Outside of Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry is the most important, influential series Ubisoft has ever produced. From its humble, monster-mutilating origins in 2004 to the exiting excess of this year’s Far Cry 6, the iconic franchise has set the standard for successful open-world shooters. But which Far Cry will be crowned top of the best Far Cry games list? Be it the cheeky ‘80s absurdity of Blood Dragon or the technically impressive sandbox slaughter of 2018’s Hope County FPS, these are our top 10 best Far Cry games of all time…
10. Far Cry Vengeance
A disastrous Wii conversion that proved Nintendo’s breakout but underpowered console was more suited to Wiimote-waggling golf games than ambitious shooter spin-offs. Though the motion controls aren’t terrible, Vengeance is such a profound visual downgrade on the PC original - Far Cry Instincts: Evolution - that no amount of wrist-wiggling shootouts can save the incredibly fugly action.
9. Far Cry Instincts
Released in: 2005
Far Cry’s console debut is understandably less ambitious than the pioneering 2004 adventure that started the series. Limited by original Xbox hardware, this more linear shooter strips down the agency of the first PC game to provide a technically confident, yet predictable OG Xbox shooter. Does Instinct come close to challenging Halo for Team Green’s FPS crown? Obviously not. But as far as early noughties shooters go, Instincts ain’t half bad.
8. Far Cry New Dawn
Released in: 2019
An unnecessary yet enjoyable Far Cry 5 spin-off that, if nothing else, proves the forthcoming apocalypse is going to be really pink. Aside from its lurid color choices, this brash side adventure succeeds by taking its parent game’s gorgeous open-world and making it overgrown… and extra homicidal.
As you battle doomsday cults across a map sprouting with irradiated shrubbery - Far Cry 5’s closing nuclear blast casts one seriously long shadow - Far Cry New Dawn distances itself from the game that inspired it with some awesome new arsenal additions. Example? The headline crossbow is one of the most satisfying weapons to ever grace the unhinged series.
7. Far Cry
Released in: 2004
The tropical adventure that kicked off Ubisoft’s madcap series was initially developed by Crytek, not one of the French publisher’s internal studios. Perhaps the most free-form shooter of the early noughties, Far Cry was one of the first games to introduce sandbox mechanics into the FPS genre.
Letting your Hawaiian mercenary cut loose across a gloriously sunny archipelago, the original Far Cry distanced itself from the shooter pack by giving you a variety of vehicles, optional routes, and a hugely open map to cause chaos across. Are the late-game mutants you fight utterly silly? Absolutely. Still, as a pioneering showcase for early 2000s era PC hardware, Far Cry is right up there with Half-Life 2 and Doom 3.
6. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Released in: 2013
One of the silliest spin-offs in video game history… and that’s in no way a complaint. Following the huge success of Far Cry 3, Ubisoft naturally decided to follow up the landmark shooter with a game starring *checks notes* ‘80s action hero Michael Biehn. Sounds about right.
One of the first post-Millennium games to embrace 1980s culture, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon went big on synth-heavy, deliciously cheesy music, neon dragons so bright they could singe your corneas, and a knowingly stupid script that makes Commando look like Citizen Kane. Blood Dragon is a joyously fun, self-deprecating side excursion.
5. Far Cry 4
Released in: 2014
The game that cemented Far Cry’s commitment to unhinged villains. Following on from Far Cry 3’s Vaas, this Himalayan-set sequel turns the focus to Troy Baker’s extra campy, deliciously overblown despot, Pagan Min.
Expanding upon the outpost-liberating, animal-slaughtering action of Far Cry 3, this chilly follow-up sees the quiet and composed Ajay Ghale piloting gyrocopters over incredible mountain ranges, shooting snow leopards in the face, and during particularly chaotic moments, riding Dumbo’s cousin into awesomely chaotic shootouts. Turns out, pet elephants can trample dozens of enemies in extra squelchy style.
Is Far Cry 4’s fictional Himalayan province of Kyrat as memorable as the sun-kissed Rook Islands of its predecessor? Not even close. Still, this sequel solidly builds upon the blueprints of a modern FPS masterpiece.
4. Far Cry 2
Released in: 2008
Ah yes, the one with all the fire. Well over a decade on, Far Cry 2 attracts a cult following unlike any other entry in the series. Far removed from the Dr. Moreau monster-slaying action of the original game, this brutally gritty sequel is a shooter that loves to make you suffer.
Contract malaria, then gobble down pills every 15 minutes to avoid a game-ending blackout. Barely survive one of dozens of highly guarded roadside outposts, only for your rickety jeep’s engine to stall after you’ve gunned down half a dozen tooled-up guerrillas. Head into a firefight with a loyal sidekick… then revive them every 17 seconds because they constantly keep getting shot in the spleen. For every minor victory you achieve in Far Cry 2, the game makes you crawl through a river of sh*t.
BUT… all this commitment to harsh realism does make this African open-world super rewarding. When every victory you scratch out involves the constant juggling act of pill-popping, engine-fixing, gun-repairing instant reactions, the eventual victories prove hugely satisfying. Oh, and the fire effects are amazing. Want to burn down an entire virtual Sergenti with a flamethrower? Have at it! Just try not to flamegrill all those lovely zebras.
3. Far Cry Primal
Released in: 2016
The ultimate expression of Far Cry’s obsession with animal sidekicks. This caveman detour remains the most experimental of all of the series’ mainline entries. Shunting players into the fury toga of a surprisingly talkative neanderthal, Far Cry Primal channels the prehistoric spirit that the first Far Cry initially aimed to tap into - turns out, the 2004 Crytek shooter was originally going to involve dinosaurs, not slightly disappointing mutant murder.
Primal may not give you shotguns or AK47s, but who needs automatic weapons when you can command a chorus line of ancient feral beasts to murder your enemies at the drop of a prehistoric hat? Tame wolves, bears, leopards, and even sabre tooth tigers, then set them on your cavemen foes with all the precision of furry, heat-seeking missiles. While Primal’s bows and clubs are perfectly satisfying, no other game in the series nails animal assaults quite like this bold prequel.
2. Far Cry 5
Released in: 2018
To semi pilfer a line from The Shawshank Redemption: “Fear will hold you prisoner… Hope (County) will set you free.” Now that we’ve butchered an all-time great movie tagline in pursuit of a tenuous pun, it’s time to give Far Cry 5’s Midwestern (extra fictional) US state a whole lot of love.
Far Cry’s first trip to the US of A results in a gorgeous, wonderfully free-form sandbox that stands tall as one of the best open-world shooters of the Xbox One/PS4 generation. Stepping into the shoes of a mute sheriff’s deputy, it’s your job to stop an unhinged cult, which normally involves blowing up silos, shooting topless cultists in the face, and occasionally harvesting bison testes… because reasons.
Thanks to Ubisoft’s Dubai engine, Far Cry 5 runs brilliantly, serving up smooth shooting and all kinds of frantic animal slaughter. If a bear/mountain lion/other fanged beastie isn’t charging you down roughly every 32 seconds, is it really a Far Cry game?
With inventive, well paced missions, and a beautiful chunk of fictional North American real estate to cause chaos in, this is very close to taking the top spot on this list… well, if it wasn’t for a certain threequel.
1. Far Cry 3
Released in: 2012
C’mon, were you expecting anything else? Jason Brody’s sun-kissed sandbox is simply one of the greatest first-person shooters of all time. More than that, it’s one of the most enjoyable (and important) open-world games ever made.
Arguably the most influential title Ubisoft has ever made, Far Cry 3’s reach spans way beyond the shooter genre. Everything from The Crew to Assassin’s Creed has benefitted from the features the Rook Islands shooter introduced. Revealing key map points by scaling a lofty structure. Taking enemy outposts through a combination of stealth and outright slaughter. Hunting critters for equipment upgrades. Whether inspiring gameplay features in Red Dead Redemption 2 or Horizon Zero Dawn, Far Cry 3 should be held in the same sort of genre-defining company as Grand Theft Auto 3.
With awesome (near peerless) shootouts, a generation-defining bad guy in Vaas, and a wonderfully exotic world that’s just begging to be explored, Far Cry 3 isn’t just the best game in the series; it’s one of the finest games of the past 20 years.