Pretty much everyone who was playing video games in 2011 knows what the definition of insanity was. The build up to the release of Far Cry 3 had pretty well defined it through the psychotic voice and manner of the almost instantly iconic arch villain of the piece, and it’s in this character’s shadow that each successive Far Cry game has been built.
Try as Ubisoft might to surpass their former works, Vaas will – for many – be their favourite villain in the series, and Far Cry 3 likely the game from which they have the fondest memories (even if the whole “frat boy goes to save the natives” narrative hasn’t aged well).
For Far Cry 6, Ubisoft are stepping back to revisit the villains of the previous three main games in the series, slipping players into their shoes to re-explore and maybe re-litigate some of the events of those games. The first of these, Insanity, delves into Vaas’ tortured mind, creating a surreal new world to explore and a thoroughly different experience to the mainline Far Cry series. In fact, it’s a borderline roguelike, or at least something that draws heavily from the genre.
Vaas’ mind is a bizarre, twisted volcanic island that lifts inspirations from locations and characters from Far Cry 3, all the while haunted by the voice of Citra and the persistent douchebaggery of Jason Brody – stepping out of Brody’s body for once, you get to see the wild bloodlust that fills his eyes. There’s a giant stone dagger jutting out of one part of the world, a familiar pirate camp, Dr. Earnhardt’s house, and more to visit as well.
But to get there, you have to navigate the world and battle versions of the Rakyat that patrol the island in numbers. You start off with just a pistol, but for each kill you get, the body pops into a cloud of black smoke, leaving behind ammunition and coins. These you can take back to your safe base and spend to unlock permanent character buffs and weapon upgrades.
To get new weapons, though, you’ll need to take on combat trials that are dotted across the landscape, throwing waves of these spectral foes at you with varying degrees of difficulty so that they might unlock the weapon type permanently for you.
I say permanently, because this DLC does take some inspiration from the Roguelike genre. The island always stays the same, but if you die then you lose all of your accrued gear and Powers – passive buffs and abilities.
It can be a real challenge, though starts off relatively easy. You have two safe havens and as you navigate the constrained island enemies will steadily filter in a couple at a time, made all the easier once you’ve unlocked the bow. It comes to a head at the main focal points of the island, whether taking on one of the many weapon trials or the mission areas that step back and pay homage to Far Cry 3, the game now throwing more enemies at you at a time. There’s also a Mind Level that determines the strength of the enemies increases as you gain more weapons and permanent traits.
It’s intended for you to die, reset and start almost from scratch each time you fail, so it’s really just a step on the path to success, but if it is a bit much for your skills or determination to succeed, you have two options. You can grab a buddy and play in co-op, or you can swap from Action difficulty to Story Mode difficulty, which dramatically reduces enemy difficulty, letting you grab upgrades that you need.
As for Vaas’ story, as someone whose first real experience with Far Cry came with the third entry, it’s nice to revisit the ever-so-memorable character. Yes, it’s obviously a play to the nostalgia that many people have for the game, but the way that Ubisoft frames it, plays with the events of Far Cry 3 and expands on Vaas’ story in various ways is enjoyable. It’s probably not essential – this isn’t going to transform any future playthroughs of Far Cry 3 – but it’s worthwhile for the diehard fans.