My journey with this series began with Far Cry 3. It presented a big new world, gave you a bow and told you to “Start killing these bad guys.” “And if you want better crap, get to hunting animals.” Far Cry 4 was largely the same thing. Only with a better narrative hook and slightly upgraded gameplay. I won’t speak on Far Cry Primal or Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, but with Far Cry 5 things take a weird turn. The gameplay actually takes a few small steps forward. However, narratively, this might be one of the worst games Ubisoft has put out in a while.
The basic gameplay of Far Cry 5 has changed very little from Far Cry 3 or Far Cry 4. There’s still the usual overtaking bases, animal hunts, wingsuits, and so on. But some of the incidental stuff has changed, and it all hangs on a story that goes nowhere, which is a huge drag.
Review: Far Cry 5
Title: Far Cry 5
Platform: PS4 [Reviewed], Xbox One, PC
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Players: 1-2 (online co-op)
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Far Cry 5 places you in the shoes of a rookie deputy as he or she is on their way to arrest the cult leader Joseph Seed. Joseph started the Project Eden’s Gate cult, along with his three siblings. So it’s on you and three other officers (one is a federal marshal) to arrest him. Wouldn’t you know, it all goes shockingly bad, and the other officers you have with you get kidnapped by Joseph’s siblings. Now, you are stuck in a Montana county filled with cult members, as you try to form a resistance force to bring them all down.
There are numerous problems with the story as it’s constructed, and that’s that not even counting the super disappointing ending.
Firstly, you don’t actually have a character. FC5 uses a created character instead. There are the usual male and female variations, and face/skin customizations too. This is actually fine, but because of this, every character refers to you as either “Rook” or Deputy. Why not just give your character some gender-neutral name like Alex, Casey, or Taylor, and go from there?
Due to that, you have no personality at all, outside of being a “helpful sheriff.” Think about the playable characters in FC3 (Jason Brody) or FC4 (Ajay Ghale), these guys might have been ciphers to a degree, but they could at least respond to characters and had voice actors. The most you ever hear out of your playable character is grunting or screaming when they are on fire.
Even More Story Problems
Aside from the protagonist issue, the game fumbles the story almost from the very start. Joseph Seed is really only in the game for about 40 minutes. He appears at the beginning and end, and briefly appears during a few occasional hallucinations, but that’s it. He never calls you or tries to taunt you like prior antagonists did. As such, you really have no emotional investment in trying to bring him down.
You end up seeing his siblings more often than you do him. Jacob (older, ex-military), John (younger, lawyer), and Faith (adopted, druggy-hippy). That’s honestly about the only descriptions you need for the characters since they are so shallow. Each Seed sibling controls their own region of the county, and you have to fill up a resistance bar in order to fight them.
When you fill the resistance bar past certain stages, it triggers a cut-scene with the region’s respective sibling. John’s are all about some sort of sin, tattoos, or cutting people. While Faith’s place her on a drug trip as she prances around and talks a lot of doublespeak. Finally, Jacob’s have you locked in a dog kennel and the only way to get out is by completing a hallucinatory arcade sequence. During this sequence, you kill enemies to gain more time. Only, the layout for the level never changes, nor do the enemy spawn locations, weapons, or the actual goal. Making it quite the chore.
Each member has three of these sequences, so that makes nine in total. Once you reach a certain rank in the resistance bar, the game tells you “YOU ARE BEING HUNTED” and the cult members will try to shoot you with “Bliss Bullets.” Bliss is the drug the cult manufactures/brainwashes people with.
Only, this is all a farce. It’s just a static gameplay mechanic that triggers after a set amount of time. I was in a helicopter, 400 feet in the air when I triggered level two of John’s bar, and within 10 seconds, I was in, yet another, hallucination. I seriously doubt some dumb cult member managed to snipe a moving target with some magic bullet that was above them.
These sequences also completely break up the flow of the game. Even if they weren’t poorly written and go nowhere, it sucks to be on a roll, blowing up trucks or taking out bases and then the game goes “Well, time to spend five to ten minutes with this nothing of a character. While they monologue about the cult that goes nowhere.”
Cult vs. Militia, what’s the difference?
The last real story complaint is more ideological. In this Montana County, everyone who isn’t a cult member belongs to a militia or wears patriotic t-shirts/apparel. And all the militia guys are perfectly ok with you, ostensibly a government agent, wandering around their bases and helping them out.
News flash: most militia guys would think you are as big a threat as the cult guys. They would want nothing to do with you, seeing you as “big gubmit”, or something along those lines. A few characters basically even say this, but like with everything else in the game, it goes nowhere.
The Actual Gameplay
The nuts and bolts gameplay is almost 99% the same as past recent Far Cry games. You shoot, stealth (with notification arrows), drive, fly, takedown, etc. The basics of which haven’t changed. Some stuff surrounding it has though.
For one, there aren’t any freely climbable towers in the game. There are a few missions that require climbing, but there aren’t any “climb the tower to reveal the map” notifications. To uncover the map, you simply have to go there to fill it from grey to color. If you want to actually see icons for stuff, you have to talk to people. Conversing with people tells you the locations for outposts, side missions, prepper stashes, and other notable things.
Another change in gameplay is the scarcity of hunting. Sure, there are animals, and you can kill them/skin them. However, you don’t do anything with the skin, outside of selling it for money. Gone are the days of hunting down three wolverine skins to craft a bigger wallet or a bear skin for another holster. You can still pick flowers and craft a few specialty potions, like increasing melee damage for a time, but it’s a clunky menu to use and there are almost zero scenarios where it is needed.
The Skill System
Skills are probably the biggest change in Far Cry 5, from prior games. Instead of leveling up and getting skill points, you now gain points based on certain challenges. These range from “Get 10 kills with a handgun” to “Takedown four guys with the Death From Above skill.” Each task nets you a few skill points which you can put into a skill tree that has no level requirements at all. A few skills are locked behind Lieutenant (sibling) kills, but there are only two or three with this requirement. If you want to add another holster, you just buy the skill, or if you want to unlock the repair skill, just buy it.
The inherent problem with this idea is that a lot of these tasks can go uncompleted if you don’t want to do them, or if they are difficult. I’m never going to get 10 flamethrower kills, or three Saboteur kills, so that makes these challenges almost worthless to me. That’s where the Prepper Stashes come in.
Prepper and Pepper Stashes
Doomsday Prepper Stashes are sprinkled throughout the map. There are around 27 or so in the county; they are bomb shelters that have supplies in them. Most of them operate as small puzzles. For example, you have to figure out how to get to them or open the shelter door to get the loot. These stashes are the best part of the game because they actually involve a bit of thinking and detection work. They usually only take about five minutes or so, but they are very fun and enjoyable.
The loot you get in the stashes is money, ammo/guns (if you need it) and perk magazines. Every stash has a few magazines laying around and they just give you extra perk points to spend in the skill tree. This helps lessen the importance of the challenges, so my above examples about Flamethrower kills, you don’t need to really accomplish it if you don’t want to. But, there aren’t enough stashes for you to fill out your skill tree completely, so this system isn’t quite fully formed.
The boss encounters in Far Cry 5 are incredibly underwhelming. One is a drug trip, one was kind of neat, involving a plane battle, and one bugged out for me and my friend. After you kill each sibling you then go into their bunker and rescue the other cops. The game throws a ton of enemies at you during these moments and it becomes a real slog to make your way through. Especially, if you are going at it alone.
The side characters aren’t much better. The crux of the game is rescuing the other cops that were with you at the beginning. The problem is that you only spend about 10 minutes with them, if that, so who cares? At least Far Cry 3 attempted to fill this out with Vaas killing your brother at the start.
You have Guns for Hire, which I’ll get into a bit below. These are basically the more important side characters you rescue that you can call upon for help as you play. Three of them are animals (cougar, dog, and bear). Honestly, the animals might have more personality than most of the humans. They aren’t necessarily bad, but they have no story arc, whatsoever. An example is Nick Rye, he is a pilot with a pregnant wife. You rescue him from some cultists shooting at him and help him get his plane back. This lets you have Nick in a plane, shooting down cultists and telling him to attack.
That’s all well and good, but that’s literally his whole story. You do have a mission to drive his pregnant wife (along with him) to a clinic so she can have her kid, at least. There’s no real incentive for you to do so though, it’s not like Nick gets more effective, or unlocks new abilities. He just gives you a spot of cash and that’s it. Compare this with loyalty missions in Mass Effect, or even the Saints Row 4 mission structure. Once you got someone they were fine, but you could go out of your way to build up a relationship, which in turn, made them better squad members. This game has none of that.
Guns for Hire
Like I said above, you can rescue a few NPCs and they are added to your roster so you can call them in for help. Grace is a sniper, Jess is a silent character with a bow and arrow, Hurk has a rocket launcher, and so on. You can have up to two active (once you buy a perk for it), and they are fairly useful when you play alone. I was able to complete outposts without being detected because I sent in my two little helpers to kill everyone. You can direct them to move or to attack with the press of a button. They occasionally will go down, but you can resurrect them by holding a button down for a few seconds.
I probably played at least 50% of this game with a friend of mine, via online co-op. This was a bit weird. So, progress is only made in the host’s story, the other player doesn’t get credit for doing stuff. If the host completes a mission they get money and the mission reward. While the guest just gets money, stats, and ammo boosts. Thankfully, you can still have one Gun for Hire active, but with another player, it makes the system almost not worth it. One fun thing is, you can really grind out Prepper Stashes if you want. Save up your stashes, and then when your friend gets in, complete them with him or her. You both get the points, then you can hop into their game and do the same thing.
Bugs and more bugs
Like most big, open, Ubisoft games, Far Cry 5 isn’t the most stable game in the world. NPC’s will glitch out, enemies spawn in like magic (breaking immersion), graphics flicker in and out, and so on. Two more notable things happened when my co-op partner got into a helicopter that didn’t spawn in my game world. It looked like he was floating in mid-air, even though he could control his helicopter. Another fun glitch that happened is the weapon select wheel getting busted from time to time. If you buy any of the featured weapons, and then need to move it to a different spot on the wheel, the game may just glitch out and refuse to do it. This happened to both me and my friend in different spots.
Oh, the map can also get messed up. I was with my friend heading to a side mission marker on my map. My friend kept saying I was going in the wrong direction, but it wasn’t until I was on top of the map marker, and saw the actual marker was hundreds of feet below the actual in-game map, that I realized he was right.
- The core gameplay of Far Cry remains the same as previous editions
- Far Cry 5 is a beautiful looking game
- Co-op gameplay makes the game a lot more enjoyable
- The story goes nowhere and is just a lot of doublespeak and misdirections
- Forced interrupts in the story can break the flow of the game severely
- Skill system doesn’t incentivize the player into completing challenges
Overall Score: 6.0 Out of 10 Far Cry 5 should have been the next step in the Far Cry series. Instead, it takes several noticeable steps back in some bizarre ways. It’s not to say that Far Cry 5 is a bad game, if anything, it still is just as good as the prior ones. However, the story in this one is complete trash. There’s no investment in trying to stop the cult, and the ending finishes on such a confusing note, that I still don’t know what happened. This is really bad considering how much hype the story generated prior to release. If you have a friend to play with, then Far Cry 5 is a great co-op game, but I think that might be the only way I could recommend it.
This game was reviewed using a retail copy purchased by W2Mnet.com for review purposes.