Far Cry 5 Review
When a franchise gets into its 4th or 5th title, sometimes bad habits or complacency sets in and what consumers ultimately get at retail is a paired down, lackluster experience that disappoints in many ways. Ubisoft themselves have been partially guilty of this, especially when you look back on releases like Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed Unity. However, this is a company that has learned from the past, and the recent release of Assassin’s Creed Origins is proof that Ubisoft knows how to create fantastic experiences. Far Cry 4 was good, but never hit the highs of Far Cry 3; with Far Cry 5 going in a completely new direction, I was curious to see if we’d get an experience similar to 3, or one that is more like 4. In the end, we got neither, but instead something much more unique, in terms of progression, story development, and gameplay mechanics!
Our review of Far Cry 5 was played on an Xbox One X unit provided by Xbox Canada, using a copy of the game supplied by Ubisoft Canada.
If you are coming in unaware, the story of Far Cry 5 is set in the backdrop of a fictional rural Montana county, Hope County, where a cult leader by the name of Joseph Seed has taken full control, placing his three siblings to cover the counties 3 regions: John Seed to the west, Jacob Seed to the north, and the most interesting family member, Faith Seed to the east. The Seed family, led by The Father (Joseph Seed), are a radical Christian cult found referencing the end times in Revelations. There goal – domination through force, drugs, and radical ideologies. Of course, not all residents of Hope County want to fall in line, so as a young rookie deputy, you will partner with many of these people to systematically take down the cult, one region at a time.
What’s great about Far Cry 5 is that you aren’t hemmed in to a specific area. All the areas start of as ‘easy’ and progressively get more difficult as you begin to liberate the numerous outposts, destroy silos, and ultimately reduce the influence of Eden’s Gate (the Cult). If the going gets tough in one region, hop over to the next, where you will once again begin on ‘easy’ as you destroy Eden’s Gate property. It’s a fantastic progression system that allows you to move from region-to-region, encouraging it actually.
As you progress, more weapons, attachments, and perks will be open to you, but earning these perks and upgrading your character and weapons will take time. The more time you spend in a specific region, the less perks you will unlock, almost forcing you to move somewhere else, earn more upgrades, and come back more prepared. That isn’t to say you cannot tackle each region one-by-one, but the game definitely recommends you working on all three areas at one time. And frankly, it is more enjoyable that way. Instead of keeping you in one place too long, you’ll get the opportunity to wander varied environments, with different terrains, different strategies required, and much more.
The progression system in Far Cry 5 is fantastic. Certain unavoidable events – like being captured by the siblings crews and brought in for interrogation – work really well into the story, and never hold you back for too long. 95% of the game can be played and experiences at your leisure, while the remaining 5% are when you are forced to play through the ‘tutorial’ on Dutch’s Island, and these required interactions with the Seed family after getting to a certain resistance level in each region. Progression is also aided by a fantastic group of characters, from the cult members themselves to the fascinating individuals you will encounter on your adventure.
All the Seed family members are unique in their own ways, but The Father – Joseph Seed – and Faith Seed stand out as two of the most memorable. That isn’t to say John or Jacob is lackluster in someway, but they don’t have the lasting impact – and frankly overall creepiness – that Joseph and Faith have. This is probably a good thing, however, as all three siblings of Joseph feel like unique characters with different interpretations of the Cult’s beliefs and activities. While they all work and talk towards a common goal, they come at it from different approaches. Again, this makes each of the three regions feel fresh and different, which stops gameplay from becoming mundane, or even worse, stalled.
With Far Cry 5, Ubisoft has done away with some of the repetitive aspects of previous Far Cry experiences, the most notable of which will be the lack of towers you are forced to climb. In previous games, towers had two purposes: first, they served as a sort of puzzle within an open world, as you attempted to make your way to the top by strategically climbing and jumping from ledge to ledge; second, the towers served as information points. Upon reaching the top, you would be rewarded with all the important quests and enemy locations for that immediate area. It worked well – and still works well as you can see in Assassin’s Creed Origins – but thankfully, Ubisoft has gone with a different approach, one that feels much more believable.
Finding side quests, hunting locations, and enemy camps is much more fluid, unlocking as you play the game. Rather than saying “go here” and “do this” to unlock the areas special interest points, Far Cry 5 challenges you to interact with the world in believable ways. Whether looting through houses and finding notes left by previous owners, finding “marching orders’ from the Seed family to cult members, or even just seeing a “Watch for cougars” sign, the special interest points on the map unlock as you play. While I was skeptical at first – what if I miss something? – it is very fluid, and in general, no one note or interactive moment leads to a quest or a enemy location, meaning you have multiple opportunities to find what you are looking for.
The other great new feature that I’ve enjoyed is the ability to bring friends (or animals!) along for the adventure. Whether via online multiplayer with someone else, or through the “guns for hire” mechanism, you are never forced to take on the cult alone. Even if you rely soley on AI companions, they are smart enough to fall in line with your gameplay style. Attempting to clear out a cult camp in stealth? It won’t be our AI alley who tips them off. Whether you use human friends or animals friends – you can find and rescue a grizzly bear name Cheeseburger, a dog named Boomer, or a cougar named Peaches – playing with someone else is always more fun than doing it alone.
Cooperative Play With Friends
In many single player game that allow online cooperative play with a friend, things almost never live up to expectations, and often times, that multiplayer experience is a gigantic bust. No so here in Far Cry 5. Over the last few evenings, one of my writers and I were able to play through almost a dozen hours of cooperative play together, and if not for lack of quest progression for both players, it would be the ideal way to play the entire campaign.
Understandably, when one player joins the game of another, not everything will transfer back over when player 2 resume their own single player campaign. Quest progression only applies to the host player, and although player 2 will receive the financial and experience based rewards for completing said quests, they will ultimately need to perform the quest a second time in their own game to get the story progression. This does make sense, as there are many quests tied to resistance levels within each region, and therefore it would make sense that his progress could not transfer.
Outside of that, however, almost everything else does. While guns and items around quests are not guaranteed to transfer over – everything else will. Shoot an animal? Both palyers will get the opportunity to loot the animal and keep the skin for sale later. Decide you want a sweet new scope to help your partner out in his game? Go ahead and purchase it as the nearest store, because that attachment – and any weapons or clothing items you purchase – will also follow you back to your game.
There are numerous benefits to helping someone beat a section of their game. One, you can probably count on that person helping you out some day in your game – as there is no random multiplayer, only cooperative play with friends. On top of that, when both players are mic’d up, it’s just a lot of fun killing cultists together. Add on the fact that you can bring back almost everything to your own game, and you can easily throw a few hours into someone else’s progression and not feel like you’ve wasted your time!
It’s really easy at this point to highly recommend you pick up this game. From the 20 or so hours I’ve spend with it so far, it’s completely worth the money Ubisoft is asking. While there are a few things we would have liked cleaned up – at times seeing frame rate dip to single digits, and a few graphical oddities like cows flying off into the sky – the overall experience is top notch, and easily the best Far Cry since number 3…and potentially the best Far Cry ever?
You can be the judge of that. Far Cry 5 is available now at retail, or online for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4!