There aren't many people who haven't played at least one Far Cry
game and you'll likely already know what to expect. No matter the enemy, there's always one person ready to take down the threat as a one man army, gathering support along the way as the huge area is liberated. Along the way, there are plenty of things within that area to distract players, most of which are accompanied by a healthy dose of humour. The formula for Far Cry 5
isn't any different, but there have been a few minor gameplay changes that serve to make things smoother, less overwhelming, and to improve the overall experience.
Joseph Seed is a man with a mission. He was chosen by God and told of the impending end of the world. To protect as many people as possible, he founded the Project at Eden's Gate religious cult in Hope County, Montana. Assisted by his brothers, Jacob and John, and adopted sister Faith, his followers originally came by choice. Over time, more and more force was used until the county's residents were kidnapped and forced into the cult against their will. The result is an arrest warrant for Joseph Seed on multiple charges. As the rookie deputy, you're part of the squad sent to arrest him.
Your anonymous character, dubbed only as "Rook" or "Deputy" throughout the entire game, allows Ubisoft to easily adapt to your choice as either a female or male character for the first time in the franchise. There are some customisation options for your appearance, but these are minimal, not that it matters when you play the entire game in first person. Your role at the start of the game may be small, but it's about to get a lot bigger. The tense atmosphere of the introductory mission perfectly captures the intimidation caused by the cult and displays the drastic lengths to which the cult members will go to protect their leader. You know that something will go wrong, it's just a matter of when that will happen. When it does, you narrowly avoid capture when you're rescued by Dutch, a resistance member. Now, the freedom of Hope County lies entirely on your shoulders.
Dutch teaches you all of the basics and introduces most of the activites that players will find throughout the world. Once those activities are done and Dutch's Island has been liberated, the entire map is opened up for players to explore and tackle as they please. There's a gentle hint from Dutch as to the most ideal first location, but there's no obligation to take that advice. Rural Montana is a beautiful location and it's full of things to do, even though that isn't immediately obvious at the start. Changes to the in-game map mean that players are no longer bombarded with icons, only a handful of key locations visible in each of the three areas of the map. Progress is entirely led by the player, but no longer is there a requirement to tediously climb towers and survey the land. Instead, the activities are found by talking to people, reading documents, picking up posters and magazines, looking at road signs, or just generally wandering through the world.
Yes, the world really is beautiful
The world is divided into three regions and in each are story missions and side missions to complete, cult outposts to liberate, and cult property to destroy. All of these activities reward you with resistance points, the measure of progress in each region. As your resistance meter grows, enemy presence is increased and more aggressive. Once a milestone is reached, you're forced into encounters with that region's Seed family member. These encounters are initially quite jarring, wrenching you out of the activity you're doing against your will and placing you in a helpless situation while you find out just exactly how evil these people are, but after the first couple of encounters you just accept your fate. It's the closest you'll get to realising exactly what the residents of Hope County are going through.
The forced encounters mean that it's impossible to forget about the story completely because no matter what you're doing, you'll acquire enough resistance to have to face one of the missions. Eventually, enough resistance is acquired to take the lieutenants on head to head before tackling the main man, Joseph Seed. Each of the four Seed characters has their own unique personality and take on the cult's activities, and the family encounters are the most memorable missions in the game. Unfortunately, while the faith of the cult's leaders is obvious (even if Jacob may not always be convinced), the religious connotation of the rest of the Project at Eden's Gate cult members is mostly lacking.
The Far Cry
franchise is not one suitable for telling a serious story because of its emphasis on humour and tomfoolery, and this title seemingly makes an effort to avoid making any firm religious or political statements. The game avoids any direct mention of Christianity, with the similarities between the religion and that of the Project at Eden's Gate being little more than subtle hints, like the odd slogan scratched into a wall. Similarly, while there are some political references, like the wannabe state senator who proposes to build a 700ft tall ice wall around Montana to keep out the Canadians, the game avoids making any direct statements that could be deemed controversial. This makes the cultists feel like they're little more than generic bad guys with a few diverse skins, with an unwavering loyalty to Joseph Seed but not so much to his cause.
The cultists take their role seriously
While you might not always be sure what they're fighting for, what is certain is that you'll fight a lot of the cultists. As well as the scripted missions and outposts, there are plenty of random encounters that will take place throughout Hope County, be it supply trucks that need to be destroyed or prisoners that need to be freed. If anything, the encounters are too frequent with enemies that often seem to be too aggressive. Their presence can prevent players from starting story missions, such as the time a spotter plane blew up the mission vehicle twice while I was standing nearby and I was only able to start the mission after respawning in the vehicle itself. You'll certainly die a lot at first, something that will be extremely frustrating.
There are also plenty of friendly AI willing to fight for your cause, but while the enemies are far too willing to engage, so are the friendly AI. You're unable to prevent friendlies from engaging enemies, meaning that spontaneous firefights will occur frequently and often in the strangest of places. The result is a gauntlet that must be run every time you wish to travel to a new location, and fast travel is often a far better and safer option, although doing this will mean you'll avoid the random funny moments that could only happen in Far Cry
. If you do take your chances, the majority of these encounters will also reward players with resistance points and you'll get so much XP from them that it's possible to finish an area without doing barely any missions or outposts.
Outside of the cult-driven activities, the most inventive side activities are the prepper stashes. Their owners built up supplies in preparation for the end of the world, but then they decided to abandon the area instead of staying to fight. The premise behind these might be strange, but the rewards of weapons, ammo, cash and other items are definitely lucrative, even if they're protected well. Some of the stashes involve platforming sections; they're reminiscent of the puzzle caves found in Far Cry Primal
, although they're far more linear. Others require light puzzle solving. Be it a simple hunt for a key or a more complicated trek through a haunted house, they're a welcome break from the game's more confrontational activities.
This is one of the tamer stunts
Rounding out the game's other activities are the Clutch Nixon stunts, complete with hilarious commentary, which see players tearing around a course in a designated vehicle. There's also base jumping, and the usual fishing and hunting activities. Unlike the most recent games, the skins and meat collected through hunting are not needed for crafting. Instead some items are crafted from components found throughout the world, or on the bodies of enemies, whereas weapons and vehicles can be purchased from vendors using looted cash, or silver bars bought with real money. While microtransactions do exist in the game, they are entirely optional and offer no additional benefit.
Player progression is handled through a perk system that is almost entirely open from the very start. A few perks are tied to resistance progression, while some others are tied to characters that you'll meet. Perks can be purchased in any order, with the only limit being the amount of perk points you possess. This allows players to customise their character to their desired playstyle right from the off without any hindrance. As well as finding perk points in prepper stashes and other bunkers throughout the world, points can be earned through completing a variety of weapon challenges and hunting/fishing challenges, and getting kills with your Guns for Hire, encouraging players to step outside their comfort zone and try out everything the game has to offer, albeit briefly if necessary.
The Guns for Hire are a gameplay feature not seen since Far Cry 2
. These are mercenaries that can be hired to fight alongside you, each of which has their own specialist attacks and personalities. Bring along a sniper, air support, or even a trained cougar that loves nothing more than to rip out some throats (and crotches). While these are handy to have, their AI behaviour isn't the smartest. They'll drive off in your vehicles leaving you stranded, stand oblivious to the enemy right in front of them, block doors, or even kill you. The other friendly NPCs that you'll meet are an equally diverse bunch, some of which are memorable and others completely forgettable, but they all add to a world that is fun to explore.
I can think of better places to dig a grave
The title offers two-player online co-op throughout the campaign. Players can do everything together, but only the host's mission and resistance progress is saved, meaning that the visiting player will need to redo everything for it to count in their own game. This means that the visiting player is effectively little more than a more proactive Gun for Hire, but if you don't mind repeating some activities, there's a lot of fun to be had in a world that feels far better when it can be shared.
Away from co-op, there is also Far Cry Arcade where the competitive multiplayer modes can be found. The multiplayer is standard fare and is currently little more than a distraction from the main event. Most of the entertainment value here stems from the maps that players create using the extremely comprehensive map editor. The editor does require some skill to use and a lot of the early player-created levels have their faults, but the ability to rate maps means that the cream of the crop should soon rise to the top of the pile. There are already some interesting copycat maps available from other titles, such as Call of Duty
Finally, the game's achievements task players with exploring everything the game has to offer without requiring them to get 100% completion. You'll need to complete the story and several select side missions, destroy cult property and perform a Clutch Nixon stunt in every region, follow three prepper stashes to the end and liberate five outposts. For progression, you'll need to fully upgrade a weapon, buy half of the perks, and spend a fixed amount of money on clothes and vehicles. You'll also need to complete a range of side activities, including all of the hunting and fishing challenges, but there's nothing from the campaign that is too taxing. In multiplayer, you'll need to complete three missions in co-op, play Arcade Hero mode five times, kill 100 players and win on 10 featured maps. The most time consuming is likely to be the featured maps as this relies entirely on player voting as well as player performance.Check out our The Best Xbox First Person Shooters Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.
The formula for Far Cry 5
is very familiar by now, but that doesn't stop the game from being a fun experience. After a brilliant introduction, the beautiful world of Hope County can be explored at your own discretion, with progress firmly led by the player rather than what the game wishes you to do. The encounters with the Seed family are memorable, although the motives of the remaining cult members are questionable and their encounters too frequent. Not only are there plenty of ways to take down the cult, there are also a variety of side activities that add the usual streak of Far Cry
humour to the game and will keep players occupied for hours. While co-op is appreciated, it feels tacked on and the multiplayer modes are little more than a distraction, even if the map editor is one of the most comprehensive seen for a while. Despite this, Far Cry 5
is the best addition to the franchise for quite a while and it is well worth spending many hours visiting Montana.
- Great introduction
- Progress is player led so no overwhelming map icons
- Plenty of different activities to do
- Memorable encounters with the Seed family mean that players can't forget about the story
- Lots of humour
- Cultists are generic bad guys who are too aggressive and occur too frequently.
- Co-op and multiplayer are tacked on
The reviewer spent nearly 50 hours wandering the world of Hope County, killing hundreds of cultists in many different ways, looting everything she could find and generally messing around. She earned 31 of the game's 50 achievements for a total of 560GS. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.