In celebration of Far Cry 5’s release on March 27th, let’s have a quick recap of the open world designs of Far Cry 3 and 4.
I’ve bought a couple of first-person shooters over the years, but overall, I still tend to shy away from the genre.
The best way I could explain why is to use the Singaporean colloquialism “hin,” which is Chinese Hokkien for dizzy. While I don’t exactly get nauseous when playing first-person adventure games, I nonetheless find it awkward and confusing, groaning every time there’s a major boss fight.
To make things worse, I never did master the fine art of aiming cross hairs with a gamepad. Because of that, I’m limited to using shotguns for all situations. Sadly, even with their burst and damage capabilities, well, let me just say I seldom enjoy high hit or impressive kill rates.
Mentioning this because in spite of my difficulties with first-person shooters, I bought Far Cry 3, obsessed over it for a month, and then I bought Far Cry 4 too. Like many other gamers, what attracted and hooked me were the incredible open world designs in both games, realms which were not only meticulously designed but also positively choked full of exploration opportunities at every corner.
To cite what I often read on forums, Rook Island and Kyrat are alive, be it the graphical realism or the way something is always lurking somewhere at any hour. In celebration of Far Cry 5’s release next week, let’s take a quick trip back to the tropical jungles of Rook Island and the snow-capped peaks of Kyrat. These spectacular virtual realms, IMO, will go down in gaming history as among the best open worlds created for their generation.
All screenshots belong to Ubisoft.
Far Cry 3 Open World: Rook Islands
To be honest, I wasn’t that interested in Rook Island when I first read about it. It’s … a tropical island. Somewhere in Southeast Asia. Doesn’t that sound remarkably like where I’ve been living my entire life?
Where I’ve been living, minus the facilities, the infrastructure, the safety …
Where arrogant tigers strut in the fields. And big and ugly sharks swim just off the coast. All ready to game-over you.
Here’s what I consider to be Rook Island’s biggest triumph. Many parts of it looked and felt familiar to me, yet, it still frequently awed. Every so often in Far Cry 3 would also be a moment that is just so quietly breath-taking. If you’ve ever played the game,
if you’ve spent just an hour wandering around doing random quests, I’m sure you would know what I mean by quietly breath-taking. The small waterfall in the middle of nowhere. The sun filtering through the canopies of trees. That glimpse of endless eternity as you struggle to reach that damn loot chest some moron left on a cliff. It’s these moments that kept me glued to the game, long after I completed the main campaign. Rook Island, hostile as it is, never seemed to run out of spellbinding moments.
Far Cry 4 Open World: Kyrat
I’ve never been anywhere near the Himalayas. For that reason, I was immediately captivated when I saw the earliest screenshots for Far Cry 4.
It’s like, this was an open-world that’s quite the opposite of that in FC3. That is, outside of the usual murderous goons and bloodthirsty animals. Would Kyrat impress me the way Rook Islands did?
The answer is yes. But it’s also a no in some areas.
Here’s what I loved about Kyrat’s open-world design. Much has already been written about this since 2014 so I’ll keep it brief. The panoramas. The snowy peaks in the distance. The exotic Tibetan/Nepalese structures dotting the landscape. Mr. Yeti …
What I didn’t like: It was too similar to Rook Islands in too many ways. The rehash of nearly the entire system from FC3 took away a chunk of the joy of exploring Kyrat. The result of which is, beautiful as it was, Kyrat just didn’t surprise as Rook Islands did.
Admittedly the above is more the shortcoming of gameplay rather than environmental design. And to be fair, the story of Pagan Min and The Golden Path is several notches more sophisticated than that of action-boy Jason. In summary, I’d put it as it was still deeply enjoyable going about Kyrat completing quests and murdering animals. But there were far lesser “aww” moments throughout it all.
By the way, it’s only fair of me to highlight these screenshots of Kyrat look better because they came from the PC version of the game. The ones for FC3 above came from the Xbox 360 version.
Check out my review of Hope County, Montana! The open world of Far Cry 5.
Read my other Video Game Tourist posts.