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Far Cry 4

Gamescom 2014: Far Cry 4 Hands-on Preview – Welcome to Shangri-La

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Remember Far Cry 3's trippy hallucination sequences? Well, they're not making a comeback for Far Cry 4. Instead, you'll find yourself whisked away into elaborate tapestries – or rather 'thangkas' - dotted around the game's open-world of Kyrat, transporting you to the warm, colourful, and somewhat surreal realm of Shangri-La. You'll assume the mantle of legendary warrior Kalinag, armed with a powerful bow and a knife, his faithful white tiger (AKA 'the protector' of Shangri-La) by your side.

Fighting through a small army of demons known as the Rakshasa, our objective as Kalinag is to reach the Bell of Enlightenment, which involves traversing the land by passing through portals, pacing through temples and climbing vines to ledges, all while methodically picking off marauding enemies one by one. Aiming Kalinag's bow slows time, while the amber cells embedded into its upper limb keep track of how long you're able to maintain your slow-mo ability, as you line up headshots. Should things get too hectic, you can send your tiger into the thick of the action to help out by savaging demons with its mighty jaws.

Shangri-La might look inviting with its russet hues and soothing pale yellow skies, but those pesky Rakshasa demons are sneaky little shits, springing attacks from any angle at any time. Lurkers are the most basic of the Rakshasa, equipped with bows and an ability to conjure weird, emaciated hounds that rush towards you and explode in a plume of blue smoke. It's the Butchers who manage to catch us unawares for the most part, teleporting as we attack them only to reappear somewhere else, while taking down a Scorcher demon requires a joint effort, with Kalinag's white tiger serving as a distraction, allowing us to move and flank for an execution with our blade.

Sending in the tiger to help numerous times soon takes its toll, however, and we quickly learn that the protector is tough, but far from invincible. He'll die when under duress, but will return after a short wait, during which you're incredibly vulnerable, especially given the number of enemies that crawl out of the woodwork. Dealing with them using your bow can be a slow process, so using the tiger to your advantage is vital, if only to create some breathing room.

Pushing forward, the destruction wrought by the Rakshasa is plain to see, in the bloody rituals they've carried out, leaving slaughtered animals and entrails scattered around Shangri-La’s sacred temples. Locating the Bell of Enlightenment, we set about liberating it by cutting the ropes binding it, before a huge black bird descends upon us and marks the end to this section of our hands-on demo.

This is just part one in our hands-on session, however, as we're taken to the arctic-white climes of the Himalayas. Here, we're tasked with killing one of Pagan Min's lieutenants and providing photographic evidence of their demise, with stealth being the suggested approach. Ajay Ghale's entry into the eccentric despot's compound channels the spirit of an extreme sports James Bond, swooping in using a wingsuit. And after an embarrassing failed attempt in which we plough face first into a cliff face, we're able to successfully get our boots on the ground having sailed majestically over a wide valley.

Armed with a natty crossbow, we're able to adopt a stealthy approach to move deeper into the heavily guarded facility, silently executing patrolling guards and closing in on our target. Like Far Cry 3, Gale has a camera he can use to scope out the area, marking enemies to assess what he's facing. The trouble is, we spent too long in Shangri-La, and we're funnelled out of the demo room as our hands-on is cut short. Pagan Min's lieutenant will have to wait for another day. Dammit.

Despite only getting a few minutes within the snowy landscape of the Himalayas, we come away with impressions from two wildly contrasting environments in Far Cry 4. The five thangkas weavings that'll take you to Shangri-La will see you piecing together an intriguing legend, eventually seeing parallels emerge between Kalinag and Ajay. Meanwhile, back in Kyrat, it seems that we can expect a similar experience to the one we enjoyed in Far Cry 3 back in 2012, what with outposts to liberate and a madman that you share a bizarre, ambiguous relationship with.

Far Cry 4 is showing a great deal of promise, with diverse locations to explore, an ecosystem of dangerous fauna and a depth of content that we're hoping will encourage plenty of exploration and discovery. At present, we're failing to see just how much it differs from its predecessor beyond the new location and cast of characters, with gameplay that feels instantly familiar. Far Cry 3 was a fantastic game, of course, so if Far Cry 4 is potentially more of the same, is that such a bad thing?

Far Cry 4 is scheduled to launch on November 18th, 2014 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and PC.


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Game Info
Ubisoft Montreal


US November 18, 2014
Europe November 18, 2014
Japan January 22, 2015

Price: $39.99USD
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