Far Cry 5 is the eagerly awaited 5th instalment of Ubisoft’s hit franchise, bringing it’s trademark brand of chaos and obscenity to the shores of the United States. Far Cry 3 was loved by fans, and many felt that its squeal, Far Cry 4, dropped the ball a little. Is Far Cry 5 a return to form?
Far Cry 5 comes with a boat-load of content, and it hasn’t been shy about giving all of the title time in the spotlight, which is really refreshing to see. Alongside the lengthy single player, the game features Far Cry Arcade, bringing together 6v6 PvP, PvE, and the titles glorious map editor under one roof, and really adds to the experience. While the bread and butter of Far Cry has really been within the Single Player experience of the franchise, Far Cry Arcade brings that nice level of emphasis to the remainder of the title that is greatly welcomed.
Far Cry 5 sees you taking on the role of a Sheriff’s deputy, sent into fictional Hope County Montana as part of a team sent to arrest local cult leader, Joseph Seed. In typical Far Cry fashion, things rather quickly go sideways, and before you know it, you’re cast off running for your life into the title’s vast, rural open world. So far, so Far Cry. Typically, you find someone who actually has half a clue about themselves, and you, the rookie, are cast off into the world set with the task of taking the fight to the highly militarised cult known as Eden’s Gate. Along the way you’ll meet the typical Far Cry batch of outsiders and miscreants, this time glazed with the stereotypical ‘Hillbilly America’ persona. You’ll quickly become the local legend, giving aid to any and all, be it the simple things like getting back flame-painted trucks with mounted machine guns (because of course what every truck needs is a machine gun mounted in the grill) or the somewhat more complicated task of liberating important areas from the ‘peggies’ and building up the resistance movement. Ultimately, in true Far Cry form, your end goal is to bring Joseph Seed to justice, and he’s going to do his best to mess with you at every opportunity. Of course, you can’t go straight for the big man, that’s not how video games work. Joseph is accompanied by 3 lieutenants, who control the game’s 3 main areas who you’ll have to defeat before you can go for him directly. So far, so Far Cry.
This is the thing with Far Cry 5, and Ubisoft’s franchises in general. They never stray too far from the formula. You know what you’re getting into, and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can sometimes feel like the same game in a different suit. Far Cry 5 takes the cookie cutter formula, with an interesting, mentally questionable villain for your voiceless, ‘nobody’ to ultimately get the better of. While this is stripping the game back considerably, the skeleton is still the same. Thankfully however, this game hasn’t ended up facing the same fate as Far Cry 4, which ultimately felt like it’s predecessor in a worse setting for many. This time around, the game takes itself even less seriously, often taking the piss out of its roots, with jokes about making the player climb towers all over the state being made very early on. Thankfully, this mechanic has been reduced to getting to objectives in missions, as opposed to a requirement to discover areas, which felt like a chore very, very quickly in past titles.
The now trademark dream sequences are still here in full force, and are used to further develop the characters of Faith, John, Jacob and Joseph, as much as they are to mess with the player. As you build resistance against each of the cult leaders, they’ll come after you in what seem to be their own unique ways, but ultimately end up being little more than different names for drugging your ass and bringing you in, only for you to walk through some mandatory dream sequence of varying degrees of interest, before predictably ending up back in the open world. While I understand why these are here, these sequences ultimately made the characters come across rather stupid and lose their sense of fear. Jacob is portrayed as some ruthless ex military type, who does everything by the book, yet here I am sprung free multiple times. While in Jacobs case they do eventually explain this (I’ll save you the spoiler) the damage had already been done to his character. The only really believable character for me was Faith, who portrayed the whole scenario as attempting to turn you over to her side. Her character was done brilliantly for me, a real difference from the others, while still keeping her potential to be ruthless apparent. Jacob Seed can be seen talking about his fallen family after the demise of each character, and the performance is fantastic. The portrayal of emotion almost pulls down his exterior to reveal a caring person beneath, but not in such a way as to remove his persona, simply adding more depth to the character.
Hope County, the world created for the game, is a little slice of redneck America that takes on clichés and isn’t ashamed of it. It has the usual mix of oddball characters that you fully well expected to be in the game, and you’ll be happy to see them. They have a charm and quirk that really lightens the mood, creating a nice balance in a title which could have easily put full focus on doom and gloom. Of course there’s ‘prepers’ loving the fact the end of the world is coming, of course there’s the guy with the Hummer who’s mounted a machine gun on it. Of course the take no shit mother of 3 has a helicopter with mini-guns. Even the non-vital characters have their quirks. The end of the world might be nigh, but Cletus is still gonna try his best to catch that prize Carp. It all brings a light heartedness that helps to create that standard Far Cry experience, but it just seems to have been executed so much better than before this time around. This even follows through to the characters you can have as ‘Hired Guns’ Taking away the solo aspect of past titles, and allowing you to take a companion, or two into the fight with you. Be it a trained hunter, a pyromaniac, a Grizzly Bear named Cheeseburger, or an RPG Wielding herbologist, you can take whoever you like with you. You can even take your friends, with this title being playable from start to finish cooperatively, and it’s even more fun with friends.
The missions in Far Cry 5 take on multiple forms to create a welcome variety. There are of course, the standard missions designed to forward the story, taking you to key points to meet key players. The real fun, and bread and butter of the title, comes in the game’s side missions. From simple destruction of convoys, to emulating the dare-devil stunts of legend Clutch Nixon, there’s heaps of content here waiting to be explored. There is heaps to do aside from missions also, you can spend literally hours hunting, fishing, and exploring the vast landscape. Far Cry 5’s single player content is, at its core, textbook Far Cry. And that’s surprisingly, not a bad thing.
Alongside the story launches Far Cry Arcade, bringing together the game’s PvP and PvE content. Arcade is built around the game’s map editor, which is a powerful, yet intimidating tool. The map editor features over 10,000 items, leaving a daunting number of possibilities available to creators, and even features assets from other Ubisoft titles, such as Ghost Recon and Assassin’s Creed. Being based around this map editor is proving to be both a blessing and a curse at this moment. There are some phenomenal creations available to play right now, as well as some absolute abominations. With such an in-depth tool, it is going to be possible for people to create some absolutely mind-blowing maps and experiences. Sadly the drawback of this is that it will also be possible for many, many dreadful creations to make their way into the mix. While this will over time, become less of an issue as people get to grips with the system and the ranking system makes its mark and brings the gems to the forefront, we’ll have to deal with a rather mixed bag of experiences. Far Cry Arcade comes with a multitude of modes, which can be played alone, with friends, and against each other with up to 12 players. Right now most of the content seems to be focused on the PvP side of things, with numerous recreations of infamous maps from across gaming history coming to light. Funny how when given a tool with endless possibilities we lead to making existing shit first right? Joking aside, it’s a great way to learn a tool like this, so I’m happy to see it. The possibilities are endless, and I look forward to seeing where this content goes down the line. Sadly, Far Cry Arcade highlights the game’s gun-play issues, which while it works fine for the game’s single player experience, it can leave the multiplayer feeling a little lacking. You’ll find that shotguns are the weapon of absolutely everyone, to the point where unless you like spraying across the map, you’re a little hampered without one. The PvE modes also seem to highlight the game’s AI issues as well, with enemies seeming to take an age to get you in their sights, giving you all the time in the world to line up a shot with your bow even though they saw you a week ago. This is also an issue within the single player, but just feels all the more pronounced here.
Far Cry 5 is a quintessential Far Cry experience, in the right way. The storyline, while unapologetically focused on mechanics over actual storytelling, is compelling enough to give a hint of reasoning as to why you’re blowing everything to kingdom come. Ultimately, the only reason you need is that it’s really bloody fun. Enjoyable from start to finish, the storyline takes a light-hearted turn, as Far Cry does, but gets serious again just where it needs to. While the characters can be a little un-inspiring, and sometimes come across completely stupid, the game does enough to make you feel a part of the world to excuse itself. Far Cry Arcade is a mode with heaps of potential waiting to be unleashed, it is just going to take some time for the cream of the crop of creators to rise to the top, and for some of the kinks to be ironed out. Far Cry 5 is definitely a must for fans of the franchise, and those looking for an experience that puts being batshit crazy first.