Far cry 5 review
’Cause you gotta have faith
Has Ubisoft delivered its finest open world game to date?
There’s nothing wrong with Far Cry 5. It delivers everything fans have come to love – fightin’, explorin’ and wrestlin’ the sharptoothed fiends skulking in the wilderness. But there’s little that’s special about it, either. It’s like a cake that looks delicious but tastes stale, as though the ingredients have been sitting in a cupboard too long. There’s nothing wrong with it, of course – it won’t make you ill or anything. You’ve just had it loads of times before, and without any new ingredients in the mix, it’s just… well, it’s a bit bland, that’s all.
And that’s what Far Cry 5 is, really: bland. The story’s fine – clichéd, but fine (albeit one that doesn’t quite deliver the punch we’d perhaps hoped for). The gameplay too is perfectly acceptable, the easy rinse-and-repeat of outposts and fetch missions making the completionist in us willingly seek out collectibles – lighters, vinyl records, comic books and more – secreted in the peaks and troughs of Hope County. But what you’ll come to love most about Far Cry 5 isn’t anything to do with its story or antagonists. Instead, it excels at painting a rich, vibrant world that begs your exploration, and it’s this universe that has been built around Far Cry 5’s story that shines brightest.
You play as the anonymous Dep(uty) or Rook(ie) tasked with taking down Joseph Seed, a charismatic cult leader decimating the modest community of Hope County, Montana. Yes, it’s a fictionalisation, but yes, the story draws on real life, too: at least it seems to be, given one resident asked if that “Russian orange guy” was still President.
It feels unbalanced, though. The story’s intent is admirable, but it fails on execution, with any meaningful social commentary on gun rights, drug culture, radicalisation or religious extremists watered down to a lukewarm tale of hallucinogenic drugs. There’s little emotional connection with your protagonist or pals, either; your character – a mute, emotionless slab of meat with all the allure of a soiled napkin – is barely any more memorable than the army of identikit soldiers running riot across the county. The only characters painted with any care are Seed’s family, with Faith particularly a sad, tragic figure with a devastating backstory.
And yet, story aside, there’s something curiously appealing about Hope County. The tasks it sets are familiar, yes, but there is just enough variation to keep us plodding on.
Far Cry 5’s mechanics get in its own way, though. Each final encounter with one of Seed’s lieutenants sees you escaping a bunker. While the ensuing scrapes are enjoyable enough, the final hurdle of John’s bunker sees you trapped in a circular room scrambling to open a hatch, grapple a helicopter and be lifted to safety. Trouble is, the room is tiny, it’s ablaze and there are plenty of Seed’s disciples clamouring to take you out. With the button prompt to release the hatch the same as the one to scavenge weapons, in the frantic mash to secure your exit you’ll keep picking up one of the dozens of discarded guns instead of releasing the latch. Nitpicky? Eh, maybe, but it turns a frenzied escape into a frustrating fumble.
Naturally, your loadout will be unique to your own particular style – stealthy shots from afar, or all guns blazin’, it’s your choice – but your arsenal is a dull affair, too, and we found the guns we happened upon early on were good for the entire duration, regardless of what other variations we unlocked along the way. Life gets easier still once you’ve released the bonus inventory slots, after which point you can carry a melee weapon, midrange gun, a sniper and something devastating, like a rocket launcher. Equip powerful scopes and suppressors and you’ll be unstoppable (unless there’s a Wolverine around. The equivalent of FC3’S honey badgers, they’re absolute arseholes to kill).
There’s little fun to be had with the perk system or homeopathic remedies, either. Beyond the inventory slots, grabbing a grapple, the wingsuit and maybe boosting your speed just before you leap into a fight, there’s not much else to play with. To be honest, the steps you take to get the perks – usually associated with Prepper Stashes, one of our favourite FC5 activities – are more fun than anything the perks themselves unlock. Again, it feels like we’re whinging for the sake of it, but there’s so little here that makes it stand out against an otherwise grey sea of anonymous FPSS.
Maybe we were spoiled by Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but Far Cry 5 lacks both the heart and the polish of Ubisoft’s other golden child. You have agency, but there are no lasting repercussions. Help or hinder, it’s all the same; the only deterrent is a brief “DO NOT KILL INNOCENT CIVILIANS” warning across the screen, but that’s usually only triggered by some mindless oaf stumbling in front of our rocket launcher.
If you’ve played a Far Cry game before, you’ve played Far Cry 5 before, which means if you liked 3 or 4, you’re probably going to enjoy 5, too. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table, with the same liberating of outposts, fetch quests and taking out the cookie-cutter army we’ve seen before.
Yet it’s a stunning place to explore, and arguably the richest, most vibrant world we’ve ever seen grace a console, and it’s this stunning sandbox playground that truly redeems an otherwise quite mediocre offering.
Plus we stayed up way too late on two consecutive school nights just to meander through the mountains mopping up missing comics and lighters, so it must be doing something right, eh?
Worthy of your time, despite being predictable
It’s a pig with a birthday hat on. Because this pig’s a fancy pig with places to go
Watch your step here. There’s certainly an… interesting array of missions in Far Cry 5. This one has you searching through dog muck to locate a key fed to a dog. Look, don’t blame us, we didn’t come up with it.
details Publisher Ubisoft Developer in-house PSN Price £54.99 Players 1-2