OPINION: My biggest takeaway from a recent preview session with Far Cry 6 is the feel of the game - and it feels bloody fun.
Cruising around a fictional Caribbean island ruled by evil buggers, causing mayhem, occasionally raining missiles down on your enemies from a super-powered backpack called a 'Supremo' - it's just the sort of escapism I need as this real-world pandemic rages on and on, and on. And on.
My favourite game in this series so far is Far Cry 3 and this upcoming release is probably the closest to it in tone since. That's probably intentional - I mean, a segment in which you use a flamethrower to set fire to a plantation as music blasts is pretty on the nose as a reference to that 2012 hit.
But the trailers for Far Cry 6 may have teased something more sinister than what it actually is. This thing knows it's silly and embraces that, much to its credit.
The segments with El Presidente Antón Castillo, portrayed by Giancarlo Esposito, are definitely sinister; but the feel of the gameplay is very much comic book style, arcadey thrills.
How arcadey and comic book-y? Well, I've already mentioned shooting a bunch of smart rockets out of your backpack, but you can also get a friendly crocodile or huge rooster to cartoonishly rip your enemies limb-from-limb.
Indeed, this is a hyper violent game, but mostly in a way designed to make you laugh rather than grimace. So when you perform a melee kill with your machete, it's as if the enemy has a water blaster hooked into their arteries - I'm talking geysers of blood shooting out spectacularly.
When you heal yourself, you don't just apply bandages, no. Instead, you use pliers to yank projectiles out of your flesh or take a puff on a cigar and then squish its burning end into a bullet hole.
If your crocodile or rooster is shot to death by an enemy, it doesn't die, but instead is "down". Simply giving it a quick pat will magically revive it. Woo hoo! They also magically teleport around the map too.
This over-the-top stuff is lovely and very in keeping with what makes the Far Cry franchise what it is.
In my preview of Far Cry 6 I didn't hear any line as funny as one of my favourites from Far Cry 3, when a semi-alerted baddie would exclaim: "Whoever you are, you better be a stripper!"
But that sometimes goofy tone is definitely present, and that's a very good thing. It's a good part of why I loved Far Cry 3 so much, despite not really enjoying the main games that have come since.
The classic open-world elements like clearing checkpoints and doing side missions are as rewarding as ever, and the Caribbean setting of Yara somehow makes these extra cool.
Being the first Far Cry made for new-gen consoles is also extra cool. It runs at native 4K resolution at 60 frames per second on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, making all the carnage super high fidelity and smooth to watch.
The particle effects in explosions are particularly impressive.
Another way you can really get a sense of that new-gen power is when you take to the skies in a helicopter. With no load times or pauses, what appears to be tens of thousands of trees and structures can be seen spread into the distance out over a vast map in a way that just wouldn't have been possible a few years ago.
As well as commanding killer animal companions as you take down enemy bases, you can also handily ride around the island on horseback - particularly handy for evading roadblocks that are designed to stop vehicle tyres rather than galloping hooves.
So what's not to like?
I played a few hours of the game in an unfinished state and overall very much enjoyed it. But there are a couple of things I'm a little concerned about.
Some of it was a bit too easy, in ways like, you have a map but don't need to use it. It could be so obvious where to go, you basically just have to push the stick forward and you're doing alright.
Hopefully the bits like that were just tutorials - they were very early in-game and it should get more immersive and less like your hand is being held as the game progresses. But then the Supremo feels quite overpowered, too.
Some of the dialogue broke the immersion a bit too, smacking of info being delivered to me the player rather than anything the characters would actually say in the game world.
But also, as far as the narrative goes, the sinister scenes with an evil dictator murdering civilians and such alongside ludicrous scenes of a much more cartoonish nature may make for an uncomfortable jumping back and forth between tone.
I'll only know if they pull that off or not once I've sunk many more hours into the game, which I fully intend to do when it's released.
I really can't wait to get to know the new weapons better, especially all the awesome powers of the Supremo. Exploring all the areas of Yara and meeting all its colourful characters should also be really fun, and I'm really intrigued about the Antón Castillo storyline, which I only got a teeny taste of.
But mostly I'm looking forward to more of the laidback, ultraviolent thrills of Far Cry 6, which feel like the best this franchise has had to offer since Far Cry 3.
The game is set for release on October 7 on PC, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Stadia and Amazon Luna.