Best Far Cry Games, Ranked: Looking Back On The Series Ahead Of Far Cry 6
Few first-person shooter series have had the longevity of Far Cry, with a legacy going back more than 17 years and eight main titles released during that period–soon to be nine with the launch of Far Cry 6. It has also gone through some drastic changes and experiments over that time, ranging from the mutant enemies driving the plot of the original game to a return to the stone age in Far Cry Primal. Open-world chaos has been at the heart of Far Cry since the beginning, however, whether the game was set in the snowy Himalayas or the plains of Montana. We ranked the best Far Cry games from worst to best so you know which ones are must-plays and which ones are you-should-probably-still-plays.
8. Far Cry 5
Far Cry 5
One of the only real swing-and-misses in the Far Cry series–the dumpster fire crossover Trials of the Blood Dragon is the other–Far Cry 5 promises a memorable confrontation with a cult that has apparently strong-armed or seduced the population of rural Montana into joining. Head and self-professed prophet Joseph Seed just isn’t all that charismatic or compelling, nor are his siblings, and most of the game consists of doing quests to tick one of them off enough to confront you directly. There are still the typical Far Cry elements like dangerous animals and goofy side characters–and an excellent level-creation tool–but Far Cry 5 wrote a check it couldn’t cash, especially in its ridiculous (in a bad way) final hours.
See our Far Cry 5 review.
7. Far Cry Primal
Far Cry Primal
Speaking of unique entries in the Far Cry series, the spin-off game Far Cry Primal certainly fits the bill–well, except for using the same basic layout as Far Cry 4 for its map. The game takes place in the Stone Age, replacing guns and explosives with spears, bows, and primitive handheld weapons. Despite this, it’s still very much a Far Cry game, with the wilderness and human enemies both posing real threats to your survival, and a mix of assault and stealth are often necessary to make it out alive. Heavily inspired by the drug-induced Shangri-La missions in Far Cry 4, we haven’t seen anything like Far Cry Primal from the series since, but it proves that history may be the best source for new games’ settings.
See our Far Cry Primal review.
6. Far Cry
Image from updated Far Cry Classic
The only game in the mainline series not developed by Ubisoft, the original Far Cry is, well, a far cry from the later installments. It still retains the fish-out-of-water approach we see in so many of the later games, with Jack Carver finding himself stranded on an island and battling in a seemingly unwinnable war against mercenaries, but it also goes in a more science-fiction direction. The mutant-enemy elements present in the game was abandoned for follow-ups, though that does also make it unique enough to warrant a return trip more than 15 years after it first released.
See our Far Cry review.
5. Far Cry: New Dawn
Far Cry: New Dawn
A sequel to Far Cry 5–and one that feels significantly more cohesive–Far Cry: New Dawn sees the plains of Montana largely reclaimed by nature (and bandits) following a nuclear apocalypse. The game has quite a bit more flair and style than its predecessor, and while its antagonists aren’t as memorable as some of the other games, it has a knack for delivering short, fun side activities and never outstaying its welcome. The game takes place on the same basic map from Far Cry 5, but the aesthetic changes and additional locales you’ll visit during certain missions keep the game from feeling like a retread. A few clever tie-ins to the previous game also make it an essential follow-up, and one that makes Far Cry 5’s confusing ending more palatable.
See our Far Cry: New Dawn review.
4. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
A bit wackier than the typical Far Cry game–and that’s saying something, given the direction of the last few–Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a parody and love letter to neon-soaked action movies of the 1980s. The bite-sized game doesn’t have the same scale as Far Cry 3 or most of the other entries, but playing as the ridiculously named Rex Colt and blasting everything in your path more than makes up for that. Even better? It stars Michael Biehn, who played Kyle Reese in the original two Terminator movies as well as Cpl. Hicks in Aliens. But to video game aficionados, he’s probably best known for being the very strong inspiration for the original Metal Gear’s American box art. Anyway, play Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and skip its terrible pseudo-sequel, the crossover Trials of the Blood Dragon.
See our Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon review.
3. Far Cry 4
Far Cry 4
How do you follow up one of the most acclaimed first-person shooters of a generation? Well, largely by not messing with the formula. Far Cry 4 takes the action from a warm tropical island to a fictional war-torn Himalayan country, and ruler Pagan Min isn’t too happy that you’re there. The game maintains the structure of Far Cry 3–climbing towers to expand the map, clearing outposts, and hunting and gathering for upgrades–but it does manage to maintain its story’s momentum better than Far Cry 3 did. Still, Pagan Min isn’t as memorable as Vaas, nor did the game provide the same sense of surprise and discovery that Far Cry 3 did, though its unique competitive multiplayer mode and Shangri-La sequences did offer a nice bit of variety.
See our Far Cry 4 review.
2. Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2
The most underappreciated entry in the series was the first mainline Far Cry developed by Ubisoft itself, as Crytek had been in charge of the original game. Far Cry 2 takes place in war-torn Africa rather than a bright and colorful tropical island, and you have malaria. If that doesn’t sound difficult enough to deal with, you’ll also have to worry about your weapons occasionally jamming, fires spreading and trapping you in a battle, and destructible environments rendering your cover useless. It’s an incredibly ambitious game, which is not a big surprise when considering that director Clint Hocking also led development on Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and the play-as-anyone sandbox Watch Dogs: Legion. It may have lacked a signature villain or the humor of later games, but it’s an impressive achievement nonetheless.
See our Far Cry 2 review.
1. Far Cry 3
The most iconic game in the entire series and one that set the template for future installments, Far Cry 3 has it all. The tropical island setting is a joy to explore, with wildlife to hunt–and be hunted by–outposts to liberate, vehicles to joyride, and radio towers to climb. The weapons feel excellent, ranging from simple bows and arrows to assault rifles and explosives, as well as a knife that you can use for some creative kills. Even swimming, which is notoriously difficult to nail in a video game, doesn’t get in the way, but the real star of the show is villain Vaas. An erratic and terrifying criminal henchman portrayed by actor Michael Mando, his “definition of insanity” monologue is oft-repeated. Future games included their own big, charismatic villains to hit the same notes, but none of them did it as well as Far Cry 3.
See our Far Cry 3 review.