Ubisoft Entertainment SA usually releases several blockbuster video game titles a year. But in 2021, thanks to a string of delays caused in part by the pandemic, the French publisher has just one: Far Cry 6, which came out Oct 8 for PCs and consoles.

The stakes are high for the latest entry in the nearly two-decade-old franchise. Ubisoft shares have fallen more than 40% from a January high largely due to a weak software lineup and the fallout from allegations of sexual misconduct last summer.

“Ubi needs a hit,” said Doug Clinton, a managing partner at Loup Ventures. “They’re in culture hell and the stock has underperformed other major publishers. A hit could restore some badly needed momentum to both company and stock.”

Clinton said he expects Far Cry 6 to outproduce 2018’s Far Cry 5, which sold five million copies in its first week. Anything under six million units would be “a big disappointment”, and Ubisoft’s shares could languish during the wait for the next big title, he said.

Far Cry 6, a first-person shooter, is set on a Cuba-inspired island called Yara, amid a bloody revolution. The game features Giancarlo Esposito, the star of hit TV series Better Call Saul, as the antagonist, dictator Antón Castillo. The player becomes a guerrilla fighter and sets out to take him down.

Early reviews have been mixed, with many critics noting that Far Cry 6 follows the same open-world formula as many of Ubisoft’s other big franchises, such as Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs. Some reviewers expressed disappointment with the game’s depiction of Latin America.

Bloomberg spent a few hours with the game and found it slick and fun, if formulaic. It will feel very familiar to anyone who has played previous Far Cry games. Esposito’s performance is a highlight but his appearances aren’t as frequent as this reporter would have liked. – Bloomberg

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