Far Cry 4 Co-op Preview: Elephants, Copters, & Explosions, Oh My

Far Cry 4 says it has weaponized animals and Far Cry 4 delivers weaponized animals, in the form of endangered Indian Elephants you can ride like a horse and use like a combination ATV and battering ram.

Further, as it turns out, the villain of the game, Pagan Min, is not in fact a white dude spreading imperialism to parts unknown, which defuses a controversy that boiled up when the game was revealed that its racial politics were going to be a serious problem.

It says a lot about the state of the industry that extremely minor successes, like actually including a promised feature and not being completely horrible about racial issues, were enough to make one feel extremely willing to give Far Cry 4 the benefit of the doubt. Because aside from these two aspects of the game, not much can be said about it other than that, if the hands-on Co-Op demo I played is any indication, it’s going to at least be a lot of fun to play.

Yes, I can’t deny steering an attack elephant is incredibly disturbing. We know how surprisingly intelligent Elephants are in real life, and thus the amount of abuse needed to train them for human-centered tasks is appalling. And we also know that the Asian Elephant is endangered, which means, virtually speaking, you’re having fun in a video game by pretending to reduce that vulnerable population via copious bloodshed. Now that you’ve assuaged your guilt by acknowledging that, let me admit that it’s incredibly fun, kind of like driving a tank with tusks that mauls enemies to death.

Co-Op is great too, or at least, the tiny, tiny fraction of the game in which the press co-op demo took place was fun. As easy to jump in and out of as one would expect, it feels like it’s going to be essentially Borderlands 2 or Saints Row easy. There were two demos, one in which we (myself and fellow Game Front Contributor Phil Owen) were able to access a Gyrocopter to attack a small fortress from above, and one in which we both hopped on Elephants to do the same.

In the Gyrocopter level, we were as vulnerable as you’d expect. They way it works is that one player can hop on the Gyrocopter’s saddle while the other slips behind him. The player up front pilots the extremely unwieldy flying machine – seriously, it seems designed to make you an easily damaged target – while the other can cycle between available weapons and shoot down at enemies below. When riding shotgun, in the demo we had access to a small grenade launcher, a pistol, and a submachine gun.

Neither of us did exceptionally well in the Gyrocopter level, though Phil was better than I was and as such didn’t get me killed as quickly as I got him killed when I piloted. What was fun about the level is that you weren’t limited to the Gyrocopter. You could ignore it altogether, or use it to fly over the fortress’ walls, land, and then begin your attack on foot. Supplies were limited however, as were medpacks to heal. It was hard to tell from what amounted to 10 minutes in the level between the two of us, but players will have to think strategically and tactically to survive.

In the elephant level things went much easier. We were able to push our way through narrow streets, barreling over startled enemies and pushing their vehicles over. It was fast-paced and somewhat thrilling, even if, again, kind of uncomfortable knowing that I was pretending to seriously abuse an endangered animal. But oh well, fantasy world!

That’s all we really saw of the game. Graphics were on par with what was shown in the game’s first 5 minutes during the Ubisoft press event the night before E3, and presumably it’s going to play and feel like previous games in the series. Obviously, it’s extremely troublesome that co-op won’t allow female player characters, yet another black eye Ubisoft gave itself for no reason, but if the sense of humor and campy tone of the campaign footage and trailer are indicative of the full game, then combined with the play I experienced, Far Cry 4 looks like it’s going to be a sociopathic, ethically troubling blast.

You can keep up to date with all the E3 news over on our E3 channel.

Ross Lincoln is senior editor of Comics and Cosplay at The Escapist. Find more of his GameFront work here, his Escapist work here, and follow him and GameFront on Twitter: @rossalincoln and @gamefrontcom.

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