THE Far Cry series has, since the second game, been famous for its memorable villains.
Vaas Montenegro, portrayed by Michael Mando, was the villain in Far Cry 3 – the game which established the “modern” iteration of the series – and was an unhinged pirate battling some of his own demons.
Mando’s performance as Vaas was so good most people completely forgot that the character wasn’t actually the Big Bad in that game, and he has remained a fan favourite ever since.
Vaas: Insanity is the first DLC for Far Cry 6 and takes you inside the mind of Vaas (who appears to have survived the events of Far Cry 3) as he engages in some much-needed self-reflection.
This, of course, involves shooting people. So very many people. You take Vaas on a journey through his psyche (represented as a fantastical version of part of the Rook Islands from Far Cry 3), in search of three pieces of the Dragon’s Blade knife which is then reassembled to unleash the final battle (waves of enemies) in a representation of Vaas’ compound.
The three pieces of the blade are in different areas of the map which involve completing some challenges – such as destroying the radios on a World War II-era Liberty Ship while being attacked by enemies including manifestations of Jason Brody, the player’s character from Far Cry 3.
As Vass works his way through various challenges, he earns money and unlocks character upgrades (more health, carrying more healing syringes, etc), buffs, and weapons which can be selected from safehouses – although I stopped bothering after I got the longbow and the side-by-side shotgun, because it proved an unstoppable combination.
There’s a catch, though – if you die, you have to restart without any of your weapons or pick-ups, but you do retain any skills you’ve unlocked and a limited amount of money. It’s all surprisingly similar to Deathloop in that regard, but what’s even more impressive is Vaas: Insanity doesn’t feel like a knockoff of Bethesda’s time-loop shooter at all. It’s still very much Far Cry content and the premise works very well in the context it is presented.
There’s no happy middle on the difficulty level, unfortunately – it’s either so easy the enemies are no challenge at all (“Story Mode”), or so difficult you’re constantly dying after being shot a few times by someone you didn’t see from behind a pillar (“Action Mode”), with nothing in between. Either way, you’re never short of ammo or cash.
I breezed through the three Blade Piece missions and all 20 “end” waves on Story Mode in about two hours (not including the hour or so I spent on “Action Mode” at the start before that) so it’s not a long piece of content – and to be honest, I actually liked that. It didn’t outstay it’s welcome, it was something I could get through fairly quickly (important when you’re an adult with a family), and didn’t try and pretend to be more than what it was.
Michael Mando absolutely hits it for six with his performance of Vaas again, bringing a disturbingly unhinged but rational intensity to the character who alternates between self-deprecating jokes, wisecracks, and genuine anguish.
As a short character study, I found Vaas: Insanity to be surprisingly insightful. No-one is trying to make Vaas a sympathetic character (he’s not, and he knows it), but it does make his perspective on things a bit more understandable.
A good example here is how Vaas visualises Jason Brody. Vaas sees him as a privileged douchebag dudebro-type who thinks he can just wander into Vaas’ home and treat it like a private adventure resort, hence the desire to kill him for the disrespect. Jason, as anyone who’s played Far Cry 3 knows, has a different perspective on the matter.
The Insanity DLC also explores Vaas’, uh, intimate relationship with his sister, Citra, which explains a few things about the events of that game as a result.
It’s not long and there’s still work to be done on the difficulty balancing, but otherwise Vaas: Insanity is a surprisingly insightful and worthwhile addition to the Far Cry universe, and I am now very much looking forward to seeing what the developers do with Pagan Min: Control when it releases in January.