Far Cry 4: Valley of the Yetis Review
Valley of the Yetis is easily Far Cry 4's most substantial DLC, adding a new large area, mechanics, and even a small amount of story to Ajay Ghale's journey in Kyrat. The easiest way to describe Valley of the Yetis is miniature Far Cry 4. You start from scratch when your helicopter crash lands in a new section of the Himalayan mountains, which means all the progress you made in Far Cry 4 doesn't apply here. To access the DLC, you don't even enter your main game. Valley of the Yetis appears as a new item on the game's main menu.
Immediately after crashing, your pilot is taken and no one from the Golden Path is able to come get you for a few days. You have to find your pilot and new weapons, explore a new area about 15 percent the size of Kyrat, build up your experience from zero, and even re-craft materials like wallets and gun holsters. This isn't the huge extended Far Cry 4 adventure, however, so experience comes quickly and most of the pelts you need are found in treasure chests instead of killing animals out in the field – though there is still plenty of opportunity to hunt. This gives you all the fun of building up Ajay Ghale, making him stronger, and expanding your inventory, but at a much quicker pace.
Where Valley of they Yetis separates itself from the structure established in Far Cry 4 is with your home base, the relay station, and how you must protect it every night as you wait for your friends to arrive. You initially take it over as you would a typical outpost. Once it's yours, you can build up its defenses to prepare yourself for the nightly onslaughts of The Awakened Ones, who want you out of their valley. In the same way you could deck out the Ghale homestead in Far Cry 4, you can build up the relay station with mines along the perimeter, caged bears, flammable oil slicks, and explosive barrels that can be shot down from the tops of trees as unsuspecting enemies try to attack below.
Far Cry has flirted with a few tower defense-type sequences like this, but it has never been better executed within the series than in Valley of the Yetis. Building up your home is empowering, and listening to the radio chatter call out the directions the enemies are coming from (giving you ample time to set your traps) is a lot of fun. The night time is should be intimidating, but I always looked forward to kicking off these missions and taking on the hordes, even when the terrifying yetis joined their ranks – and the yetis are scary.
You encounter them during the story missions, but my favorite yeti encounter was my first one. I drove by one out in the wild in the middle of the day, and initially thought it was a normal enemy until I got close. They're twice as tall as the average soldier, and feel out of place – but in a very cool and intimidating way. Fighting the yetis is tough, but fun. You can't outrun them, but if you pull off enough headshots, you can jump on their backs and take them out from behind, leading to a very satisfying victory.
Ajay's journey to the valley is framed in a story, and he does have a few lines that give him slightly more personality than he had in Far Cry 4, but not much. You never meet the main antagonist outside of hearing him on the radio, so he comes off more as just a voice for the collective whole of The Awakened Ones who just don't happen to like you. Valley of the Yetis ends on an interesting note, but I never felt compelled to continue to fight for emotional reasons – I just wanted to earn more money and experience.
Valley of the Yetis also lacks what casual survey leads to me to believe is everyone's (and my own) favorite aspect of Far Cry – liberating outposts. You take over your relay station and a handful of daytime missions exist where you must battle in locations with alarms that must be deactivated, but you won't find a map full of established enemy bases in need of clean-up. Instead, a series of side-missions that aren't terribly diverse, but are still fairly enjoyable, fill out the daytime activities.
Because the DLC features fantastical elements (depending on how you feel about the existence of yetis), is substantial, and has the Far Cry moniker, comparisons will be drawn between Far Cry 3's Blood Dragon downloadable game. Those comparisons aren't inappropriate as Valley of the Yetis is a comparably large piece of game, but it doesn't quite go as far as Blood Dragon does in terms of reevaluating the mechanics and aesthetics established in Far Cry 3.Where Blood Dragon felt simlar, but was able to radically separate itself from Far Cry 3, Valley of the Yetis feels like an extension of Far Cry 4. You're still Ajay Ghale and you're still in the Himalayas, but your mission has changed and you have a new enemy.
Valley of the Yetis is easily Far Cry 4's best post-release offering. It's small enough where you can see everything it has to offer in a reasonable amount of time, but large enough where you feel like you're getting a whole new Far Cry 4 experience. It's more Far Cry 4 in the best way, and there's enough new content here where nothing feels like a retread – it feels like an extension.
For our review of Far Cry 4, head here. To see us play through some of the DLC, head here for our Valley of the Yetis Test Chamber.