Here’s a small item that had me feline fine on this debatably not-fine Friday: In Far Cry 6, there’s an island with a shipwrecked boat full of cat dolls. It’s cute. It’s also, as I just learned today, apparently a long-running gag in a particular flavor of Ubisoft map games.
Far Cry 6, an open-world shooter that came out earlier this month for PlayStation, Xbox, and PC, is Ubisoft’s latest such game. Even stacked up next to the rest of the studio’s portfolio, Far Cry 6 is in a size class of its own; speaking to TechRadar, Far Cry 6 world director Ben Hall said the development team strove to create a map so large that it legit felt like you were traversing across an entire country.
The result—well, other than a map that gives you vertigo when you zoom as far out as possible—is a big game that’s full of little secrets, including naked references to Ubisoft games like Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry Primal.
You’ll find the boat of cats on an otherwise nondescript island off the east coast of Yara, in the Barrial region. Fair warning: It’s a bit of a pain in the ass to get there. The nearest landmark, the Fragose Escarpment, doesn’t have any docks where you can lift a boat or a jetski. Sharks clog the channel between the mainland, too, so you can’t swim without getting eaten alive first. And if you haven’t cleared the nearby anti-aircraft site, you can’t steal a chopper to fly there, either.
When you eventually find a way there, you’ll see…
Alongside a castaway message written out in rocks: M I A U.
They serve no gameplay purpose, as far as I can tell. You don’t get any gear or items. They’re not used to advance the plot, or as a pivotal point in any side-quests (that I’ve discovered). They’re just...some cat dolls on a shipwrecked boat. At first glance, there’s nothing more to it.
But as commenters on Reddit pointed out, there are similar references in many recent Ubisoft games. In Assassin’s Creed Unity (2014), you can find a boat full of (live, not doll) cats in La Bièvre. Watch Dogs 2 (2016) has a boat full of (doll, definitely not alive) cats under a bridge. There’s another one (dolls, also not alive) under the docks in Watch Dogs Legion (2020). This one’s a bit more obvious, but in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (2020), you could famously have a cat (not-doll, definitely alive) as part of your crew on your viking longship.
Partway through Ubisoft’s July 2020 presser, Amanda Mundt, a level artist at Ubisoft Toronto who worked on Watch Dogs Legion, spoke about what it’s like to create a sprawling digital landscape, and the liberties with which an artist can approach the minutiae.
“I have the capacity to hide things, like, y’know, small little Easter eggs,” she said, before mentioning both the Unity and Watch Dogs 2 cat boat references. “There may or may not be something in London that is a boat filled with cats in some capacity.”
It’s unclear whether or not the cats in Far Cry 6 are Mundt’s work or a homage from a like-minded colleague. (Ubisoft Toronto led production on both Watch Dogs Legion and Far Cry 6.) Ubisoft did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.