Far Cry 3 is not like other shooters, well not most shooters anyway. In terms of similarity I would group it closest with the Fallout series. This particular installation of the Far Cry series is an open world quest game much like Fallout or Skyrim, but it focuses more heavily on combat than either of those games.
At the start of the game your character is equipped with a pistol and sent on a mission to fix one of the local communication towers. Once the tower is repaired you are rewarded with a small chunk of cash and free weapons at all of the shops around the island. This is one of the many side missions throughout the game, every time you activate another tower, more of the map is revealed and you are awarded with another free weapon at the shops. The more towers you unlock the better the weapons you will receive free of charge.
One thing I really like about the game so far is that there is an explanation for everything and more often times than not, it is funny. From cars, to wildlife and weapons, there is a little blurb about any and everything you come across on the island. I found a plant that described how the younger natives used the flower to keep their youth and beauty, but the older natives managed to do that with the dead dreams of their husbands. It’s the little things that make you chuckle and make a sometimes mundane activity seem entertaining.
There are two other things scattered about the island: memory cards and relics. The memory cards all contain some secret or another of the drug lords, and the relics all contain a little note about what they are and what they represent. As far as I can tell these two items are just there to collect to give players something else to do as they wander the island. There may be achievements associated with collecting a certain number of each of them, but it doesn’t seem to do anything for you while you are playing besides awarding a small amount of experience.
Another common theme is the outposts scattered throughout the island. These outposts are typically manned by about 5-7 pirates with all sorts of different outfits. Some may have snipers or shotguns, some may be manning a turret, or there may even be dogs patrolling. The goal is to eliminate all of the guards in the outpost and allow the Rakyat to take it back under control. You get bonus experience if you manage to take the outpost without the alarm being raised, which if rose will summon more pirates to defend the outpost until you destroy the alarm box. Once the guards are eliminated you are awarded with a chunk of experience and cash as well as a new fast travel location on your map. The outposts then turn into fast travel locations serve as sort of a teleport around the map to save you travel time and give you a place to stop and sell any unneeded merchandise you may have.
There are other side quests scattered throughout that range from medical supply delivery missions all the way to running personal errands for the people of the island. My personal favorite is the mission where a mother asks you to prevent her daughter’s husband from digging up her grave to take his wedding ring back. In order to stop him you must shoot your gun at him, but not hit him in order to frighten him so much that he decides it is a bad idea. The humorous part of this whole ordeal is that while he is preparing to dig up the grave he is doing so with two armed guards near him. Apparently these guards are just in it for a paycheck, Terry Crews isn’t the only one refusing to take a bullet for $1700 a week. All of these side quests award experience and money, and the occasional special item for use in crafting.
Another integral part of the game is the crafting system. It is probably the simplest crafting system in any game that I have played, but it still gives you something to do constantly. It is simple in the sense that you don’t need any sort of crafting table or special items to be able to craft. You just go to your global inventory and make whatever it is you want. There are two basic things to craft, the first is syringes. You can pick different leaves and plants around the island that are used in different recipes. The basic concept is that green plants make healing syringes, yellow plants make hunting syringes, and red plants make defensive syringes. In order to learn new recipes that do different things you must progress in the story and complete side missions to learn them, at which point you can create as many as your syringe pack will carry.
The other crafting type is inventory crafting. Using different animal hides you can craft things like bigger wallets so that you can hold more money, bigger backs so that you can hold more items in your inventory, and bigger weapon holsters and ammo pouches so that you can carry more guns and ammunition (MERICA!). For each level of upgrade you will need a different type of hide, and the hide isn’t really “leveled” per se. For instance, boar hide may be needed to make the very first level of wallet, and the very first level of grenade pouch, but then it may be needed to make the third level of your quiver. Each of your inventory items can be upgraded to a certain point without much work, but there is a point where you must find a special type of hide for each individual item. These hides are found by finding and completing special hunting story quests, and you can only get one of each of these special types of hides, but don’t worry, the game will not allow you to sell or destroy them.
As I stated, in order to craft you need to get animal hides. How do you get these infamous hides you might wonder? Well you have to hunt for them. Most of the animals are relatively harmless and will flee from you when you get near. For this type of animal there is a syringe that will allow you to get much closer than normal without them fleeing the scene. The next type of animal is one that is mostly passive, and won’t attack you, but if they hear you fire your weapon they will come after you. One example of this is the Komodo Dragon. These types of animals are particularly annoying because they could be near you and you not know it, then when you open fire on a group of pirates they will start attacking you. The last group is the predators that will stalk and kill you, the primary one being the tiger. You can be minding your own business picking flowers and then BAM! You are on your back with a tiger trying to gnaw at your throat. This can work for your benefit though because island wildlife will go after the pirates as well. This is particularly fun when you come across an outpost with a tiger in a cage. You just shoot the lock from a distance, watch the tiger kill everything, walk into the outpost to claim your alarm free experience for clearing it out, and then dispatch of the tiger and relieve him of his hide.
The last, but possibly most important aspect of the gameplay is the skill tree. There are three particular branches of the skill tree, the heron, the shark, and the spider. The heron is all about long range takedowns and mobility. Offering abilities like increased hip fire accuracy and the ability to cook grenades, the tree is all about keeping your feet moving. The shark is the assault takedown and healing tree. It is all about running straight at your enemy by offering more health points, negating damage, and giving health regeneration. The spider is the stealth takedown and survival tree. It gives the ability to slide when sprinting, swim faster in water, reload while running, and reloading faster. All of these abilities are meant to help you flee the enemy to stay alive. Certain abilities in each tree require conditions in order to unlock them. Most of the conditions are to just complete a certain number of missions, but there are also tree specific conditions. For instance, in the health tree, you must complete three medical supply run side missions in order to unlock one of the abilities, and in the stealth tree you must liberate two or three outposts without raising an alarm. This is Ubisoft’s way of making sure that someone who is just storming the castle every time isn’t able to get some of the best stealth abilities. If you want to be good at everything, you will have to practice being good at everything.