Skip to main content

Far Cry 6 bypasses biting political commentary for slapstick comedy

Far Cry 6 was always going to be a controversial game, whether Ubisoft wanted it to be or not. While it’s set on a fictional Caribbean island named Yara, it’s inspired by the very real Cuba. What’s more, it explicitly draws on some of the country’s political history with a plot revolving around revolution, a dictator, and guerilla warfare. All of that would make it hard for Ubisoft to pull out its usual line about its games being apolitical.

Official Story Trailer - Far Cry 6

And yet, it did anyway, spurring yet another debate about how games approach (or shy away from) real-world politics. Navid Khavari, Far Cry 6 narrative director, quickly took the wheel, rebuking Ubisoft’s claim with a blog post firmly stating that “our story is political,” but the dreaded discourse had already begun. Ubisoft’s initial comment is sure to stay in the back of many players’ minds when they hop into the game on October 7.

Related Videos

Or at least, it kicked around my brain as I played a five-hour demo of the game. While Ubisoft’s insistence that its games (several of which are military shooters) are apolitical is absurd, I almost understand why it made that statement in regard to Far Cry 6: That’s because it’s more interested in Hollywood action and comedic farce than compelling social satire.

Shaken, not stirred

Far Cry 6 opens with some loaded imagery. We’re introduced to Yara’s ruthless dictator, Antón Castillo, who id voiced by and modeled after actor Giancarlo Esposito. After a brief history lesson about the island, we’re thrown into immediate unrest in Yara’s streets. Military forces are patrolling and shooting at protestors, making Yara look like a war zone. It looks dystopian, but it’s reminiscent of images we saw one year ago during the George Floyd protests.

Soon, I was dashing through back alleys as Dani Rojas, a freedom fighter looking to topple Castillo’s oppressive regime. It’s a gripping opening sequence as I bolt across a battlefield unarmed, trying to slide into a manhole before I’m gunned down by stray bullets. The stakes are high and that’s largely because I’ve seen this kind of violence in the real world. This isn’t a fantasy dystopia; it’s a place I’m uncomfortably familiar with.

Two players ride horses in Far Cry 6.

But Far Cry 6’s actual plot is far less relatable. It turns out that Yara is home to a kind of miracle tobacco called Viviro, which is highly effective in treating cancer. Castillo’s sinister rule is entirely based around his desire to sell the drug, which has led to forced labor in order to keep his paradise afloat. Certain pieces of that premise certainly mirror real-life political conflict, but it’s largely an action-movie setup that you’d find James Bond mixed up in (Yara’s story actually isn’t far off from Quantum of Solace’s Bolivian water monopoly setup).

Some of the missions I played certainly had a Hollywood flair to them. In an early standout, I broke into a Viviro field armed with a flamethrower and started torching rows of plants. Guards started shooting back, culminating in a shootout that emphasized the “fire” in firefight. It was an excellent set piece that highlighted the game’s solid gunplay, though it’s a (pardon me) far cry from what I’d experienced in the genuinely tense opening sequence.

I can’t really identify a bold thematic takeaway from my first few hours of playing the game. But I can easily recall the experience of swinging between two massive boats with a grappling hook while a helicopter reigned bombs down around me. Far Cry 6 seems more invested in action. And at least it can back it up.

Farce, not satire

The further I got away from the introduction, the more Far Cry 6 parted with reality. That was especially true in my final hour of the demo, as I put the plot to the side and freely explored Yara. I soon found myself in the midst of a wild sidequest that involved a murderous chicken named Chicharrón. I chased him around as he terrorized fruit vendors, set off explosives, and led me into a series of shootouts against Castillo’s forces. Even the chickens hate this guy.

Once I finished, I was able to summon Chicharrón as an “amigo” that can attack enemies on command. It’s a moment where I realize that Far Cry 6 is more interested in farce than satire. There’s a thin line between those two. Satire twists the real world on its head, using comedy to expose truths in a sort of funhouse mirror reflection. Farce, on the other hand, is less invested in making a point; it’s just trying to entertain audiences with goofy caricatures and larger-than-life antics.

Dani slides down a roof in Far Cry 6.

When I sic an alligator on a beach full of troops, that’s farce. When I heal myself by putting a big Cuban cigar out on my wound, boy, oh boy, that’s farce. I may as well have been watching Woody Allen’s Bananas.

None of this is new for the Far Cry franchise, mind you. It’s always been a series that aims to balance complex themes with absurd humor. It’s a tricky line to toe, though. The game is still rooted in history and real-world violence, even if we’re dealing with a fictional island and an impossible miracle drug (tobacco is the cure for cancer!). It wants to reflect reality, but still keep the ugliest parts of it at arm’s length so players stay entertained. History is a buzzkill, after all.

In the same blog post where Khavari declares that Far Cry 6 is political, he also sets some realistic expectations about what it’ll offer players on that front. “If anyone is seeking a simplified, binary political statement specifically on the current political climate in Cuba, they won’t find it,” Khavari writes. It’s an honest statement. I don’t know that we’ll ever get profound commentary from a massive AAA open-world game that’s aiming for mass appeal. Though it makes me wonder why the Far Cry series is so obsessed with historical reference points that it has little to say about.

Two Far Cry 6 players shoot in co-op.

I reckon that many players could care less if they walk away from Far Cry 6 with a deep understanding of Cuban history and political revolutions. Its huge world is full of comedic potential that’s perfect for content creators. And anyone who’s looking for a fun co-op experience will surely have a good time driving around as a friend guns down planes overhead. In those respects, Far Cry 6 delivers so far. My first five hours were filled with slapstick shenanigans and engaging action set pieces.

Just don’t go in expecting Yara’s political struggles to get the depth they deserve. It’s a war we’re never going to win when it comes to Far Cry.

Far Cry 6 launches on October 7 for PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Google Stadia, and Amazon Luna.

Editors' Recommendations

I used the ROG Phone 6’s two wild gaming accessories — here’s which you should buy
The Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro with the Kunai 3 controller and AeroActive Cooler 6 fan.

The Asus ROG Phone 6 is the best smartphone made specifically for gaming you can get, but if you’re really keen to make the most of it — and make games even more satisfying to play — then Asus has a pair of accessories to tempt you. The new Asus AeroActive Cooler 6 joins an updated version of the Kunai 3 gamepad, and both perform quite different tasks. Are either worth getting?
What are these ROG Phone 6 accessories?
The AeroCooler Active 6 is an external fan for the ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro, but unlike some previous versions, it also has four physical buttons on the case — ready to be mapped to controls in a game. Additionally, it has a kickstand to hold the phone upright, plus an RGB light array inside. It attaches to the ROG Phone 6 through the side-mounted USB Type-C port, and there’s a pass-through port so it can still be used to charge or power the phone. It’s worth noting the latest cooler is only for the ROG Phone 6, and previous AeroCooler accessories won’t work with it.

There are three cooling modes. Basic cooling takes place using the fan only, Frosty mode increases the intensity and takes power from the phone, while the top Frozen mode requires the AeroActive Cooler 6 to be plugged into a power source. Asus says it has the ability to reduce surface temperatures by up to 25 degrees centigrade and is best suited to people who play intensive games for more than an hour at a time.

Read more
GTA 4 and Red Dead Redemption remasters reportedly shelved to focus on GTA 6
Niko Bellic with arms outstretched in Grand Theft Auto IV.

Rockstar Games has reportedly halted plans to remaster Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption, following the lukewarm reception to Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition, which launched in 2021. Instead, Rockstar will shift its focus to the upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI -- a game that has been in the works for a while now.

This news first came from reputable GTA insider Tez, who said Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption remasters had been "on the table a few years ago," before Rockstar shelved plans to move forward. This was then independently corroborated by Kotaku, citing sources with knowledge of Rockstar’s plans. According to Kotaku, these two remasters aren't necessarily canceled for good, but Rockstar seems to have shifted most of its focus toward Grand Theft Auto VI for now since the demand for it is so high.

Read more
Street Fighter 6 director reveals World Tour mode’s true purpose
A player stands in Metro City's Times Square equivalent in Street Fighter 6 World Tour.

While Street Fighter 6’s traditional Fighting Ground experience made a solid first impression at Summer Game Fest, its significantly more ambitious World Tour mode is still shrouded in mystery. We briefly got a look at this ambitious mode during the game's State of Play trailer. We see what appears to be a player-created character explore Metro City and other locations from a third-person perspective, breaking boxes and getting into fights with the people he meets.
In the press release for Street Fighter 6, Capcom describes World Tour mode as a "single-player immersive story mode that pushes the boundaries of what a fighting game is and allows players to leave their own legacy with their player avatar." While Capcom isn't revealing more about the mode's moment-to-moment gameplay just yet, I spoke with Game Director Takayuki Nakayama at Summer Game Fest Play Days and learned how World Tour is emblematic of Capcom's goal to make Street Fighter 6 the premier entry point to the fighting game genre.
Street Fighter 6 - Announce Trailer
Finding World Tour's Purpose
In World Tour, players will explore Metro City and other iconic Street Fighter locales with a player-created avatar. Nakayama hopes this experience will strengthen Street Fighter 6's appeal to those who aren't already diehard fans of the series or genre.
"World Tour is a completely different mode that delivers a completely different experience than the traditional fighting," he said. "Even if someone's not a hardcore fan of fighting games, we wanted to incorporate things to make people become fans of Street Fighter outside of the traditional fights."
World Tour certainly looks unlike anything the Street Fighter series has done before. Still, Nakayama hopes that World Tour players will learn more about the world and characters of Street Fighter along the way and fall in love with fighting games as a whole."We want players to dive into this mode and be able to learn how to love fighting games through the things that you do during the journey of World Tour," Nakayama proclaimed. "There will also be opportunities to meet some of the fans' favorite characters, like Ryu and Chun-Li, through World Tour. We want to provide an experience where players can learn more about those characters' backstories and discover what kind of people they are within Street Fighter 6."

World Tour is one of Street Fighter 6's three main pillars, the others being the standard Fighting Ground mode and the multiplayer-focused Battle Hub. He commented how it's always hard to tell how much is enough to put in a game for fans, especially following Street Fighter V's rocky reception at launch due to a lack of content. However, he hopes World Tour provides enough to negate that criticism.
"We were definitely aware of some of the criticism that we faced with Street Fighter 5, and we want to continue to learn from those criticisms and make Street Fighter 6 a better product," he explained. "It's challenging to decide how much is enough for the users, but we continue to work very hard on it and strive to create something that will get appreciation from players."
Still, World Tour seems like it could occupy players for a long time while introducing them to the concept of fighting games and the world of Street Fighter. That's not too shabby of an addition when Street Fighter 6's core fighting game mechanics are already fantastic. And Capcom's goal to make Street Fighter 6 one of the most approachable fighting games ever can be seen outside of World Tour mode.
Everyone is here to fight
During our discussion, Nakayama constantly reiterated that he wants Street Fighter to be something that can entertain and entice those who've never played a fighting game before. Part of the developer's method for making Street Fighter 6 more approachable and accessible is the addition of the Modern Control Type, which allows players to execute flash combos with simple button presses.

Read more