Far Cry 3 Multiplayer Hands-on Impressions -- The Joys of Picturesque People HuntingBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Apr 08, 2012
As we’ve seen in our most recent looks at Ubisoft Montreal’s jungle-icious shooter Far Cry 3, the game is shaping up to be an especially dark and twisted tale of survival amid widespread madness. However, FC3 will also feature a healthy multiplayer component as well, and Ubisoft took advantage of this year’s PAX East to give players a chance to get their insane mitts on some good old-fashioned position-capture/hold human-vs-human action.
Before the match begins, you have the standard option of choosing/customizing your weapon loadout. Primary weapons like assault rifles and shotguns, secondaries such as pistols, grenades, the whole shebang. You can also pick various Battle Cry options like a health boost or more ammo. The Battle Cry is a proximity-based buff for teammates in your immediate area. In addition to standard kills and reviving players, the Battle Cry is another way for you to rack up Team Support Points, which are put towards larger perks like a radar scan of the map that reveals enemy locations or the option of dropping napalm on enemy positions.
The first thing I noticed when my match began was how stunning the game looks even in its pre-alpha stage. Hardly surprising give the graphics-melting visuals on display in single-player, but having that same level of detail in a multiplayer mode immediately gives FC3’s multiplayer a distinct look and feel. The texture work, the lighting, the physics and explosions, they all have an impressive amount of polish to them, even at this early stage.
For this session, the game mode, Domination, was a typical “capture and hold three key objectives to earn the most points” deal. The match played out in a shipyard map called Sub Pen, complete with a metal shanty village and picturesque dock area. The variety in elevation between the different sections keeps the running and gunning strategically challenging as well as visually fresh. Whether it’s weaving in between shacks to avoid in coming fire, using underground tunnels to circle back on enemies, or diving gracefully into the water to either escape or get the drop on enemies camping with their backs to the ocean, you always have traversal options, and that’s always a good thing.
In action, the multiplayer feels consistent with what Far Cry fans have come to expect from the series. It has a bit more weight to it than a Call of Duty, but the moment-to-moment gameplay is fast and fluid. It can feel a bit punishing at first, thanks to little details like how your gun tilts progressively more upwards when you get shot, making it harder for you to return fire, or that this particular map's layout makes it hard to see enemies coming, but it’s nothing a little practice can’t help alleviate.
Oftentimes in multiplayer shooters, my initial reaction to being killed is, “That’s crap! That guy barely hit me!” And while there still was a fair bit of this type of response on my part, FC3's nifty kill cam system let me see how each of the bullets added up to my unfortunately frequent deaths. Not only does it show you who killed you and where your death came from, but also where each bullet hit you via a nifty ghost feature. It also tells you what weapon the person was using and what their health was at the time of your expiration to learn you just a little bit more.
When you do fall from another’s lead barrage, you have the option of tapping A (on an Xbox 360 controller) to cling to life in the hopes that a teammate will come along and revive you. You can only be revived once before you just have to respawn. Since my hands-on time was brief, I opted for the straight up respawn option to save time, but in matches where kills/deaths really matter, there will be no shortage of folks hitting that A to hold on for just a few more seconds.
I'm not sure exactly what's in the cards as far as vehicle usage in multiplayer, but my fingers are crossed that Ubisoft takes a little cue from Battlefield and includes some truly open maps to allow for large scale showdowns. Just the thought of shooting someone in a hang-glider with a rocket launcher makes me grin with joy. This would also fit perfectly with the game's open-world, sandbox DNA.
For now though, it looks like FC3 is aiming to replicate the multiplayer experience shooter fans know and love in other games but delivering it in the prettiest package possible. It will take a lot more than 10 minutes to decide if this is the right approach, but I'm guessing we'll be seeing plenty more from Far Cry 3 between now and it's release later this year, so I'll curb my doubts until then.
Nikole "Island Hopper" Zivalich played along side me at our demo, and in addition to lies about lack of support on my part, she had this to say:
While checking out the Ubisoft booth at PAX East 2012, Jake "Classy" Gaskill and I fought on the blue team. We had one mission: make the red team bleed! We actually had two missions, that first one, and capturing a series of bases scattered throughout the jungle map.
There were several loadouts to choose from, and I chose the assault rifle, because I fear change. Shooting mechanics felt similar to Call of Duty, or any other comparable FPS. It was fast paced, the guns felt balanced, and I sucked. I went through every complaint in the book during this play session, "Lag!", "Hackers!", "I shot first!" I felt like there were numerous times where I got out a few rounds which resulted in nothing, and then my enemy let off one bullet and I was killed instantly. Except, you don't die instantly, you have a few seconds to frantically tap A to "cling to life." This allows a team member to revive you, which never happened.
I often found myself wishing for a quicker death, completely ignoring the A button. There wasn't really a sense of teamwork amongst the players. Even Classy Jake didn't revive me (Jake: There was no time!). Of course, it's worth noting this was just a random group of strangers playing who have never played before. But I do feel like the best multiplayer games are the ones that encourage team work, rather than simply allowing it.
Like the majority of FC3, the map we played was largely surrounded by jungle. One of bases we had to secure was a fishery, which was adjacent to a river. Overall the map was bright, a far cry (get it) from the drab brown and grey maps were see in most shooters. This map seemed more akin to Uncharted than it did Call of Duty, but again, that's the nature of the game's setting, which should give the multiplayer a decidedly different feel from other shooters out there.
If we can all put aside the fact that I sucked at Far Cry 3's multiplayer, I can say I did enjoy it in a weird, self-loathing kind of way. I only played one round so I think it's understandable that my skills weren't where they needed to be, but unlike other multiplayer games where I suck and give up, I wanted to get better. I wanted to keep playing.
That wasn't an option because the next group of gamers were taking their seats. I think it says a lot about a game if a person can struggle at it, but want to keep playing. Far Cry 3's multiplayer feels just different enough that I want to know what it's about. I'll get to find out for sure when Far Cry 3 is released on September 4, 2012.