead of a poignant tale about beating the odds in the name of liberty, though, Rojas will MacGuyver together jetpacks, CD launching guns, and a backpack made of mortar tubes. Aside from the physics-busting possibility that Dani could somehow survive the backblast from these mortars without losing the entire bottom half of their body, players also have to swallow things like ’57 Chevy technicals with remote control machineguns mounted to the roof and trained attack alligators.
I’m all for having fun, but can war just be hell for once? It’s telling that Spec Ops: The Line is still lauded as one of the only games to present the terror of combat and the fates of innocent bystanders caught in warzones. I never expect Ubisoft to deal with anything too heady, but could we get something at least strives to say anything? I’m not even asking for the game to be “political” in a way that comments on current events. I just hoped that Far Cry 6 would be semi-realistic and have characters with some form of depth instead of acting like they’re in a comic book.
The success of games like The Last of Us 2 – despite the overblown “controversy” around it – shows that players are ready for stories that challenge their sensibilities. By playing it safe with zany, over-the-top humor, Ubisoft is squandering the memorable characters it’s capable of creating. After all, Joseph Seed and Anton Castillo aren’t really intimidating when you’re driving around in a monster truck or kicking it with a wiener dog in a wheelchair.