FAR CRY 5
Hope (County) can set you free
If Heath Ledger’s Joker had a favourite videogame, it would almost certainly be this. Why? Because Ubisoft’s gloriously unhinged open-world blaster revels in exactly the sort of free-form chaos the Clown Prince of Crime would adore. Also, it has an Achievement for beating up a bison with a shovel. That would totally tickle the Ace of Knaves’ ribs, right?
Set a wolverine on fire with a molotov cocktail. Catch a 27lb paddlefish with Old Betsy, the ultimate fishing rod. Stealthily infiltrate an enemy outpost as a burger-loving bear and the best doggo in games watch your back. Far Cry 5 may have one too many phoned-in, cookie-cutter missions, but in moment-to-moment gameplay, it’s one of the most lifeaffirmingly chaotic videogames you’ll ever play. Oh, and you can co-op the entire thing with an online friend, too.
This is the first time the series has set foot in America, and the fictional Montana region Ubisoft Montreal has cooked up doesn’t disappoint. Hope County may be the most visually diverse environment to ever grace Far
Cry. Rugged valleys and lush forests combine with inviting farmland and lovely lakes to form an environment that’s a pleasure to inhabit. Whether you’re stalking elk through the mountains near Baron Lumber Mill or leisurely hooking Arctic graylings near Widow’s Creek, Hope County is filled with disarming sights and emergent animal antics. Cult and run It’d be an idyllic place to live… y’know, if it wasn’t for all those pesky cultists, an entire doomsday cult to bring to justice. Eden’s Gate may try to pass itself off as a soulsaving congregation, but really, it’s a militaristic group of egomaniacal bullies, nihilists and a certain woman who’s sampled one too many hallucinogenic flowers.
The cult is lead by Joseph Seed: a monologue-loving ‘saviour’ who clearly studied at the same chatterbox, extra evil night school as Vaas Montenegro and Pagan Min. Joseph is backed up by three lieutenants who control each of Hope County’s three regions. There’s Jacob Seed, a deranged soldier who controls the Whitetail Mountains to the north. Then there’s Faith Seed in the eastern Henbane River region. Annoyingly, this trippy true believer randomly pulls you into a drugged up dream realm, known as the Bliss. Finally, you have cocky yes-man John Seed. And no, he’s not a gormless lickspittle; he’s literally obsessed with the word ‘yes’. So much so, a giant Hollywood-esque sign of said affirmative response sits atop the hills that overlook his domain.
Pre-release coverage may have led you to believe Far Cry 5’ s story would have a lot to say for itself when
it comes to contemporary politics. Spoiler: it really doesn’t. If you were hoping this sandbox would deliver some sort of sarcastic, scathing critique on Donald Trump’s America, you’ll be disappointed. There’s the occasional joke aimed at the current President’s administration, yet Far Cry 5 is mostly toothless in this regard. Truthfully, the story never delivers in general. Though the main antagonists are brought to life through charismatic voice performances, the overarching plot leans too heavily on rambling speeches and clichéd religious zealotry.
In all likelihood though, you’re probably here for bear-bashing hunts and muscular shootouts; not a nuanced, gripping storyline. This is where Far Cry 5 delivers in spades… sometimes involving actual spades. With crunching melee weapons, impactful guns and reliable stealth mechanics, taking the ultra shooty fight to Eden’s Gate is a riot. Regardless of whether you choose to go loud with grenade launchers or stealthy and subtle with a recurve bow and silenced sniper rifle, the series’ shootouts have never been more fun.
There are a touch too many cultists, though. Random enemy encounters occur frequently. Sometimes you just want to get between mission objectives with little fuss, so it’s a pity lulling moments of quiet serenity aren’t exactly Far Cry 5’ s calling card. Even the normally peaceful, brilliantly done fishing minigames can go to hell in a handbasket should a boat full of cultists show up to scupper your salmon-luring me time.
Thankfully, your law enforcer is almost always backed up by either a tooledup or toothy friend. The new Guns/ Fangs for Hire system essentially combines the buddy system from
Far Cry 2 with Far Cry Primal’s Beast Master feature. There are nine unique allies to unlock, and each can be called upon once you clear their initial recruitment mission. A range of generic NPC fighters can also be found around Hope County, and they’ll watch your back for a price. Still, having some random marksman cover you is nowhere near as rad as being backed up by your very own cougar chum.
Ah yes, Peaches. This predator will use silent big cat takedowns on any foe you tag, and she proves a godsend when you’re trying to clear outposts without raising an alarm. It’s not just this cuddly cougar that shines: each one of these allies proves invaluable. Need to take down enemy trucks in a jiffy? Just request some aerial assistance from chopper queen Adelaide Drubman – mamma of series
mainstay Hurk, who also appears as a rocket-loving Gun for Hire.
Want to get intimate with those cultists guarding that silo? If so, Cheeseburger the affable grizzly bear will happily dish out furry maulings. Conversely, if you’d prefer to deal in long-range lethality, arrow expert Jess Black makes a great sniping compadre. The point is, every single Gun/Fang for Hire proves useful under the right circumstances. Brilliantly, if you unlock the Leadership perk, you can call on two allies at once. Arcade fire Speaking of perks, the new interwoven system that blends skilltree points with bespoke challenges is fab. In the old games, you’d simply unlock fancy killing/healing/takedown manoeuvres by earning XP from completing missions. In Far Cry 5, the way you improve your character is far more interesting. Perk points are now earned by completing specific tasks – say, skinning three skunks, or killing 15 enemies with grenades. Challenges are spread across weapon kills, environmental interactions and animal hunts. It’s an intuitive, rewarding take on character progression, which actively encourages you to play in different ways. Far Cry Arcade, an entirely fresh side mode, also encourages you to mix things up. A combination of a welcoming yet robust map editor, a series of linear community challenges, and a suite of multiplayer modes, it dramatically increases Far Cry 5’ s sellby date. The main Arcade component takes the form of bite-sized missions made by both Ubisoft and players. It’s a credit to the game’s malleable map editor that levels can be as diverse as a Mirror’s Edge- worthy parkour challenge, to complex ‘escape the room’ challenges. The generic sixplayer team deathmatch skirmishes won’t dethrone Battlefield 1 any time soon, but overall, Far Cry Arcade is an in-depth, welcome addition to the core sandbox campaign.
It’s just a pity said story mode trips over itself when you reach its latter stages. Structurally, Far Cry 5 makes some tweaks to the established series formula that don’t entirely work. While the side quests that make up so much of your Hope County experience are varied and generous, finishing the campaign feels grindy.
In order to conquer each lieutenant, you must first reach a certain Resistance Level; mainly accomplished by blowing up their property/liberating outposts/ completing missions. It’s a fine enough system in practice. Trouble is, getting the last 10-15% of those points is a real chore. Missions eventually dry up, forcing you to desperately seek out emergent events or enemy outposts – the latter no longer automatically appear on your map and must be physically found.
When you take the campaign and Arcade as a whole though, Ubi’s latest really does hit a Hope County home run. Pacing problems annoy and the plot is forgettable, but when you’re out in those virtual Montana fields causing mayhem, Far Cry 5 is an eclectic, electric treat.
“It’s a pity the story mode trips over itself when you reach its latter stages”
Publisher Ubisoft / Developer Ubisoft Montreal / Format Xbox one / release date out now / cost £49.99
above For a town with such a beautiful backdrop you’d hope the locals would be friendlier.
Left See, Joseph Seed really does look like a less notorious Conor McGregor.
All mapped out
Goodbye, antenna towers: we hardly knew ye. Yes, Far Cry
5 has done away with the series’ iconic, climbable structures. Rather than climb towers to demist the map, you now have to find physical maps scattered around outposts to make onscreen points of interest pop up in the world overview. Likewise, animal icons have also changed. To find specific species, you now have to be on the lookout for roadside signs.