Far Cry 6’s Brutality Is What Keeps It Going

Hand me a gun, point me at the evil dictator, and let me tear through paradise: that’s the winning formula for most games in the Far Cry series. It's a very successful and engaging formula, at first. With the prospect of blood on the sand and mayhem in the streets, the promise of a trustworthy game engine and fine-tuned gameplay mechanics, I find myself going into each new installment excited about the setting and villain.

Somewhere along the way I even convince myself that it's this Far Cry, this one, that'll see the return of the innovation the series was originally commended for. And yet, somewhere right around the middle, it always falls apart. By the time each game's ending approaches, I realize that it's my apathy for strongholds and side missions that have become the true antagonist, and that the only reason I'm pushing through is to arrive at a resolution, to see the revolution through. In a series whose most famous quote comes from the act of doing the same thing over and expecting a different result, I ask: Why do I do this to myself? With Far Cry 6, that reason has finally become abundantly clear: I just want more violence.

Far Cry 6 is a bloodbath, set on the fictional island of Yara that has seen some exceptionally messy coups, uprisings, and civil wars that set the tone for an entire generation. It’s a blood-drenched background, and now as Dani Rojas, you are running around Yara killing indiscriminately. It doesn’t pay to show mercy in this country and every ounce of combat is vicious. Melee attacks splash red everywhere, bullets puncture bodies and cause horrible gasps, as the screams of someone set on fire echo off the Yaran architecture. Even if the battle was quick and easy, we know we’ve been in a gruesome fight.

The man at the head of the organization this time is President Antón Castillo, and like Joseph Seed of the previous entry, he has a cast of lieutenants and yes-men who our hero must tear through first before taking down the evil empire. Each of these mid-level minions controls an area of the island country and has their own set of missions to get close to them. In most cases, the world-building during those quests gives good enough reason to hate the target, but a cutscene usually cements their sadistic ways, so that no one feels bad when they are eventually slaughtered in horrible retaliation.

Initially, we see our friends murdered, then witness the torture of our allies, seeing some become martyrs for your cause. As the war wages on, we turn the tide and turn the screw. As each major target is defeated, they meet a fitting end. The man who tried to kill you with a helicopter, Jose Castillo, suffers a fiery crash. But that isn’t enough, as we see Espada shove a grenade deeper, and further back into his mouth, breaking his teeth and making sure there is no way to remove it. Then we watch his head explode, as the two heroes walk away, enjoying the cigarettes they stole from him.

There are a few other scenes like this, expressions of brutality, as the characters deal death around every corner in excess. They’re usually followed up by something quite cold, to tug at emotions or build up the psychological cruelty. We then see Maria Marquessa gunned down, shot with half a clip when the first few rounds were enough to kill her, leaving the dead body up for broadcast for several long moments before Dani finally takes out the camera. When Castillo is informed, he tells his son of the woman’s passing, “your mother is dead.” We’re shown that the child was kept away from her and had no motherly figure, which causes some conflicted feelings.

The obvious thematic moment involves Admiral Benitez, a woman who Castillo pushed up the ranks and threatened to have her head on a pike if results weren’t achieved. The guerillas get to her first, however, and treat the Admiral just as she did the locals earlier. She’s strung up, hung like a fish, dangled on display where young rebels can take selfies and celebrate in front of her body. It’s a savage and over-the-top display, and one of the original freedom fighters, Lucky Mama, even warns them what the sight looks like. It sends the message that the new regime will be just like the old one, and that the violence will continue, even if the targets change. This is a strong lesson, perfectly delivered, and is one of the scenes that stuck with me even after completing the game.

Far Cry 6’s last few chapters give you a lot to chew on: what’s acceptable when leading a country into the future, who is truly innocent in war, and what fate awaits the losers of the conflict. We see Castillo’s cruelty throughout the game, not just in the deaths he orders, and the tools he uses, but how brutish he is to his own blood. When his nephew, Jose, shoots Diego’s last target, Castillo makes the man run and has his son shoot him with buckshot. When that same nephew fails him and dies a horrendous death, Castillo calls him weak and burns the church his burial is taking place in, erasing any reverence for him.

This all leads up to the ending itself, when there is nothing left to stop Dani. Castillo asks if she will make sure his son is taken care of, but the dictator kills his offspring instead, before slitting his own throat. Some may say he did this to save Diego from a life similar to his, having to watch his father killed in front of him and remaining behind as a reminder of the defeated regime, but he’s never shown that kind of mercy. It was his way of soiling the victory, taking away part of the satisfaction, and offering one final teachable moment in cruelty taught through blood. Castillo says that the last lesson is ‘death’, but in truth, it’s an act of brutality to ensure the cycle repeats itself. It’s also to leave us surprised and angry.

For some people, the violence is there to enhance a mediocre game. That’s why we love shows like Sons of Anarchy so much; when a simple bullet would do, there’s always a way to make it bloodier, to make it memorable. It’s hard to admit my desire for the violence, but I have to be honest about how much it does for me. I’ll play the next Far Cry game too, just to watch the carnage.

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