Far Cry 4 Game Performance Review

If you were a fan of Far Cry 3’s free roam, hunting and countless side missions, the sequel will be right up your alley. We test a wide array of hardware with this game, and get a good look at how it improves upon its predecessor.

Far Cry 4's protagonist, and your avatar in the game, is Ajay Ghale. He's the offspring of two iconic members of 'The Golden Path’, a rebel group labeled as terrorists by corrupt warlords who govern the land. The Golden Path's chief nemesis is Pagan Min, a man who murdered his way to the top, seizing the throne as a self-styled king of Kyrat (a territory that smacks heavily of Tibetan influence).

As the game begins, you’re forced into a position of opposition against the despotic leader, aligning yourself with the group of natives seeking to free themselves from tyranny. Sound familiar? That's because it's exactly the same basic plot as Far Cry 3. Sure, the details are different. But in many ways, this is more of a reboot than a sequel. Thankfully, that doesn't prevent the game from being wonderful at what it does. If you loved playing Far Cry 3, I can pretty much guarantee you will love Far Cry 4.

The similarities carry some advantages, too. For instance, anyone who played the previous title already knows what to do and how the game’s mechanics work. From travel to hunting to upgrades, vehicles and weapons, it’s all very familiar. Despite this, there's a tangible difference: Far Cry 4 feels more polished. There are a myriad of subtle upgrades that make it the best Far Cry game yet.

Get your bait and gun ready, because you're going hunting. Skinning your catch continues to play a big role in the newest Far Cry installment. Tracking down the various wildlife that inhabits Kyrat can be good fun, and it's also necessary to complete some side missions and craft new, improved gear to help you rise against Pagan Min. The surprise giant bird attacks are irritating beyond belief, though, and I always feel bad when I'm forced to gun down a poor little monkey in order to complete my task. Admittedly, the stylish ammo bag I crafted out of them softened the blow. Two warnings: first, if you’re going rhino hunting, take something bigger than a shotgun, and second, never underestimate a honey badger.

The minds behind Far Cry 4 continue to lampoon the ridiculous tropes that comprise first-person shooters, such as self-healing. I got shot, so let me fix that broken hand with a bandage and I'm good as new. Maybe I'll lever that bullet out of my wrist with a pointed stick. All better now. Ajay should have died halfway through the campaign from an infection in his often-maimed left forearm. Of course, I'm thankful that no matter how badly he was brutalized, there was nothing that 10 seconds of miraculous bandaging and stick-removing couldn't fix. It all was avoidable by stocking up on instant-heal stims, of course. But ain’t nobody got time for that.

Complaining aside, the story feels more engaging than earlier chapters in the series, and this time around you have a lot of opportunities to shape the outcome of the conclusion. The plot is pushed forward via a series of missions, each of which forces you to choose between The Golden Path's constantly disagreeing leadership: Amita (an attractive, strong female figure who values gathering military intelligence in order to achieve goals) or Sabal (a charismatic fellow whose priority is to protect his people without fail). I should avoid going into detail about these two, since it’s up to you to form an opinion based on their points of view. But it's never obvious that there's a right or wrong choice. Both options always seem reasonable and justified from two characters sharing a common end goal. They simply disagree about the best way to get there.

In order to get around Kyrat, you need transportation. Trucks, cars, quads, boats, hang gliders, helicopters, dune buggies and elephants are all fair game.

That’s right. A freaking elephant. That’s right. A freaking elephant.

To quote executive producer Dan Hay, “I want to be able to ride an elephant.” And he made it happen. Thank you, sir. 

Now let's take a closer look at the game's graphic engine, check out the detail settings and see how it runs on different hardware.

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  • gamebrigada
    Which drivers were you using on the AMD graphics side?
  • damric
    How much AA was used and what kind? None?
  • Ellis_D
    410076 said:
    How much AA was used and what kind? None?

    I'm assuming none since with my GTX 970 and i7 4790k, I was regularly bottoming out into the low-40s/upper-30s with SMAA enabled.
  • johnnyb105
    Kinda wondering why are they using a fx4170 and a 6300 WHEN THERE IS A FX 4350 AND 6350 CPU AND WHERE THE HECK IS THE 8350 AT???
  • stoned_ritual
    I have a gtx780 reference and an i5 4670k, I get BETTER framrates with SMAA enabled at 1080p than with 2xMSAA or the game-suggested level of 2xTXAA. I play this game on ultra. I do get fps drops in highly vegetated areas. The biggest performance gain is seen when I disable god rays.
  • Onus
    Hmmm, I got this game free with a 500GB Samsung 840 EVO. It will be the first shooter I've tried in years. I'm thinking my i5-3570K and HD7970 ought to manage "very high" reasonably well.
  • magic couch
    The AMD drivers used were the 14.9 Omega drivers, but the omega drivers are 14.12, not 14.9. Is it supposed to say 14.12 or were the 14.9 drivers used?
  • airborn824
    I am so BIASED. sigh what is this world coming to when we can trust nothing and no one for good info. I wanna see FX8350 with 290x with updated drivers and i5 4690 with GTX 9802 newest drivers so all of us can compare somewhat lol
  • Cryio
    @ Johnny: FX 4170 for old gen high clocked quad.

    6300, 6350, same thing mostly.

    You can OC an 8350 to that level of performance, so you can approximate.
  • airborn824
    THis game was so badly made. Why would there be such a difference in the CPU FPS? Sigh and very suprised such low FPS on the 295x2 which is the best money can buy these days. Very badly made game, glad i got it for FREE i would never buy it at its point now.
  • Nuckles_56
    Can you please put some laptops in there from time to time, as not everyone plays just on a desktop
  • ingtar33
    i noticed not a word about the glitches.
  • Ben Archer
    PB298Q 2560 x 1080 not 4k
  • Ben Archer
    4k chart is mislabeled as 1440p
  • clonazepam
    Frame-Rate Over Time chart for Ultra Details @ 1440p is mislabeled as "Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor"

    Thanks Tom's for putting these test results up. I realize you picked a very specific 30 second run somewhere within the game, and that my subjective opinion on my experiences in-game may vary because I didn't approach my testing in the same manner. I realize it had to have been tedious to test this game on so many different hardware configurations. I'm glad you had what hardware you did have available for the testing. Cherry picking very specific hardware components or waiting for updated drivers would have postponed the article even longer. You must have been at this awhile ago, and it must have taken you quite a bit of time to complete.

    Thanks again, Happy New Year! (addressing various comments at once lol)
  • alidan
    47340 said:
    Hmmm, I got this game free with a 500GB Samsung 840 EVO. It will be the first shooter I've tried in years. I'm thinking my i5-3570K and HD7970 ought to manage "very high" reasonably well.

    i run a 280X that is factory clocked to a ghz edition level.
    i run the game with everything maxed but the fur sim and the AO, for ao, set it to the lowest one available, they fixed the really crappy implementation from far cry 3 that gave everything a black outline, and the difference between the lowest setting and the highest is visually negligible while you will notice a LARGE jump in framerate...

    though i cant figure out whats up with the random LARGE fps dips, im assumeing it has to do withloading areas apposed to it being just a graphics problem...

    now that i see the very high and ultra comparison. im going to find out what makes that blue haze and kill it, i think very high overall looks better than ultra because of that.

    -- update --

    turn off alpha to coverage in the game xml file, it costs a stupid amount of processing power for something you have to magnify to see

    i also turned off tree relief because it takes a stupid amount of processing power for not much visual benefit and i just knocked down the geometry level to low because in all honesty i play on the ground more often than i go in the air, and it culls trees so far out i don't notice it at all unless i specifically look for it.

    also personal preference, i turned shadows to either high or very high... i dont like soft shadows much, and the performance hit for them isnt worth it, i had originally though that anything lower than ultra lowered the shadow map and made it look blocky but i was wrong. with the power i saved, i turned hbao+ on because i saw that this game handles some areas stupidly where the only way to see detail with with the ssao... i wish games would stop doing this and just bake ao on anything that doesn't move and save me the processing power so i can turn the crap low of off completely.

    you also may want to turn water effects to low instead of ultra... the difference is negligible at best, but same with performance gains.

    sadly no way for me to get fps works so yay...
  • tomc100
    Can you run the game on Nvidia settings if you have an AMD gpu?
  • iam2thecrowe
    why not reduce the resolution to 720p with the cpu tests so we can see if there would be a difference between the i5 and i7? What another site also found was the game does not load at all with a dual core (non ht) processor. Doesn't even run. Apparently there is a fix for it, but still....
  • damric
  • alidan
    132630 said:
    Can you run the game on Nvidia settings if you have an AMD gpu?

    yes you can, though im not sure if there is a performance hit when you use amd or not... i just did tweaking and got over all better performance with nvidia crap turned on than with it off... funny how that worked.
  • CauselessMango
    So does the game not have high and just goes from medium to ultra or did they not benchmark it?
    That was the benchmark I was looking for...
  • maestro0428
    Benchtastic article Don! Love how thorough this article is. As far as the game, I liked FC3 just fine and FC4 is more of the same. Breathtaking visuals in multi-monitor for sure!
  • spp85
    I am getting a solid 60+ average fps with HD7950 Vapor X overclocked at 1080p Ultra and SMAA anti aliasing and never dips below 40fps.
  • chenw
    On the 1440p performance page, one of the graphs is labeled Shadow of Mordor.

    Also, the graphs between frame time variance and frame time variance over time do not match. The first graph shows that 980 and 970 have similar values, and 290x having the worst, but in the over time graph, 980 is the worst (it seems like the colors for 290x and 980 have been mixed up).