After two of these roguelite DLCs so far, the formula for Far Cry 6’s villain-centric expansions has become predictable: you enter a character’s mind, confronting their demons and learning more about their backstory while shooting everything in sight. Thus, Joseph: Collapse has a lot of the same strengths and shortcomings of Vaas’ Insanity and Pagan Min’s Control that came before it. Unlike those, though, this final entry in the trilogy has the critical flaw of starring the weakest villain of the bunch – by quite a wide margin – in Joseph Seed. The Zen-like militant cult leader from Far Cry 5 never made much of an impression on me aside from his unmistakable love of yellow aviators, and Collapse does little to make him more interesting.
For those who didn’t finish Far Cry 5’s campaign or skipped the follow up Far Cry: New Dawn, consider this a necessary spoiler warning, but I have to talk about Collapse’s ill-conceived attempt at redeeming the mass-murdering psychopath that serves as the main antagonist in those games. It’s important in Collapse, because most of the story is centered around that redemption arc and Joseph’s attempts at denying his egomaniacal nature. It’s a tough sell, frankly, and one that doesn’t feel particularly earned – you just hear him scream that he’s sorry quite a bit as you direct him to commit acts of unspeakable violence. Little time is spent on justifying why he was so dang evil in Far Cry 5 aside from it being in his nature and that he’s generally not a considerate human being.
Story problems aren’t the only issues I have with Joseph’s apology tour, either. For me, the biggest fault with the execution of the Far Cry roguelite pilgrimage is that it isn’t challenging enough to lend itself well to a genre where you’re expected to die a lot. Maybe it was just a fluke, but my first run through Collapse was also my first completion, and I even did all the optional waves of combat at the end that are supposed to serve as a final gauntlet. Since I only rarely felt like I was in danger of failing my run, I just focused on temporary upgrades and largely neglected the permanent ones that would have helped with future runs. I mean, why bother planning for subsequent runs if it’s completely feasible to blow through it all in one go?
And because it was so easy to complete Collapse on my first run, one of the biggest strengths of the roguelite genre is completely undermined: figuring out the story piece by piece with each new attempt. Instead of overcoming adversity and steadily making progress to unravel the mystery of Joseph Seed’s mind, I just saw all the content in two hours then was encouraged to do it again on a harder difficulty with all the same story and boss fights. In fact, the breadcrumb storytelling design that’s become a best practice for roguelites is completely absent from Collapse: if you die and have to replay a section everything will play out the same way, and once you’ve completed a run you’ve likely seen and brutally massacred just about everything there is to brutally massacre.
That’s a serious problem because every playthrough after my first has been a monotonous slog through the same content with the only difference being my ability to artificially inflate the difficulty with some tanky, highly lethal enemies. And the only incentive for doing so is becoming more powerful… so that I can continue to complete the same content even more times. If there were new bits of story to unlock or some fresh encounters to tackle on harder difficulties I might have more incentive to keep playing, but aside from the tiny Easter egg you unlock after completing it on the highest difficulty, there’s really no reason to do so.
The good news is that everything you know and presumably love about Far Cry’s iconic formula remains mostly intact. You’ll unlock and upgrade powerful weapons, engage in solid, over-the-top combat, stealth, and gunplay that feels as satisfying as its ever been, all while running around an open-world map in search of people to murder with a Bible. The surreal landscape of Joseph’s broken psyche is also just so darn beautiful to behold; one mission in particular that has you rebuilding a destroyed statue of yourself as you climb it had me marveling at the breathtaking views and the high-stakes climbing puzzle that are central to what makes Far Cry great.
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There are a few caveats, though. One big one is that a lot of the silly, tongue-in-cheek flavor that usually accompanies a Far Cry campaign has been replaced with a pretty serious tone that feels a little disconnected from a lot of the zany combat and exploration activity they have you doing. That’s again due to the odd choice of making Joseph repentant, because if you were to try to write dialogue that incorporates that story with your actions it would come out something like “I can’t wait to repent for my unforgivable sins, but first let me ride my parachute down to a zipline then land on someone’s face to perform an exaggerated execution.”
There’s also a lot to be desired from the open-world sandbox in Collapse, which is fairly small, can be fully explored in a handful of hours, and has quite a bit of empty space you’ll mostly just run through. It’s understandable given Collapse’s decidedly smaller scope, but I definitely missed some of the exploration, activities, and vehicles that are staples in Far Cry. After only a few hours I felt like I’d seen everything there was to see, and the rest of the time I was just making a beeline to the important areas to complete additional runs.