Far Cry 3 is an open world first-person shooter set on the fictional Rook archipelago in the Pacific. Even though the tropical setting resembles the original Far Cry, the gameplay itself is closer to Far Cry 2 as the open world exploration is supplemented by role-playing elements with experience points, crafting, trading, hunting and three skills trees.
The protagonist is Jason Brody, a daredevil who is on a holiday in the Pacific with his two brothers and some friends. When they take a skydiving trip, they land on an island that is controlled by pirates. They are all taken prisoner by the pirate warlord Vaas and his older brother Grant is killed when they attempt to escape. Vaas sarcastically gives Jason an opportunity of 30 seconds to escape before he hunts him down. Against all odds, Jason succeeds by jumping into the water. He is rescued by Dennis Rogers who introduces him to the Rakyat, the native tribe that hopes to rid the island off the pirates. During the search for the remaining survivors Jason will be initiated into the mysticism of the tribe, discover the environment and hunt down Vaas. After the introduction the player is however largely free to leave the main quest along and discover the islands at his own pace and leisure, as all of the playable area is available right away.
The rook archipelago is a dangerous environment filled with pirate settlements and local animals such as tigers, bears, sharks, komodo dragons, boars, goat, snakes, rabid dogs etc. It is split up into different sections that are revealed gradually as soon as a radio tower in the sector has been taken over. These reveal the entire environment and open up quests, but areas can also be traversed without a detailed map. There are various safe houses to travel around and exchange loot at all-purpose vending machines. Players can kill pirates, complete quests, but also collect plants and hunt down animals for their skin. Money is exchanged for weapons, modifications and items such as syringes, but crafting also plays an important role. By discovering recipes, plants can be turned into fluids that are injected to enhance abilities. In addition animals skins are used to craft items that extend Jason’s weapon belt up to four slots, provide a larger wallet to store money, increase his ammo belt and a lot more. Completing quests and killing pirates is rewarded with skill points that are used on one of the three available skill trees. These determine the playing style, as Heron deals with mobility and long-range attacks, Spider with stealth and survival, and Shark with assault and healing. For each new skill acquired, Jason receives a tattoo on his arm.
Even though it is a shooter with machine guns, assault rifles, hand guns, bows, flamethrowers, mines, RPGs and grenades, almost all of the game can be played with a stealth approach. Jason can crouch and hide in the foliage to remain hidden. A meter shows how visible he is to opponents. By sneaking up on them stealth takedowns with a knife can be performed and bodies can be dragged away. He can also throw rocks or use sounds to isolate pirates. His camera is used to zoom in and mark opponents. Once they are marked they remain visible through an outline even when there are walls or objects in the way, helping to track movement. The same can be done with animals. Moving around is done by foot, but there are also different vehicles such as cars, jeeps, quads, boats, jet skis and paragliders along with zip lines and swimming to move more quickly.
If Jason chooses to help the natives, he can infiltrate and take over more than 30 outposts. Once these settlements are cleared, they become property of the natives and a safe house for fast travel and shopping is offered. Every animal and character has dynamic behavior, acting regardless of Jason’s actions. That way he can observe animals attacking each other or use it to his advantage to clear a group of enemies, and villagers will move out and conquer more territory independently once Jason clears an outpost. Enemies patrol around the island on foot or in cars with non-scripted behavior. Once Jason is discovered, they will often call in reinforcements from another location and chase him down. Additional ammo and weapons can be picked up from fallen enemies, and money and items are also collected that way, along with many hidden loot chests and additional collectibles such as letters from fallen soldiers during World War II and relics. Weapons that are bought can be re-acquired at any time without an additional cost from the vending machine even when they were lost or exchanged during a quests. Weapons can further be customized through various modifications such as scopes, laser pointers, silencers and more room for ammo.
Multiplayer consists of a separate cooperative campaign for up to four players that takes place six months before the events of the main game. It is set on a separate island of the Rook archipelago and features four characters: a thug called Callum, the crooked cop Leonard, the Russian hitman Mikhail and ex-soldier Tisha. They were redeeming their past actions by working on a cruise ship when they are scammed out of their money by the pirates. By pursuing them, they end up on the island. The campaign is split up into six missions that take about an hour each, interspersed with cut-scenes. The missions typically have the characters working together to travel to a location, killing all enemies and then completing objectives such as protecting equipment, finding a specific type of ammo or guarding another player. Experience is also gained here and there are multiplayer unlockables and custom loadouts. Competitive elements between players are also encouraged, such as getting the most sniping kills for instance, with an additional experience bonus. Two additional elements are battle cry and booster systems. Battle cries are temporary buffs that affect team mates in the vicinity and boosters are stronger buffs provided through syringes.
The competitive multiplayer modes include team deathmatch, domination, transmission and firestorm. Transmission and firestorm are similar to domination. Transmission is about radio transmitters as control points but they sometimes change locations. Firestorm has each team set fire simultaneously to two fuel dumps held by the other team, while defending their own. Once a successful fire has been achieved, almost the entire environment becomes ablaze and the teams then need to fight over a radio control point. Additional multiplayer bonuses and perks are gathered by unlocking encrypted data with a time limit. In these modes players can also level up through a permanent system and use battles cries, booster systems, revive team mates or call in support. After matches there are interactive cut-scenes where players can choose to show mercy or punish (kill) opponents.