We’re nearly a year into the Xbox One’s life, and Ubisoft’s Far Cry 4 already stands out as one of the most forward-thinking shooters of this generation. The Southeast Asian setting is undeniably gorgeous, but the publisher has also demonstrated closer looks at what is perhaps the series’ most significant trademark: action that plays out in unexpected ways thanks to smartly designed, procedurally generated content from a complex array of systems.
Take, for instance, the demo mission Ubisoft let attendees play back in June at E3: You could choose to fly the game’s new gyrocopter around the enemy base, piloting the vehicle and using your single-handed weapons to take out enemies while you fly. You might also choose infiltrate their barracks and take them out stealthily, or perhaps ride an elephant into the base and smash it to bits.
You could, however, even alter that third option into a fourth by firing your pistol at the feet of the elephants (once in position), effectively sending them into a crazed state and doing the dirty work for you. This is sandbox-style gameplay at some of its finest to date.The developers at Ubisoft Montreal think of their game as a big, systemic toy that can be tackled from many angles. A grappling hook allows players to climb up the sides of mountains and buildings, allowing for further strategic play throughout the Far Cry 4’s open-world environment.
You can also throw bait to lure animals where you want them, or merely watch them interact with one another: Eagles pluck goats from the mountaintops, jungle cats stalk various prey (which dart away once they realize they’ve been spotted), and the like. And though it may seem like a small addition, the new ability to kick objects (rocks, barrels, people) and watch them tumble down hills and over cliffs makes for some genuinely exciting, reactive moments.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering: Yes, the wingsuit from Far Cry 3 is back in action, and more fun than ever in the game’s vast, mountainous setting. Throw in a secondary human element to bounce gameplay ideas off of – the game supports drop-in/drop-out cooperative play, for the first time in the series – and you’ve got what looks to be a very entertaining multiplayer sandbox.
Far Cry 4 launches on November 18 for Xbox One and Xbox 360.