Review Price to be confirmed
Available on PS4 (previewed), Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
Far Cry 4 release date: November 21
During our E3 2014 Far Cry 4 demo, we were tasked with infiltrating an enemy base via three means: either by air, by elephant or in secret, armed with a cross bow. It gave us a brief look at the graphics to be offered by the new-gen Far Cry.
GamesCom though, was a little different, taking us through two separate missions and really showing off some of the game’s new features and its stunning locale - the Himalayan Kyrat.
First we tackled what was called the Mountain mission. The aim was to take out a clan chief with a knife, but you had to get to him through a mob of his henchmen before you could do that.
When the mission loads we’re situated high up a mountain, armed only with a crossbow, a half dozen throwing knives and a small blade for melee attacks.
Ubisoft’s attention to detail even at these heights with the snow-filled wind blowing through is simply stunning. Protagonist Ajay Ghale is wearing some heavy, sheepskin-lined gloves, which twitch around the crossbow, keeping moving in the cold.
The devs explained that thinning atmosphere and lack of oxygen will play a part in your adventures on the mountain-tops in the main game. It wasn’t shown in this demo, but the cold was evident by our shifting footsteps when standing still.
However, we weren’t standing still for long. Between snow flurries, you could make out a small enemy stronghold a little way below, across a cavernous expanse. This is where one of Far Cry 4’s new abilities comes into play: the wing suit.
Leaping off the edge of the cliff automatically equips the wing suit and you’ll be able to drift to new locations. It’s very responsive when flying, so you’ll need to keep check on your height and any nearby mountain outcrops. When nearing the camp, we released the parachute, which brought us to a quick landing in the snow.
Now, to tackle the mission you had a choice of two approaches, either taking on the goons head on by bursting through the front door, or heading around one of the side routes for the stealth approach. We took to the latter option and once we’d found a secluded yet elevated perch, we whipped out the camera.
Also making an appearance in Far Cry 3, the camera can be used to tag enemies, animals and targets to make your mission more manageable. We spotted the target up the back of the camp, with around 8 men patrolling in between.
The crossbow is a great weapon and can take out foes from quite a distance. At this stage at least, wind speed and other factors don’t come into consideration. But it is fantastic for taking out a slew of enemies soundlessly.
Like other stealth games, Far Cry 4 really rewards the patient players. A few enemies did catch sight of a dead body and start looking for me, but with careful planning, we managed to reach the target without dying.
As the mission outlined, we had to take him out with a knife. You can prepare the throwing knifes by equipping them and holding down RT until you’ve got your target in your sights. After taking him down, our contact asked for a picture as proof and then asked us to meet him at the bottom of the mountain, adding that he hoped we “enjoy the ride”.
And that we did. Making sure to line up our jump, we leapt off the mountain again with the wing suit and soared to the bottom. Passing enemies positioned on suspended bridges, helicopters and multiple narrow passes along the way, the entire experience was exhilarating.
Far Cry 4 shines on the new-gen consoles, the graphics and weather effects are literally breathtaking at points. Ubisoft has also managed to portray the sensation of falling rapidly through the air without too many gimmicks.
Following the Mountain mission, we were transported to Shangri-La, one of Far Cry 4’s more unusual locations. One of the developers explained that these almost alternate reality levels are accessible by reading the tapestries found in the main game. Once found, Ghale meditates and you are transported into these legendary locations. The journey through these missions are Ubisoft’s attempt to tell players the mythology of Nepal, offering an alternative, more mystical side to the game’s main despotic storyline.
Shangri-La is very surreal, vibrant and simply bizarre. You play as an ancient Kyrat warrior armed with a rather unusual bow, which is capable of slowing down time when you pull back the arrow. Four glowing lights embedded in the bow itself let you know how much time’s left before enemies start moving in real time.
You are located in a temple within a world coloured with red and yellow tones - a world away from the exemplary realism found in the main game. The map is made up of floating islands and ruined temples, which are inhabited by shimmering dark forces.
As with the main game, you’ll be asked to scout out routes, mark targets and use stealth to reach the next temple, but you’ll also have a great tool to help you out. In Shangri-La, you have a special feline friend, a beautifully graceful white tiger.
She can be told to go attack specific enemies or she will just despatch any enemies that she comes across. The tiger, combined with that time bending bow, helps you take out even the fastest enemies, dissolving them in a puff of blue powder.
Any attacking in groups are pretty fearsome, while the fire throwing Scorchers are very difficult to take down. Those with arrows will make your vision blur and the voices start if you let them hit you too many times. You’ll need to make sure you use your tiger to your advantage.
At the end of each mystical temple is a portal taking you to the giant enlightenment bell, which takes you to a new temple to tackle.
It all takes a while to get used to, but it’s just as impactful as the main storyline, from what we’ve played so far. The fact they are so distinct should keep the two experiences pretty separate, unless there’s a way the Shangri-La mythology is woven into the main campaign in some way.
Just like E3, we came away from our Far Cry 4 GamesCom demo feeling thoroughly impressed by Ubisoft’s upcoming title. The graphics are some of the best we’ve seen so far and the gameplay in the main missions is just as strong as Far Cry 3, but with more finesse.
The odd blend of more traditional storyline-based combat missions combined with the mythical will provide an interesting gameplay experience in Far Cry 4. But it’s one we’re inherently intrigued by.
The main storyline and the mythical Shangri-La have been developed by two separate Ubisoft Toronto teams, helping really define them as two distinct parts of the Far Cry 4 experience. There have been enough storyline teasers so far to suggest the main campaign will be quite the journey, so we’re expecting the Shangri-La to simultaneously counter-balance and highlight the brutality and strength of the main game.
Read more: Best games 2014
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