Far Cry fans hope surprise source code leak will give 'new breath' to an old game

Far Cry cover art detail
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

It's hard to overstate how good the original Far Cry was. And influential, too: It's the game that put developer Crytek on the map and spawned one of Ubisoft's biggest and best-known series. But it's also 19 years old, a veritable eon in videogame terms, and that passage of time can definitely be seen and felt: It's long overdue for a glow-up.

Unexpectedly, it may actually get one at some point in the overly-distant future thanks to a recent leak of the original Far Cry source code, which appeared "out of nowhere" on the Internet Archive.

(Image credit: Vinícius Medeiros (Twitter))

The leak is for version 1.34 of the game and purports to be complete, although one reviewer said it's not actually complete, "but close."

"From my educated guess, this is some source tree leak for the PC version of the game to add support for the Ubisoft game launcher/DRM," MobCat wrote. "It does contain some exes but no Xbox code and no game assets." It also apparently doesn't compile without numerous errors, although a different reviewer claimed that it compiles "with [a] few modifications in Visual Studio .NET 2003."

It's not clear exactly where the code came from or why someone would suddenly drop the source for a game that's been kicking around for two decades. Nobody has taken credit for the leak at this point, and it's the first and only file to be uploaded by Internet Archive user Llaetha.ro. Members of the Far Cry 1 Community Discord speculated (with unmistakable confidence) that a former Crytek employee with a particular interest in the game shared it with a few friends "for studying," with the intention of making it public later—but one of them jumped the gun and released it to the public first.

What fans are clearly more interested in at this point is what they'll be able to do with the source code now that it's in their hands. Far Cry remains available for purchase (and in fact it's on sale in the Steam Summer Sale for a whopping $3) but its age is impossible to overlook: "The stealth feels super janky, vehicles can feel super janky," Steam user sticky wrote, and the whole thing "needs some TLC in the form of a huge QoL rework mod" so it doesn't feel so—you guessed it—janky.

That's where the source code could come into play. Far Cry mods are already available thanks to the long-ago release of the SDK and level editor, but the availability of the source code opens the door to much more extensive reworks because it enables users to make changes and fixes to the game engine itself.

(Image credit: Vinícius Medeiros (Twitter))

The prospect of an RTX-capable Far Cry with all the rough, early-aughts edges smoothed down has the Far Cry modding community excited, but members are also treading very cautiously, mindful that Ubisoft could drop the hammer on the whole process at any time. "We don’t have permission from Ubisoft to use [the] leaked source code," one Discord user wrote. "But there is [the] Driver franchise that was reverse [engineered] and had many mods and even [updates]." They also noted that in some cases, modders have been given permission to use a game's source code for non-commercial purposes—and that in others, such as with Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City, publishers can take a very hard line, including legal action, against any sort of use.

Ubisoft hasn't yet commented on the leak, or given any indication as to how it will respond to attempts to make use of the source code. One thing that could work against eager modders is that the Far Cry series remains very active: A rumor in January claimed that Ubisoft currently has two separate Far Cry games in development, a mainline singleplayer shooter—the inevitable Far Cry 7—and a multiplayer spinoff, and it may not be too eager for a fan project to steal its thunder.

Regardless of all that, the prevailing attitude among the Far Cry community for now seems to be very cautiously hopeful. "This game just needs new breath," one Discord user said. "And we would be very thankful to Ubisoft if they give modders a green light."

I've reached out to Ubisoft for comment and will update if I receive a reply. Oh, and in case you'd forgotten, Uwe Boll once made a Far Cry movie. Somehow, Anthony Bourdain is in it.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.