Let’s get one thing out of the way right at the start, Far Cry 5 is a Ubisoft game. This meant that before we even started we had a good idea of what we were going to get. There would be a large map filled with a lot of things to do and collect. In recent years this has been the standard Ubisoft formula, sometimes taking things to excess. In a lot of ways Far Cry 5 didn’t disappoint in this regard, but in others, we were in for a pleasant surprise.
It seems as if Ubisoft have been listening to the internet and have realised that their formula has become something of a joke. They even referenced this at the start of the game when you have to climb a radio tower and the gentleman on the radio informs you that he won’t have you doing this again. For once this is a Far Cry game without the obligatory radio towers. There are however still outposts for you to liberate and collectibles galore for you to find.
Far Cry 5 is set in Hope County, a fictional county in the beautiful landscape of Montana. The county has been taken over by a murderous cult led by the enigmatic Father, Joseph Seed. The developers have tried to replicate the memorability of past antagonist of the franchise such as Vas Montenegro or Pagan Min. Although he is not as insane as Vas (or maybe he is?) or as stylish as Pagen Min, The Father is at least memorable and an exciting character. He also has his family with him which means you have variety among the main antagonists rather than just fighting one main bad guy.
The map is as large as you would expect and is split up into three main regions. Each region is controlled by one of the Seed family members, John, Faith or Jacob. The story and missions vary wildly in each region and you can carry out missions in the regions at your leisure. The missions, both main quests and side missions are varied and offer enough of a difference to keep you wanting to play more. They also each offer rewards such as skill points or experience that are enough to keep you incentivised to keep doing them.
There is a humour to the game that has been missing from some of the previous games. This is illustrated best by one single quest. You are tasked to collect bull testicles for the local testicle festival. What more can you want from a game? We wore our testicle festival vest with pride.
The basic mechanics of the game are solid and no less than we would expect from a Far Cry game. The shotguns actually feel like shotguns and go off with a boom. The feedback you get from weapons make you feel like you are actually hitting enemies. All of the weapons have their own unique feel to them and each feels as if it has it’s own specific place in the game depending on your play style. We loved blasting cultists with a shotgun but we also really enjoyed stealth killing an enemy with the bow, both were rewarding in their own ways.
Of course there is a skill tree where you can unlock different abilities to help you in liberating Hope County. Skills can be purchased using skill points which are acquired by collecting magazines that are littered around the map. You can also earn points by completing side quests and challenges. These challenges consist of doing certain things such as getting a specific number of kills with a weapon or by doing a certain number of takedowns.
One of the biggest issues that we found with the game is how unintelligent the AI is. The first time we employed a gun for hire he started swimming up against a wall and couldn’t get away from it. It was two missions later that he randomly appeared by our side, long after he was needed. This AI stupidity is also suffered by enemies as well. On quite a few occasions an enemy would run right past us if we ducked down. This took something away from the immersion that we could have been feeling. It also diminished the challenge that could have been.
Far Cry 5 is not a difficult game. With patience and planning, anything can be overcome fairly easily. There are a few difficulty spikes but these can be passed without too much effort then things resort back to normal. You shouldn’t come here expecting a challenge, Far Cry 5 is a game that is all about the story and the story is where the game excels. Each main character that you meet has a backstory and by dialogue or finding notes scattered around you can piece together quite a lot of the history of each character. This adds an element of depth to this edition of the franchise which has been missing in some of the previous games.
Strangely for a first-person shooter that is predominantly a single player game, there is some character customisation options available. These are a little limited and we couldn’t spend quite as much time on it as we would have liked before we started repeating ourselves but it is nice that it is there. It also means that you can choose the sex of your protagonist as well, which is a first in a Far Cry game. This also has the knock-on effect of meaning that you as a character are silent and cut scenes play out as people talking at you.
This character customisation may seem a little pointless except for the fact that the whole of this game can be played in coop mode. This is a great idea but unfortunately, it is poorly implemented. The main problem is that all progress is locked to the host. This means that if you play for eight hours with a friend and they were the host, if you want to pick up and play the game on your own afterward you will have to repeat everything that you have already done. This can make it feel a little pointless to invest the time playing with a friend until after you have finished the game.
We talked earlier about the game taking you out of the immersion that you were feeling and there is another way that it does this too. When you speak to a vendor it takes you to an online shop. This shop takes a little while to load and subtly encourages you to spend real world money to unlock new variants of weapons or vehicles that are incredibly expensive to buy if using in-game currency. These weapons make very little difference to the gameplay and only really offer aesthetic appeal but still, it would have been nice if the developer had decided not to go down the microtransaction route.
In outposts and towns, there are arcade machines that allow you to take a break from the action and play some mini-games. These games are community created and can be a lot of fun if you find the right ones. Due to the nature of community created content, there is a lot of strangeness to be found here, as well as a lot of rubbish. But in among all of this is some real gems that you can tell people have spent a lot of time on.
All in all, Far Cry 5 is a nice addition to the franchise and a return to form after the tepid offering that was Far Cry Primal. It doesn’t take too many risks but then again, we weren’t really expecting it too. It hits the right spots and is extremely satisfying to play and will leave you wanting more but not in a bad way. It seems like Ubisoft have learnt some lessons from the past and tried to move what could have been a stagnant franchise forward. Let’s hope they keep on with this direction and don’t just sit on their laurels.
Far Cry 5 is available to purchase from retailers and can be downloaded from Amazon for £48.00
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Far Cry 5 reinvents itself without tedious gameplay and an enticing story filled with insane and quirky characters. With plenty to keep yourself occupied, along with its Arcade mode, this new iteration provides plenty of replayability.