I didn't believe them when they said it was basically Skyrim with guns. I certainly believed them when they said it was good. But goddamn, it really is as big as Skyrim but with guns and it's good. I haven't gotten far enough to critique it on it's story, because apparently it's heavy handed in its racism, but the combat alone really gets going once you reach what I assume to be the mid-level skills.
First, it's more than similar to Skyrim in just the size. You're constantly tempted to walk to locations rather than fast-travel due to the sheer number of things that could go wrong (and for fun to spring up) if you take the long way around. I hunted so many animals in the beginning, I ended up maxing out my ammo and arrow carrying capacities before even unlocking the second tier of skills after chapter 4. What can I say? I see all these exotic animals just waiting to be skinned and I have a bow and arrow. Of course I'm gonna get Native American on Rook Island.
Those tigers ain't gonna hunt themselves now will they?
You know those stories of gamers throwing a single rock than suddenly clearing out a whole pirate encampment as a wild tiger mauls everyone to death and causes a fire to break out? Well, I haven't had a successful event of that happen yet. The pirates usually gang up enough on whatever tiger or bear that happens to be nearby and it only takes out 3 or 4 pirates. However, I was on an assassination mission though. Assassinations have a twist in that you have to kill the mark in true Rakyat fashion: with a knife. I snuck around back and had the man in my sights but he also had four buddies on the other side just screwing around. Not exactly the ideal assassination and throwing a rock would've ruined my position.
But something amazing happened. A truck of Rakyat rebels simply pull up in front of the camp and start going all Steven Seagall at the gates. It drew the attention of all four grunts and I knew in that moment that the time for a silent assassination was now. Sure enough, I bagged a silent assassination and the four other grunts still had no idea. Granted, it seemed like they mowed down those Rakyat rebels like ants, but I had a full clip of a silenced SMG and I wound up only needing a clip and half while I had the drop on them.
Sure, combat is a little bit of a slog at first as you're absolutely underpowered. You can only carry two or three spare clips of ammo for each gun at first and if even two pirates gang up on you, you're pretty much screwed or burning through all your medical syringes. You're pretty much guaranteed to use an assault rifle in the beginning because that's the weapon every pirate uses so you can loot their ammo. But once you get past the first major turning point and unlock the second tier of skills to begin earning, you start to really get powerful and like Jason Brody's transformation from a simple shithead bro to a bloodlusting whiteman warrior, so to do you begin your transformation from weak weekend warrior to the epitome of the predator in the jungle.
Here's how a second encampment attack broke down hours later. I quickly snuck around back with the improved speed on my crouch walk to remain undetected in the brush. After tagging everyone with the camera you've had since the beginning to keep track of enemy positions, I got behind one of the two overwatch snipers. I didn't just stab him in the back; I stealth killed him, pulled the pins on his grenades, and kicked him into his unsuspecting buddy beneath. While everyone was fixated on the explosion, I took out the second sniper with my suppressed AR, ducked into a hut to silently sniped the melee junkie who was straggling in the back, then as the last two were left scratching their heads, I stabbed one of them. And again pulled his grenades and kicked him into his buddy.
Oh, and I also disabled their alarms, which was way easier thanks to my faster crouch walk, the Jungle Run. +1500xp on top of the initial 500xp.
The character are, in my opinion, interesting, at least for now. Jason goes from trembling in the jungle and freaking out at the thought of stabbing a man, to calmly blowing up cars full of pirates with a grenade launcher while juxtaposed against his freaking out girlfriend who's forced to drive the getaway car. While everyone else in his bro'd out posse is probably freaking out and saying how this is the worst thing ever, Jason simply says he's gonna fix everything like it's no big deal.
Yes, lots of video game protagonists can just say that but it's important to remember that just 3 hours ago, Jason timidly reeled back as he was forced to push a knife into a man's neck. Now he's saying he's going to kill tons of brown dudes to save his friends like it's no big deal.
And Vaas? What can I say about Vaas that hasn't already been said. The lunatic isn't just bipolar in how he talks to you. He's good cop/bad cop if they had to lay off the second guy. Every word that rolls out of his mouth is like calculated mayhem just waiting to come to fruition.
Just know that these caps didn't come out earlier because I'm losing track of time wandering around the jungle, just looking for things to do. And more often than not, things come out of the jungle and find me by biting my ankles. Fucking komodo dragons outta nowhere!