The Far Cry series takes its first trip to America with this explosive entry in Ubisoft's popular first-person shooter franchise.
Far Cry 5 is set in the backwoods of Montana within the fictional Hope County. The story begins with an intense scene where you, a young deputy in the Montana Sheriff's department, are joined by some fellow officers and a U.S. Marshal to arrest Joseph Seed, the leader of a violent and hostile Christian cult known as The Project at Eden's Gate (goofily referred to as the "PEGgies" throughout the story). If you were expecting the tranquil and sparsely populated woodlands of Montana to signal a more toned down and nuanced Far Cry experience, think again. Far Cry 5 cranks things up to 11 right from the start and remains a bloody and action-packed thrill ride from start to finish.
It may have been almost four years since the last mainline Far Cry game (ignoring the prehistoric spin-off Far Cry Primal) but not a whole lot has changed in that time. For those who love the Far Cry formula of fast-paced gameplay filled with missions to complete and outposts to secure, Far Cry 5 will deliver exactly what you're looking for. If you were hoping to see a few degrees of evolution in the gameplay and core structure then unfortunately, you're going to be disappointed.
Far Cry 5's setting of Hope County is separated into three distinct regions, each controlled by a member of the Seed family. Older brother Jacob is referred to as The Soldier and controls the north section of the map where he maintains an army of powerful wolves to go along with his human militia. Faith, the step-sister, controls the southeast and uses the powerful Bliss drug to manipulate the minds of the PEGgies. Finally, The Baptist (appropriately named John) controls the southwest and brings new PEGgies into the fold with his positive "Power of Yes" doctrine. In order to reach your final face-to-face showdown with Joseph (known as The Father), you must unseat all three of his siblings and take control of Hope County. You do this by building up your resistance level in each area by completing missions, destroying cultist shrines, rescuing hostages, and liberating outposts.
The narrative feels awfully similar to previous games and it's not hard to draw similarities between Joseph Seed and Far Cry's other run-of-the-mill psychopaths like Vaas and Pagan Min. Far Cry 5 isn't nearly as political as was hinted at during its reveal and never asks you to do more than put your brain on standby while slaying the thousands of enemies standing between you and Joseph Seed. That's not a bad thing per se but just don't go in expecting a thought-provoking and politically relevant story. Oh, and I really don't like how the story cutscenes happen mostly out of the blue as they regularly interrupt you while you're working on something else.
The main campaign missions are the most enjoyable as many are filled with unique objectives and situations including driving a diesel rig equipped with assault rifles and escaping an underground missile silo. Side missions are more hit-and-miss but they feature some of the series' trademark comedy including a bizarre quest where you're sent to collect bull testicles. My favorite side quests involve raiding abandoned prepper stashes which are filled with valuable items and money. Each prepper stash requires you to solve simple and fun puzzles which can be extremely rewarding.
One cool new feature in Far Cry 5 is the Guns for Hire system. Local NPCs can be recruited to join you as you explore the world and complete objectives. They're great for providing extra firepower and reviving you if you die. There are also nine specialist guns for hire that can be unlocked by completing specific missions around Hope County. You can only have one or two guns for hire by your side at a time but they definitely come in handy.
Another change is that character progression has been altered from previous Far Cry games. Gone are the experience points awarded for every kill and completed objective as they have been replaced by a list of challenges that award perk points upon completion. Perk points are obviously used to purchase perks which may allow you to carry more weapons, increase your health bar, and improve your abilities with different weapon types. While unlocking perks is as rewarding as ever, the challenge list is a little dull. Challenges consist of getting X amount of kills with each weapon (usually only 10 or 20) and kills from your guns for hire, skinning animals, and other miscellaneous tasks. Compared to a full-blown experience system, the challenge list feels a bit bare-bones.
Speaking of animals, the hunting aspects from previous games have been almost completely stripped out in Far Cry 5. Skinning one or two of each animal will award you with a few perk points but that's really the only reason to bother hunting. Even then, I completed a lot of those perk requirements by simply running over animals that I saw on the road. Upgrades are no longer crafted out of hides, too. In fact, hides aren't involved in crafting at all. Their only value lies in reselling them at the local shop. For being set in a hunting haven such as Montana, the almost complete lack of hunting was a huge disappointment for me.
The entire campaign in Far Cry 5 can be played with a co-op partner. Unfortunately, I was unable to test out this feature since there is no co-op matchmaking. However, I was able to try out the other portion of Far Cry 5's multiplayer with Far Cry Arcade and I came away pleasantly surprised. Far Cry Arcade allows you to play single player as well as cooperative and competitive multiplayer on user created maps using over 9000 assets from Ubisoft games including Far Cry, Assassin's Creed, and Watch Dogs. There were only five user-created maps available while I was playing but just based on those, I can already see that there is some serious potential for Far Cry Arcade.
The single player and co-op maps consist of four different scenarios. You're either tasked with clearing an outpost, hunting specific targets then fleeing to an evacuation point, killing waves of enemies, or simply journeying from a starting point to a finishing point while surviving everything in between. I can't wait to see what the more creative Far Cry players out there are able to build using the tools available in the map editor. Anyway, PvP only consists of two modes: deathmatch and team deathmatch. Again, I wasn't able to test that out since I wasn't able to find a group big enough to play with pre-launch. One very cool thing about Far Cry Arcade is that progress is shared between it and the main campaign. Perks earned in the campaign carry over and by leveling up in Far Cry Arcade, you're awarded cash and perk points that can be used in the main campaign.
For a game as massive as Far Cry 5, it's not overly surprising that I've run into a few quirks and glitches that affected gameplay. Map icons don't always display as they should and I have one Guns for Hire mission that doesn't show as completed even though it definitely has been finished because the NPC is now part of my team. I only experienced a single crash and thanks to a nice auto-save system, only minimal progress was lost. None of this renders Far Cry 5 unplayable at all and I hope that most of these little things will be solved via future updates as Far Cry 5 comes across as just a bit rough around the edges at this time.
Far Cry 5 is a massive game with tons of content and Far Cry Arcade has the potential to keep the game fresh and exciting for months to come. In the end, Far Cry 5 didn't make the most out of its rural setting and didn't innovate much on the typical Far Cry gameplay formula although it still ranks as one of the best games in the series.
- + Massive and beautiful world filled with exciting story missions and side objectives
- + Exploring Hope County is awesome
- + Far Cry Arcade has a ton of potential
- - Story and characters are very superficial and lack nuance
- - Stripped down hunting
- - Overall lack of innovation