I have always tried to get sucked into the world of Far Cry. I own Far Cry 3 and 4, always starting and playing for a solid chunk of hours but then getting distracted by something else. The idea of trying to overthrow a crazy if not enigmatic leader who is hungry for power and enjoying the pain they inflict on others just felt a little hollow for me. I didn’t really care that much about trying to bring down these people or their militia, I just wanted to get through without being mauled by a Honey Badger!
However, when Far Cry 5 was announced and the story came a little closer to home… although I don’t live in the USA… I felt an immediate sense of intrigue in the idea of taking down a fanatical religious cult! At EGX 2017, I was fortunate enough to test the demo, opting to take people down with the assistance of my four legged friend, Boomer and instantly wanted to get stuck into the game. Now the game has been released, I wanted to share my final thoughts on the next installment in the Far Cry franchise.
I will be honest that in my opinion, the opening was very good. A team of law enforcement from outside of the zone with a nervous sheriff trying to convince the Marshall that they should turn around. You play the rookie, who is along for the ride. As you land intent on arresting the Father and taking him away from his cult, it’s clear to see that everything here is not right. Things don’t go to plan of course and suddenly you’re on the run, from the cult and the Father. It really sets you up and drops you in the middle of a difficult situation, which is great, and straight away, you’re running for your life.
After this, it’s a fight for survival. You’ll need weapons and gear if you’re going to get away and you have to pick it up pretty quickly. You meet Dutch, who explains how things work around here and how to start building your resistance against the cult in an attempt to remove the Father and his family from power. Sounds familiar right? Well on the surface, entry five of the Far Cry series is not too dissimilar from previous incarnations. You will do missions and side quests which, in this case, build up your resistance against your enemies. Be it saving civilians at the side of the road, blowing up silos filled with ‘Bliss’, taking down cult encampments or just shooting the hell out of everyone, there’s lots of things to do along the way. There’s loot to be had and also some hunting to be found which extends to a variety of bears, elk and fish. After an hour or so of shooting, I felt it was time to take my fishing rod and kill some time trying to catch some big fish. I don’t care for fishing in the reel world (get it?) but it was novel to give it a go in the name of getting some more money. There are more animals which appear and fight each other before inevitably turning on you… which includes Turkeys… all of these also help get you much needed loot to sell.
You will get noticed by running amok and foiling the order of things in these parts. Pissing off the people in charge of the regions will result in you being marked and brought in should you get caught. The game deliberately makes it difficult to escape otherwise the story may never progress if you’re really good at getting away. You’ll have one to ones with John, Faith and Jacob Seed who will leave you thinking that they really are crazy in their attempt to convince you that their way is the right path. Of course, you don’t want to follow this path… if you did, it would be a pretty short game! Your goal will be to build up your resistance, face the leader of the region and take them out in order to reach The Father himself, Joseph. All three lieutenants are equally horrible as they try and bring you to their way of thinking and I had no real issue with dispatching them… although I was completely mesmerized by Faith which made sense as she was all about the drug fueled experience.
You’ll meet folks along the way who can become your fighters and join you in your fight by providing firepower and perks, but there are also some special characters who can help you with their particular skills… be it flying, sniping… or chewing. You can call these folks and critters in to give you a hand in a tight spot and give yourself an advantage while taking on a small army of the fanatics. The only issue I found was getting them to join you in a vehicle after you have told them to move to a certain place was almost impossible… either that or I missed a tutorial piece somewhere along the line. They would also get stuck sometimes and I would try and get them to move somewhere only to see them running on the spot being a bit useless miles away from the battle. This only happened a couple of times but caused some irritation when the extra support was useful. My favorite combo is Nick, with his plane and Peaches the Cougar. Having support from the air was pretty useful but Peaches was just quick, quiet and lethal (plus I couldn’t stop petting Peaches… very cute). Boomer is of course a good boy, although he got run over by a random car which immediately crushed my soul. I also fell for Cheeseburger the bear as he was just so silly and fun! The people were ok… but animals are always better!
With regards to gameplay, there doesn’t feel like there is much of a change. If you like the Far Cry format then you may not wish for there to be any difference in the way the game plays and handles. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. You still have a variety of weapons, vehicles, throwables and with the sidekicks, you have a few ways of approaching your fights. I prefer trying for the stealthy approach which always ends up in explosions and reinforcements being called in but I still opt for the compound bow approach before it all goes to hell and I have to start lobbing grenades and dynamite randomly hoping to take a car full of cultists out. I should have dedicated a little more time to trying out air strikes as there is something satisfying about taking out an entire area with just one run… however, it’s just not my style, but it might be yours.
You also decide how to ‘build’ your deputy. As you complete in game challenges, such as melee or particular weapon kills etc, you will receive perk points which are yours to spend at your leisure. I would highly recommend saving up to get the Journey Pack and Additional Holster relatively early on just so you have more room for items and an another weapon but it is entirely up to you. It’s worth noting that your Specialists can also have a perk slot so if you have a favorite, you may want to upgrade them too. Some of these perks will also benefit you in Arcade mode so if you plan on spending a lot of time online, you can get yourself some perks that will help you out there too. Don’t forget to use your perk points though, otherwise you may end up putting yourself at a disadvantage as you play through.
So while the game itself is a little samey, is it any good? Well, it’s busy that’s for sure. You’ll find yourself getting distracted by road side rescues and all sorts as you head to different destinations and there’s no end of opportunities to get yourself some guns, ammo and resistance points. I find the story interesting and The Father fits well in the Far Cry catalogue of crazed baddies. The game still retains the comedy aspect, albeit a little dark and silly at time with missions like the Testy Festy… which is exactly what you might think it is among others. The humour is needed as the way the cult operates isn’t exactly above board or the nicest so those silly missions are a nice break from the madness. My only issues were some glitches which I imagine came from the world generating the encounters around me where enemies would suddenly appear or loot/vehicles would disappear after everyone was dead. It may be something a small patch could fix but would help the experience run smoother if things didn’t suddenly vanish when you’re looking for the body of the cultist you just killed for some ammo.
Graphics wise, it’s on par with previous games. The seven deadly sins scrawled over buildings served as a reminder that not all is well here and the big ‘YES’ sign resembling the Hollywood sign along a hillside was particularly ominous as you drive along. Details such of this give just enough of that sense of a calm State where life goes on with dribs and drabs of small towns and buildings peppering the landscape as you move on through. For some, things may be a little overly ‘American’. There are lots of Eagles and flags dotted everywhere which might irk some of our friends across the pond, however I see it more as a constant reminder of where this story has been set than anything else. The Father, however, is great. Not only the performance (by Greg Bryk) but how he appears to the audience. The aforementioned sins carved into his flesh just prove how far he is willing to go. As the story progresses, the performance gets better and better in my opinion but his presentation is what makes the story for me. The music serves a great purpose in this game. I really enjoy the menu screen music… in fact, I could happily have this on repeat as a lazy background option for a sunny afternoon in a park or garden. The car radios offer either a religious station or a slightly rockier alternative depending on what you’re in the mood for while you play.
If you want a break from the story, you do have an aspect of online too which you can choose to participate in or skip altogether. There’s in-game co-op which allows you to play the main campaign with your friends if you fancy raising some hell together and then there’s the Arcade. Arcade mode offers two modes. A solo/co-op mode whereby you take on maps created by other players (similar to Trials Fusion) and good old fashioned multiplayer. You can increase your online standings which give you additional money and perk points as you level up. There’s a standard version of these modes for the casual player or for hardcore folks, there is an Arcade Hero option too. I gave the Arcade a go and while I like the idea, it didn’t grab me as much as say the Uncharted or Last of Us multiplayer did. As a result, I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in this mode which is a shame, however I enjoy Far Cry for the campaign and not really the multiplayer. I dare say this will appeal to a lot of folks and of course, Ubisoft have done well at focusing on bringing players together but PvP isn’t really my bag in titles such as this. You can visit the Arcade in the main menu or at awesome looking retro arcade machines dotted around the main campaign.
Overall, I have enjoyed playing Far Cry 5. While it doesn’t do much to break from the mold of its predecessors, it does try and add some new elements which are there for the player to utilise and enjoy should they wish. The story was enjoyable, although certain aspects were similar to what has come before and it would have been nice to have a bit more variety. As the story progressed, I became more determined to end the reign of The Father and his awful family which is great, because in previous games, I just grew to like the antagonists and the appeal of killing them just fell by the wayside. I would be interested to see what the season pass will bring to proceedings and if we get a chance to cover this, we certainly will. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time playing number 5, even with the glitchy AI, it has been fun, humorous and interesting. There are also a number of Easter Eggs to keep a look out for… a single red balloon freaked me a out a little I won’t lie.
I personally can’t see myself visiting the Arcade much which is a shame and I would like to get some folks together for some campaign co-op just so we can raise some hell and have some fun while doing so. If you like Far Cry, you will likely enjoy this game, not for the familiarity but you know what you’re getting and it’s well executed. If you didn’t enjoy the previous titles for whatever reason, then there haven’t been enough changes for you to warrant diving in at this stage but I would suggest giving it a go when you get a chance. If you need me, me and my bear will just be tearing folks apart while my buddy flies overhead and bombs everyone.
Our thanks to Ubisoft UK for enabling us to review Far Cry 5 on PS4.