Where should Far Cry go next?

Since Far Cry 3 arrived in 2012, there's been a new major entry in the series every two years. It's obviously no guarantee, but based on that timeline and the fact that Far Cry 5 earned twice as much as Far Cry 4 in their respective first week of release, it's reasonable to expect Far Cry 6 to arrive in 2020.

Far Cry 5 was a mix of fun and chaotic action coupled with some dull-ass bad guys, and stirred controversy primarily because it so desperately tried to avoid stirring controversy. But it was a big and beautiful open world with lots of creative ways to wreak havoc, which is what Far Cry games have always done well.

Read more: Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars review

The question is, where should Far Cry go next? And keep in mind, I'm not just talking about location.

Location

But I am talking about location a bit. We've already been whisked away to tropical islands (twice), we took a trip to the Himalayan mountains, visited arid African plains, the farmlands of Montana, and a prehistoric Central Europe (in Far Cry Primal). Where should we visit next?

I was thinking Australia might be fun, somewhere in the remote Outback or the bush, far removed from the larger cities or towns—Far Cry always avoids densely populated areas in order to isolate us from easy rescue. Australia has lots of wide open spaces, prime real estate for those little ramshackle spots of civilization Ubisoft likes to pepper in so you have a place to chat with friendlies or sell your loot.

And as we know, Australia has lots of deadly animals. While there's a lack of large land predators, you've got kangaroos, dingoes, and even wild camels, plenty for Ubisoft to work with (hell, they made skunks into enemies in Far Cry 5). After Far Cry 4, which let us ride elephants, it would be nice to be able to ride a camel, or for that matter, a kangaroo. Why the hell not? And setting an angry kangaroo loose in some enemy outpost would be good for a laugh.

In areas with water you've got sharks and gators and jellyfish, and there are plenty of deadly snakes, spiders, and other ridiculously dangerous fauna in Australia. Hell, even the platypus is venomous. Ubisoft could have a field day with the animals alone—adding human enemies would wind up being an afterthought.

Exploration

The Far Cry series has progressively leaned more and more towards turning you loose in its open world with fewer and fewer restrictions, and stripping away roadblocks that get in the way of the chaotic action. In Far Cry 5, infinite parachutes and a wingsuit are unlockable for just a pinch of skill points, and an endless supply of airplanes becomes available after a mission that can be tackled in its opening hours.

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This freedom holds a lot of appeal. Most locations you visit will add fast-travel points to your map, vehicles of all kinds are never more than a minute away, and adding weapons to your arsenal, and the holsters to hold them, doesn't take long at all. Want to get somewhere fast and blow it up? There's nothing standing in your way—there are even wandering gun salesmen everywhere, so you don't ever need to return to a base or outpost to refill your ammo.

But there's something to be said for making the journey just as important as the destination. Very quickly the large open world of Far Cry 5 begins to feel small, and the process of discovery becomes as simple as scrolling around in Google maps. Having shortcuts to the action is great, but it comes at the cost of a real feeling of exploration and travel. Far Cry 2 could be a challenge to get around in, and not just because you were stricken with malaria. If you lost your vehicle you'd have to do a lot of running, and fast travel was only available by visiting a bus stop in the corners of the map.

Getting around in Far Cry 2 could be a real drag at times, but it also meant preparing for a mission, plotting a route on your map, and traveling with extreme caution. This provided a real challenge and a lot of tension at times. Far Cry 5 is tough to get around in too, at first—you can't go more than a few steps without some crazy shit happening—but after a few hours of play, when you've gotten a few tools under your belt, you've transformed from a rookie in over your head to a wizard who can appear wherever you want.

I'm not suggesting a complete return to the harshness of Far Cry 2, because crossing the map shouldn't always be a life-or-death struggle. Far Cry isn't a survival game, after all, and sometimes you just want to get where you're going quickly and easily so you can get your mission done or just indulge into some violent goofing off. But I hope Far Cry 6 leans back a bit into making the journey through the world something you need to prepare for, not skip over.

Story

After flirting with hard-hitting and even topical themes, Far Cry 5's story was ultimately a bit toothless. The Eden's Gate cult was mostly nonsense, and the game didn't really have much to say about anything.

Not everyone wants a game with a message, and not every game needs to deliver one, but if you're going to drape an american flag on a gun-covered table and recreate the image of the last supper, people are gonna, like, kinda think you have a little something to say. About religion. About America. About something. And they might get a bit cheesed off when it it turns out you don't.

I don't know what kind of story Far Cry 6 will have, but if it revolves around a bunch of bad guys controlling a part of the world while you, the lone hero, take them down one outpost at a time, I won't have any complaints—provided it's not billed as something more. Shallow and inconsequential storytelling is fine, unless its preceded by a marketing blitz that makes it out to be deeper and more relevant than it really is.

Multiplayer and mod support

I think it was a good move adding a co-op mode that could be joined on any story mission—playing Far Cry 5 with a friend is good fun. And while the past few games have provided tools for mapmakers, and some good tools at that, there's really nothing better than actual, legitimate mod support. Just look at the original Doom, which is still being modded and written about today, versus 2016's Doom, which had internal mapmaking tools but no external mod support. When's the last time you thought about new Doom? It's a great game but has fallen off the radar, and that's because it's not moddable.

People do mod the Far Cry games, and there are mods for the latest, but only a handful and nothing terribly extensive. With full mod support, modders could go completely ape with an open world Far Cry game. I'm hoping Far Cry 6 will be moddable, but I'm definitely not expecting it.