Far Cry VR is not a normal virtual reality game. Designed for “free-flowing VR,” it can’t be played at home with Oculus Quest or Valve Index headphones. Instead, you have to go to a special place where the magic of virtual reality transforms a room the size of an entire apartment on the exotic island controlled by pirates of Far Cry 3. This allows up to eight people the freedom to walk around and explore huge areas that just can’t be done within the confines of your living room full of furniture.
Unfortunately, despite these shattered barriers, Far Cry VR feels severely restricted. It’s more like a small arms shooter like Time Crisis than a Far Cry experience. Fortunately, however, this lack of ambition does not completely eclipse the genuine emotions of virtual reality on this scale.
I and two other IGN staff members had the opportunity to play Far Cry VR at Meetspace VR in London, where we played throughout the game in co-op. The Time Crisis environment mentioned above comes directly from the Far Cry VR configuration. It is essentially a high concept arcade game; a 30-minute experience only available in 52 spaces around the world. These parameters mean that the depth of experimentation expected from Far Cry is changed to accessible, instantaneous emotions. There is no choice between stealth or action, there is no advanced place to capture and no animals to make friends and throw at your enemies. Instead, you and a group of friends have the task of simply killing waves of enemies to get the highest score in the ranking.
These concessions to the Far Cry formula are understandable given the format, but unfortunately the experience doesn’t make the most of its unique feature. While you can walk freely around the game environments, the level design is restrictive. Areas pushes you through narrow paths, which makes you feel very fast. The fights take place in static death boxes that seem designed so you can simply position yourself and shoot at incoming enemies, rather than navigating the space to hunt them down.
Conceptual images: Far Cry VR
But still, Far Cry VR is a good time, at least right now. Being able to walk long distances without interruptions in a virtual reality game is weird and fun and keeps you new for most of the 30 minutes. While not requiring rigorous movement, the dive makes it all too easy to get into the character, and so after half an hour dodging behind the deck and spinning an AK-47 wildly, he gets a big sweat. And while most of Far Cry’s distinctive ideas are ignored, the game’s featured segment makes good use of the series ’obsession with drug-fueled psychedelics. Enemies shoot you from the architecture floating in the sky, while the sea creatures float uncomfortably in the middle of the carnage. Everything is fun trippy.
Zero Latency, the company behind Far Cry VR, has only three locations in the UK and 11 in the US. This means that you will probably have to travel to visit one, perhaps even at a distance. If you’re a fan of Far Cry, this pilgrimage will probably disappoint; this is a Far Cry name-only game. But if you live near a Zero Latency site and have cash, there’s definitely some fun to enjoy the free-flowing RV. I suspect that one of the company’s custom games that doesn’t live up to the expectations of an existing series, however, is probably the best way to experience it.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK news and entertainment writer.