Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
I’m sure many have been asking: Is Far Cry 5 as good as Far Cry 3? Some reviewers have chosen to focus on the story and how it doesn’t live up to the initial premise marketed by Ubisoft. Others even say that the game’s “political inclination” or statement isn’t clear, whatever that means. To me, the most important thing is the gameplay, and I’m glad to say that Far Cry 5 might even surpass Far Cry 3 in that regard.
Instead of exotic places like tropical islands or the icy Himalayas in previous entries, Far Cry 5 takes place in the picturesque American countryside of fictional Hope County in Montana. Players assume the role of an unnamed deputy sheriff, whose mission is to save his kidnapped comrades from the clutches of the four members of the Seed family while liberating Hope County from the Project at Eden’s Gate cult.
Far Cry 5 definitely looks beautiful, with a variety of mountains, caves, rivers, and farms to explore. That said, it’s not as visually impressive even compared to Ubisoft’s other recent game, Assassin’s Creed Origins. That’s also probably why Far Cry 5 doesn’t have a Photo Mode. Don’t get me wrong, playing the game on my PS4 Pro on a 1080p TV still made me marvel at the graphics at times.
The Hope County map is divided into three sections, with each region controlled by one member of the Seed family. Unlike previous Far Cry games or even Assassin’s Creed Origins, there are no longer towers which players need to scale in order to unlock specific parts of the map. The entire map of Hope County is available from the beginning of Far Cry 5, after players complete the brief tutorial. Players only need to visit or simply pass through a location at least once to unlock it as a fast travel point. Ubisoft even threw in a cheeky throwaway line in the game about the tower-unlocking trope, which you can watch in the video below.
Each of the three regions in the map of Hope County has a Resistance Meter (RM), which players will need to fill up before they can progress through the story. The good thing is that almost every single thing you do will contribute Resistance Points (RP) to the RM, including rescuing civilians, liberating outposts, or doing side missions. The bad thing is filling up the RM takes time and effort, which makes it frustrating for players who just want to plough through the story missions. One interesting feature is that once you fill up the RM of any region to a certain level, the region’s Seed leader will send a ‘capture party’ to kidnap the player and force them to initiate the story mission. It was cool at first but then it becomes annoying when it happens at times you don’t really want it to.
Players will spend most of their time in Hope County liberating outposts and doing minor story missions, which both contribute the highest RPs to the RM. Liberating outposts is just as fun as it was in previous Far Cry games, with endless possibilities as to what approach players want to employ including stealth, guns blazing or even letting a bear or cougar loose inside the outpost’s compound. Other than that, there are side missions offered by different characters in the game, which will also contribute RP to the RM and offer other rewards as well, including unique weapons or vehicles. Several mini-games are also present, including fishing (which I enjoyed) and stunt-performing missions which were fun to complete.
Far Cry 5 also introduces a new side mission structure called Prepper Stashes. These are completely missable and aren’t needed for story progression. Some might avoid them completely due to there being almost no shooting involved in these Prepper Stash side missions. Every Prepper Stash requires a bit of platforming and puzzle solving to complete but most of them are in underground bunkers. I find them worthwhile because every Prepper Stash mission gives the players loads of money and at least three Perk points.
What are Perk points, you ask? In Far Cry 5, players no longer need to specifically hunt animals for skin or materials to upgrade their gear. Instead, everything can be improved and abilities can be learned in the Perks tree. Players earn Perk points by completing specific challenges like accumulating kills using certain weapons or hunting certain animals. Many perks are available for unlocking the wingsuit, increasing ammo pouches and even unlocking an extra slot for your Guns For Hire companion.
I like the Guns For Hire companion feature in Far Cry 5. It’s probably what I like most about the game. You may probably have heard about the fact that you can get a dog, cougar, and even a bear for a companion. It’s true. These animals can be recruited through special side missions and then will be available as your Fangs For Hire companions. There 12 Specialist companions, 9 of which are Guns For Hire human companions and 3 Fangs For Hire animal companions. Each of them has unique traits and advantages. One will provide air support for the player and even deliver air strikes from above while another is an expert marksman who uses hers sniper rifle to pick off enemies from afar. The cougar and bear will maul anyone who attacks the player.
The crafting system is much simpler now, where you collect materials like specific plants and chemicals to create drugs which provide buffs. Players can even craft explosives. The weapons in Far Cry 5 are divided into several categories like sidearms, shotguns, rifles, SMGs, melee, and unique weapons like rocket launchers and flamethrowers. You can unlock more through side missions or purchase better ones. Same goes for vehicles, which ranges from cars to trucks and helicopters to airplanes. The grappling hook and wingsuit/parachute also helps the player to roam easier.
I’m quite disappointed that even though Far Cry 5 offers co-op, I only found out after the fact that it’s only online co-op. Another player can drop into your game but no local co-op is offered. I think its a missed opportunity to provide players with more avenues for multiplayer.
Additionally, players can customize their character with clothing and hairstyles. You can even choose the gender at the beginning of the game. However, the game doesn’t offer any voiceovers at all for the player, so it’s more like being a silent protagonist in RPGs. The customization feels a bit redundant, due to the fact that you won’t see what you’re wearing until your character dies onscreen.
The best part of Far Cry 5 remains what you do in between, which is to say, the side missions. The story missions are nothing special and they follow the mould of previous Far Cry games. The boss battles are often a slog to play through especially since the game often employs the ‘main character is drugged’ trick. You’ll see hallucinations and floating bosses in a game that’s supposed to be somewhat ‘realistic.’ After you defeat the Seed leaders of any region, you’ll have to break out your comrade from their bunker. Yes, all of them have bunkers. It’s not as fun as the rest of the game, since you’re restrained in a tight cramped space instead of the open-world outside of the bunker.
Last but not least, what I like most about the game is that it’s not grimdark or as edgy as the initial marketing led it to be. People thought Far Cry 5 was going to be controversial and shocking. The end result is quite tame and I agree that Ubisoft could have done more with the story. As much as the story disappointed me, I praise the overall writing for the game. There were many unexpected moments in the game where I burst out laughing due to how witty, smart and funny the game is at times.
Far Cry 5’s ending left a bad unsatisfying taste in my mouth. None of the Seed family members were particularly memorable, not in the way that Far Cry 3’s Vaas was. The story did not achieve its true potential, and Ubisoft decided to play it safe to avoid controversies. The gameplay remains the same, albeit with many improvements and additions.
Simply put, if you like the previous Far Cry games, you’ll like Far Cry 5. I’d say that people play Far Cry games for their gameplay and not for their story or narrative complexity. If you want more of the explosive intense action, which is the bread and butter of Far Cry games, sprinkled with witty and funny writing, then Far Cry 5 is the game for you. If you expected a complex narrative with compelling villains, I would suggest that you search elsewhere.
- Same old explosive and intense Far Cry action gameplay
- Gameplay improvements (No more climbing towers, a cougar or bear as companions, etc)
- Witty, funny and smart writing at times
- A weak story that plays it safe, villains not compelling enough
- Only online co-op offered, no local co-op
- Story missions are a slog, side missions are better
Reviewed on the PlayStation 4 Pro and review copy courtesy of Ubisoft SEA (Singapore).