Ubisoft is known in the industry for its sprawling open worlds, each bringing a new flavor through interesting side activities, historical accuracy, and gorgeous visuals. Far Cry achieves the latter especially well, as its recreation of the American South, lofty Himalayas, or the tropical Rook Island ‘paradise’ have conjured so much fun for millions of fans worldwide. It’s one of the things that the 18-year-old series is the most known for, but perhaps the property’s most defining factor is the characters each game presents, and more specifically the inclusion of a menacing, evil, and iconic villain.
Vaas Montenegro is one of the finest baddies in gaming, finding a place alongside the likes of Handsome Jack, Kefka Palazzo, and Ganondorf, and Pagan Min carried on the legacy of Far Cry wielding a strong antagonist. Interactions with them were always memorable, and the journey that the protagonist goes on feels all the more challenging because there is always a scary and overbearing presence that is pushing back against the player. Villains have taken a backseat somewhat in recent years in comparison to the series’ heyday, and to continue making the same mistake in Far Cry 7 would truly be the definition of insanity.
Far Cry is a Villain Factory
Though the Jackal in Far Cry 2 was a high point for the 2008 release, Far Cry 3 felt like a refresh in all the best ways, and its success started with Michael Mando’s brilliant performance as Vaas Montenegro. He’s cold, impulsive, eccentric, and supremely evil, caring little about the fate of Jason Brody as he torments him throughout the game’s first half. There’s a reason he’s the poster child and not the protagonist, and while he departs the story around the halfway point, his positive impact on the narrative is evident. He set a standard for all games, and with Far Cry 3 releasing just two months after Borderlands 2, the fall of 2012 was a great time for villains in gaming.
Far Cry 4 had the impossible task of following its predecessor, as the expectation of a great villain among fans was evident. Pagan Min’s unnerving politeness and overconfidence makes him a stark contrast to the unpredictability of Vaas or the powerful, yet mentally fragile and calculated Hoyt Volker. However, while he was a great character, he lived in the shadow of something truly great, and when Far Cry 5 released in 2018 the franchise was truly fighting a losing battle, as Joseph Seed’s evil deeds only seemed to be prevalent in cutscenes and had little impact on the game going on around the story being told.
Far Cry’s Villains Set it Apart
Fans of Far Cry flock to each release for the interesting environments, fun shooter-based gameplay, and potential for amusing exploration moments. Narrowly avoiding death while fighting a tiger in Far Cry 4 or discovering a school of sharks out at sea around the Rook Islands in Far Cry 3 provoke moments of wonder, but more iconic still is the monologue given by Vaas as he has Jason Brody trapped in a cage. Sitting down with Pagan Min at the start of Far Cry 4 sets up the whole game marvelously, and so the adventure that kicks off from there feels like Ajay Ghale is fighting back against an all-seeing presence.
Far Cry 7 would be remiss to not feature a compelling villain, as it would neglect a series component that has been such a high point for the Ubisoft-developed IP. The way they are implemented is as important though, as it cannot continue to feel as though the antagonist is only dangerous to the protagonist during cutscenes when the player doesn’t have direct control. It would be all too easy to insist that the seventh mainline game in the series reverts to the format it used ten years prior, but shifting the focus back to the villains would be wise, as it has shown to be effective in crafting a great experience and retaining a strong fanbase.
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