Far Cry 6 squeezes every drop of enjoyment from an aging formula and while its signature chaotic carnage remains perfect for sheer escapism, the series is growing stale.
Guiding guerilla fighter Dani Rojas from heckling cops on a rooftop to leading a full blown revolution was fun, but often felt like I was going through the motions.
However, if 'more Far Cry' and the mayhem that entails is all you're after, you'll be happy.
You know the drill. After an explosive set piece introducing both a villain and the central cast, you're let loose on a massive open world to take down the big bad's lieutenants one at a time before a climactic showdown.
Far Cry 6 slaps a fresh coat of paint on the format in the form of Yara, a fictional Caribbean nation ruled over by murderous dictator Anton Castillo. To topple the despot, you need to enlist various factions of resistance fighters across the country, from an aged revolutionary hero who's best friend is a tank to a rap rock band who take Rage Against the Machine a bit too seriously.
Yara is the series' largest sandbox, attempting to capture an entire country and mostly succeeding. Divided into sprawling cityscapes, lush jungles and picturesque island atolls, the game looks gorgeous and handles beautifully playing on a PlayStation 5.
While the core gameplay loop hasn't changed since Far Cry 3, battling against an oppressive regime instead of miscellaneous thugs gives the usual 'clear enemy bases to gather resources' formula some welcome gameplay variety and narrative context.
Clearing anti-aircraft sites unlocks sections of the map to safely fly over, destroying military checkpoints gives you rule of the roads and ambushing military supply drops gives you crucial ingredients to upgrade your weapons. There's a tangible sense of clawing the country back from the enemy piece-by-piece and doing so gives you real gameplay benefits.
Of course, for those who want to blow off the revolution and instead hunt rare animals, race cars or explore caves to hunt treasure, there's plenty of that too. Some of the best time I had in Far Cry 6 was hunting down a mystical set of occult armor and weaponry.
The busy work being fun is handy because Far Cry's central story meanders. The supporting cast are charming and Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito performs exactly the same (great!) villain he's been doing for a decade. But the narrative feels toothless, neither crazy enough to shock nor grounded enough to feel meaningful.
It's over the top but doesn't take the wild swings of Far Cry 5. It flirts with making a bigger point about the terrible cost of revolution but doesn't commit to an Apocalypse Now-esque exploration of evil like Far Cry 2.
The result is a story that shoots for both moderate poignancy and balls-to-the-wall mayhem and ends up not being great at either.
The best stories you'll find in Far Cry 6 are instead the miniature ones you create yourself, with your endless supply of both weapons and enemies.
Guilt-free mass murder with an eye-watering arsenal is Far Cry's signature dish and the menu is more extensive than ever. Each gun looks and feels unique, particularly when coupled with the haptic feedback of the PS5.
The game's aesthetic of ragtag resistance fighting with whatever they can get their hands on is best exemplified by the 'Resolver' arsenal: Gleefully batshit special weapons which the developers clearly had fun designing and I had plenty of fun using.
I never knew how much I wanted to shoot down a helicopter using fireworks or kill a squad of soldiers with serrated 'hey macarena' CDs until now. But weapons and gear don't just have character in Far Cry 6, they essentially are your character.
Instead of perks unlocked through a skill tree, all customisation now comes through weapon and armor loadout. Whether its step-silencing stealth boots, a grenade proof chest piece or a night vision facemask, a wardrobe change allows you to slay your way.
But while there's a galaxy of guns and gear on offer, there isn't much incentive to experiment outside of novelty factor. Within my first few hours I had a silenced assault rifle which served me perfectly in almost every situation until near the end of the campaign, where I swapped it out for a slightly better silenced assault rifle.
Spotty enemy AI coupled with the ability to stealth assassinate any enemy at distance pretty quickly crushes the difficulty curve. As for the few times my quiet death rifle wasn't enough - there's the Supremo. This is a customisable backpack weapon which unleashes an ultimate attack once charged, which is achieved of course by killing enough enemies.
But why would I need a stealth attack which disables vehicles and knocks enemies over when the Supremo can simply shoot homing missiles that destroy everything in sight? It's hard for enemies to raise the alarm when they're all dead.
This reflects a deeper problem in Far Cry 6: It boasts an immense amount of content, but doesn't offer enough incentive to engage with it. There's an entire minigame of sending recruitable NPCs on text-based missions for crafting supplies and money, but I so quickly had more than I needed of both that the minigame became pointless.
There's some basic base building mechanics which offer rewards you don't really need. There's unique weapons to hunt down but they're almost always less useful than a silenced sniper rifle.
There's a lot to do but only some of it is fun and barely any of it is necessary.
There's more of everything in Far Cry 6.
More guns, more exploration, more vehicles, more enemies, more endless boxes to tick on a minimap. For many players that will be enough.
For better and for worse, this game is everything you expect from Far Cry in 2021.
Familiarity isn't a bad thing inherently, it's just hard to get excited about a game you've already played five times over before you've even bought it.
Newshub received a copy of Far Cry 6 for this review.