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Hands-On with Far Cry 5: Putting the players in control

I’ve had my ups and downs with Far Cry. While I’m unfamiliar with the first two games in the main series, like most people I began with Far Cry 3 and fell in love with its setting and gameplay. I missed out on the Blood Dragon expansion, but when Far Cry 4 came around, I was pretty disappointed as it felt more like a reskin of 3, though I might need to revisit that game to see if my criticism has held up. Then I devoted countless hours to Far Cry Primal and it is still the only game in my PlayStation library where I acquired a Platinum Trophy. Safe to say, I came into Far Cry 5 with unsure expectations. I didn’t enjoy the last game in the series that had guns, so what was Ubisoft going to do to make things different from 4? The answer: a lot.

Right from the start of the demo, you are given the option between two character genders. You’re no longer playing as some prick named Jason, you’re essentially playing as yourself. Far Cry 5’s protagonist is silent, nameless, and customizable. My stance on silent protagonists has become less favorable over the years, because I’ve found their silence to be immersion-breaking in games with a great emphasis on story. That being said, it’s perfect for a game like Far Cry, where the protagonist’s reactions are your reactions, where their motives are your motives, etc. You play as a Deputy in a fictional Montana city called Hope County. The place is overrun by a cult lead by Joseph Seed and his siblings, causing the residents to create a resistance of their own.

What stood out to me the most in this demo was the open-world. Ubisoft has a fair amount of open-world titles, and they all share some key similarities for the most part, like a variation of radio towers. Every time you would activate a radio tower, a section of the map would be revealed. This is no longer the case with Far Cry 5, as the world opens up to you in a more natural manner. Talk to citizens, read road signs, gather intel, this will all be beneficial in knowing your way around Hope County.

You’ll be receiving orders from influential townsfolk like Father Jerome and Mary May to take back the county. It seems like Ubisoft has truly embraced the absurdity of Far Cry with this fifth installment. The first mission me and my co-writer Alan played was one that involved going to an animal testing farm and killing all the animals. A bit morbid? Yes, but you don’t want to see these poor things suffer, do you? While the mission itself was crazy, the path leading to it was a long one. Not because it was far, but because we got distracted, in a good way. When a tractor came into view, Alan yelled at me to get in it. So in order to shut him up, I did and immediately ran over some deer. Can you imagine what that could do to humans? We were also distracted by other things like a truck carrying some goods. We stopped that truck after some resistance and were rewarded with a rocket launcher. These weapons are commonplace in most shooters, but they’ve always felt good to use in Far Cry, and here is no exception.

The highlight of this play session though has GOT to be the Widowmaker mission, where you are sent to take back a semi truck that was stolen by the cult. What makes this truck, dubbed the Widowmaker, so special? Well, there are .50 cal machine guns attached to both sides, so that’s a start. After I stole back the Widowmaker, I drove through miles and miles of roadblocks and literally blew past them. It was a sight to behold.

Immediately after that, we switched to co-op play, where I was linked to another player at the preview event. Together we took back an enemy outpost, flew some helicopters, and played through a story mission. Even though I’m more of a single-player guy, I might need to try some more co-op when the game comes out since I had a blast with it here.

As I’ve stated before, I’ve had my ups and downs with the series, but Far Cry 5 is turning out to be a huge up. Even more so after interviewing the creative director Dan Hay, who stated that they’re looking more to execute the vision of the player rather than the other way around. They’re giving us the tools to craft our own Far Cry experiences, and there won’t be a wrong way to do it. Far Cry 5 is putting more control back into the player, and I look forward to see how well they do it when the game launches on March 27, 2018 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.