Far Cry 5 Review: “A Fast Paced Open-World Escape”

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When Ubisoft announced that their next installment in their popular Far Cry franchise would be set in America, I developed some small interest in the series despite my previous feelings about how bland a lot of the games in the franchise looked. It just was not something that had piqued my interest in the way that other Ubisoft titles like Assassin’s Creed and any of the Ghost Recon games had.  My attitude towards this franchise has admittedly changed dramatically over the past few months after taking the time to research this latest installment and experience it. I am honestly happy to admit that I was wrong about the Far Cry series after all these years of evading trying it out which in some ways made this an even more exceptional outing because it was my first and the one to disprove my assumptions. As someone who had no prior experience and minimal knowledge of this franchise I went in blind with no real standards or expectations of what to expect outside of the compelling atmosphere that had been established in a lot of the trailers and promotional materials. In a lot of ways I think that is how developer Ubisoft was able to sell this game to me and to numerous other people who are either casual people just starting out with the franchise or it’s veterans who have been around since 2004 when the first Far Cry dropped.

Currently, I think Far Cry is one of the most impressive open-world first person shooter games out there right now. I think it could potentially rival hit masterpieces like Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite, which is a rather bold claim for someone to make in today’s gaming landscape. Players of the last few Far Cry games won’t find themselves disappointed with this new outing in the psychotic open-world adventure series. They’ll actually feel like they are right at home again as the game does deviate and perfect the classic open-world formula that Far Cry and Ubisoft are known for. It does mark two welcome firsts to the franchise which I know a lot of people will appreciate. It is the first Far Cry game to take place on American soil and the first to give players an opportunity to craft their own protagonist. This is a pretty significant move by Ubisoft as they expand their efforts across all of their titles to develop them to have a choose your own adventure style of play. This is an agenda that has made all of their titles all that more enticing to veterans and new players who may be unfamiliar with some of their titles which we saw them implement with last year’s Assassin’s Creed Origins.

As players begin their adventure into Hope County, a fictional setting in Montana, they won’t be able to settle down for even a few minutes. As you start to run down some dirt road it won’t take long before you wind up in a shoot-out with cultists who are trying to capture you or getting mauled by a nearby turkey, and taking cover from bombs being dropped by a cult plane. There’s just so much to do to the point it can get a little overwhelming, but in a good way. It’s better to constantly be active and occupied in a game versus being inactive and doing nothing which causes the game to be a tad boring. Luckily, players won’t have to take on Eden’s Gate by themselves if things get to be a little more challenging. The entire game can be played cooperatively online with other players or through an in-game system known as Guns for Hire as well as Fangs for Hire, which allows players to call up a human or animal AI to take on the cultists with them for additional support or fetch weapons.

Now from my understanding of Far Cry it would appear that this is a franchise that really started to come more into the public eye after 2012’s Far Cry 3. It was a title that delivered a compelling open-world experience and sold millions of copies as well as achieving numerous awards, which sent a positive impression to Ubisoft. This influenced the developer to try and replicate that same success and magic with Far Cry 4 and Far Cry Primal, which were generally well-received but didn’t achieve as much in comparison to what was done with Far Cry 3. For the most part, Far Cry 5 does indeed rectify that and does live up to a lot of the hype that players have been missing since Far Cry 3. 

Like Assassin’s Creed Origins, Far Cry 5 does make it feel like Ubisoft wants to revamp a lot of their established titles to have a more streamlined approach that borrows some concepts from a lot of MMOs. For example, players won’t need to hunt down animals to craft equipment upgrades, almost all of these upgrades are obtained through mostly perks. Though that doesn’t mean animals cannot be hunted as they still can be but their skins and meat are only sold at shops so players can buy weapons, attachments, vehicles, and other items instead of crafting. There’s no long animation that takes place as you skin them either. The game breaks away from the repetitive and classic formula of having to take out towers and doesn’t utilize a mini-map like a lot of titles do which makes for a great immersive challenge for players to figure out where they are going. If players want to unlock more of the map then they’re going to have to go to points of interest, meet new characters, and carry out missions for the Resistance. This is a welcome change for veterans of the series who were annoyed by it in previous Far Cry games and newcomers who may not want to participate in one of the most cliché side-missions that we have experienced in dozens of games over the years.

What these changes do for the game is that it creates a faster paced open-world experience than past entries in the series and past Ubisoft titles as a whole, and it’s something that pays off for the better. The fast travel system is a lot more fair for players who don’t want to trek long distances from point A to point B to accomplish a mission. It’s not hindered by any real arbitrary restrictions like most open-world games tend to have it set up as it allows players to bounce from forest to forest to get to wherever they hope to go without running thirty miles which makes traversing the terrain a lot more fluid. Far Cry 5 keeps players on the move from start to finish and they won’t have a lot of chances to put the game down once they turn on their console or PC.

Now one of the shortcomings of this game is unfortunately the design of it’s mission system, which is similar to Ghost Recon Wildlands. If players are hoping to progress through the story then they’re going to have to do a lot more work to get to the good parts by earning “Resistance points” by completing certain missions like taking over a cult outpost or rescuing hostages. Some of these side-quests have meaningful stories with some well-written characters behind them, but others don’t have that kind of substance. Some of them lack both, which makes them repetitive grinding efforts. It’s going to be tiresome to steal the same car over and over again just to get to the meat and potatoes of the story.

This same repetitive element is present in the main plot as well. It is somewhat all over the place since some of these missions involve stealing cult trucks and moving them somewhere else, getting kidnapped by cultists only to break free and sneak away from your captors, or seizing a cult outpost. This causes certain moments in the game to feel really generic, as a lot of these missions require the same basic strategy that we see in nearly every open-world FPS game out there. They are too frequent and lack variety. Some of these missions can even derail the main story, like with the kidnappings which happen out of nowhere in the middle of a mission. There are some checkpoints here and there do make it a bit easier to cope with, but it can still be annoying and slows the momentum of the story down somewhat. I can appreciate this effort at innovation, but it’s a little bit “half-cooked” if you will, which I do hope that Ubisoft perfects if they choose to continue with elements like this as they are interesting, but just not executed in the best way possible.

The story as a whole is subtly littered with a lot of political, religious, and social undertones. Many of them are seen in mission titles, heard in dialogue and embodied by Joseph Seed, the main villain. These undertones are not too hamfisted, heavy handed, or preachy like with Bioshock Infinite, which was fine for what that game was meant to do. However, this game does not require that as it would get a little bland rather quickly since players do not want to play games to fully discuss politics when they play any game. They want to have an escape the real world for a few hours, which this game still does provide in an effective manner which is exactly what I think a lot of people were hoping for despite some of the backlash this title has received since it’s announcement. It is to be noted that Far Cry 5 did create some reasonable controversy among gamers and those within the industry, as it was announced during a heightened political period like the 2016 US Election and Brexit. Thankfully, this latest installment to the series did not turn out to be as polarizing an event like some had speculated it would be. It’s form and portrayal of politics turned out to be a simplistic yet well executed and unbiased life lesson in some ways if that’s what some players are interested in.

Overall though I do feel that Far Cry 5 moves at a lightning fast pace and is an exciting and compelling open-world experience that will have players busy from start to finish. Yes, it may have it’s repetitive moments as with a lot of games, but a lot of the character actions throughout these moments make it still feel different whether it be the chilling main villain Joseph Seed (portrayed by the amazing Greg Bryk) or some other major story point. These characters are all well-written with their own motives and are fully realized as if they were actual human beings living in this small little town in Montana as are those story points. That is what makes a lot of the busywork more than just tolerable because players will be invested in how they will progress, which I think is what the main goal is for the Far Cry series in contrast with the likes of the heavily story-based Assassin’s Creed series.

For Ubisoft, this is the series in which story is not the main concern and it doesn’t really need to be as it is carried easily by it’s atmosphere alone. It is designed to give players a lot of explosive action to keep players busy with some great characters. That is something I cannot argue with, and I cannot wait to play previous installments as well as future ones in the very near future.

VERDICT: 

Far Cry 5 is a fast paced open world escape with something new for veterans of the franchise and is a great starting off point for those new to an unfamiliar series. It may be a repetitive experience, but it is one carried by well-realized characters and a thought provoking story that will leave players thinking as the credits roll. The pacing and design of the atmosphere will buy a longstanding investment from anyone who decides to delve into Hope County, Montana and the world of Far Cry. If they want something immersive then look no further than Far Cry 5. 

What did you think of this review? Do you like Far Cry? Let us know in the comments down below!