When cover star and villain Vaas was killed halfway through Far Cry 3 the game's story takes a sharp dive into boring. Clearly Ubisoft Montreal didn't realise just how good and well-liked Vaas would be, and that extends to the game as a whole.
Far Cry 3 was wildly popular, but fell just shy of greatness because – in part – it seemed Ubisoft didn't quite realise how good a game they had on their hands. It faltered in terms of its story and characters, but succeeded because it was a hell of a lot of fun.
Traversing the expanse of tropical islands by boat, truck, hang glider or wing suit, hunting tigers, komodo dragons, those terrifying cassowarys and capturing enemy outposts made for huge amounts of fun.
Far Cry 4 will offer more of this in a very different location – a fictional region of the Himalayas – with a new plethora of animals to track, hunt and run terrified away from when they leap out of nowhere.
Tigers will be back but elephants (better still RIDABLE elephants) are the stars of the show, with one featuring heavily in the stage demo trotted out at Sony's press conference. Of the new features shown off one in particular caught the eye however – players will be able to invite friends who don't even own the game to join them for co-op play.
It is a potentially huge innovation – but will require downloading an enormous app – that if proven successful others would surely pick up on. How well it will work though remains to be seen.
Ubisoft also appear to have learned from Vaas, making an equally eccentric and flamboyant villain the focal point of their new game. Pagan Min is also the main villain, the eccentric, viscious ruler of Kyrat with a Vaas/Joker-like unhinged quality and passion for knives.
Typically once is enough when it comes to showings at the big conferences, but Far Cry 4's two big displays didn't once outstay their welcome. This is a game people want at a time when next gen console owners are desperate for games only possible on their machines.
In 2014, Far Cry 4 is that game.
What those who played it said:
"The real difference between [this and Far Cry 3 is] in the visuals. The last-gen console versions were poor by comparison to the PC edition, with a shoddy frame rate, draw distance and noticeable audio compression, and while we didn't see PC, at least on PS4 and Xbox One it's now jaw-dropping on a console.
"It's more of the same, essentially, but since Far Cry 3 was one of 2011's best releases, a zanier, prettier adventure in a new snow-capped locale is more than good enough for us." – Matthew Reynolds, Digital Spy UK
"From what I played, Far Cry 4 appears to be a considered iteration of the formula established by Far Cry 3, rather than the significant difference between that game and Far Cry 2. I think of Far Cry 4 as Far Cry 3 in a new world, with new mechanics, new wildlife, new vehicles, and a new story--the Fallout: New Vegas to Fallout 3. This is a strong foundation to build upon, and the experience of simply tackling a larger-size outpost to those featured in Far Cry 3 showed nothing had been lost or upended in the process." - Daniel Hindes, Gamespot