Some video game series fall into a trap of releasing a new iteration every year. Far Cry is not one of them. In fact, instead of getting caught up in a regimented schedule, Ubisoft does something different. It takes breaks between the games. But then, in the meantime, its studios do something special. It takes chances. We get to see games that may or may not have anything to do with the preceding installments. It experiments with new ideas and adventure, giving people unexpected games with unusual mechanics. And, in a way, those spin-offs can be even more amazing than the main series’ installments.
First, let’s go over how the Far Cry spin-offs got started. It all began in 2013. Prior to Far Cry 3, major add-ons and expansions weren’t really a thing that happened with console games. Far Cry 2 dabbled with DLC, adding things like extra weapons, vehicles, and maps. But with this installment, Ubisoft did something different. It put together Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, a standalone expansion that dared to be different. It took the engine and systems we remembered from the main installment, but went completely off of the rails.
Which is part of what made Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon so good. It was a neon dystopia that was designed to offer an alternate vision of 2007, albeit through the eyes of someone in the 1980’s. There are laser guns. Our character is a cyborg super-soldier. There are dragons and AI going out of control. We even go dimension tripping! Yet despite all that, it remains a fairly linear experience. We have freedom, but it is not overwhelming. Rather, it is a a cohesive and awesome experience for someone who wants the concept of Far Cry, but something totally different. It worked.
It also led to more such experiments. Namely, between Far Cry 4 and Far Cry 5, we saw Far Cry Primal. This title was its own thing, unconnected to any other entry, and took us all the way back. Namely, it showed us things could be just as chaotic and rough even in the Mesolithic Age. Players followed Takkar, who had to deal with prehistoric wild animals and rival tribes, rather than modern day animals and violent gang/despot/mercenary groups. Ubisoft Montreal made it real, creating an actual language, and made things a little more raw and reliant on survival and creating a new, safe, peaceful village. It was unorthodox, but also incredibly different and unique.
Now, we have another contender. Far Cry 5 has paved the way for Far Cry: New Dawn. Like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, this is a standalone expansion. It looks at what could have happened if things went very wrong in Montana with Joseph Seed and his cult. It’s an after-nuclear-attacks look at a world where people are rebuilding, others are attacking those rebuilding to take what they have, and the environment is in the middle of a super bloom due to how dry things are. It will be a new and unique experience in a variation of the same setting, with some mechanics from and the same engine as Far Cry 5. Plus, we’ll have Mickey and Lou’s Highwaymen bandits to face. It seems promising.
Frankly, it feels like Ubisoft is really on the right track with the Far Cry games that fall outside of normal expectations. It gives the developers a chance to be creative. New mechanics and concepts can be brought it. They can be silly, by bringing in cyborgs and blood dragons. They can be historical, but looking at a possible past. They can even offer an alternate take on a possible mainstay. In each instance, it is great to see just how much freedom the games get.