Here's Every Far Cry Game Ever Made (Including Those Weird Ports)
It's hard to pin down exactly what makes Far Cry so appealing. Is it the gunplay? The open-world sandbox? Perhaps the compelling villains? Or maybe it's a combination of the three.
As a series, Far Cry has stood out for the ways it combines so many elements. So before we dive headlong into the latest in the series, Far Cry 5, let's look back at its predecessors and examine how Far Cry's unlikely formula has evolved in unexpected ways.
For more on the latest game meanwhile, check out our Far Cry 5 review, the game's weirdest mission, or some footage of Far Cry 5 running at max settings on PC. You can also watch our video feature on the history of Far Cry or our comparison of Far Cry 5 and Far Cry 2.
Far Cry (PC, 2004)
Released exclusively for PC, the original Far Cry--developed by Crytek--touts beautiful outdoor environments that had rarely been seen before in first-person shooters. These massive levels not only looked impressive, but they allowed you to approach combat in a variety of ways: on foot, in a jeep, on a boat, or even from the air. Large groups of enemies can be avoided entirely or lured in ambushes, which was the ideal way to play due to the enemy's impeccable aim and your fragile health reserves. Scouting out enemy camps and planning out attacks is critical, but stealth isn't always reliable. There are no melee attacks and no silenced submachine gun until a few levels in. Alerted soldiers will activate alarms and some fire flares to summon helicopters with reinforcements. There are flaws, however. Once stealth is broken, enemies always seem to know exactly where you are, a frustrating problem that's exacerbated by the lack of a manual save function.
The game’s plot involves ex-special forces Jack Carver, who ends up marooned on an island that he must try to escape. However, he soon finds himself dealing with the evil Dr. Kieger, whose botched genetic experiments created mutants called the Trigen.
The game became a success upon release, and Ubisoft soon acquired the rights to the series from Crytek.
Far Cry Instincts (Xbox, 2005)
Instincts was a remake of the original Far Cry for consoles. It was originally planned for PS2 as well, but that version was ultimately canceled.
Instincts' basic premise and characters are the same as in Far Cry, but levels are less open-ended and more linear due to the limitations of console hardware. There were, however, a number of changes and improvements to gameplay. Stealth is expanded upon to include a proper melee option and you can lay down traps to take out unsuspecting enemies. If you still prefer the all-guns-blazing approach, most weapons can now be dual-wielded. Finally, Instincts introduced a series of mutant powers known as Feral Abilities. These granted buffs such as increased speed, quicker health regeneration, and night vision. While overall less impressive than its PC ancestor, Far Cry Instincts still impressed for a console game of the day and sold well.
Far Cry Instincts: Evolution (Xbox, 2006), Far Cry Instincts: Predator (Xbox 360, 2006), Far Cry Vengence (Wii, 2007)
A slightly less well-received follow up, Far Cry Instincts: Evolution added some new weapons and vehicles, but otherwise provided more of the same. Released on the same day was Far Cry Instincts: Predator, a next-generation bundle for the Xbox 360 that packaged together Instincts and Instincts: Evolution. Finally, Evolution (the follow-up to the original Far Cry: Instincts, if you've lost track) got a Wii port called Far Cry Vengeance, which added motion controls.
Far Cry 2 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, 2008)
During the release of all these console spin-offs, a numbered Far Cry sequel was in the works. Crytek had moved on to work on Crysis, so Far Cry 2 was developed by Ubisoft Montreal.
When Ubisoft surveyed players of the first game, many said they didn’t find very Jack Carver very memorable or likeable. So in Far Cry 2, you pick from a group of silent protagonists. As a mercenary for hire, you fly into a fictional war-torn African country to kill an arms dealer called The Jackal. Your mission goes south after contracting malaria, leaving you near-dead and The Jackal on the loose. While not as memorable as subsequent Far Cry villains, The Jackal was the series' first true attempt at a charismatic foe.
The majority of the game is about taking on missions for the two warring factions, helping out other mercenaries, and trying to surviving the harsh African environment. While not a full-on survival game, Far Cry 2 attempts to offer a more realistic experience and a tone that feels oppressive. Everything is old and falling apart. Vehicles need to be fixed regularly and guns degrade over time leading to them jamming during inopportune moments or even breaking entirely. This encourages you to spend your hard-earned diamonds on newer weapons from arms dealers rather than scavenging from dead enemies. There's also the personal maintenance you need to carry out to keep your malaria in check. You'll receive Malaria attacks randomly throughout the game and if you run out of pills then you'll need to take on special missions to get more.
Outside of the warring factions' cease fire zone, everyone is hostile towards you except for a small group of fellow mercenaries. Not only do you take quests from them but you have a special buddy who will show up and help you if you die. However, your buddy can also get hurt and if you don't have any healing kits left you'll have no choice but to put them down.
All of this is compounded by a punishing save system:you can only save at designated save houses, raising the stakes of each firefight as more progress could be lost at any moment. You might decide that dead buddy isn’t worth loading the save for after all.
Far Cry 2 is a game that wants to you live in its world. You can't simply fast travel anywhere, but instead need to take the bus to stations on the map. And while later entries have eclipsed it on a technical level, the deep brown and orange color palate of the African Savanna is a beautiful and unique setting for a game. There's a day / night cycle and impressive fire propagation tech, where wind can carry a flame across an entire field.
Far Cry 2 has perhaps the most mixed reputation in the series. Some found its save system and demanding gameplay too punishing and frustrating. The random malaria attacks, while in theory a great idea, could often be an annoyance and in some cases prevent you from progressing at all. It does however have dedicated fans, who love it for its dark tone, and who still consider it to be the series' high point. In many ways Far Cry 2 created the base that future games would follow but its sequels would take a radically different approach to tone.
Far Cry 3 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, 2012)
Far Cry 3 takes its cues from the Far Cry 2 formula, once again taking place in a large open world. After criticism of the last game's hardcore mechanics, Far Cry 3 tweaks everything to offer a more fun-filled playbox. You can now save anywhere you want and instantly fast travel to previously discovered locations. Guns no longer degrade and you will gradually accrue a massive arsenal of weapons. Far Cry 3 is also a prime example of the Ubisoft world structure that we recognize today. Borrowing from the Assassin's Creed series, you'll climb radio towers to reveal the map and locations of nearby activities and outposts. Scoping out a base, tagging enemies, planning out your attack, and then executing it is a satisfying way to exert your influence upon the world. Thanks to the game's improved stealth you can take out whole bases without being detected, something that wasn't as viable in previous games.
Far Cry 3's island hosts a large variety of animals that can be used to your advantage. Hunting down and skinning animals feeds into the game's crafting system, which you can utilize to upgrade the number of guns and amount of ammo you can hold, among other buffs. Introducing light RPG mechanics, completing objectives and killing enemies levels you up and puts points into an upgrade tree, which is visually represented as a growing sleeve tattoo.
The game's narrative returns to a fixed protagonist named Jason Brody, a 25-year-old Californian rich kid who gets kidnapped by pirates. Much of the game's story fell flat for some players, but its main villain, Vaas, is hugely memorable. Vaas's playfully sadistic nature and memorable monologues made him one of gaming's great antagonists.
While Far Cry has already been a well-known and loved in the gaming community, Far Cry 3's playful sandbox opened it up to a larger audience and made it into the massive franchise it is today.
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, 2013)
A standalone expansion, Blood Dragon is an 8 hour independent slice of Far Cry 3 decked out in all things '80s. Set in the dystopian future of 2007, you play as Cyber Commando Rex 'Power' Colt, voiced by '80s action star Michael Biehn. Rex must fight his way though an army of cyber soldiers and deadly blood dragons to take out his former commander, Colonel Sloan.
Every aspect of Blood Dragon is a play or homage to the '80s, such as the game's scanline overlay, VHS tracking loading screen, and cheesy action movie plot featuring intentionally terrible dialogue. Completing the whole package is the excellent soundtrack from synthwave duo Power Glove, who invoke the sounds of films like Terminator and Escape from New York.
Blood Dragon doesn't add anything particularly new to the Far Cry formula, but its over-the-top aesthetics and dialogue is enough to carry its short campaign. As a fun standalone experience it won people over with its '80s charm and quickly sold over 1 million copies, becoming one of Ubisoft's fastest-selling downloadable titles.
Far Cry 4 (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, PC, 2014)
Released only two years after Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4 carries over much of the same structure as its predecessor while offering a brand-new story and setting. Its protagonist, American-raised Ajay Ghale, returns to where he was born--the fictional Himalayan country of Kyrat--to spread his mother's ashes. But in typical Far Cry fashion he gets himself involved with a rebel movement and a civil war with the Royal Army and the Kyrat King Pagan Min. After the overwhelming positivity towards the charismatic Vaas, Far Cry 4 recreated much of that success with Pagan Min. Unlike Vaas, Pagan Min is more complex, with his status as the 'bad guy' being called into question over the course of the game. It also didn't hurt to get excellent voice actor Troy Baker in to bring Min to life.
Unlike the more linear narrative of Far Cry 3, 4 has branching choices that determine which member of the Golden Path rebellion you follow, leading to different missions and story paths. Far Cry 4 has a variety of ways it can conclude, including a secret ending you can trigger in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Gameplay is similar to Far Cry 3 but with a couple of new additions. Thanks to the added elevation of the rocky Himalayan mountains, Ajay has a grappling hook you can use to scale certain cliffs, and he acquires a small helicopter that lets you go almost anywhere on the map. Or you can choose to take the scenic route aboard an elephant.
Expanding on previous games' outposts, there are four major fortresses the player must capture in Far Cry 4. While these larger, tougher camps can still be done solo, you are also given the option to bring in a co-op buddy to help you take them down. The explosive mayhem of Far Cry is greatly enhanced with a buddy, but you can't do any story missions co-op and player two won't carry over any progress back to their game.
Far Cry 4 sold well and was praised as an improvement over 3 but some were disappointed in how it felt merely like more of the same, which is understandable given the short time gap between the two games.
Far Cry Primal (PS4, Xbox One, PC, 2016)
There's something to be said about Far Cry's willingness to try new and interesting settings with each new game and the peak of this is Far Cry Primal. Set in 10,000 B.C., you play as a primitive human tribe's hunter, seeking revenge on a tribe of cannibals that destroyed his village. It's impressive the lengths Ubisoft went for the authenticity of the setting, going so far as to invent their own dialect based on a reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language.
Without any guns, combat has greater focus on melee but otherwise many of the Far Cry staples fit right in. You're still climbing towers to reveal the map and taking over camps to unlock new activities. The newest change is the ability to tame and summon animals. Birds can scout out camps and tag enemies for you, and a sabertooth tiger can rush in with you during an attack.
The response to Far Cry Primal was a rather mixed one. Some love the game's unique setting and enjoyed the ability to tame animals. Others feel it was simply another Far Cry with a different skin. Being released only a year-and-a-half after Far Cry 4, the fatigue people were already starting to feel towards the series grew even stronger. Ubisoft would give the series a longer break before it would return.
Far Cry 5 (PS4, Xbox One, PC, 2018)
Announced in 2017 and releasing on March 27, 2018, Far Cry 5 takes the series to the USA in fictional Hope County, Montana. The area has been taken over by a militia doomsday cult run by Joseph Seed who has established himself has a religious figurehead. For the first time you get to create your own protagonist, and you must then team up with the locals to help them take back their homes.
The timing of Far Cry 5's setting and themes created quite a stir given the current political climate of the US. Ubisoft's says there's no connection with current political events, but it understands that comparisons will inevitably be drawn.
The gameplay expands co-op further than we saw in Far Cry 4, and when not playing with another human, there are AI buddies you can summon to assist you. These include Nick the pilot or animals such as Boomer the dog and a bear named Cheeseburger. Towers have been removed, with new sections of the map unlocked by simply exploring and talking to the area's cast of characters. Otherwise, Far Cry 5 provides much of the same fun Far Cry we've all gotten to know.
For 14 years, Far Cry as a series has evolved and changed in dramatic ways. It's not afraid to try new and weird settings, and even though its narratives have never been top-notch, they typically feature interesting and compelling characters. It continues to push its open-world sandbox and expand upon the freedom of player expression though gameplay. Everyone loves Far Cry for their own reasons, and lets hope the series continues to push forward and evolve in the future.