On a bridge over a river in Montana, we are in a fierce battle with a roadblock set up by doomsday cultists. Civilians are running scared, their cars blazoned with the word ‘SINNER’. The cult are extremely well-armed and organised, led by the enigmatic John Seed, a self-proclaimed prophet who’s brainwashed his flock through fear and a potent drug. He’s in hiding, having resisted arrest for taking people against their will, and his three lieutenants are now leading on his behalf.
It’s a tense scene, but this being Far Cry, it’s also not completely steeped in seriousness and tragedy. We’re mopping two uteloads of goons when a third comes skittling onto the scene, along with a bear that had been chasing who knows what, and another terrified civilian. Our gun- for-hire (returning redneck Hurk Drubman, last seen in FC4) neatly lines up the centre vehicle with his RPG and sets off a chain reaction that totals everything from cultists to civilians, and really upsets the bear which is now on fire. We decide to embrace the fiasco, necking a homemade homeopathic for extra strength, punch the bear to death for its skin, then jump off the bridge using a wingsuit and glide into the nearest town to sell the skin for $100.
Far Cry 5 is, without a doubt, the most polished Far Cry ever. Hope County is enormous, a mountainous playground littered with vehicles to commandeer, planes and helicopters to fly, and the improved graphics engine gives everything weight and, believe it or not, a sense of realism. The freeform nature of it all perhaps offers too much freedom to get side-tracked from the story, but then again it’s the bits between the missions that have always been the most fun.
This time around, you no longer need to skin five animals to fashion a bigger wallet or better ammo pouch, nor go through torturous 3D platforming and climb towers to reveal new locations. Perk points, earned by completing missions or finding collectibles, are your new currency. Characters will allude to breadcrumbs that point you in the right direction to get more of these, but there’s the right amount of hand-holding and discovery.
However, like a lot of Ubisoft titles, your screen will be overrun with icons and waypoints, a distracting swarm of what you haven’t yet done, and after a while, it feels a lot like what came before. Or you can sink all your time into Far Cry Arcade, a map editor that also tosses in assets from Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs to play with. The community has already made some remarkable maps, and it’s this that will give the game life beyond its 30 hour run time.
The wingsuit makes a glorious return and is coupled with a parachute for finer control.