Editor’s Note: First I want to apologize for the tardiness of our Far Cry 5 review. We’ve had this review lined up for awhile and some logistical problems prevented us from getting it done sooner. As Reviews Editor, that falls squarely on me. More importantly, I’d like to take a brief moment to welcome Richard Christie to the PSXE staff as a contributor. Many of you know him as Frostface in our community at large, both on the forums and in the comments. A community member for over a decade now, it’s great to finally have Richard writing for us. – Reviews Editor, Ryan Hartmann
For a long time, I found myself starting games, really getting into them and then putting them down and never going back to finish them. As impressive as a lot of games we have these days are, some of them just feel like clocking into a second job, none more so than in open world games. Ubisoft are arguably the leaders of open world level design, as many other developers practically use as a template Ubisoft’s climbing towers to unlock parts of the map, before overloading them with repetitive things to do just to extend the game’s running time. Last year, after taking the previous year off, Ubisoft took a different approach with Assassins Creed: Origins and, for many, the changes were very welcome. Gone, for example, was the mini-map and all its shiny distractions, replaced by a compass at the top of the screen like many other open world titles. This approach to the newest Assassin’s Creed has carried over to Far Cry 5 and the game is all the better for it.
THE HERO WE NEED… AND A FEW WE DON’T
In Far Cry 5 you play as a voiceless deputy on your way to arrest the leader of the Eden’s Gate doomsday cult, Joseph Seed, in the fictional Hope County of the non-fictional Montana, USA. One thing leads to another, things don’t go according to plan and after a very intense action sequence, the stage is set for you to be the hero Hope County needs. It’s not a Pulitzer prize winning story, but it’s enough to set the stage up nicely for a fun game that offers some exciting moments, let down mostly by some bad AI.
Not long after you’re let loose in the world, you’ll be able to recruit some resistance fighters to join you on your journey, each one with their own different backstories and personalities and built-in attributes to help you be the best you can be. At first you can only recruit one companion at a time from your roster of unlocked best mates , but eventually you can have up to two, assigned to the left and right on the D-Pad. From here you can put an enemy in your scope and press either left or right and your companion will go take that person out, move to a designated marker or alert everyone in the camp you’ve tried to meticulously take out using stealth. I can’t count the amount of times I tried to creep around the outside of an enemy base when everyone inside got alerted because one of my buddies showed a lack of situational awareness; or, I’m sailing a gunboat with a .50cal rifle loaded on the back, get into a fight with another gunboat, only I can’t switch out from the driving seat to the gun because my AI companion is pondering his or her life choices instead of shooting back. Also worth mentioning that they tend to die. A lot. Just look at them funny and they’re on the ground curled up in a ball. So many times I’ve risked life and limb to save them only to get taken out myself. Mostly it’s the human companions that are the biggest pain, as my mountain lion and my dog fared slightly better. The mountain lion was great for sneak stealth attacks and the dog would mark enemies for me and bring me back stuff from time to time, but by the end of the game I just didn’t bother with them at all. Playing without them made for a better experience.
Far Cry 5 is a really nice-looking game, with HDR support if you have the set up for it. The world map is huge and split into three regions, one for each of Joseph Seeds siblings – Jacob, John and Faith. Missions are found by just heading off out into the world. You’ll see a marker over someone’s head, or you’ll rescue some poor soul getting harassed by the ‘Peggys’ (I may have missed how they got that name but the only good Peggy is a dead one), and they’ll tell you about somebody who could do with a bit of a dig out with something they’ve got going on. Take, for example, collecting bull testicles, whilst said bull is in the middle of getting it on with another cow, all played out to the soundtrack of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s get it On’ right before you run them over with a tractor. The game has a sense of humor, to say the least.
THEY’RE A MILITIA (SEND SNACKS)!
Sometimes you’ll also get the location for ‘prepper stashes’ dotted around the map. Prepper stashes are definitely a worthy diversion in Far Cry 5. You’ll be given a location, usually an abandoned farm house and somewhere within a search area there’s an entrance into a bunker, packed with assorted ammo and comic books that give you a perk point each to use on the game’s skill tree. In each stash there’s usually three perk points up for grabs and getting into the stashes takes a little bit of figuring out, but never to the point of frustration.
The skill tree in Far Cry 5 is just standard Far Cry fare, mostly just increases for how much ammo you can carry for a particular group of weapons, increased resources obtained from skinning animals, and the run of the mill death from above/death from below type stuff. I’d be remiss to not mention wing suits and parachutes, not quite as excessive as with Just Cause but still it’s fun to jump off a cliff, wingsuit down between the treelines and deploy the parachute, landing on the roof of an enemy base without them noticing. A little ludicrous but damn if it’s not fun. Also, skill points are doled out for so many different things, easily viewed under the challenges tab, that you can feel free to spend away knowing you’re never too far from getting more, as even the more expensive skills are easily obtained.
Missions are tracked depending on which of the three regions you’re in, whereas you’ll build up a gauge for each one of the three Seeds siblings . The gauge is split into sections, and as each section fills up, you’ll eventually get kidnapped/drugged up and hauled off to one of the Seeds’ hideouts, sometimes even if it’s physically impossible (for example, one second you’re in the air flying a plane, and the next you wake up in one of the Seeds’ bases). Soon after they’ve given you a lecture about how they’re trying to save you from your sins, you must fight your way out. It sounds worse than it is, but it keeps the game moving forward. Everything you do in Far Cry 5 progresses your character through the story, whether you like it or not. So, unlike many open world games where side-tracking only makes you forget why you’re playing in the first place, Ubisoft have done a good job letting you do what you like but keeping you on track. Side missions are plentiful and varied. Fishing is a nice distraction from the shooting and even has its own skill on the skill tree to improve the kind of fish you can catch.
AT LEAST THEY GET THE JOB DONE
Most of the weapons in the game are the same weapon, just with a different cosmetic skin on them. From very early on I had chosen my weapons, an assault rifle, a bow, a sniper rifle and my hand gun, and they did me for the whole game with me maybe swapping out the bow for a shotgun or SMG from time to time. Each weapon can be equipped with a silencer, scope and extended magazine.
None of these were overpriced in any way to make me feel like I should spend real-world money to get a better load out. I don’t know why, but you can change the look of your character to a whole range of different preset or customizable clothing items; this is a first-person shooter and I don’t recall ever being able to see what I looked like outside of the games menu.
STILL FAR CRY
Sandbox shooters are a dime a dozen these days, and as more and more big name series borrow bits and pieces from each other, it’s hard to stick out from the pack, particularly with a fifth entry in a long running franchise.
There might not be much about Far Cry 5 that is terribly new or innovative, but ultimately it is a vast improvement over its predecessor in nearly every way. It looks great and while I recommend ditching the AI companions and just jumping in yourself or with a co-op buddy, on the whole this is a solid entry in the Far Cry series, and definitely well worth checking out.