Far Cry 5 full review
Since Ubisoft acquired the rights of the franchise, Far Cry has done a fair bit of globe-trotting in order to find charismatic villains. The Jackal taunted players as they contracted Malaria, Vaas taught us the definition of insanity, and Pagan Min wore some very snazzy suits and swaggered around like a classically trained British actor.
The previous games had bandits or a regime to fight against, but Far Cry 5 takes things in perhaps the riskiest direction – a fundamentalist god-fearing cult armed to the teeth, has taken over a small fictional county in Montana, USA. In the current climate, has this risk paid off for Ubisoft?
Pricing and availability
You can pre-order the game now for £49.99/$59.99 from Amazon, Steam, the PlayStation Store and the Microsoft Store. For those looking for it, there’s a “Digital Deluxe Edition” that comes complete with lots of weapon packs, there's the “Gold Edition” that comes with the Digital Deluxe content plus the DLC season pass.
If you'd rather buy the game from elsewhere, you can also get the non-digital editions from Amazon, including the Father Edition, which throws in a collector's box, steelbook case, printed map and exclusive figurine. You can also buy the game from Game or Argos in the UK, or GameStop or Best Buy in the US, along with plenty of other retailers too.
Finally, there are also two other premium editions available from Ubisoft’s store, including the “Edition Mondo” that includes a vinyl soundtrack and Steelbook case, as well as the “Hope Country Collector’s Case” which includes everything mentioned above, as well as a physical map and a 45cm Deer Skull in resin.
Far Cry 5 Review
Set in the fictional region of Hope County, Montana, the player takes on the role of a customisable Deputy in the local police force, sent in to arrest the leader of a separatist cult - Eden’s Gate – known as Joseph Seed. Upon his arrest and subsequent escape, it soon becomes apparent that to deliver justice to Joseph, his “Heralds” must be brought down first.
While Joseph Seed, or “The Father” as he’s commonly known, certainly has a huge amount of charisma, he just didn’t strike as much of a chord as he barely gets any screen time until the very end. His family however definitely did. By the end of each scenario, I was personally invested in getting vengeance for the horrible things they’d do. I won’t spoil as to why I felt that way, but these three more than made up for the surprising blandness of the main antagonist.
As far as the comparisons many will make to current events, there’s a deeper layer beneath the surface. It’s less a narrative against political ideology and more of religious radicalism in all its forms. Joseph is billed as a cult of personality, whose followers believe in his word above all others, and his word is essentially to convert or be purged. At times, it does delve into extremes, but the message is most certainly well framed.
Being set in a fictionalised Montana, a rather safe Republican State, does help with the characterisation. Every friendly face that’s a main ally is endearing, from the yokel pilot and his pregnant wife to the man running for office as a Republican candidate, they all hate the “Peggies” and what they’re doing in the region, which humanises them as a result. Some are delightfully simple-minded, but others give a great deal of wit and sass. As such, when Far Cry 5 attempts humour or sorrow, it hits the mark a surprising number of times.
One upside of being set close to the Rockies is that Far Cry 5 looks stunning. Luscious green forests, sprawling lakes, and towering mountains cover the landscape, making every view a breath-taking one. It’s well populated too, with tons of friendly people trying to take their homeland back and cultists trying to kill everyone, but even the local fauna has a huge amount of range from Deer to Bears, and even a few Caribou and Moose. Hope County feels alive and constantly in flux, which makes the world all the more compelling to explore.
As one of Ubisoft’s staple open-world games, Far Cry has long had the reputation of having radio towers to climb in order to see the rest of the world. In Far Cry 5, things are done very differently and in a less gamified way. Each hostage rescued from capture will reveal one location, which is then marked on the map. There are also maps in Forts that show a number of locations. It’s certainly going to take some getting used to, but in a way, I preferred having a motivation to help the civilians rather than floor it down the road to get to my next destination.
Other than that, the structure feels more open as well. Once the initial island has been liberated, the whole of Hope County is available to explore, though the game heavily encourages players to take out one of the three Heralds. Since Hope County is huge, it’s nice to have each Herald occupy one area of the map as it turns an intimidating prospect and turns it into bite-size chunks – each one having its own missions, its own identity, and its own unique problems for players to face.
Starting out though, I was severely outgunned, making some missions significantly harder than they needed to be. But as I progressed through the game, unlocking perks by spending points for completing challenges or picking up magazines, and buying upgraded weapons, I found the game eased off a little bit at a time to make the experience more palatable. Some guns can have Silver Bars (found in-game or bought with microtransactions) listed as a price as well as cash, but in-game money never really was an issue that came up, so they can be easily avoided.
That said, one need not go at it alone, and in Far Cry 5 players have the ability to have allies join them. These can be people saved or special characters whose missions have been completed. I found that some were most certainly better than others in that respect, sticking with the same bunch of allies throughout, though depending on play style this could be different for everyone.
Each segment of the map has an awareness bar of sorts that rises for each of the three Heralds as missions are completed, operations disrupted, and civilians saved. Upon hitting certain points, the game takes a break from the open-world segments in order to show off more of the story, and the three Heralds themselves. It’s an odd design decision that by the end felt like it was going through a formula, and yet I found I didn’t mind a great deal. Culminating in an encounter with said Herald that always feels unique and tailored to them, it’s as if I was playing three mini-Far Cry games in one.
When not out liberating the land from cultists, there are plenty of other side activities to carry out: Hunting animals, base jumping with a wingsuit, mimicking a stuntman, and even fishing. Few give tangible rewards unless the skins of certain animals are required in a mission, but everything that is done can grant perk points in order upgrade abilities.
Being an open-world experience, there’s a certain amount of bone-idleness one would expect from the AI. Far Cry 5’s enemy AI can be relatively sharp, attempting to flank to gain the advantage; yet the friendly AI can be denser than a ton of bricks. I frequently saw friendlies running over other friendlies at full pelt, and the amount of times my Bear friend – Cheeseburger – got run over by supposed allies was upsetting to count.
As for bugs though? Far Cry 5 had very few, if any, in my experience with the game. I also found running on a standard PS4, the game maintained sharp visuals but ran at a capped 30FPS. Experiences elsewhere, either enhanced on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, or on a higher-end PC, will likely be significantly improved since the hardware is more powerful, but it certainly wasn’t the worst experience in the world on the base PS4.
Those wishing to play with other players can buddy up in cooperative play, allowing for pretty much the entire game to be played in this way. The caveat here though is that only the host’s progress in the campaign will be saved, so unless friends doesn’t mind helping for little reward, it might be a hard sell for them to play with them.
On top of all of that, Ubisoft has also included “Far Cry Arcade”, which doubles as a challenge mode combined with community level editing. Maps can have either single player, cooperative, or multiplayer focus in mind, invoking a level of customisation normally reserved by Halo’s Forge mode. If I had one minor complaint here, it would be that there’s little room for customising multiplayer beyond standard Deathmatch modes, allowing for crazier multiplayer options. It’s otherwise a very robust level editor and can be used to create some really compelling maps.