If I had to sum up gamers' reaction to Far Cry 4 in a single sentence, it would have to be: "Fuck these birds." Or some variation of that, at least.
That's one of the first things Kotaku's Steve Marinconz said to me when we started playing online. I'd already played 30 hours of Far Cry 4 at that point, but Steve had only just begun. And he was quickly realising the exact same thing I did when I first stepped into Kyrat, the game's mountainous Nepalese-ish setting: the birds in this game are absolutely fucking terrifying.
You spend almost all of your time in Far Cry 4 outside. No matter where you're going, or what you're doing, birds suddenly appear—seemingly out of nowhere—and try to eat your face. The first time it happens its shocking. And then it happens again. And again. It never stops, really.
Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann captures the moment perfectly in this video:
Notice that he's already complaining about the birds, and then another one drops in to remind him, yet again, fuck these birds.
Here is my in-progress Far Cry 4 review: “Far Cry 3 but with insidious birds seriously fuck those birds oh god birds run Run RUN 4/5"
— Jeff Gerstmann (@jeffgerstmann) November 14, 2014
What makes it even worse is that they don't just go for your face either. Oh, if only they were so polite. They also swoop in to steal other animals that you're hunting:
Hell, they might even circle back to try to drop the pig on you afterwards:
"The birds were trying to crush me with livestock." When will it end? It never does, really. There's always more birds out there, just waiting to swoop in and claw at your eyes. Is this the rapture?
It's not like we weren't warned, though:
Far Cry 4 gameplay footage shows co-op, grapple hook, kicking - Drive and shoot! Be attacked from above by eagles! http://t.co/1AEQrCyxLn
— Eurogamer.net (@eurogamer) June 10, 2014
If only we know how horrifying this feathery death from above was going to be:
thank you Far Cry 4 for teaching me that eagles, and wildlife in general, are a bunch of pricks
— Rich Lowtax Kyanka (@lowtax) November 20, 2014
@Jewmaican133 what i've learned in far cry 4: elephants dominate everything, rhinos are scary, and eagles are massive dickheads.
— Kyle Borjas (@borjas2010) November 21, 2014
@Tayler_michelle Play Far Cry 4....the amount of hate I have for Eagles is unreal.
— Mike Jasiczek (@coach_jazz) November 21, 2014
in far cry 4, huge eagles randomly swoop down and try to eat you game of the year
— yung queez-e (@porn_horse) November 15, 2014
You can get attacked by eagles in Far Cry 4?!
— BigHatDino aka Kev (@bighatdino) November 14, 2014
But not everyone's just consigning themselves to living through a never-ending bird-filled nightmare. Some players are starting to press for answers. Like: what kind of cruel god must there be in Far Cry 4, to sit back and let us be tormented by endless waves of vicious eagles? To see so much fear and pain, and do nothing—not even tell us why it is that we're suffering?
I hope there’s a half hour cutscene in Far Cry 4 explaining why everyone in Kyrat shoots eagles on sight.
— amuchmorexotic (@amuchmoreexotic) November 19, 2014
Well, I don't know about Far Cry 4's story providing an origin story for its Hitchcockian hellscape. But at least now I have a slightly better idea why I keep happening upon random groups of soldiers in Kyrat's expansive forests, all shooting into the sky:
At first you think there's nothing there, like they're just shooting blindly—or madly—into thin air. But then you realize: they are shooting at something. They just don't know when, or where, the next demon bird will appear.
And yet...it's not like we want to see the birds go away, either. They're part of what makes this game so weird. And its deep, intrinsic weirdness is what makes the gameso great. The two beats whose likenesses emblazon all the official branding of Far Cry 4 might be the elephant and the tiger. But we all know who the real starts of this show are:
— Luke Plunkett (@LukePlunkett) November 21, 2014
Also, I think I know why I've felt so out of it the past few days, coming off a serious Far Cry 4 binge like I am:
Stay safe out there, people of Far Cry 4. And don't stop shooting at the sky.