“Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity? It’s when you do the same thing over and over again expecting things to change.”
These words were spoken by Far Cry 3’s legendary villain Vaas Montenegro, and became the basis for the rest of the series forward in both a positive and negative light. Far Cry 4 and Primal were all about going full Rambo on hordes of enemies while occasionally abusing hallucinogens to propel the story forward. I’ve always been a fan of Far Cry, but I’m well aware that it was in need for some change to keep things interesting. Ubisoft Montreal’s latest venture Far Cry 5 i s a huge step in the right direction.
Rather than being set in a foreign nation like the Himalayas or Pacific Isles, Far Cry 5 takes the battle closer to home in Montana, within the fictional town of Hope County. This ironic backdrop finds a way to fit Far Cry’s genre, with a vast wilderness, few industrial buildings, and animals that may not be as interesting as a tiger or woolly mammoth, but make for some handy partners.
Chaos has taken over in Hope County, thanks to a thriving cult titled The Project at Eden’s Gate, lead by the ruthless Father Joseph Seed and his siblings John, Jacob, and Faith. You play as the Sheriff’s Deputy, beginning the game with a failed attempt at arresting the Father. After what is the undoubtedly the best opening to a Far Cry game, you wind up rescued by a resistance member named Dutch, who helps you back up on your feet to begin taking down the Father’s siblings in order to weaken his defenses and liberate Hope County.
This time, you are the star in Far Cry 5. As soon as the Story begins, you are asked to choose a gender, and later customize your character. Since the protagonist is silent, the narrative kind of suffers as a result, but more than makes up for it with riveting antagonists, being the Father and his siblings. You encounter each of them very frequently, and they tell you stories about their incredibly messed up past and how the Father saved and gifted them with purpose. Maybe it was best to have a silent protagonist, seeing as these well-acted monologues probably would have been interrupted with some snark one-liners otherwise. Story is important in a Far Cry game, and 5 delivers on that front. Not perfectly, but it most certainly has an ending that will leave you thinking for days.
The elements that make up a Far Cry game are here: guns, explosions, and lots of fire. Radio towers on the other hand are thankfully few and far between and they aren’t needed to gather intel on the map at all. The only time they appear is in the beginning and one or two missions. Granted, they already were gone in Far Cry Primal given the game’s time period, but it’s nice to see them disappear for good. How you do expand your map is how you normally would in real life, by talking to the county’s citizens and reading signs on the road. These people will give you intel on locations, stashes, and characters that have sidequests and story missions. What I like most about Far Cry 5 is the way it handles both of them.
In order to get to the siblings that lead their own region, you must build up Resistance Points for that given region. Every quest you complete, every hostage you save, every shrine you destroy all reward you with resistance points, some of which earn you way more than others. Most story missions reward you with 600 to 900 points, while some sidequests give about 300. In that regard, everything you do counts as progress towards the end of the game. Reaching a certain amount of points will trigger story cutscenes involving the region’s leaders. This is what I meant earlier when I said the story isn’t perfect, as the way it progresses is monotonous. The siblings will send out their best crew, kidnap you using tranquilizers, and you’ll escape either by your own accord or theirs’. Why don’t they just kill you? It isn’t as annoying as some of the game’s other problems, but interrupting playtime isn’t the best storytelling method.
Thanks to the introduction of resistance points, the progression system has changed as well. By completing certain challenges, like killing people with a specific gun or achieving a number of stealth kills, you are rewarded with Perk Points, and they are very easy to get. It also helps that most of the perks aren’t locked behind a skill tree, so you can prioritize some perks over others. If you want to tackle the game in a quiet fashion, you’ll have access to some good stealth perks early on. Want to take on the cult guns blazing? Get your health all the way up and go from there!
Some of these resistance missions will reward you with companions that have their own special skills, whether they be animal or human. For example, Boomer the dog can sniff out enemies you may have not caught on your binoculars and Nick Rye can hop in his plane for air support. Even if you don’t have one of these special allies yet, you can equip any NPC willing to fight. Unfortunately, this is where the major problem with the game lies: it’s ridden with technical issues, namely in the AI department.
Fortunately it isn’t nearly as much of a broken mess as Assassin’s Creed Unity was at launch, but it’s hard not to notice the lack of polish that went into the character animations and partner AI. Enemies are fine, it’s your allies that need to know a thing or two about combat. While they’re good at attacking when ordered and reviving you when down, they don’t seem to know how to cover their own backs. If a fire is spreading, don’t count on them to run away from it. And do not under any circumstance ask them to drive, they will stop for no reason halfway towards the waypoint. I hope Ubisoft is planning a patch to improve these issues later down the line. In the meantime, if you have a friend who owns Far Cry 5, invite them in for some fun co-op.
So after you’re done with the story and the countless hours of missions, Far Cry Arcade is there to provide more playtime. It is undoubtedly the game’s most impressive mode, providing a seemingly endless supply of user-created content that you can play by yourself, with friends, or against strangers in online multiplayer. You won’t see the multiplayer make it into esports any time soon since it’s incredibly basic, but what makes it unique are the custom maps, some of which are well-designed while others are not. It’s important to rate each stage after you play them in order to get the best ones to the top. What I like the most about the multiplayer deathmatches are their emphasis on fun and not competition.
Of course, if you’d like to play by yourself, there are also challenges that task you with killing selected targets, killing all targets, or getting to the finish line of a strange map. All of the content on Far Cry Arcade is created with one of the most detailed map editors I’ve ever seen. By using assets from various Ubisoft titles like Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, and of course other Far Cry games, anyone can create their own multiplayer maps and single-player challenges. I don’t personally have the patience right now to create my own content yet, but the map editor the game supplies might just be the perfect toolkit for future game designers. Honestly, Far Cry Arcade could have been an entire game in it of itself.
Far Cry 5 has some technical rough patches that drove me insane (pun very much intended), but looking past that, I would consider it to be the best game in the series. Even though it won’t have as much of an impact as Far Cry 3 did, there is still a ton of fun to be had in the story mode, which I’m eager to go back to and finish the many sidequests and outposts I have left. Future game designers might even consider buying this game for Far Cry Arcade’s complex and detailed map editor. While they’re at it, they can teach me how to make something competent.