Previous entries in the Far Cry series have taken us pretty much all over the world, discovering lush, tropical locales while eliminating enemy forces and engaging in some overwhelming situations. And it’s also taken us to the past with Far Cry Primal, as well as the future with the criminally underrated Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
But Far Cry 5 is here, and probably hits the hardest, not only because it comes at a time when America has enough confusion with what’s happening, but also because it’s so fully loaded. And it keeps the insane action coming, even while most of its storyline remains grounded and in some ways, pretty terrifying. But that’s what drives you to keep going, if only to see what all Hope County has to offer.
The storyline’s been discussed quite a bit, as it takes a more controversial route than previous games. You’re not hunting after some lavish dictator, or even a psychopath with a funky haircut. Instead, you’re dealing with a cult – a driven, merciless cult headed up by Joseph Seed, aka “The Father.” He’ll stop at nothing to keep his followers in line, and they’re ever so loyal – even going as far as to shove themselves into helicopter blades to prevent you from leaving with him. Ouch.
You’re with the Federal Marshals, and after Seed makes his escape and makes off with most of your crew, you’re left to fight back however you can, recruiting others to join your cause and eventually turning Hope County over to free land again. It’s no easy task, though, as Seed, his family members and his followers will stop at nothing to keep it within their grasp.
Again, it sounds super-serious, and the Seed family does put a bit of a harrowing twist on things, especially as they taunt you over the radio. But Far Cry 5 remains just as highly enjoyable as previous games in the series, and opens up even further, giving you access to things you never thought you’d experience in the game. For instance, using a flamethrower on a bear and then watching it run wild and maul cult members – and that’s just the first scenario off the top of my head.
Far Cry 5 is an open world, vividly designed by Ubisoft’s team, and it really shows a fine, if trouble-filled representation of Montana. The open country is staggeringly beautiful, whether you’re looking out over the horizon on a peak, or flying through the air in a friend’s plane while shooting down silos and helicopters. It looks stunning, and even with a few minor glitches here and there (particularly on enemy characters that run around like chickens with their heads cut off), it’s still a huge leap forward for the series. I don’t know how much better looking Far Cry 6 could get, honestly.
And along with visuals, Far Cry 5 also does the best work for characters that I’ve seen yet. You’ve got a pastor that will stop at nothing to give the county back to his people, even if that means carrying a gun; you’ve got a sassy bar owner that knows a thing or two about striking back at the heart of the cult; and then you’ve got the villains themselves, driven and, in some ways, completely bonkers. All of them fit into the game’s universe quite wonderfully.
Also, I have to give a nod to the animals within the game. They’re stars in their own right, whether they’re runaway buffalo charging into a group, a bear named Cheezburger that will stop at nothing to chow down on enemies; and, of course, your loyal dog, Boomer, who is an amazing companion. Sometimes I just want to stop everything in the midst of a gun battle, just to pet him and let him know the world isn’t quite ending. Ubisoft has created a wondrous animal universe here – even better than Primal’s. (And you could ride a bear in that one.)
I love the music selections, too, with a mixture of classic rock like Heart’s “Barracuda” and Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold,” as well as some original music that sounds like it was composed by Seed and his band (the Seeders?), telling everyone that he deserves praise. It’s a weird mix, and fitting for a game such as this. Also, the voice acting is superb, especially Greg Bryk, who plays Joseph Seed with just the right amount of malice. Yikes.
Gameplay-wise, Far Cry 5 is just about perfect. There could be some argument with plane controls, especially when you accidentally jump out of a moving one hundreds of feet in the air without a parachute; and some enemies take a few more hits than expected, even with an assault rifle looking them dead in the face. But, for the most part, everything clicks here, from the random gun battles you’ll get into to taking over cult checkpoints with a little back-up to driving a large tractor trailer truck down the road, taking out blockades with the help of a mounted set of cannons.
You can also buy new goods for your character, including weapons that vary from the effective to the outrageous; as well as wardrobe changes that make you feel more like a homegrown bad-ass, instead of an out-of-towner federal marshal that plays by the rules. And it’s great that you can pick and choose which heroes to help out, although, let’s be honest, most of you are going to call upon Boomer. Because JUST LOOK AT THAT FACE.
Some of the missions can be a little repetitious, especially when someone asks you to get an item for them; and the difficulty can spike in unexpected places, like when you take on just a few cultists on a farm, but suddenly become bombarded by enemies with flamethrowers. But these are minor squabbles when it comes to the overall gameplay experience, which is damn near seamless. I had several hours’ worth of fun in Hope County thus far, and I’ll be diving back in for more.
Along with the story, which will take you quite a while to get through, Far Cry 5 also has side missions and activities to complete, whether it’s shooting at a lock in a room on the other side of the river with a sniper rifle, or simply kicking back to take in some local fishing. You have hours’ worth of stuff at your fingertips, and though some of it can be challenging at first, it’s a good time all the same.
What’s more, you can have a friend join up with you, as the entirety of the game can be utilized through online co-op. It’s fun taking on missions with a friend, such as taking over strongholds from opposite ends, or enlisting even more help when the situation calls for it. There are times the connections can hiccup, but not nearly enough to get in the way of the sheer joy of teaming up with a buddy. Just watch out for those weird random players that join your party – some of them just don’t know what they’re doing. (Like, for instance, running at someone carrying a flamethrower and threatening to punch them. Um, what?)
If the single player story for Far Cry 5 wasn’t enough, there’s also an Arcade mode, in which you can put together various challenges and share them with others. This is an interesting mode, although it’s not nearly as in-depth as the main story. That’s expected, though, as it makes for a pleasant diversion, in case you need to unwind or you’re just curious to see someone implement Blood Dragon components into a new stage. (Which, by the way, I totally am.)
And Ubisoft has a pretty good end game in mind for Far Cry 5 as well, with a loaded Season Pass, some live activities (which have yet to truly kick in, but give it time) and, for those that feel nostalgic, a copy of Far Cry 3 that’s included with the Gold Edition of the game, unlocking in late May. So, yeah, you’ll have a lot to do if you grow bored with Hope County – but I just don’t see how that’s possible.
While some may argue that the tone of Far Cry 5 is all over the place – scary one moment and then “hey, here’s a testicle festival” the next (relax, it’s involving animals, and it’s hilarious), I think it all comes together into a worthy, genuine experience for the series. Sure, the idea of being trapped in a cult is frightening (especially based on the insight of one of the experts who contributed to the game), but the way it’s portrayed here isn’t overkill, just done in a fashion that you’ll want to keep pushing back against them. And, besides, we know what we’ve come to expect from Far Cry over the years, so why change that now with something super-serious?
In essence, Far Cry 5 is a lot of fun to play, alone or with a friend; it looks and sounds absolutely fantastic, right down to the proper song selections; and it gives you tons of stuff to do. I’m still discovering activities after several hours in, and trying to catch the biggest fish in Montana. (He’s out there, laughing at me.)
While the idea of battling a cult may not sound like the best video game idea, Far Cry 5 wraps it into an experience that’s easily the best in the series to date. And that’s including Blood Dragon and its amazing laser dinosaurs. I mean, how do you beat laser dinosaurs? With an on-fire bear named Cheezburger, obviously.0comments
So should you get it? As John Seed would say, “yes.”
WWG’s Score: 4.5/5