The Far Cry series is now over 15 years old, giving Far Cry 6 a lot of different expectations to live up to. With any established franchise like this, it can be a challenge to surprise players without making the established formula too different - losing what made people fall in love with it in the first place.
Initially mainlining the story is a good idea to get properly equipped, though it also allows for teaming up with a friend. There’s no narrative explanation for the delay, which might rub anyone looking to jump straight into co-op the wrong way.
Choosing to carry on solo isn’t a solitary experience, however, thanks to a selection of animal sidekicks. Amigos range from a crocodile to a sausage dog and each have different abilities, adding alternate tactical elements to encounters.
There’s a reasonable selection of weapons for Dani to equip, plus a bunch of customisation options in the form of useful attachments and cosmetic alterations. Far from the gunsmithing of Ghost Recon you only get the basics here, but some credit is due for not falling into the trap of needlessly overcomplicating things. There’s a carry limit of three primary weapons at a time, though that might include a beefy flamethrower which you somehow manage to stash about your person.
While there isn’t a huge amount about Far Cry 6 which really breaks its own mould, the gameplay is dependable.
FC6’s signature weapon, and something of an ultimate attack, is the Supremo - a rocket launcher backpack which fires a salvo of missiles into the (fairly unpredictable) distance to act as crowd control. This can be upgraded as well, but is more a fire-and-forget ability for the beginning or end of encounters.
While there isn’t a huge amount about Far Cry 6 which really breaks its own mould, the gameplay is dependable and there are enough hidden shortcuts, unique weapons and against-the-odds encounters to make exploration feel worthwhile. At the same time, buying into the world can be difficult when (for example) there’s no penalty for attacking Libertad allies in full view of their leader.
This is a minor symptom, but one of several actions that lack consequences that could add weight to players’ actions; it’s key to creating a believable experience, helping people to forget that they’re playing a game. Perhaps the DLC content, which puts you in the shoes of some of the series’ prior antagonists, might prove more engrossing.
Anyone that fancies an island getaway could do a lot worse than taking a trip to Yara. Far Cry 6 is an entertaining means to blow things up and mindlessly shoot people, though probably won’t prove to be memorable in a few years’ (or possibly even months’) time.
For a shooter that’s all about cooperation, Back 4 Blood (which we discussed earlier this year) is surprisingly good at being a solo game. Having spent a fair few hours with the latest horde shooter from Turtle Rock Studios (Left 4 Dead, Evolve), it’s hard to find too much fault with the single-player offering; at least gameplay wise, despite some negative reaction ahead of the game’s launch.
Although the onus to get things done will, quite rightly, always be on you as the player, we were pleasantly surprised by the bots’ display of competence. In some instances they’re especially useful, like instantly spotting enemies in a foggy marsh or darkened tunnel.
Back 4 Blood is a different beast with human players in tow; enemy numbers seem to scale accordingly, so there’s much more action when running a full team, and things can get quite frantic as a result. A relatively straightforward solo section can become a hectic fight for survival in multiplayer, an example being a battle in a diner where you’re forced to activate and defend a jukebox while swarms of enemies encroach.
It’s a pattern followed throughout the campaign: Players set out from the safe room having loaded up on supplies and weapons, scout through open areas occupied by wandering Ridden, then get set upon by the horde while defending/interacting with an objective. It’s a simple premise but one that’s executed relatively well, with a decent amount of teamwork and a little bit of luck required to get through some of the trickier scenarios.
Levels themselves are well designed and atmospheric, especially at night or with fog in play, often funnelling players into tight corridors suited to melee combat before giving them room to manoeuvre and utilise ranged equipment in more open areas. Campaign missions do revisit previous locations, however, which can get repetitive and become frustrating to navigate.
The Combat Knife card turns your basic melee bash into a deadly weapon, which is very useful.
Larger enemies come in a variety of forms, some examples being the Tallboy that swings a massive club-like arm, Crusher that grabs players and squeezes the life out of them, Reeker that spits horde-attracting bile, and Stinger that pins players in place. On their own, these mutations are quite easy to beat, but when the game throws combinations of them at you, particularly in enclosed spaces, they become formidable opponents, requiring teamwork and quick thinking to bring down.
You get to sample these bigger enemy types for yourself in the game’s PvP mode, Swarm, where two teams of four take it in turns to survive as long as possible against player-controlled Ridden. Round-based matches take place within shrinking arenas, ensuring things get suitably hectic the longer a round lasts, with the team of humans that holds out the longest declared the victor.
Playing as powerful Ridden is the highlight of this mode; we particularly enjoyed spewing toxic bile at players as a Reeker or charging an enemy team’s stronghold as an Exploder type. Swarm also seems to have a relatively healthy player base right now, as matchmaking times were always snappy.
There are also occasional boss fights, though probably the most terrifying creature in the Ridden’s arsenal is the Hag. This disturbing, maggot-like monster can swallow players whole before scurrying off and killing them. Hags are introduced by corruption cards, which the game selects randomly ahead of each level.
Random weapon drops sometimes come with imperfect attachments, like this sniper scope/revolver combo.
Corruption cards introduce a variety of challenges, from flocks of birds and alarmed doors that alert hordes if triggered, to armoured Ridden that are harder to kill. Players can try to counter some of these challenges with their own cards by building several custom decks.
Cards can grant basic rewards, such as increased ammo or health capacities, in addition to more substantial benefits, like recovering health for every melee kill. While they might not make or break most runs, cards are a nice bonus that can reward different specific playstyles.
Back 4 Blood invites direct comparisons to Left 4 Dead, though it does manage to stand on its own. The core gameplay, while admittedly familiar for anyone who’s played L4D before, remains solid and the new card system has the potential to be rewarding. Experimenting with cards also helps to boost the already high level of replayability.
There are few gaming protagonists with a more intriguing first outing than Alan Wake. Remedy Entertainment are now well-known for their love of narrative and willingness to experiment with sequencing and structure, thanks to more recent games like Quantum Break and Control. Back in the mid-2000s, however, they only had the first two May Payne titles and Death Race under their belt, a lot of ideas and an eagerness to do something original.
Remedy knows how to reward players who pay close attention, and the live-action Night Springs TV show, which heavily borrows from the format and style of The Twilight Zone, also hints at upcoming plot elements.
In fact, the presentation overall carries an episodic format; there are quick credits sequences and “previously on” recaps as you progress. Looking back, it’s clear to see how the multimedia stylings of Quantum Break came about. Disappointingly, though, the prequel live-action miniseries Bright Falls isn’t included in this remaster.
Darkness is an ever-present companion in the narrative, with various story beats necessitating that Wake be out in the woods, alone, at night. It gives the game an isolated feeling similar to early examples of survival horror (compounded by slightly awkward character controls).
Whether or not the game is for you depends on how exciting untangling a supernatural mystery sounds.
Additional weapons and light sources gradually become available, which help to mix up the gameplay and more efficiently eliminate harder enemy types. While this is all well and good, the unfolding narrative intrigue is the real draw. Whether or not the game is for you depends on how exciting untangling a supernatural mystery sounds. The game puts its case forward early on, telling you what you’re letting yourself in for and sticking to its guns.
In terms of the remaster itself, the visuals and particularly how it uses light – which is especially important here – are noticeably improved by Remastered developers D3T. The official comparison trailer makes it clear that the original was already punching above its weight, but now it looks sharper and plays smoother than ever thanks to 4K at 60 FPS performance on PS5, Xbox Series X and PC.
The ominous atmosphere and presentation goes a long way to immediately bring you into the story. Narratively the game can be hammy and far-fetched at times, though it’s absolutely aware of what it is; it’s easy to recommend to any fan of Remedy that hasn’t played Alan Wake before.
For returning players, besides the inclusion of the hit-and-miss DLC you may not have played, there’s not anything new or particularly different to bring you back. Since the experience was designed to remain faithful to the original release, however, that’s not a huge surprise. It might even be a positive for purists looking to relive an old favourite in search of nostalgia.
With the spooky season officially upon us, you could do far worse than picking up Alan Wake Remastered and discovering an action-adventure classic. Now’s the perfect time to book a trip to the surreal town of Bright Falls.
“Just keep putting skill points into Thorns” – this was the advice we received the last time we played Diablo 2, over 20 years ago, but we'd need more than that to fend off the demonic forces of hell.
Those with a background in Dungeons & Dragons or anyone who knows their dexterity from their vitality will feel right at home, as the player is given five precious attribute points each level to spend however they like. It’s even possible to respec, though only once per playthrough without some extra legwork.
Levelling also pays out skill points, which are more immediately tangible, granting additional active abilities which consume mana, or passive traits which become more and more significant with each point invested.
Certain gear requires meeting specific class and attribute thresholds, which is something else to keep in mind. Looting is a big deal in general and you'll quickly find the limited inventory space filling up as a result, so item management is also a key part of getting the most out of the experience.
Keeping gear up to date is vital to avoid getting caught out and brutally cut down in your stride; even a change to one or two equipment slots can grant huge bonuses against certain enemies. Since dying drops all money and equipment until it’s retrieved from your corpse, character loadouts are something to always stay on top of.
It's clear time and care has been put into the remaster, but perhaps, in the end, Blizzard should have gone for a remake.
Baddies come in all shapes and sizes, from elemental beasts to savage demons, and at times the screen can be filled with a horde of different targets. Targeting isn't as precise as it could be on a controller, unfortunately, which can lead to some annoying deaths.
The most frustrating foes to watch out for, who come in various forms throughout the game but start appearing very early on, are the shamans, who have the power to revive their fallen allies. Of course, for those that choose to play the Necromancer class, it’s possible to beat them at their own game.
Whatever the class, it’s always possible to hire a mercenary to help out in combat and draw some enemy fire, which can make a huge difference when it comes to crowd control. This helps to make the experience feel less lonely, but, of course, you can also team up with fellow adventurers in online co-op multiplayer.
In the end, Diablo 2: Resurrected can feel a little archaic and even out of touch with what draws many to modern action games. It's clear that time and care has been put into the remaster, but perhaps, in the end, Blizzard should have gone for a full remake – look at the recent successes of Final Fantasy VII and Demon's Souls as a couple of examples within the genre.
With many fans eagerly awaiting Diablo 4, D2: Resurrected is a good opportunity to try the game that put the series on the map. The company's current lawsuit may cause some players to think twice, but as far as judging the game on its own merits, there's a lot to enjoy, and it's easy to see why the original gained such esteem two decades ago.