Far Cry 3 and the Survival Experience Mods

Update 2015-07-24: I picked up Far Cry 4 a few weeks ago during the Steam Summer Sale and I am delighted that Ubisoft actually heard and listened to the Far Cry 3 survival enthusiasts and added lots of options to the game to disable certain helps that take away from the potential immersion of the experience. The game is a real charmer, its puts a grin on your face from the first moments when you finally get to move on your own, in particular if you’ve come from and love Far Cry 3. The extra survival options only go so far, though, for example you earn money way too easily for the price of the items you buy everything and you earn so much you have nothing left to spend it on. So I went googling for some survival mods and came across the Far Cry 4 Enhanced mod. Good news, just like Ziggy’s Mod back from Far Cry 3, it comes with a “Hardcore” mode that makes it a pretty tough but rewarding survival experience. Note! At the time of writing, the latest Steam version of Far Cry 4 requires the 0.19 beta version of the mod! Without this the very first shop in the game crashed the whole game for me.

I’ve been playing Far Cry 3, again, after letting it sit since beating it a couple of times last year. I even upgraded my system recently to see the game at its visual best. Some time ago I posted about injecting some life into Far Cry 3 after you’ve already beaten it, largely about encouraging exploring, and trying out new, more difficult ways of playing the game. Recently, I’ve come across some blog posts about Ziggy’s Mod, a mod that attemps to really go after the hardcore, wilderness survivalist thing that Far Cry 3 seems on the verge of nailing.

I didn’t like Ziggy’s Mod at first as I was getting killed way too often, but some months after first trying it I got back into it and found there were ways to succeed in the beginning when you were relatively weak. Once you’re strong it’s generally not a problem…until you get to the second island of course and need to ramp up again. :)

The two blogs I’ll mention are “Mod of the Week: Far Cry 3: Ziggys Mod“, and “Surviving Far Cry 3: Ziggys mod“. These guys really get what makes Ziggy’s Mod so compelling (along with other mods that try to create a more realistic experience) . Here’s an excerpt from the second article show how much he ‘gets’ what we love about Far Cry 3,

Now that I think of it, taking notes and copying the map onto a separate sheet of paper would be a really neat way of bringing the freshness of the game back. Identify where each animal type roams and mark it on the map. Draw the roads as you travel them, and keep track of which outposts and radio towers you’ve uncovered.

The benefits here is it gets you involved with the game more than before; immersion essentially. It makes the experience more of an actual survival experience (minus the plant-toiler paper and eating raw meat). Where you think a population of tapers lives is in fact the home of a large group of tigers makes its den. Now you’ll go into an encounter expecting an easy kill and end up with a face full of tiger tooth. Imagine the enjoyment, or frustration, that might come if you survive, or don’t, such a surprise.

As an added challenge, once you have the basic outline of the world map down, unbind your map from your keyboard and use only your hand-drawn version to navigate. Now the sun and moon and maybe even the stars become navigation tools. Animal migration patterns, such as they are, boil down to your tracking skills. See above for an example of a failure in that department. If you’ll indulge the geek in me for a moment, think of the in-game map as one given to Jason and his friends that he lost but managed to copy down shortly after losing it. Make an RPG out of the deal, tabletop preferably. Maybe even reward yourself for every success, and maybe every death or two earns a reduction in your reward.

Imagine that: You’re dumped on an island. You have no compass, no map, no idea where things are. You have to explore and draw your own map. You have to pay attention to what areas animals live in so you know where they are or aren’t when you need them next. You’ll have to pay special attention to where enemy concentrations are so you can take them out or avoid them if need be. Imagine all that, in a game that turns out to be as good Far Cry 3 was for its visuals, open world, exploration and hunting mechanics!

If I could, I wish I could go back and play Far Cry 3 from the start with Ziggy’s Mod, and even kill the compass and map, so that revealing the island and its mysteries little by little could have been an even more enjoyable and rewarding experience! Here’s a message for the Far Cry 3 devs – make a sequel with all these ideas, set it in tropical Asia. It’d be amazing!

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