Far Cry 3 – It´s an Open World Game, do whatever you want whenever you want, but you can try only once
I received Far Cry 3 as a Christmas Gift. I was very anxious to play it. But soon the save game system threw a bucket of cold water over my expectation of having plenty of fun. Now I´ll have to play the game much more seriously. I´ll probably continue the game in the easier difficulty setting, since I´ll have to be repeating many parts of the game anyway, and my free time is short. So it´s better not to die.
When I load a game, I don’t want to lose progress. I want to continue from where and when I left, and I want to be able to leave the game anytime I want without losing too much progress.
DISCLAIMER: This post is going to be about the save game system in Far Cry 3, which I consider bad, and how it negatively affects the gameplay. ***If you think that this system is good, please do not try to defend the “indefensable” here. [Note 1]*** Just go ahead and create a thread called "The Wonderful Far Cry 3 save game system” and convince people that it couldn´t be better.
[Note 1] *** I admit I was arrogant here. People can like the current system, even more if it fits their way to play a game. I´ll take back those words. But I still would like to see a thread about its positive characteristics. ***
PATCHES: On top of that, the 4 patches released so far (4 patches in 1 month), seems to corrupt or not accept the previous version save games. It didn’t´ happened to me, since I started playing very recently. But lots of people are complaining and having to restart from scratch. Well, if I lose 10 hours of gameplay due to a patch, I would be very angry. Those 10 hours of gameplay represents about 1 week of gameplay for me. I would be very disappointed with the lack of respect upon player’s gameplay time. I don´t have much free time, so before updating ask me first if I accept to lose my save game before patching, even if a "no" means no multiplayer. At least I´ll get the time to finish the story.
There are plenty of articles in the Internet very well elaborated and with brilliant insights about the negative aspects of this save game system. Here are some:
Ubisoft did it again
Far Cry 2 was quite impressive. Great graphics and Physiscs engine, excellent action, weapons, and so on. But also lots of driving around, even using the bus stations. But the worse of it definitely was the “outpost respawning” problem. If you don´t know what it is, just Google it. A great game hindered by a big flaw.
In my opinion, because of it, 3 years later Far Cry 2 could be found in the bargain bin of digital download sites with deep discounts. According to some developer manager or something like that, the root problem was in the way the game handled the memory, and it could not be patched. The map is divided in grids that were loaded into the memory. Each time you left a grid, the new one was loaded into memory. But just when you get back to the first one, the grid was reloaded into memory and the outposts were reset.
Sure, it´s a shooter, but not because of that I´d find it fun to shoot the same guys over and over again in the same place and to repair my vehicle every time. I have better things to do with my time.
At least the save game system worked great on the PC.
How it works
First of all I would like to explain how the Far Cry 3 save game system works. It is confusing and it´s not explained well in the provided ingame documentation. Lots of people on the forums are explaining it wrong. I don´t blame them, because it´s quite unique from what I have ever seen. So here we go:
NOTE: If you found anything wrong in this explanation, just advise and I´ll correct it.
Every time you start a new game it asks you what slot you want to use. There are 3 available slots. Each one will hold the saves from a different campaign. You cannot use more than 1 slot in 1 gameplay.
Autosaves and saves:
Each game slot actually have 2 slots. One is used to store the game automatic savings in checkpoint, and the other one is used for your manual savings. As you can deduce from that, each time you save, you overwrite your previous save.
Autosaves are saved after specific actions or when you enter mission areas (story or side missions). As far as I could observe, it´s after you craft something, buy/sell at shops, enter/complete missions and so on. A symbol will appear in the upper right side of the screen.
An autosave is loaded when you die in a mission. If you die during a mission, it will load the last checkpoint and you´ll continue the mission from there, losing the progress you made from that checkpoint up to the moment you died. In this regard, it´s much like the save system in games like Call of Duty or Crysis 2 and I don´t see much of a problem, ONLY IF the checkpoints are well placed.
If you want to force reload a checkpoint save, you must quit to the main menu, go in Story, Load Game, and select the autosave slot.
Saving Manual Saves
First of all, you CAN quick save. Just press F9 when you´re not in a mission. If within a mission, you get a message that you can´t save there. Also, you can save accessing the main menu and choosing SAVE. There’s no difference. Everytime you save, you overwrite your previous save. The game even warns you about that, what I don´t understand why, since you have no other save slot.
Loading Manual Saves
You can load a manually saved game using quick load (F11) or quitting to the main menu and accessing the game slot, as described before.
The point with this one is: you can quick save (F9) when and where you want; but you cannot load where you want. When you hit F11, you just appear in the nearest safe house / radio tower with same amount of progress as when you saved.
After you die
When you die during a mission, it reloads you in your previous checkpoint that was saved during the mission. During missions (story and side missions) and approaching outposts, the checkpoints seem reasonably well placed, as far as I observed. So, if you die, it´s not that great deal, but you´ll have start the combat from scratch.
When you die wandering around the island, you just respawn at the nearest safe house or radio tower. You don´t lose what you did so far (crafted items, items, and so on) and keeps the same amount of ammo from the moment you died. But if you were doing something, you´ll have to go over there again and continue.
So my question is: Why? Why this poor design decision?
PCs and consoles can hold many save game slots, and of course you can save and load an open world game in the same location, as with Far Cry 2 and many other games. Have this game a problem with loading exactly in the location where you saved? Will you spawn inside an animal running around? I don´t imagine why this decision was taken in the first place, considering that all the technical aspects seems to be there.
Of course it was a decision by the developers. This system was no accident. They considered it the most adequate for the game. But I still don´t understand why, because if you let the players decide would be so much better.
Open world, but restricted options
Do you know ONE of the reasons why people love Valve´s games? It´s because they give you absolute freedom on how to play. Want to save many times in different slots? Check. Quick save, quick load? Check. Want to try new approaches and if you fail, just reload the game? Check. Want to use cheats? Check! You can even use cheats in the Coop mode of Portal 2!
I personally like the Civilization series as well, since in the IV and V iterations you can do whatever you want in single player using a “world builder” or “online editor”. The game is yours, and you´re free to play it the way you want.
I´ve never heard someone complain about “excess of options”. If you don´t want to use a feature, like a quick save, just don´t use it, but let others do the way they want.
What we are losing
Players are losing many things with this save system:
1) Can´t record a moment in the story.
You have just 1 slot. Want to save in the middle of the story to replay from there, or revive a special part, or show it to someone else? Forget it.
**2) You play cautiously.
In the trailers they show you all those cool ways to kill your enemies. But I think I´ll prefer to snipe them from far away, because if you die, you´ll have to repeat all your progress from the last checkpoint or simple get back to the action from the nearest safe house. Not very funny. Also, if you´re driving around or hunting and get killed, you´re out of luck, because you´ll respawn at the nearest safe house.
**3) You don´t try new approaches.
I like to have a stealth approach, but usually you have to try some times until you get the right strategy to not get caught. Well, how to do that, if I cannot load after a failed approach? I won´t repeat large chunks of gameplay to do that. Maybe I´ll just run and shoot, or just let me get killed, so I´ll respawn at the lat checkpoint.
4) Cannot repeat after a bad victory
If you succeed in a mission, but got it very badly and want to repeat the combat to get a better result (hey, this is fun), forget it. Usually the game saves after the mission is successfully completed, overwriting your saved game, so you lose your previous saved game and cannot try again.
If you want to experiment with the game options and try out a new syringe, try something crazy with the glider or just jump over a cliff to see what happens, without compromise, it´s not possible. You can´t quick save, try it out and get if it get wrong, and just quick load; you can do that, but if you die or just regret what you die, you´ll load at the nearest safe house.
**6) Relics and lost letters sometimes requires some platformingI just added this one. I was seeking relics, and to reach some of them you have to make some platforming. Some not so easy jumps in narrow rocks at a cliff, for example, to get 2 relics north of the 1st outpost you take, in a very high cliff with a lake at the bottom. Usually a like to quick save before trying those stunts, because falling would mean certain death. Well, I quick saved, got a jump wrong and smashed in a rock. Then, respawned in a safe house. I had to to all the driving and walking back to this remote location.
7) Anything that I could not think of?
NOTE: *** I see now that points 2, 3 and 5 are basically different instances about the same issue. I added a 6th point that can be included here. ***
It´s indeed a gorgeous open world begging to be explored. I´ve played a portion of the story, and so far the game is very fun, the history is interesting and the world is fantastic. Usually you can start the side missions very near from the safe houses and the goal for the missions is never very far away. The fast travels works fine, and the checkpoint saving during missions worked fine (as I experienced so far).
But the “sandbox” concept is really not there (sandbox game is like a real sandbox, a place where you´re free to experiment and try new things without major consequences and anxiety for getting it wrong). The main tool to allow this “sandbox” gameplay is flawed. A strong save game system is not only a feature that demonstrates respect for the player’s gameplay time, but it’s a gameplay feature as well.
The way you play is strongly affected by this. Unless you are a super hardcore gamer, most players don´t like to repeat the same chunks of gameplay over and over again, or repeat menial tasks like crafting, scavenging and driving around.
And if you die, you don´t want to get punished for that; you want another chance to get better. Losing a lot of progress and having to redo boring tasks after you die is a punishment that refrain players for taking profitable risks. I don´t want to hear this story of “if you die you´ll have consequences and this will lead to a more interesting gameplay”. I already have this in real life, in games I want to have fun.
Well, this is it. I doubt that they will make such a huge change on the game, though.