The Far Cry series has gone from strength to strength over the last 10 years with Far Cry 3 being one of the games that really stands out as one of my favourite open world experiences from the last generation of consoles. The 4th entry and debut game on current generation hardware, was a good game but it felt more like an extension to 3 with much of the same over the top action but not really adding anything new. Far Cry Primal followed, an alternative take on the franchise set in 10,000 BC and while it had a luke warm reception, it still reviewed quite well across the board and ended up being a decent game in its own right.
Far Cry 5 has finally arrived and although we are still fairly early in to the year, there is no doubt that this game has been one of the most anticipated of 2018. Set in Hope County, a fictional town over grown with forests, lakes and ruled by an extreme religious cult called The Project at Eden’s Gate, Far Cry 5 puts players in the shoes of a rookie deputy, who is in over his head and clueless on what is about to unfold. The game starts with the deputy accompanying a team mixed up of US Marshall’s and the local sheriff to take down the leader called Joseph Seed, also known as The Father. It all goes pear shaped and the deputy is left for dead, his friends have been taken hostage and upon recovering thanks to a local stranger, he seeks out revenge.
A big chunk of the campaign is building up a resistance by recruiting local specialists, freedom fighters and anyone willing to go to war, convincing them that fighting back against the cult and taking out The Father is the only way of truly getting their freedom back from this murderous group of extremists. The characters play a huge part in the campaign and in order to get them to join your cause you have to do things for them along the way. Missions are pretty varied throughout and involve helping these potential recruits by liberating bases, recovering hostages, assassinating certain cult members and many many more. There is certainly a lot to do in Far Cry 5 and while a few of the objective based side quests can be a little grindy, for the most part the main missions and side quests overall offer some brilliant action and tense moments that certainly got my adrenaline pumping while playing.
The characters themselves are well developed and some can be assigned to be your support throughout by selecting them to be by your side when competing missions. It’s not just people who you can recruit though as animals also play a big part in the fight for freedom with the much talked about Boomer the dog being a trusty sidekick that can not only take out an enemy but can loot them for weapons too. As good as Boomer is though, there are others that can be recruited and each one has their own speciality skills and there is even a grizzly bear that can be used called Cheeseburger (such a great name), who’s traits will not need too much explaining. While the NPC character development is good, it’s somewhat let down by the non existent development of the main character who doesn’t say a single word throughout, so doesn’t really have any kind of depth behind him which is disappointing.
The Far Cry series has always been renowned for Its terrifyingly sadistic villains and Far Cry 5 is no exception with the intensity that the main villain The Father Joseph Seed provides. While he isn’t as impactful as Vaas from the third game, he has his own personality and charm that you can’t help but be drawn in to, but it’s in his lieutenants where the real depth to the persona of the cult as a whole shines and they are as good as the main man himself but for very different reasons. They are all great in their own way but the stand out lieutenant is his deranged brother John Seed, a brilliantly psychotic maniac who thrives on torture and pain. The Father himself is a great villain, there’s no doubt about that and while he isn’t as strong in his performance and intensity on his own as Vaas was, his brilliant lieutenants thrown in to the mix makes for a more impactful performance overall. It isn’t just The Father that you take on here, it’s the whole cult and what they stand for and it all makes for a fantastic collection of performances and set pieces combined all together.
While the players’ character has no real narrative progression or depth, his skills fortunately can be improved by assigning various perks that can be unlocked by using points that are earned by completing missions or challenges scattered throughout the huge map. Gone are the tedious crafting of gun holsters and ammo pouches by getting a collection of bear skins and beaver testicles to craft them, instead replaced by simply being unlocked in the perks menu, which is certainly a welcome change. Unlocking these perks though is no mean feat and some consideration and thought went in to the ones I felt I’d need sooner rather than later with some being the right choice and others not so much. For example, choosing between an extra weapon slot or a repair torch for vehicles could make all the difference, especially early on and decisions like that play a key role in how you progress through, being tactical in your selection based on priority of need, but that adds to the tension that Far Cry 5 creates so beautifully. I urge players to choose these perks wisely and try to choose the ones that will give you the most advantage, especially early on as some of these perks make things a little more manageable, particularly when involved in huge gun battles when liberating big heavily armed bases but more so the deeper you get in to the war.
The gameplay in Far Cry 5 has no real surprises if you’re familiar with the series or have at least played one of the Far Cry games before. It plays great, with smooth and responsive movement and gunplay feeling finely tuned and incredibly satisfying with weapons also being customisable to suit your needs and play style. Running, jumping and sliding through battles and set pieces feels great as they always have done in a Far Cry game making you feel like you’re in your very own action movie. On foot it’s high adrenaline fast paced over the top stuff that is a real joy to play but it’s in vehicles where the gameplay is unfortunately let down, specifically cars and bikes. While it’s nothing major I feel that cars in particular could be more responsive than what they are, especially as high speed chases can play a big part in the game. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not terrible to control, they just feel a bit sloppy, almost disconnected from the road at times, but it’s a small criticism and it doesn’t take anything away from the enjoyment that this game provides. Planes, helicopters and boats all feel pretty good though with a simple learning curve that isn’t too much to get to to grips with and air battles can feel as satisfying as gun battles on the ground.
The map in Far Cry 5 is one huge destructive gorgeous playground, filled with things to do all the time and never a dull moment to be had. One thing that Far Cry 5 does brilliantly is distract you from the objective you originally set out to do. On many occasions I found myself stopping on the way to a mission to free hostages, take out a road block, liberate a base or generally cause mayhem blowing up gas tankers belonging to the cult or stealing a supply truck in a carefully planned hijack. Missions themselves can be approached in many different ways by utilising your assigned fighters, going in guns blazing or taking the stealth approach. What this game encourages is a certain amount of creativity in how you complete missions and side quests setting a main objective but giving you the freedom to complete it however you want to, it really is brilliant stuff.
The overall presentation in Far Cry 5 is incredibly good with visuals looking sharp, crisp and very detailed. The rich, vibrant open world is filled with little details that add so much character to the atmosphere and the developers have done a fantastic job of making this fictional County not only look fantastic but also feel very natural and full of life. The map is filled with enemies, wildlife and massive amounts of foliage that really brings this open world to life in a way that hasn’t been achieved before in a Far Cry game making this entry the most detailed visually in the series so far. Character performances are generally good with voice acting for the most part being done really well with only a very few minor extras sounding a little wooden, but this can be forgiven considering the amount of other main characters that are available to interact with throughout. The weapons sound meaty, explosions are over the top and sound fantastic and the soundtrack is great, matching well with the atmosphere surrounding the game and really suits the overall experience.
There is also a drop in drop out online co-op mode where you and a friend can jump in and do the whole campaign together if you wish once the initial tutorial is completed. There is a slightly disappointing aspect to this though and that is whoever the host is will be the only one who can accept missions and get any progression. Unfortunately the second player won’t have any progression despite completing missions and other objectives. I can understand why this has been done, to preserve the other players own game, but it would have been nice to see both players gaining something rather than just the host. Despite that little catch, co-op is fun and certainly makes things a little easier when in the middle of a heavy gun battle. Arcade mode is also present and this acts a map editor where you can design levels of your own using settings not only from this game but also past Ubisoft games like Watch Dogs 2, Assassins Creed Origins and many more that you can upload for the community to play. You can also select other community created maps that you and your friends can jump in and play through in a horde mode style game. It’s a neat little addition that I’m sure a lot of people will spend hours in getting creative.
Where Far Cry 5 prevails though is most certainly in its really good campaign and rich, detailed open world that will no doubt keep you busy for quite a while. There is no doubt that this is a great game and one that has exceeded my expectations having been left a little disappointed with Far Cry 4. I know we are still fairly early in to 2018 but Far Cry 5 is one of the best games so far this year and I believe it will remain so further in to the year. It’s definitely up there with Far Cry 3 for me and offers an experience that you can only really have in a Far Cry game with its satisfying gameplay, sadistic villains and over the top action that will no doubt get your adrenaline pumping. While It certainly isn’t perfect with its few tiny little niggles, it’s still a great game and a massive step in the right direction for the franchise. Far Cry 5 is a testament to Ubisoft who have yet again released a wonderfully detailed narrative driven open world experience following on form from the brilliant Assassins Creed Origins from late last year. Yet again a single player narrative driven game has prevailed at a time where some will have you believe that single player games are dying, but I can tell you now, you only have to look at the quality that’s come out of these single player games over the last 6 months to know that whoever is saying that clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about.