Welcome to America.
Features microtransactions in the form of Silver Bars.
Far Cry 5 attempts a great many things. It takes a serious issue, a massive open-world map, and fun gameplay, and tries to meld them together. What it actually accomplishes is a completely different thing; it’s a Far Cry game, for better or worse. If you’re looking for something more, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
If I could only say one thing about the Far Cry series, it’s that the gameplay is rock solid. Not perfect, but still pretty damn excellent. Every weapon handles in a manner you’d expect, and because it’s a Ubisoft game, there’s always plenty to do. Of course, that last part comes with a qualifier: you may not like what you’re given to do. Far Cry games of the past have suffered from bloatbox mechanics, where you’re given mindless collection tasks or simple “Find X and kill it” tasks. Far Cry 5 does well to mitigate this however.
Sure, there are still a number of quests you’ll embark on that are quick, throwaway experiences, but thankfully you won’t be needing to track down 150 idols only to get a stupid Achievement. Much of my time with Far Cry 5 has reminded me of the vastly underrated Far Cry 2, which I have always felt to be the high point of the franchise. You’re able to hire partners to help you in firefights, and while their AI isn’t top-notch, they can often save you from death, much like your mercenary friends in Far Cry 2. Furthermore, it’s a pretty deep system, with each Gun For Hire having a specialty, and you’re given the ability to choose who you have access to. Once you’ve hired three different followers with unique specialties as well, you unlock the option to obtain a perk to allow you have two Guns For Hire followers at once.
If only they weren’t so annoying…
Unfortunately, Ubisoft can’t seem to leave cash on the table, so they’ve seen fit to shoehorn in the ability to purchase “Silver Bars” with real money. Interestingly enough, you can find these Silver Bars locked away in various locations, much like the rough diamonds in Far Cry 2. However, since they’re the premium currency, it feels less like a cash alternative in the game, and more like a cheap attempt to coax you into spending more money.
Still, Far Cry 5 is actually fun to play. The section of Montana that Ubisoft created is interesting to explore, and while it’s not densely packed with urban areas, it’s still rather engaging. When you aren’t taking part in the various story missions, you’ll have the option of tackling side activities, which range from hunting to fishing; both of which are oddly satisfying. Every once in a while, you’ll also get a hint from an NPC to track down a potential prisoner or locate a “prepper stash”. Then again, Ubisoft games never leave you hurting for things to do, there’s just a quality issue with those activities. At least in this case, those activities aren’t horrifically boring.
But this is a first-person shooter, so shooting is a big deal, and you’ll be on the prowl for new and interesting people to put sight on. Early on, you’re at the mercy of the Peggies (that’s the pejorative term they’re given by the locals), but as you expand the reach and influence of the resistance movement in the area, you’ll slowly start to see the cultists roaming around less. This in itself presents an issue, similar to the one that impacted other games in the series. Once you clear out an encampment, it becomes a haven for your allies.
A side effect of clearing camps is that it makes your enemies far more sparse, which means you’ll have less game to play outside of missions. It removes the element of danger as you’re exploring too, as those random encounters start to dwindle. Other games with territory mechanics put things in place to keep you from getting complacent. For instance, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas forced you to defend your gang territory, or lose it. In my time with Far Cry 5, I’ve never lost an outpost to any enemies. Whether this means Ubisoft removed the poorly implemented outpost attacks from the series already (Far Cry 4 tried to convince you to defend your outposts even though you could never lose them), or I’ve just been lucky, I don’t know. You’re at least given the half-measure to magically reset every outpost in the game if you get bored.
I do have a minor complaint though. I don’t know what it is about Ubisoft, but despite their desire to include aircraft in their games, they don’t seem to understand how they work.
Seriously, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU, UBISOFT!? Rotor blades are rotating wings. As they spin around, they create lift. The lift they generate is perpendicular to the plane in which they are rotating. So if the rotor blades are tilted forward, the helicopter moves forward. If they’re titled backwards, the helicopter moves backwards. YOU CAN’T TILT THE ROTOR BLADES BACKWARDS AND MOVE FORWARD!
Sorry… Moving on.
Even if the helicopters are inaccurately controlled (annoyingly), Ubisoft did make a change for the better with vehicles. Now, instead of vehicles being throwaway in their implementation, you have the option of calling on them at terminals spread about the world. Additionally, you can even customize said vehicles to your liking. It’s a nice change.
I’ll just go ahead and echo what everyone else is saying. Far Cry 5 is gorgeous. The Dunia engine renders the world in amazing detail (even on consoles) and it runs solidly. It’s beautiful to behold, and for the first time, I can honestly look at the landscape and recognize it. Not because I’ve been to Hope County, or that it even exists in the first place, but because I lived in the northwest United States for many years, and the setting of Far Cry 5 looks familiar to me. It seems that Ubisoft called on inspiration from the Pacific Northwest and the midwest United States to guide their design, and they did a wonderful job.
Likewise, Far Cry 5 sounds great too. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say the soundtrack is phenomenal, it’s good for what it needs to be. There’s a definite country and gospel inspiration to the music. The use of Amazing Grace in the very beginning is applied to creepy effect, though it’s puzzling that it’s being sung supposedly as you enter the chapel, yet Joseph is speaking at the time so…
It’s good to know that you can turn the radio off too, because it’s more irritating than interesting to listen to.
Far Cry 5 has to be one of the biggest “gotchas” in gaming lately. While the games media and certain gamers had been salivating over the subject matter Ubisoft teased prior to release, there were still some folks out there that knew what to expect. It should’ve been obvious long ago that Ubisoft wouldn’t make Far Cry 5 the controversial criticism of right-wing culture that so many were hoping it to be. In fact, a large section of the games media are lamenting the fact that Ubisoft just made another Far Cry game. Ubisoft played people, and I have to applaud them for the bait-and-switch. Not because it’s a good thing to imply one thing then deliver another, but because they’re ballsy enough to try it.
While the basis of Far Cry 5 isn’t exactly all that new, the premise is interesting enough. Homegrown terrorism, religious extremism, proliferation of weapons, and psychological manipulation are all topics that are ripe for the picking. I can see why some folks are bothered by Ubisoft not going further with those ideas. However, these are all sensitive subjects, and I can understand why they didn’t go for the kill.
What’s more worth mentioning though, is the Arcade mode, which not only functions as the game’s version of multiplayer, but an expansion of the solo and co-op game too. There isn’t much to browse as of yet, aside from levels that seem like they’re put together by toddlers, but there’s a ridiculous level of freedom afforded by the map editor. You can even craft maps using assets from games like Watch_Dogs and Assassin’s Creed.
STORY AND MULTIPLAYER
Far Cry 5‘s story is about a sheriff deputy’s mission to end the rule of an extremist religious cult in the wilds of Montana. The setting has the potential to be both compelling and controversial, but it takes less than five minutes to realize that the story itself is ludicrous, and entirely avoidable. I don’t enjoy spoilers, but given that the game shows its hand so early on, I’m not worried about it this time.
You begin in a helicopter ride on your way to the Project at Eden’s Gate compound, being dragged along by a US Marshal to arrest Joseph Seed, the leader of the cult. During the entire trip, the sheriff is trying to talk the marshal down. Undeterred, you arrive at the compound and walk to the church where Joseph is delivering a fire-and-brimstone, psychotic sermon.
The marshal serves the warrant and you’re ordered to cuff Joseph, knowing well that it’s all going to go downhill from there. That’s where it all breaks down, because the only set of events that unfold in a way which isn’t idiotic, is if you refuse to cuff Joseph. Any sane law enforcement officer would take the warning from the sheriff and come back with reinforcements.
Instead, if you actually want to play the game, you slap the cuffs on Joseph and plunge yourself into a war.
And it doesn’t pick up from there. It sure doesn’t help that the entire plot can be resolved by hopping in the first aircraft you can get your hands on and flying to the nearest town outside Hope County to call for backup, but Ubisoft neatly tied up that loose end by…
No, wait they never took care of that. They just made it to where you get unceremoniously turned around if you fly outside the map.
It’s sad to me that the only path you can take with the story that actually makes sense is the laughably abrupt alternative ending. Ubisoft seems to have loved the press they got for the incredibly implemented alternative ending in Far Cry 4, so they stuck one in here without considering what makes the early ending in their previous game so great; something I’ll get to at a later date.
The story isn’t bad, or good. It’s just there. You do the normal resistance movement thing, like dismantling the infrastructure of the cult and dealing morale blows to them. But there isn’t much else to it. Joseph is definitely a charismatic leader (something that is characteristic of cult leaders) but his depth as a character doesn’t go much further than that. In fact, it seems the only thing that keeps his cult going is the application of some miracle drug which pacifies his followers. I feel that if Ubisoft had gone the route of making him more of an inspirational character, without including the drugs angle, it would’ve made things far more interesting. Instead, they had to force the drugs thing into Far Cry 5, which seems to be a staple of the series since Far Cry 3 now.
There is one thing that I feel works for the story though. It’s that the story proceeds in a very non-linear fashion. I accidentally stumbled into another section of the game, which involved the forcible dismantling of a gaudy statue (it’s hard to miss). After completing that quest, I realized something. You can approach almost the entire game in that fashion. If you want to jump straight into another area at any point, you can. If you want to bail on a particular area and try something else out, you can. It makes for a nice change to the past attempts at keeping an open-world sandbox confined to a tightly contained storyline.
Speaking of change, if you’re feeling antsy about taking out cultists all the time, you can step into Far Cry 5‘s multiplayer. You can either choose to play through the entire game – story and all – with a friend, or you can have a go at taking out other players in martial combat. The PvP game is limited entirely to Deathmatch affairs, though it’s obvious Ubisoft is fixated on the creativity of the community to build up interest in the multiplayer itself. The problem with this approach is that as soon as the community loses interest, there’s little else to offer new players. It’ll dwindle very quickly unless Ubisoft incorporates new game modes into the mix.
I rarely groan when playing a game, but I couldn’t help myself when I discovered you can thrown beer cans as a distraction from a vehicle. Then it hit me, Far Cry 5 screams “‘murica!” from the top of its lungs. From celebrating a completed mission with a fireworks display and banjos, to the incoherent ramblings about guns, you’re bombarded with flamboyant displays of what I can only assume to be a outside perspective of rural America, learned entirely from TV shows and pop culture.
Now, while I don’t identify with that culture myself, I do find the tone rather confusing at times. I’d get it more if it were just satire, but for it to be satire, there’d have to be some sort of commentary about it. Instead, Far Cry 5 seems to want to be more about dumb fun, with every serious moment inevitably being undercut by over-the-top action. In one mission, you’ll be freeing hostages from a sadistic, murdering psychopath, but your next mission could be wiping out waves of zombie-like people while a man with a flamethrower blasts disco music. It never picks a tone and sticks with it, and as a result, it’s difficult to know when I should be taking it seriously or not.
But it’s also a Far Cry game, and I known that every title in the series since 2012 has been the same way: impossible to be taken seriously. That’s partly why it’s so baffling why anyone could be upset at all for it not living up to their expectations. That it isn’t some smart commentary about anything. It’s just dumb fun, which was presented as something more for marketing reasons. It’s an experience that makes fun of rednecks yet somehow doesn’t make a strong statement against the negative things that spring from that mindset. Instead, it just comes across as a celebration of violence.
Far Cry 5 isn’t bad, nor is it worth mentioning beyond the gameplay itself. It’s a fun game to be sure, as most Far Cry games are, but it misses the mark in so many areas too. In that way, it feels like a game of half-measures. A game of polished mechanics but little substance. Of an interesting premise, but little to engage the player. While I wasn’t interested in playing a game attempting to tackle sensitive issues in American politics and culture, I have to admit that the controversy surrounding it would be interesting at least.
Instead, Far Cry 5 just comes across as a game confused with its tone. But hey, at least it’s fun.
Have you played Far Cry 5? Do you plan to? What are your thoughts?
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