Tag Archives: far cry

Hopes And Fears For Far Cry 5

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So Ubisoft this week unveiled Far Cry 5 and the shocking centerpiece of the game is its setting — the franchise known for bringing players to dangerous exotic locales is trying to create one within the United States. There’s a lot of potential for and nuance there you can already read about in articles like this one or this one. USGamer already has a couple pieces up about the pitfalls Ubisoft might fall into based on what we’ve seen from it in the past. Those two kind of bring up the subject I keep thinking about when I read about FC5 — how different is it actually going to play compared to the last few entries?

To me this feels pretty similar to what Battlefield and Call of Duty did with their drastic shifts in setting, but I don’t think that’s enough to make the game feel different. Continue reading

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In Lea Monde Interview, Ubisoft Hints At Changing Direction

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Apparently last week Le Monde published an interview where Ubisoft outlined how it might be changing how it designs its open-world games in the future. The article is in French but NeoGAF moderator Stumpokapow translated it and offered some main bullet points.

The overall jist seems to be that Ubisoft wants to make its future open-world games even less linear and offer players more freedom, with less focus on the scripted story segments that have run through games like Assassin’s Creed II or Far Cry 3. Personally, I think this is what Ubisoft should have always been doing. If you look back at some previous posts of mine you might see that I’ve had issues with how Ubisoft does open-world games. Many may disagree with me. Continue reading

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On Modern Open-World UI And World Design

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The games I’ve been playing recently have mostly been open-world games or games where you have to find objectives on large maps, and in all of them that has necessitated things like mini maps and waypoints. I’ve posted at least once before about how much I hate waypoints because they can break immersion. Gamasutra however published this past April an excellent article laying out the drawbacks of waypoints and how we got here. I implore you to at least read the first few lines. Continue reading

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Is Witcher 3 The Next Game Everybody Wants To Imitate?

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I still don’t quite know what to think of information on an upcoming Assassin’s Creed game being broken on 4chan of all places, but one thing did catch my eyes — the mention in that 4chan thread of a desire for a “Witcher-feel” in the game. All I could think upon reading that was “here we go.”

I guess I should have expected it. The Witcher 3 has been named game of the year by over 150 publications (and this blog) for 2015. It’s the hot new game everybody likes. Of course it would become the next secret sauce everybody else is trying to capture. Even if the 4chan thread itself was bunk, we still might see other developers make similar desires known in the near future. Everybody should definitely be learning from good games including Witcher 3, but when big developers say they want to be like this good game or that good game, in my opinion they usually end up missing the point of why those games are good. Continue reading

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Do Sandbox Games Even Need Main Missions?

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Yeah this is a brazen question to ask and it is partly to draw attention, but it get’s at the conflict I’ve been seeing in many open-world games made over the last few years, mainly action sandbox games in the Grand Theft Auto tradition. Of course sandbox games can have good main missions, but in a great many of them, main missions seem to actually detract from the central appeal of the game. Continue reading

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Far Cry 2 vs Far Cry 3: A Retrospective

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A while ago I decided to give Far Cry 2 and Far Cry 3 another run before Far Cry 4 came out. I probably won’t be playing FC4 for a while, but I still think the comparison is interesting, if only for all the arguments that persist over which is the superior Far Cry game.

FC2 and 3 are opposites in some ways when you examine the philosophy of each game’s design. FC2 is popularly cited as a flawed gem that didn’t get the recognition it deserved, while FC3 is popular and better executed but also much more conventional in its design. A lot of people who love one hate the other. Everything I’ve heard about FC4 suggests it’s very much the sequel to FC3, but I still like to look back and hope Ubisoft remembers what was actually good about FC2. Continue reading

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Late to the Party: Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon

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Most 80’s retroist games feel like the games I played as a kid. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is kind of what I imagined action games would be like in the future as a kid. Playing it has made me realize how much difference a change in setting can make for a video game and what a difference graphics and technology can make for particular themes.

Continue reading

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Hopes And Dreams For Far Cry 4 Post-E3

To be honest, Far Cry 4 was one of the main reasons I anticipated seeing the E3 press conferences this week. What I saw of it at Sony’s conference still leaves a lot of questions, but I’m slightly more optimistic now on a game for which I have high hopes but also a lot of concerns.

I already went over my hopes for this game a few weeks ago, and I constantly look for any rays of hope they might be even partially fulfilled. Ubisoft’s recent quotes and FC4’s Sony press conference demonstration suggests the game is headed in a better direction than Far Cry 3, if only a little better.

From a bit of information from Game Informer and that demo, Ubisoft seems to have determined base liberation was the best and most popular part of FC3. The Game Informer website, teasing a bit of its latest cover story on FC4, says Ubisoft wants to merge the feeling of the last game’s base capturing with FC4’s campaign. Most notably, the entire E3 demonstration for the game was the liberation of a base.

Even though the overall gameplay loop is pretty similar to the base capturing in Assassin’s Creed (that has now made its way into Watch_Dogs), FC3’s FPS mechanics makes things feel a bit more involving, delivering on the “systemic open world” feeling better than probably any of Ubisoft’s other recent open-world games. That’s probably why it was the most talked-about part of FC3 in the weeks following the game’s release, and Ubisoft has figured this out.

What we’ve seen at E3 seems to be a kind of “super base,” — bases that are much larger and more difficult to liberate than the ones in FC3. Who knows how much of the game this will comprise, but it’s the first thing Ubisoft wants us to see about this game. I just hope some of that translates to significant changes to the campaign structure.

It’s hard to say what Ubisoft actually means by bringing that base-clearing feeling to the campaign. Maybe campaign objectives will be tied to the bases. It might be too much to hope that Ubisoft is returning to the completely open-ended mission structure of Far Cry 2. Maybe they’re trying to balance that feeling with whatever linear “character-driven” story they want to tell this time around.

Anyway, some of the other features from the demo look nice. The Gyrocopter might be a big one — it essentially introduces aircraft to the franchise. Maybe having designed FC3’s world around the wingsuit and hang glider made actual aircraft the logical conclusion. I don’t expect any kind of traversal on the level of Grand Theft Auto’s helicopters, but it’s the next step in communicating the scale of an open-world game.

The grappling hook is a good addition too — adding much needed verticality to these kinds of games. Mountains and cliff sides are an all-too-annoying progress-blocker in FC and similar open-world games. I just hope It’s not limited to like seventeen specific points in the game.

In any case, FC4 remains on my radar for this fall. I await reviews and friendly impressions with cautious optimism. Even if it does end up being FC3.5 and is just another soulless AAA open-world game, I at least hope I can find enjoyment in parts of it like I have in FC3. As for why I even try to do that, Far Cry right now is pretty much the only new mainstream sandbox first person action game. We’ve got all these next-gen open-world games that look great, but only Far Cry is first person, carrying all the potentially immersive gameplay that entails. Man I can’t wait until Fallout 4 is unveiled.

BULLETS

  • Finished Dark Souls II. Back on ArmA II, which is my current source of open-world systemic first person gameplay.
  • Astro Boy to receive yet another remake. http://t.co/egnX1P9Gh9
  • So someone at NASA actually wants to build a real sci-fi-esque spacecraft. http://t.co/4kvjrVIl7t
  • One of the highlights of the latest batch of greenlit Steam games is Yatagarasu, on which I did a blog post a while ago. http://t.co/182yaKahDa
  • Another is Sacred Tears TRUE. http://t.co/bGtgI8xdcF
  • The first official trailer for The Legend of Korra Season 3. http://t.co/iASOvkxmlb
  • Personal touches like this are part of the reason people like Metal Gear — stopping for a smoke break fast forwards time. http://t.co/BLxb3Rfn4R
  • New York Times has an interesting story about all the remasters in gaming compared to other industries. http://t.co/qKEaayvIcf
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Far Cry 4 And The Old Consoles

Third and possibly the pettiest of my concerns with Far Cry 4 is Ubisoft’s decision to still develop it on the PS3 and Xbox 360. The business reasons are obvious but from a technological standpoint it’s somewhat troublesome given the history of the franchise.

Firstly there’s the disappointment that this game won’t be developed from the ground-up for modern hardware. To many that may be an ethereal-at-best concern, but it should be apparent that there are benefits, both visual and gameplay-related, from not designing a game to be able to run on eight-year-old consoles. Several games coming out over the next 12 months are likely to demonstrate this. The Witcher 3, Evolve, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Ubisoft’s own Assassin’s Creed Unity and The Division are all games the developers decided weren’t possible on PS3 and Xbox 360 despite their install bases. Maybe Ubisoft didn’t have the manpower at the time to make two new Far Cry games — one on the old consoles and one for the new, like they’re doing for AC.

It’s easy to imagine open-world games like Far Cry would be more likely than linear games to benefit from being developed on faster processors with more RAM. What if that allowed the game to have a larger world with more AI and other things going on in it? My most-anticipated game for the new consoles right now is the open-world Witcher 3, and one developer I’m especially interested in seeing work on new hardware is Bethesda with Fallout and mainline Elder Scrolls.

Then you’ve got the history between the FC games and consoles in general. So far, all three FC games have had console versions significantly inferior to their PC versions, more so than most games that get released on consoles and PC. The original version of the first Far Cry didn’t even get a console version until this February — the original Xbox and Wii versions were very different games designed around the constraints of the consoles that existed in 2004. Far Cry 2 was reportedly a pretty different game on PC with huge visual differences and unique gameplay features. In my opinion after trying out the Xbox 360 version of FC3, I think Ubisoft should have held the game back and released it as a launch game for PS4 and Xbox One. On Xbox 360 its image quality and textures are worse than most AAA 360 games I’ve seen, and its framerate is in the 20’s most of the time. And the PC version has been known to humble some powerful gaming rigs.

I’m not down on PS3 and Xbox 360. I think it makes perfect sense for developers to keep making games on consoles with such large install bases, especially as making games for newer hardware is expensive. I’m probably going to keep playing PS3 games at least into the beginning of 2015. But I also think FC’s gameplay has more to gain than most from moving up to better hardware.

I imagine there’s a good chance however that FC4 is being developed like Watch_Dogs — primarily for the new systems while somebody figures out how to make it work on the old systems.

BULLETS:

  • Ironically I’ll soon be trying out Wolfenstein: The New Order based on a PS3 rental copy.
  • I’ll also say I question the decision to make PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of THIEF. I tried the PS3 version and while the game functions, it basically has almost no textures.
  • Article on BitSummit. http://t.co/qaD3Bg3IbO
  • So Wolfenstein might be another idTech 5 game having problems with AMD graphics cards. http://t.co/qTYg5g09wT
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Hopes And Dreams For Far Cry 4: Part Two

The other part of Far Cry 4 I want to speculate about is of course the actual game. Far Cry is potentially one of the most interesting franchises in today’s AAA gaming landscape, but I really hope Ubisoft doesn’t rest on its laurels and just put out Far Cry 3.5.

Far Cry is so interesting to me because it’s the only true open-world first person shooter on the market right now. Well, the mainstream market anyway since PC gamers have access to STALKER and ArmA. You can draw comparisons to Fallout and Elder Scrolls but those are RPGs. Far Cry right now is the only true straight-up sandbox FPS being made for mainstream console gamers, which means it can take that market in directions dramatically different from the likes of Call of Duty or Battlefield. I’m just wondering if Ubisoft actually plans to do that.

I like Far Cry 3 a lot, but only because there’s so much sandbox stuff I can do in the periphery parts of the game. I can spend hours just driving from place to place, running into random events, carving my own path through its world as I explore and destroy enemy bases. Almost all the actual structure FC3 applies to this though is terribly conventional, and I don’t think it lends itself enough to the fact that it’s open-world.

The main missions are linear for starters. They may as well not even take place in and open-world environment. If you focus on the story, the open-world part of FC3 basically turns into a transit system between missions. The extra missions FC3 does give you are either odd conversations with locals or open-ended but very basic assassination and hunting missions. FC3 employs some interesting dynamic systems with its vehicles, animals, and environments, but that stuff almost never actually feels dynamic when it counts. My most memorable moment in FC3 wasn’t even a part of any mission.

Contrast this with the flawed gem that is Far Cry 2, which gave itself over wholly to the dynamic nature of the sandbox. The one thing I love about FC2 is how its missions are little more than places and goals. I love how actually figuring out a plan for each mission is totally up to you. That lends itself much more to the idea of a sandbox game.

FC2’s problem is it’s too shallow a game. There isn’t much to do outside shooting people in those missions, which is almost certainly why Ubisoft made FC3 so much more structured. I just think the company went a bit too far with that sequel. It’s sort of the same problem they had with Assassin’s Creed.

The first AC game tried to be a dynamic open-world stealth game but it also ended up being too shallow with odd constraints and not enough variety. Assassin’s Creed II offered much more flavor and structure, but with it less freedom, and Ubisoft has basically been building on that game’s formula for almost everything it’s made since.

While playing Assassin’s Creed III recently I found it ironic how restrictive it can be for an open-world game. ACIII’s main missions can be quite linear and even contain tricky automatic fail states. Its more open-ended elements include simple base captures (like those in FC3) and small random events throughout the world like hunting and convoys. It and FC3 are quite similar actually. It even looks like Watch_Dogs might follow a similar path. To me its gameplay videos show off base infiltration and small emergent events similar to AC and FC3, but what of the main missions?

Basically, I’m looking for any kind of proof that FC4 will be different from Ubisoft’s recent open-world games, that it will try something bolder, if only just a little bit bolder.

Ideally I’d like to see FC3’s sense of structure but with a return to FC2’s totally open-ended main missions. I want a game that just gives me objectives and doesn’t care how I do them. This makes for a huge contrast from how almost every other shooter these days is a straight line.

Generally I just want to see a Far Cry that gives players the freedom a sandbox game should. The only ray of hope I have this might happen are a few words out of FC4’s North American press release: “Players will write their own story across an exotic open-world landscape.” It’s just a matter of what “write their own story” actually means.

A little while after FC3 came out and before Assassin’s Creed IV came out I think Ubisoft producer Jade Raymond talked about how Ubisoft was learning the lesson that gamres want to “define their own experiences.” FC3 has been a success for Ubisoft and I can only hope it’s learned from this that players want more agency in their games. But it could also use that success as justification to create more intermittent sequels that just barely improve upon FC3’s formula.

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