PC, PS5 and Xbox Series consoles tested.
The venerable Dunia engine returns once again for the sixth mainline entry in the Far Cry franchise – and there’s a certain sense of a series returning to its roots. Firstly, the latest open world evokes the more lush, jungle terrain of earlier games, while there’s also the return of technologies like fire propagation – its omission much lamented in Far Cry 5. While gameplay hasn’t progressed significantly, there are a range of new graphics features, along with ray tracing on PC and a focus on 60 frames per second on the latest generation of consoles – but also the sense that the game requires further polish to make it everything it can be.
Perhaps this is the Dunia Engine’s last stand, but there’s no doubt that Far Cry 6 is still a handsome game and some of the new additions to the engine are striking. For example, the skies are considerably more impressive than prior games thanks to the inclusion of a ray-marched volumetric cloud rendering system. Similar technologies have been seen in Horizon Zero Dawn and Microsoft Flight Simulator to name just two, but the clouds do look good in Far Cry 6, particularly in how they interact with lighting, especially during sunset. There are limitations though, with their low resolution breaking down into noise with fast movement at 60fps.
Less dramatic but still impressive is water deformation, best highlighted when marine wildlife interacts with the surface – but one element of the game I was really looking forward to was the introduction of hardware-accelerated ray tracing features. Unfortunately, this is PC-only, but regardless, there are two key effects here: shadows and reflections. How much they add to the presentation depends on the effect. Honestly, ray traced shadows are a bit of a question mark in their effectiveness, because first of all they only apply to sun shadows – so all indoor and artificial shadows are standard shadow maps. Also, shadows cast by vegetation or alpha-masked transparencies are also just shadows maps mixed into the RT equivalents. Another negative aspect is the fact that RT shadows – along with much of the post-process pipelines – run at quarter resolution. RT shadows are a net gain overall, but the implementation could be much better and the effect is too limited overall.
Far Cry 6 – the Digital Foundry tech review in video form.
Ray traced reflections fare better, offering a good upgrade over standard screen-space reflections, enhancing the realism of surfaces – especially on the retro cars in the game. Immersion is added, especially as the player model is visible in these reflections. However, again, the sense is that the implementation is not as robust as it could be. Reflections do not apply to water surfaces like the ocean, streams and ponds, which still use SSR. RT reflections also don’t apply to transparent surfaces like glass, leading to visual discontinuities (the cars’ bodywork feature RT reflections, the windscreens do not). And again, we’re looking at quarter resolution effects, leading to the ‘big pixel’ effect and lots of aliasing because of it. Other gripes include partial simplification of the world in reflections and paring back of material fidelity.
Ray traced effects have a simple on/off toggle when the bottom line is that the game is crying out for higher quality modes to future-proof the game, or simply to give the user more choice. That said, quarter resolution effects are not limited to RT only. Particle effects, screen-space shadows, motion blur and depth of field all run at looks like quarter resolution – which presents more problems the further down the resolution chain you go (Series S can look rough because of this) – and there are no quality settings on PC to alleviate this problem. When combined with the blurriness of temporal anti-aliasing, the issue is further magnified.
So how does the game fare on consoles? Series S seems to spend most of its time in the 1080p-1224p range and while you get 60 frames per second, the presentation is not hugely attractive. The general blurriness in the presentation means that hammering down pixel counts for PS5 and Series X is challenging but PlayStation 5 renders in the 1728p to 1872p range, while the Microsoft flagship has a higher resolution window, seemingly in the 1872p to full 2160p range. The real-life implication of this is simply that you get a crisper image on the high-end Xbox console.
Beyond resolution, quality settings on visual features is a very close match between the two consoles and it looks to me like Ubisoft has made intelligent trades in lowering precision in specific effects while still delivering what looks like a high-end PC experience. Volumetrics, texture filtering, water and shadow quality are equivalent to PC on high settings, while geometry quality seems to sit between PC’s medium and high offerings. Although very subtle, PS5’s geometry quality level does seem to be very slightly higher than Series X’s.
So when it comes to PC optimised settings, I recommend using the console-equivalent settings and making a few further changes. I’d opt for the high environmental detail setting which lowers the range of artificial lights in the game world, as well as using the using the high terrain setting which minimally decreases the distance of higher detail terrain deformation. What did surprise me is that the road quality setting from Far Cry 5 has gone, meaning that road texture filtering detail levels are very low and not even GPU control panel tweaks can return a higher level of quality. Another issue with optimised settings for PC is that dynamic resolution scaling is not working as it should – and this is a key technology for achieving a smooth frame-rate. I go into this in more depth in the video, where sometimes it seems to help in improving frame-rates, but in other scenarios it can actually reduce performance.
While consoles do mostly run at 60 frames per second, there are some problems here too. First of all, there’s camera stutter on the console versions of the game meaning that when performance is consistent, controller movement does not look smooth when panning. This is not a problem on PC. Beyond that, all consoles do run at 60fps for the most part – except in highly dynamic scenes where the camera rapidly pivots or something graphically expensive hits the screen suddenly, but this isn’t a big deal generally. However, traversal stutter has always been an issue on PC – certainly from Far Cry 4 onwards – and it’s still here, and now extends to the console versions too, accompanied by intrusive screen-tearing. It’s an issue on PC too, solved only by turning down settings to the minimum and throwing a lot of power at the problem – which is not ideal.
I found another issue with the PC version and it involves VRAM utilisation when using the optional HD texture pack. According to release materials, 11GB of video memory is required for these textures at 4K while using ray tracing, which proved to be no issue at all for the 16GB Radeon RX 6800 XT. Of course, the competing RTX 3080 has issues as it is a 10GB card – but it’s not as straightforward as it sounds. VRAM utilisation here never exceeds 8.6GB, meaning that the full 10GB of memory is not used. In other scenarios, I found that the RTX 3080 would only allocate 7.9GB of memory and the HD textures never loaded. This doesn’t look right to me.
My final gripe concerns the in-game cutscenes, which seemingly run at 30fps while the rest of the game runs at 60fps. It’s not ideal but it’s not the first game to do this and it will not be the last. However, what makes it even more jarring is that particles and other effects may still run with unlocked updates, while animation frame-pacing can also show jittering artefacts. The game’s presentation suffers as a result.
In summary, Far Cry 6 is a good-looking game and I like many of the visual upgrades, but I’m less happy about other aspects of the game. The Dunia traversal stutter is present on all platforms I tested, and while I love to see RT effects added to new games, I’m disappointed at the strangely limited implementations and the locked low resolutions Ubisoft has deployed here. On top of that, I can understand why post-process effects may be running at a lower resolution – but I’d have liked to have seen options to restore them to full resolution on PC, and perhaps to add all of this plus RT to a 30fps console quality mode. There’s a lot to like in Far Cry 6 and perhaps the emphasis in this tech review has been on the areas that fall short, but ultimately it’s difficult to avoid the sense that a few more layers of polish could have had made a big difference to this release.
Will you support the Digital Foundry team?
Digital Foundry specialises in technical analysis of gaming hardware and software, using state-of-the-art capture systems and bespoke software to show you how well games and hardware run, visualising precisely what they’re capable of. In order to show you what 4K gaming actually looks like we needed to build our own platform to supply high quality 4K video for offline viewing. So we did.
Our videos are multi-gigabyte files and we’ve chosen a high quality provider to ensure fast downloads. However, that bandwidth isn’t free and so we charge a small monthly subscription fee of €5. We think it’s a small price to pay for unlimited access to top-tier quality encodes of our content. Thank you.
Find out more about the benefits of our Patreon
Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our policy.
Jump to comments (37)
More about Far Cry 6
About the author
Video Producer, Digital Foundry
Ray-tracing radical, Turok technophile, Crysis cultist and motion-blur menace. When not doing Digital Foundry things, he can be found strolling through Berlin examining the city for rendering artefacts.
Back 4 Blood dev discussing ways to address lack of progression in solo mode after player backlash
Hit the deck.
Review | Far Cry 6 review – not quite the revolution, but a solid entry all the same
Halo: The Master Chief Collection gets its final season next week
The final ring.
Battlefield 2042 fans think it has too many bots, and they’re just too OP
All out botfare.
Ghost Recon Frontline is a new and evolving free-to-play shooter for up to 102 players
With a smaller 9v9 offering and other modes.
You may also enjoy…
Video | Far Cry 6 lets you have a pet attack crocodile, and 100 other things we spotted
Here’s Ian with 22 minutes of footage.
Raven nerfs Call of Duty: Warzone’s "Big Bertha" meta
Significant optics change.
Warzone best weapons in Season 5 Reloaded: Our best AR, sniper rifle, shotgun, SMG and LMG weapon recommendations
The best weapons you should aim for in multiplayer.
Far Cry 6 narrative director issues statement after politics backlash
"Our story is political. A story about a modern revolution must be."
Destiny 2 Vault of Glass guide, changes and everything else you need to know about the returning raid
Our complete walkthrough for Destiny’s Vault of Glass raid, complete with boss strategies and combat tips.
Premium only | Off Topic: A forgotten painting of a world gone wrong
Yeah, straight from the top of my dome.
Premium only | Off Topic: A brilliant podcast about 90s pop
Oli Welsh on 60 Songs That Explain the 90s.
Premium only | The Eurogamer Podcast returns! Meet the UK’s first professional gamer
New host, new direction, exclusive early access for Premium supporters.
Supporters only | Letter from the Editor: What’s with all the good reviews?
We’re supposedly suffering a game drought, but we’ve never recommended so many games. What’s going on?
Buy things with globes on them
And other lovely Eurogamer merch in our official store!
Subscribe to The Eurogamer.net Daily
The 10 most popular stories of the day, delivered at 5pm UK time. Never miss a thing.
Bad puns and video games since 1999.
This site © 2021 Gamer Network Limited, a ReedPop company. All Rights Reserved. No part of this site or its content may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright holder.
Connect with Facebook
New in town?
PC, PS5 and Xbox Series consoles tested.