A freelancer that's trying to make it to the big times.
Far Cry 6 was one of 2021’s most anticipated releases. Three years after the last numbered entry in the franchise, Far Cry 6 acts as the first installment of the open-world series to arrive on current-gen systems. While the game is out and received a positive reception from critics, the game scored much lower than previous entries. Currently, Far Cry 6 sits at a 74 on Metacritic and 78 on OpenCritic. After skimming through reviews, the consensus seems that while Far Cry 6 is a mostly well-made title, it hasn’t done enough to change the Ubisoft formula.
That Ubisoft formula, for the uninitiated, has to do with the developer/publisher releasing open-world game after open-world game every year. Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, and the recent Ghost Recon titles are games that have players traversing across a large map to partake in missions and side-quests, obtain collectibles, takedown enemy outposts, and much more. Since 2009, Ubisoft has released one open-world title, starting with the much-beloved Assassin’s Creed II.
While plenty of studios have produced open-world games (Rockstar with GTA and Volition with Saint’s Row), Ubisoft has become infamous for creating large worlds and releasing them annually. This refusal to develop games other than open-world titles makes both critics and fans feel fatigued whenever Ubisoft releases another major game.
Sure, Ubisoft has tackled other genres as of late, with Rainbow Six: Siege focusing on online, team-based combat, and The Division taking inspiration from loot-based live service games, such as Destiny. However, those seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Making matters worse was Ubisoft’s decision to focus less on console games and more on mobile and free-to-play titles, but that’s a matter for a different time.
The critical problem is the over-reliance on large, open-world games that has tired people out. In addition to the various open-world games that Ubisoft has created in the last decade, the PS4 and Xbox One generation of consoles brought us an enormous library of games from different publishers and developers. Horizon: Zero Dawn, Metal Gear Solid 5, The Witcher 3, Ghost of Tsushima, Breath of the Wild, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor and War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, the list goes on and on. All of them are about exploring big worlds with objectives to complete, items to collect, and stories to tell.
But, while these games are all open-world, publishers have been doing something to keep developers from just churning out another open-world game. For Example, Sony has Horizon and Ghost of Tsushima, but it also has The Last of Us, Ratchet and Clank, Uncharted, God of War, and other linear action games. Ubisoft, in comparison, can’t help but constantly regurgitate open-world games that it’s forgotten that not every big AAA game doesn’t need to be open-world. There was a time when Ubisoft also made linear games, be it Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell, Beyond Good and Evil, Ray-Man, and many more.
At this point, audiences and critics are practically begging Ubisoft to go back and focus on linear-style games. Whenever Ubisoft announces its Ubi-Forward press conferences, series like Prince of Persia and Splinter Cell buzz all over social media, with gamers hoping Ubisoft will make something that isn’t another open-world collect-a-thon, only for their hopes to be shattered into a million pieces.
During the company’s sexual misconduct scandal last year, it was revealed that Serge Hascoët, Ubisoft’s former CCO, was one of the more influential people at Ubisoft. Everything that was approved by Ubisoft, like releasing samey open-world games and adding Microtransactions to single-player, was approved by this man. While the company still has a long way to go, firing someone that despicable and who held so much authority and was stubborn to change is a good start.
Ubisoft has taken the idea of open-world game design and made it their default template for over a decade. That’s not to say that Ubisoft shouldn’t make open-world games. That would be a stupid decision to make from a business perspective, especially with Assassin’s Creed still making the bank. But, It would seem that it’s time for the company to start moving away from the open-world genre and venture back into linear adventures or branch on into something else that isn’t focused on nickel and diming customers with free-to-play titles. The reliance on this template has exhausted audiences and critics, and it will cost them down the line.