A second player can be added to your game at any time to play as the free-spirited Hurk, who appears briefly in the game to essentially say “you can play co-op now!” before going back into the shadows. This player brings with them all of the skills and equipment they’ve unlocked in their game, and gets to take back with them any experience, guns, skills, ammo, and cash they earn along the way. What’s excluded from that list is any sort of progress within the game, i.e., towers liberated, outposts conquered, or collectibles gathered. Any such progress is only saved to the host’s account, so the second player would have to liberate or collect all those in his or her own game. There’s the potential for the second player to bring back with him or her guns he or she hasn’t unlocked yet, but that’s not the reason he or she is there. The second player is there because (ideally) you both feel like playing around in an open-world FPS sandbox.
It took me a bit of time to wrap my head around Far Cry 4’s co-op mode. When a player joins your game, the main campaign missions become locked out. However, the rest of the world is still open. You can still liberate towers and outposts, take on side missions, go hunting, engage in the random events that show up, and generally cause havoc. There are no special co-op missions upon which to embark or new areas you’re able to reach. I’m so used to inviting friends to a game in order to achieve something that having someone join up to just goof around felt strange. There was no objective or set “thing” we had to do. We could go climb up that bell tower and have a look around. We could just as easily hop into a mini-helicopter, ascend as high as possible above a group of enemies, and then jump out while throwing grenades at the ground. Pointless? Sure. But way more fun.
Regrettably, it feels like that attitude is only shared among friends. Given the way the co-op is setup, and perhaps even because of the penalty that any kind of connection issues tosses both players back to the main menu, joining a random person’s game is almost impossible. In the ten attempts I made to join a random game, only one of them was successful. Most of them I was kicked out by the host almost right away, and a few just randomly lost connection before I ever got into the game proper. For the one game that I did manage to join, I helped the host assassinate an enemy lieutenant. Stealth is absolutely required for this particular side mission so I was a little surprised I wasn’t kicked out (I could have easily gone charging into the area on an elephant and alert every guard in a five-mile radius). We managed to quietly dispatch all of the problematic guards in the area, moving in from opposite sides of the camp. With the sentries gone, he made his way around to where the lieutenant was hanging out while I continued dealing with the guards. Neither one of us spoke directly through all of this, we just followed one another’s lead. With the lieutenant dispatched in a great show of cooperation, I figured we’d move on to something else. Sadly, my only reward was getting sent back to my game.
What’s missing from Far Cry 4’s co-op mode is a sense of purpose and players. Fun aside, there’s no real reason to have another player there. The second player doesn’t get much out of their time in another player’s game that they couldn’t get in their own, and the main player can’t progress in the main campaign while the second player is there. The whole chaotic fun aspect is great but it would be better with at least a couple more people tossed into the mix to make it more of a “party” than a little hangout. Not to mention the looming threat of being kicked back to the main menu if there are any connection issues between the two players. It’s not that the co-op is bad, it just feels like a partial implementation of a bigger idea.
Far Cry 4 feels like the next step in the FPS genre for creating worlds that have depth to them; not only in the characters with whom you interact, but the environment itself. Wherever you go in Kyrat there’s a sense of history and purpose. That shrine was built there by someone or a group of people at some point, and people are still at that shrine today. It’s a little touch but it’s enough to make a game that could have been “just another…” stand out on its own. While that same sense of wonder doesn’t quite extend to the co-op mode, charging into an enemy base on the backs of a couple of elephants is a pretty amazing experience in its own right (all hail Babar, king of cooperative destruction!) It’s just too bad it’s not always like that.
While the single player campaign has the look and feel of a “next-gen” experience, the co-op feels like it’s still stuck in 2009.
The Co-Optimus review of Far Cry 4 is based on the PC version of the game.
The Co-Op Experience: Two players can take on the outpost assaults and some open world stuff within the campaign with a friend.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.