Welcome to Kyrat! A wondrous land hidden in the Himalayas filled with beauty, secrets and conflict.
You play as Ajay Ghale, the American-raised son of Kyrati freedom fighters who returns to his birthplace to fulfil his mother’s last wishes. Instead, Ajay finds himself being an unwittingly being a key-figure in the civil war for Kyrat’s future.
Far Cry 4 has an immensely impressive open-world setting. It really feels like a country that is embroiled in a civil war with beautiful visually diverse environments for you to explore. Such a shame that the strengths of its open-world environment for the fast paced action-adventure did not translate as well to the characters in the story.
I adore being able to explore in any open-world game. For me, exploration is the best part and Kyrat has a lot for explorers to do and see. The map is COVERED with collectibles and activities, all just for you! I spent more time just exploring for all these collectibles and side missions compared to the main campaign. In fact, I did everything else that I could before having to do the main campaign mission. The main campaign never appealed to me the same way as the side missions or the exploring did. The two activities I enjoyed the most besides unlocking locations and the challenge of finding the collectibles was liberating the bell towers and outposts.
The bell towers felt like a puzzle platformer which challenged you in reaching the top to disable the transmission. Once at the top and disabling the signal, the bell tower will unlock locations near the tower and remove the fog from your map surrounding its area. Depending how many you unlock, it will either give you new quests or weapons for free at trading posts.
For the outposts, they were definitely the most rewarding for me. Each outpost had different variables and terrain for you to take into account and take advantage of. You could either go in with guns blazing or take the stealth approach. For me, as a personal challenge I always chose to liberate the outposts using stealth, either disabling all the alarms before systematically killing the guards or going for non-detection all the way. I enjoyed the personal challenge and proud to say I achieved in liberating all except one outpost using the stealth approach. I preferred to use the hunting syringe to highlight all enemy locations before finding a hidden high spot to observe the outpost, disabling the alarms then remove the guards I felt were my biggest threat before moving in to finish the job. For me, the biggest threats were the snipers and hunters. Snipers often took vantage points and had the best field of vision, while hunters had the ability to control animals including the ability to lose their ‘mark’ after a few seconds. It got to the point I often had to take at least two hunting syringes to make sure I got all of them highlighted and quickly kill the hunters. Liberating enough outposts helps unlock new quests and weapons. As well giving you a safe haven in the area with a place to sleep and trade.
Sadly, I was not a big fan of the retaliation events when the outposts were attacked and you had to help defend it. It often occurred at the worst times for me, usually when I was on a way to my next quest and barely two hundred meters away from the outpost then I get summoned back. It became annoyingly repetitive for me to the point.
Speaking of exploring, Far Cry 4 keeps track of all of your progress and it seems it is impossible to get 100% completion. I found the locations and was wondering why I could never unlock it, hence began researching on the various forums and it seems this is a problem that all players have experienced. There are two specific locations that will never unlock no matter what you do. No one has yet to find a method to successfully unlock these ‘undiscovered’ locations in Kyrat which are in the Northern Kyrati region. As far as I know, there is no patch that addresses the issue. There is also a loot chest that is locked in an inaccessible vault. The theory is that it may be part of a Longinus quest which was removed. Luckily there is a way to glitch your way inside the vault to get the loot.
Besides the vast open-world for players to explore, the game is quite versatile. You can scale steep cliffs with climbing gear (although only at pre-determined spots which is a shame), venture into religious monuments, find yourself in the Himalayan mountains where you must battle limited oxygen to survive. Search for your father’s journal entries to learn the back story behind the civil war, find long-lost love letters, go on the trail of a serial killer who leaves distinctive calling cards or just be in awe of the scenic views.
For those who love hunting, there are plenty of opportunities to do that as well. Kyrat has a diverse animal population for you to hunt and skin. The hunting leads to the crafting system. Crafting is extremely important in-game as they are the means of upgrading your equipment such as ammo bag capacity, syringe carrying capability and much more. The crafting system is very simple, you simply need to have enough of the required skins to craft the upgrade. If you have enough, you will have a small icon pop up to let you know that you can craft an upgrade. Once you finished all the possible upgrades, to craft the last tier of upgrades, you need to complete the ‘Kyrat Fashion Week’ quests. These quests will have you hunt a specific rare animal with a specific weapon requirement. As these animals are the rare variety, they will have higher health and deal higher damage compared to their non-rare animal counterparts.
You can even craft different types of syringes which have different effects. I only ever used two syringes in the entire game which were the healing syringe and the hunting syringe. I did try the syringe that allowed me to take more damage and the other for longer swimming and underwater duration. In the end, I felt I was better off using only those two main types of syringes. You can find out their recipes which is usually a combination of two different types of colored leaves. The game will automatically craft the syringes for you if you have enough leaves required for they’re crafting (i.e. two green leaves will automatically craft a healing syringe).
There was even an Arena where you could fight waves of enemies to gain rank, complete weapon challenges or try your hand at surviving endless waves till you are defeated. Most people I believe only fight in the arena to try get a signature weapon that unlocks when you reach rank 10. I was one of those people and that weapon quickly became one of my main weapons in entire game. Advancing in rank is difficult that most people on forums recommend using the official Arena Master app (for androids and iOS) as it makes advancing the arena ranks much easier. I eventually followed this advice and quickly made my way up to the top rank. The only thing you need to do once you reach rank 10, is to fight one official arena match in Far Cry 4 so it will unlock the signature weapon for you.
While the premise of the story justifies Ajay’s actions, he still feels rather hollow for a protagonist. His character has nothing to interest the player other than the actions he can perform. I still find it odd how someone who spent most his life in America and I’m presuming he never fired a gun in his life, yet he is tearing up Kyrat like a one-man army. His character is not the only weak spot in the game either. The only character that is remotely interesting is Pagan Min. He receives an outstanding introduction showcasing his sadistic and twisted personality but then barely has any presence in the game, reduced to only giving commentary on your progress once in a while via radio. I admit I was extremely disappointed since I came to enjoy his bond-villain style and wit. Not even his lieutenants get much screen time to establish their roles before they are removed from the story.
You spend most of the game interacting with the two bickering leaders of the Golden Path: Amita and Sabal. The two of them have opposing views and beliefs often leaving the Golden Path divided as their leaders are stuck in a stalemate. Far Cry 4 really tries to drive the point of there is no such thing as good or bad decisions. You are left with two choices, both have their pros and cons. Do you sacrifice good men for intelligence that may be helpful or vice versa? Do you burn down an opium farm to remove the influence of narcotics from Kyrat or do you take it over and use it to fund the Golden Path?
No matter your decision, it will have consequences and influence who becomes the pen-ultimate leader of the resistance. Your decision on whose argument to side with also plays a major part in which campaign missions you will do.
Personally, I got sick and tired of hearing them argue over anything and everything. Especially when it came to the decision making, it got irritating hearing the other leader who you rejected complain about not choosing them and how it could aid the war efforts. This was actually the main reason I focused so much on exploration, to delay the inevitable for as long as I could. I tried to love the story, it ended up being something I loathed more than loved.
The side missions however were quite varied, whether it was you testing some recreational drugs for Yogi & Reggie or helping a former warlord now weapons dealer atone for his past sins. Or even helping a shady CIA operative.
There is a small mythical side story that you can do if you find the pieces of the ripped up painting. Learn the legend behind Shangri-La and the hero who saved it. The story is linear with heavy focus on combat. However the stunning aesthetics with unique colored foliage and skies makes up for it. Heck it made up for it the moment it gave me a ferocious Sky Tiger companion.
Far Cry 4 has a large choice of weapons for players to try out. Ranging from sidearms, to main weapons and the signature weapons. I experimented with different load-outs before settling on:
- Bushman – signature P416 assault rifle that is unlocked once you reach rank 10 in the arena
- Z93 sniper rifle – modded with silencer and enhanced scope
- .700 Nitro – insane damage output, very loud though so cannot be used in stealth situations.
- M-79 grenade launcher – side-arm
There is also a limited selection of weapon skins to personalize your weapons, usually six skins for each weapon. The skins do not change the stats of the weapons, however you can personalize it further with various weapon mods. Most will allow you to mod them but some weapons have no weapon skins or mods for you to attach to them. I can confirm that I spent majority of my money in-game on the mods and weapon skins alone.
Finally there is the skill-tree. The skill tree is divided into two categories: Tiger and Elephant. The tiger skill tree focuses heavily on combat while the elephant focuses on more passive skills such as extra health. Some skills can only be unlocked upon completing certain missions, most of these skills are in the Elephant branch. Most of the Tiger skills can be unlocked relatively early before you even reach the northern region of Kyrat in the main story. For the Elephant branch, you have skills which boost the duration and effects of the different syringes you can use in-game which can be mighty helpful.
Far Cry 4’s strongest asset is definitely the sheer diversity it offers to players. There is actually the problem of having so much to do and see in the game. The main story was a disappointment despite having some good missions. The characters, especially Pagan Min and his minions could used more screen time. I wish the Golden Path had missions that were not given to you by either Amita or Sabal. It would felt like you were helping the Golden Path in other ways other than serving as a stalemate breaker who then gets the job. However, the various side missions and freedom to go on adventures will make up for the somewhat disappointing main story. I still totally would join Pagan Min to wreck chaos if joining his faction in the war was possible.