Newcomers to Far Cry 4: greetings! I hope you're enjoying your time in Kyrat so far. It's a pretty dangerous place though, isn't it? Here are some of the things I've discovered that help me stay alive.

Before I get into the nitty gritty details (and there are a lot of those in a game like this), I should make something clear: I'm currently focusing on beginner-level tips for players who are just starting out their journey. Since Far Cry 4 is a gigantic, open-ended, and multifaceted game, there's a ton of stuff that I'm not going to go into too much detail about yet. Part of the reason I don't want to do that is because Far Cry has always been one of those games that becomes more and more interesting as adventurous and inventive players figure out new ways to do stuff and share those techniques with one another. If you are one of those Far Cry 4 players, I'd love to hear how you've been messing with the game. But first, let's make sure we've all got the basics covered.

Cool? Cool. Let's do this.

Before Anything Else, Capture The Radio Towers

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Kyrat is in the Himalayas, which makes Far Cry 4's open world an incredibly hilly one. In turn, this makes it tricky to navigate—especially at the beginning of the game, when most of the world map is covered in a thick layer of fog. You can clear the fog from a portion of the map by finding a radio tower, climbing to the top, and flipping the switch that you find there. Doing so doesn't just increase the overall level of visibility on the world map, it also fills in the region with essential details—landmarks, where loot is located, where particular animals like to hang out, etc. Start capturing the radio towers the moment you complete Far Cry 4's prologue missions—it shouldn't even wait until the end of Act 1.

You can't capture all of the radio towers at the very beginning of the game—a small chunk of them are sealed off in the northern section of Kyrat, which is effectively the second "world" in Far Cry 4. But the real point here is that basically any time that you can capture new radio towers, you should stop whatever it is you're killing and do so. It's like turning the lights on before you walk into a room.

Use The Awesome Tiny Helicopters To Get Around Kyrat Faster

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Like Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4 has a couple nifty gliding devices such as the wingsuit, parachute, and hang glider. A major addition to the new game is a device that actually lets you fly. The super teeny tiny one-person helicopter is an incredibly useful tool for exploring Kyrat simply because it's the one thing in the game that lifts you high enough up in the air that your path isn't constantly blocked by cliffs. I recommend finding one at the start of the game and taking it around Southern Kyrat to take all the radio towers—this combo is an effective way to clear out the whole first map in as little as 15-30 minutes.

Also: don't freak out if you're flying in the helicopter and it starts making scary beeping noises and shaking. This has happened to me a bunch of times, but the thing has never actually stalled or crashed. The vehicle only goes on the fritz if and when you're flying too high. If you descend a little bit, you should be fine.

...Or To Attack Outposts

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The buzzer is also an effective, albeit not very subtle, way to capture outposts in the game. Here's a handy video showing how to use the 'copter to go on the offensive.

Yes, Two People Can Ride The Buzzer At The Same Time

Whether you're just aiming for the top of radio towers or executing an all-out assault, don't let the helicopter's diminutive size fool you: it's fully compatible with co-op like any other vehicle in the game.

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After The Radio Towers, Go Hunting

Coming in at a close second on the list of Things You Need To Do Before Far Cry 4 Becomes A Fun Game To Play is: craft better gear for Ajay. The only way to do this is by hunting animals and harvesting their skin. Creepy, I know—you're basically a serial killer in this game, but one that has a particularly strong appetite for honey badgers.

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One of the reasons why it's useful to seize radio towers first and then hunt is because any given animal's stomping grounds are highlighted on the map with illustrations of the critter in question. Just zoom in to the icon you're looking for and set a waypoint. But don't expect a macaque monkey to just be sitting there at the exact location you've pinpointed, waiting for you to show up—they're usually somewhere in the general area.

Here's A List Of All The (Normal) Animals You Need To Kill

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To fully upgrade Ajay's equipment, you need to hunt down a bunch of different animals and harvest their skins. In no particular order, here are all the normal animals and the specific number of skins you need from each:

  • 6 Tibetan Wolf Skins
  • 7 Malayan Tapir Skins
  • 3 Honey Badger Skins
  • 7 Bengal Tiger Skins
  • 4 Bharal Skins
  • 3 Assam Macaque (Monkey) Skins
  • 6 Asian Rhino Skins
  • 8 Sambar Skins
  • 3 Pig Skins (actual pigs, not footballs)
  • 4 Demon Fish Skins
  • 4 Wild Boar Skins
  • 5 Dhole Skins
  • 8 Bear Skins
  • 5 Yak Skins
  • 7 Clouded Leopard Skins
  • 7 Snow Leopard Skins

This walkthrough recommends you hunt Kyrat's animals in a specific order. I'm not sure that's necessary since you don't need to max everything out to properly enjoy Far Cry 4. The one problem I did run into when crafting was that snow leopards are pretty tricky to find early in the game. The best way to get these skins is to wait until you unlock the northern chunk of the map. You can also find the critters during the story missions that send you all the way up into the Himalayas.

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To Max Out Your Gear, Do 'Kyrat Fashion Week' Quests

To fully upgrade almost all of your gear, you need to go a step further than collecting all of the animal skins I just listed. With the exception of the weapon holster (see below), the final upgrade for each piece of equipment requires you to kill and skin a special animal. You can find these rare beasts by doing side-missions known as "Kyrat Fashion Week," which are labelled on the map with a little blue sticker with an elephant logo. Game Front and Video Games Blogger both have handy guides that spell out how to complete these.

Use The Bow And Syringes When You're Hunting

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As I noted in my review, the animals in Kyrat are some of the toughest ones I've ever met in a Far Cry game. Since there are so many different animals with unique characteristics, they all pose different challenges. But there are two general things to keep in mind across the board.

First, if you're hunting with a particular goal in mind (say, getting animal skins to craft a certain item), you should use the bow. Killing animals with arrows awards a "clean kill," which gives you twice as many skins, so it makes the process much more efficient than attacking them with an uzi or assault rifle—fun as that may be. Second, if you're having trouble just finding the animals you're trying to hunt in the first place, use some hunting syringes. Doing so temporarily highlights animal tracks in your vision, making them easier to find. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to stock up on these since they're not even available to purchase at weapon vendors. Instead, you have to craft them by collecting and then combining red and blue-leaved plants.

Alternatively, Even The Hunting Odds With Some Heavy Firepower

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The bow and arrow is useful for killing many of Kyrat's dangerous critters. But not all of them.

You should think of the rhinos and elephants in the game as tanks, for example. Imagine what would happen if you tried to take out a tank with a bow and arrow. You're better off giving beasts like these everything you've got. Other animals like tigers and dogs are more vulnerable to arrows. But they're also so aggressive, and they move so quickly, that you put yourself at a serious risk of being eaten if you miss a shot. So if you're not a pro with the bow yet, fear not. Assault rifles and shotguns take care of deadly predators in a pinch.

Don't Blow Animals Up (If You Need Skins)

If a rhino or tiger is giving you serious trouble, it's tempting to take a bazooka to the beast. And that's totally fine—unless you need to craft anything afterwards. Blowing up an animal ruins their skin, so only use your heaviest firepower as a last resort.

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Do Blow Eagles Up No Matter What

It's ok to feel sorry for the animals in Far Cry 4. Except for the devil birds known as eagles. Never feel sorry for they eagles. Those fuckers deserve whatever they have coming to them.

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Take some sound advice from YouTuber Cosmic Contrarian and give the feathery monsters a taste of their own medicine. With an RPG, of course:

Or, try a slightly more tactful approach, like YouTuber Attomsk, and snipe at them from afar:

Be Very, Very Careful When Pissing Off Bees

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I don't know what it is, but there's something in Kyrat that has turned its bees into terrifying, bloodthirsty monsters. If you're anywhere near a beehive, shooting it is essentially suicide.

That said, you should shoot a beehive if you see one near a group of enemies, because then the bees will kill them instead. Just make sure to keep a safe distance.

Max Out Your Weapon Holster As Soon As You Can

Fully upgrading the holster is the single most important thing you can do in this game gear-wise, because doing so allows you to carry four weapons at any given time. That, in turn, saves you a lot of trips back and forth to the store. Unlike Far Cry 3, getting all the upgrades for your weapon holster is very easy this time around. It's actually the only piece of gear that only has three upgrades, as opposed to four.

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The Same Goes For Your Health

You start Far Cry 4 with very little in the way of health. Reaching maximum possible health isn't available at the outset of the game, but you can still get two additional health slots (for a total of four) and some upgrades to your healing abilities from the get-go. Focus on these, ability-wise, before anything else.

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Get The Perk To Double-Harvest Plants

Ok, this is the last "must have" upgrade before you do anything else I swear. The "Harvester" ability makes it so you gather two leaves for every plant you pick up in Kyrat, as opposed to just one. Also, the game introduces a nifty new auto-crafting feature for health syringes among some other nice improvements to Far Cry's whole plant gathering-and-syringe-making system. So once you have the "harvester" ability, you can auto-craft health syringes by simply picking plants with green leaves. Easy, right?

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Then, Focus On These Equipment Upgrades

This is just to begin with, but these are the best items to start upgrading as soon as you can:

  • Ammo Bag
  • Wallet
  • Syringe Kit
  • Loot Bag

Other pieces of gear like the explosives bag or throwables bags are handy as well, but they all focus on abilities or weapons that are a tad more specialized. I'm just talking about getting the fundamentals of Far Cry 4 in place. And since this is already the fourth chore I've told you to do before you should actually start, you know, playing the game, I think it's safe to take a break and enjoy yourself before resuming the grind.

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Play The Campaign Up To "A Key To The North"

As the name implies, this is the mission that unlocks the northern-most chunk of Kyrat's map. Northern Kyrat also has two of the game's four fortresses, and the two that are up there are a lot more fun than the first two since they're the two largest and most complicated ones in the game. Also, you need to complete "Key To The North" to unlock some useful health upgrades.

Do All Of Longinus' Missions

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Longinus is, among other things, a weapons dealer. He's also one of the people in the game that has a number of specific quests attached to his character. Far Cry 4 is a first-person shooter. You do the math.

Ok, fine, I'll just say it: complete the Longinus missions because they get you the best guns. I'm not going to spoil it, but you get something particularly exciting at the very end of his story arc.

Finish Act One To Unlock Co-Op

Co-op is one of the best parts of Far Cry 4, so you should totally give it a shot. But don't start the game expecting to be able to dive into multiplayer immediately. You have to get through the entire first act before it becomes available. "First act" might make this sound daunting, but it really doesn't take that long to get through—probably 30 minutes to an hour at most. It's basically just a small series of story-driven missions that set up the premise of the game.

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Do At Least One Racing Mission

Racing in Far Cry games has never been my cup of tea. But you pretty much need to complete at least one race successfully in order to unlock two important takedowns. Winning a race unlocks the vehicle takedown specifically. But more importantly, the heavy takedown is blocked off until you unlock and then acquire the vehicle takedown. Armored bad guys are a real chore to take out without the heavy takedown, so get this one out of the way as soon as you can.

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Take At Least Two Outposts Silently

Again like the racing mission, you need to capture two outposts silently—without raising any alarms or being detected—to unlock the "soft landing" and "non-stop" abilities, which reduce your fall damage and let you sprint forever respectively.

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You Can Replay Outposts Without Resetting Them

Taking outposts by stealth is a lot harder than it was in Far Cry 3, in my experience. But you also need them because the game's map has a lot less fast-travel locations than its predecessor. Given that, I'd recommend capturing as many as you can but only worrying about getting two silently to begin with. You can replay the outposts you haven't captured perfectly by selecting the "Outpost Master" mission in the relevant camp once you've taken it.

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You Can't Replay Fortresses The Same Way

You have to take all of the fortresses and enemy outposts before you're able to do a hard reset, which can be annoying if you're mostly playing in co-op. Keep this in mind lest you end up in a situation where you and a friend are stuck on the first map of the game without that much to do.

Get These Challenges And Missions Out Of The Way

One of the (many) ways that Far Cry 4 pressures you to engage with its story and scripted missions is by requiring you to do so if you want to unlock some of Ajay's coolest high-level abilities. Regardless of what your preferences are, Far Cry-wise, you should just get these out of the way:

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  • At least one bomb defusing quest for grenade takedown.
  • Do two hostage rescue quests to unlock "Deep Breath," which increases the amount of time you can hold your breath. This helps with swimming underwater. But, far more importantly, snagging Deep Breath means that you can keep your sniper rifle's aim perfectly still for longer, which is essential for pulling off good headshots.
  • Complete one escort mission for "Improvised Surgery," which makes healing without syringes heal two health slots instead of just one.
  • Buy one signature weapon for better survival syringes.
  • Reach rank 2 in the arena to unlock an upgrade that makes survival syringes last longer.
  • Complete one "Kyrat Fashion Week" (i.e., hunting) quest to unlock two different syringe-related skills that boost Ajay's combat and movement abilities.

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You Need An Upgrade To Ride Elephants

It's called "Elephant Rider," is available from the outset of the game, and only costs you two points.

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The Camera Is Your Most Powerful Weapon

If you're going into a particular area of Kyrat where you know you'll be killing bad guys (say, an outpost or fortress), make sure to scope out the situation from a number of different vantage points with your camera.

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The gadget is useful for two main reasons. First, the camera lens has a much better zoom-in feature than any of the sniper rifle scopes in the game. And secondly, surveying something through the camera lens automatically tags all the enemies that are caught in its field of vision. When an enemy is tagged, you can still see where he is even if he's not in your direct line of sight, so it's a great way to keep track of bad guy.

Unlock The Wingsuit And Sticky Explosives By Buying Them

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Sticky grenades, sticky mines, sticky C4, and the wingsuit are four essential ingredients to the Far Cry 4 experience. The wingsuit is given to you at a certain point in the story, but you can also get them all in the "items" section of the game's store.

Here's How To Make A Car Bomb

Once you've acquired sticky explosives, you can start doing one of my favorite things in Far Cry games: turning vehicles into deadly explosive traps. Here's a video by YouTuber Volound showing how it's done. Basically all you have to do is position outfit the vehicle with the requisite explosives and position it in such a way that it will roll down a hill towards whatever you're trying to blow up—say, an armed convoy. Once the target arrives, stand behind the truck and hold down the button you're prompted to (square on the PS4) to release the brakes. Keep track of the truck as it starts to move, and detonate the C4 at the right moment.

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Try Locating Collectibles, Because They're A Good Way To Get Experience Quickly

In addition to its many loot chests, Kyrat has a few special types of items scattered around the map. The four main ones are: masks, propaganda posters, mani wheels, and undiscovered locations (the little orange questions marks). Checking these things off is never essential, but doing so is an effective and very easy way to accrue experience points—the currency that's required to unlock more of Ajay's skills.

Also, trying to find them all is actually really fun. The game hides a lot of its collectibles in nooks and crannies that are hard to find. And since Kyrat is such a beautiful open world, hunting for them gives you a good excuse to take in more of the scenery.

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Keep Track Of Your Karma

You need to have a certain karma score to access key abilities and items in Far Cry 4, so it's a good idea to shy away from doing things like, say, shooting civilians in Kyrat. It's very easy to accidentally run them over when you're driving around, however. If you're karma suddenly takes a turn for the worse or you just need a quick boost, here are the main ways to increase your score on the fly:

  • Completing ad hoc "karma events" when they pop up.
  • Hunting animals with "clean kills"—by using the knife or bow.
  • Spinning mani wheels.

Karma events pop up a lot when you're playing Far Cry 4 normally, so don't worry if you miss one. Or if you just don't feel like doing it. There's no penalty for opting out of a karma event.

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Save Some Of The Grinding For Co-Op

Whether or not you're the one hosting a co-op session, you'll still retain all of the experience, weapons, and items you acquire when playing. Because of this, I recommend taking care of some of the chore-like parts of Far Cry 4 with a friend. It makes them a lot more fun.

Switch Between Your And Your Friend's Game

For whatever reason, other kinds of progress do NOT work in co-op the way that loot and experience do. This means that if you're the one joining a game, you won't hold onto the radio towers, outposts, or fortresses that you've helped capture in your friend's game. Co-op is still a lot of fun, though, and raiding outposts and fortresses is one of the best parts of it, so that doesn't mean you should avoid them when playing with a friend.

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I recommend taking turns with your Far Cry 4 friends in terms of who gets to host a particular co-op session. That way, everybody wins.

If You're Playing On PS4, Turn Off The Touchpad

The PS4 version of Far Cry 4 defaults to using the DualShock 4's touchpad as a sort of quick-menu option. Instead of holding down R1 to toggle your full weapon loadout, then, you can slide a finger along the touchpad to toggle between your different guns. It's a neat idea. The problem with it is that, in my experience, it's far too sensitive.

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I accidentally brushed against the touchpad countless times when using the controller in the completely normal way that I would when playing any shooter, which meant that my vision of the game kept getting interrupted by the weapons menu. Save yourself some trouble and turn the darn thing off in the control options menu.

Take A Step Back And Admire The Scenery Every So Often

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Pretty, isn't it?

As I mentioned up top, I'm hoping to continue adjusting and adding to this list as all us Far Cry 4 players dig ever deeper into the game. So please let me know in a comment or email (address below) about some of the tricks you've picked up during your journey through Kyrat so far. And remember: don't shoot the bees.

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Happy hunting!

UPDATE 11/24 4:00 pm: Added more tips about how, when, and where to get specific upgrades, items, and abilities.

To contact the author of this post, write to yannick.lejacq@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq.