The Far cry games have not changed much since Far cry 3, the series has taken its idea of an open world fps and expanded upon it with every iteration (other than perhaps Primal, which was really just a reskinned far cry 4). This idea of continually improving the idea has paid off in this latest iteration Far Cry.
It has the series staples of big guns, large set pieces, Megalomaniac villain and throw away legions of enemies to shoot. While it also added some further innovative touches to build on the tried and trusted far cry formula.
The largest new addition to the game is the new ‘guns/claws for hire’ system. This allows you to have AI companions join you on your mission for Justice, ranging from the grizzled crop farmer with his plane to a Bear called ‘Cheeseburger’ who mauls your enemies for you, not mentioning well-advertised good boy ‘Boomer’ the dog who can attack and distract enemies while retrieving weapons for you from the battlefield (this last trait I found least useful but more on that later).
Once upgraded the system allows you to have two of these companions alongside you for your play through other than certain missions where for narrative you are left alone or with a specific companion. In addition to the roster of characters in this system, you can also hire general citizen guerrillas to use also that have different tactics of their own such as ‘soldier’ or ‘long range’, these do also count towards your 2 max companions however.
Also new is the ‘choose your own adventure’ feel they have tried to add to the game. This is limited and not a true choose your path game, but it provides more freedom in where to go next than any other game in the series to date. Any of the 3 lieutenants and regions can be liberated at any time.
You can choose to do one at a time, or work on them all steadily, the order you defeat and complete them is up to you while also funnelling you along towards the games cinematic set pieces that contain all the Lunacy fans have come to expect of Far Cry now.
This game plays just as any far cry game since 3 has played. Outposts are there to be beaten to open up fast travel options, story missions are not locked behind anything other than story progression and your own skill. While there are also a few noticeable changes both for better and worse.
Finally, you no longer have to climb towers to open up areas of the map for viewing, now as long as you go there on wheels or by foot, then it will clear the ‘fog of war’ (plane doesn’t count). This is a welcome change in gameplay and allows you to play the game properly, it never made sense to me why the characters in 3 and 4 would postpone going on a rescue mission for example just to climb a tower to unlock the map to help them get to the mission locale in the first place. This brings me to the next welcome addition to gameplay that is that all roads are now visible from the start and they have even added an on road follow guide to help you find your objective without having to pause every 2 minutes to see if this is the left turn you need to take or the next one.
Both of those changes felt like positive choices however the next change is slightly more divisive.
The previously existing crafting system has been revamped, now crafting only applies to serums to boost certain aspects such as perception and damage increase. You no longer go out and hunt for upgrades to your character such as weapon slots or loot bags, instead these are now locked behind a perk system. For completing certain challenges, you are awarded skill points, smartly though these challenges have been created to unlock as you play the game, such as kill 50 enemies using an assault rifle. This can lead you to seek further challenges such as kill enemies with a melee weapon just to get that one extra perk point for your next desired unlock. While this is easier it also results in the hunting aspect of the game not meaning a whole lot other than being an extra way to make some cash. This is a shame as the game really rams home this is America and animals are out about. Far Cry 5 has littered the game with signs along trials and roads indicating what animals may be found in the immediate area, the problem is that its just not needed. During my time with the game I only hunted when it was dictated by a quest, while in previous Far Cry games it was an activity I rather enjoyed in order to upgrade my gear. There is even a giant section of the map I only set foot in once that was pure wild woodlands that can only really exist for hunting, again making it a further shame it is not really needed other than to venture into the woods to get more money. Now granted for previous games it made a more narrative sense for the protagonists to need to hunt to craft better gear and it makes less sense here in the heart of America as a Sheriff’s deputy liberating small towns, however I cant help but feel that a enjoyable component of the games has been lessened by this change.
Driving feels more or less the same as any previous game in the series thus far, where the real changes lie is in the addition of Helicopters and planes that are controllable yourself, a first for the series. The helicopter controls were easy to pick up but a little trickier to use effectively, as such in my play through I only used them as a way to get from A to B, finding myself more adept at taking on large groups of enemies from the ground rather than the air, despite that I’m sure if I spent further time learning to master them then perhaps I would find it more enjoyable. The real talking point is the planes. They did not handle well. They gave off a very arcade like feel when inside them, unable to control pitch and yaw very much in a manner not too dissimilar from the Starfighter controls in the recent ‘Star Wars Battlefront 2’ but made just that bit simpler. Using the weapons on the planes felt good and enjoyable which gave me motivation to play around with them a bit more, however I could not escape the overly simplified controls. This was particularly relevant to me when taking off and landing, take off could be achieved in about 30 meters no matter what the plane and slowing down to land I found that I stopped on a dime as soon as my wheels touched the ground. Okay then… how that made it through testing I really don’t know. In the end I gave up on landing and had more fun bailing out with my unlocked parachute instead.
The shooting is as fun and satisfying as it has been in previous games, and the ability to craft throw-able items such as dynamite and pipe bombs from resources you find while looting was a welcome addition. Where I found this lacking however was the selection of weapons on offer, further hamstrung by the limitations on how many weapons you can carry until the later stages of the game. To clarify (No Spoilers) the selection of assault rifles on offer is small and while I experimented with some of my series favourites I found them lacking compared to the starting weapon of the ACR. The bow felt slightly less accurate than in previous games to me which was disappointing as this has previously been a staple in my inventory. This brings me on to my biggest gripe, the holster unlocks are perks that you can only purchase after defeating one and then two of the antagonist’s lieutenants. So, to start with I’m limited to just a pistol and 1 other weapon (A pistol has a permanent slot in your inventory). Then I could finally add my coveted bow but found it lacking so switched to a sniper rifle and finally I could add one more weapon to the mix. In the end I went ACR – bow – sniper – pistol. But I never felt much of reason to change these weapons, while in some cases this was due to positive ideas such as explosive arrows so I don’t need an RPG or armour piercing rounds for my guns, in others it was a disappointment, if Boomer ran over to me with a Vector for example I wouldn’t feel any desire to take it as I was equipped with what I perceived to be the best load out all ready. Further desire to experiment was lessened as very few weapons were unlocked for you via game progression as in previous games when you reach a certain milestone. This meant I had to choose between adding that better scope I wanted or using up my finances to try a new weapon only to decide my old one was better (this happened a few times). Well I guess for more money you can always go off hunting. Granted none of this detracted from my experience but it did feel a shame.
Outposts and destructible objects felt enjoyable, the outposts in particular felt more interesting than before partly due to some fun outpost locations, in this iteration of Far Cry the outposts all have names and locations that mean something to this region of Montana such as the areas power station or water filtration plant. These are accompanied by appreciative dialog from you radio contacts referring to each one specifically when you liberate it. I found myself looking for the most interesting outpost to liberate due to the story behind it rather than because It was a useful fast travel option.
The Seed family are the leading villains of this piece, with Joseph Seed ‘The Father’ a leader of a rural cult that believes the end of the world is coming and we must all repent for our sins and follow in his vision, laid out to him from God himself.
He is joined by his three lieutenants. You have John Seed who recruits members to the cult with his own brand of baptism (This is a smart play on John the Baptist). Jacob Seed the militaristic former army man who runs the cults offensive and defensive forces, and Hope Seed who runs the cults drug operation, because what harmless religious cult doesn’t have a large supply of hallucinogenic drugs on hand.
You encounter these 3 antagonists the most while learning bits and pieces about ‘The Father’ through them, this is a different take on presenting the antagonist than in previous games when they have ben able to be in your ear a lot during the game. The Seeds are not the series best villains in my opinion, but I do think they’re still great. Joseph is an interesting figure who I enjoyed learning more about, Johns sick and twisted version of purifying recruits left me both horrified and keen to learn more. Hope’s story within the drug system was moving and just awkward enough to make you wonder if she really is evil or another victim. The only one who fell flat for me was Jacob who didn’t really seem to have much of a reason to run the army of cultists other than Joseph was his brother and he had a military background.
Each leader has their own special twists on enemies from vicious animals to ace fighter pilots and even mindless husks of people taken by the cult. This allowed for some variety on gameplay and tactics depending on what region you were in.
Without going into spoilers its hard to explain the Seeds in further detail, what I can say is that they are not the strongest villains in the series, but they have unique and interesting stories behind them that I thoroughly enjoyed discovering through both themselves and the locals I rescued while out and about in Montana.
Montana is beautiful, I was concerned it would all get a bit samey, but it did not. The regions have beautiful rivers, mountains and buildings all very much from middle America that really did make you feel you where there, a great job done by the team at Ubisoft. The land is covered with interesting characters all ready to give you some side missions to further flesh out the rural setting and its people, alongside their feelings towards the cultists and what its been like for them to live with this happening in their back yard.
Far Cry 5 is a brilliant entry into the series, despite what has been lost from previous games and the villains not being as strong as in previous entries, it is in my mind the best Far cry to date. Montana is a great place to explore and hides several good secrets within its fields, rivers and mountains while also allowing a good amount of freedom to how you approach an objective. Gameplay feel good unless you are in an airborne vehicle and there really is no large reason to be other than getting from A to B quickly across the huge map.
Additions such as the hire system are a nice touch while the dialogue from the NPC’s feels genuine most of the time. Alongside the interesting and large collection of side missions available to you.
I had a great time with Far Cry 5 and can’t wait to go back for a second play through and try things in a slightly different manner.
Disclaimer – I have not played very much of Far Cry arcade and as such this review rates purely to the main game itself. This was also written on the 21st April 2018 and as such any patches since are not accounted for.