‘Breaking Bad’ actor Giancarlo Esposito’s performance could make him a standout villain for the series
A good hero is essential for a video game. After all, players are the ones who control the protagonists and identify with them. That huge role shouldn’t overshadow the fact that a good villain is just as important. They’re the straw that stirs the drink. They’re gasoline that powers the engine.
If the villain fulfills that role, it drives the players and the plot forward. It helps give them a reason to play. Nowhere has this been more important than in the “Far Cry” series. It’s a franchise known for its bad guys from Vaas Montenegro to Pagan Min to Joseph Seed. They’ve all been memorable and they have driven the action for some of the most compelling scenarios.
For its latest entry, “Far Cry 6,” Ubisoft tapped actor Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad” and “The Mandalorian”) to play El Presidente Anton Castillo, the dictator of the fictional island nation of Yara. It’s a high-profile move that will likely pay off.
Players don’t get a real sense of his character from a clip or preview. They need to sit with the game and stew with him to capture a sense of his viciousness. In a preview event done remotely, I had chance to do just that, playing the first few hours of “Far Cry 6.”
SURVIVING THE NIGHT OF DEATH
The campaign begins with the end of the world in Yara, or at least, it feels that way as the locals experience what they call the Night of Death. Anton cracks down on dissidents, and as Dani Rojas, players have to flee with a friend named Lita. They have no weapons and they have to sneak by soldiers and tanks to get to a boat, where they can flee the country.
This shows some of “Far Cry 6’s” stealth elements, which have become a staple of the series. Crouching lets players move quietly. Dani can peek behind corners to scout and avoid being spotted. The protagonist, which players can choose to be male or female, will have to avoid spotlights and authorities. What’s notable is that even if they are spotted later in the campaign, Dani has about five seconds to quietly dispatch adversary without setting off an alarm.
Eventually, they reach the boat and persuade the captain to let a boy aboard. That child ends up being Anton Castillo’s son, Diego, and El Presidente manages to stop the vessel. He retrieves his child, and after saying he would release the boat, he orders his troops to kill everyone on board. Yeah, ruthlessness is an understatement.
Anton is evil but Esposito plays him with a mesmerizing charisma. It left me with a surprising hatred that made the next step logical. Dani manages to survive on a beach of Isla Santuario along with a mortally wounded Lita. She tells Dani to find Libertad, the guerrilla fighters that she has been helping. They happen to have their headquarters on the island.