Far Cry 5 lives and dies on its setting, but thankfully, its setting is great. The reason I feel the need to focus on the environment before getting into the nitty gritty is because outside of this, it’s very much business as usual for Ubisoft’s open world juggernaut, which certainly is no bad thing. However, if you were like me and had a hint that maybe a new era was dawning for the franchise, well that may not be the case.
What that means, of course, is that – if we’re to go off prior events – Far Cry 5 offers an awesome open world that’s packed with missions, characters and story, and a game that isn’t too adverse to pushing the boundaries as and when it seems fit. A real joy here is that the long-running ‘towers’ have been replaced by ‘intel’ – where you’re just asked to go and talk to the local townsfolk to find quests and locations – which is indicative of the atmosphere Ubisoft seems to be going for. As opposed to long-in-the-tooth mechanics, this is far more free and less restrictive. It’s the right direction to head in.
It’s the mentioned Hope County where Far Cry 5 should carve its own niche, mostly because of how hard-hitting it is. Previous entries have slipped into the realm of the paranormal, and even the magical, on occasion, which steered proceedings down a particular path that had potentially run their course. Ubisoft seems to think so, too, and presenting us with a cult – lead by Joseph Seed – who is preying on the fears of the local community is frighteningly topical. The idea that ‘salvation’ lies in destruction and death has cut these people off from the outside world and every interaction with them continually adds extra layers to what is a very controversial subject. Again, this pulls few punches.
Naturally a resistance group has now sprung up – which you’re more or less leading – and before long you’ve made an enemy of ‘Eden’s Gate’ and the war is on. It’s the narrative and cutscenes where Far Cry 5 obviously pushes this the hardest, especially when you come face-to-face with these crackpots leaving the missions themselves to fall into familiar territory.
The joy of the series has always been its ability to surprise so it’d be unfair to say otherwise at the moment without playing the entire game, but from my limited experience I did feel like it all fit in to what I would’ve expected beforehand. From stealing huge trucks, to liberating settlements, to trying to blow up a weaponised vehicle, there’s a constant drip feeding of choices, and due to the huge location, how you go about achieving success within that.
You can stay quiet and pick people off, or just hurl a bunch of grenades into the warzone and run riot, and much like Far Cry 4 (and other iterations) the developer knows how to make it feel damn satisfying to fire a gun. It’s just extra special here as there’s so many options when it comes to your arsenal of toys. The concept of a playground is overdone, but that is what Hope County sets out to do, and seemingly does well.
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There’s more to experiment in addition to this because of how unrestricted you are. There’s ‘guns for hire’ – or local townsfolk that will accompany as you got about business – or you can recruit a dog that’ll obey your every command (and commit some truly gruesome kills should you so wish). You can ignore all of that, as ever, and this is where Far Cry 5 is hoping to stand out. It’s your journey. Go figure it out however you deem best.
All of this is nothing compared to the co-op on offer, though, as that truly is where the most entertainment awaits. Ubisoft has clearly looked at the current landscape and realised there’s too many obstructions when it comes to the idea of playing with a friend, so there’s not that many obstacles at all. You can join your pal’s adventure at any time at the exact point they’re currently playing, and when you leave you’ll exit with all the items and improved stats you may have gathered. That’s exactly how it should be. This is meant to be fun after all and, pleasingly, it is.
I got to run amuck with a buddy as I tried to escape the evil clutches of Eden’s Gate, shooting multiple digital people in the face, avoiding falling mortar fire as we shouted at each other like idiots. Any game is going to be more joyful when this is on the cards, and Ubisoft has thrown themselves into it with as much gusto as possible. The fact the entire game can be played this way is better still, and a lesson others could take heed of.
While Far Cry 5 isn’t a huge departure for the series, it does have a very harsh edge given the themes and setting it has taken on. If you’re looking for a more adult title – that also allows you to act like a fool – this is probably it. The real question will be if it can sustain the momentum from start to finish, as you’d have to assume there will be a lot of game. There’s always the risk of events getting a tad boring, but with that said, that’s the challenge of any open world title, and the studio has had years trying to perfect such a concept.
It has huge potential, however, and it could make a big impact in March 2018.