Game: Far Cry 5
Made by: Ubisoft Montreal
Published by: Ubisoft
Available for: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Far Cry 5 applies Ubisoft’s familiar Far Cry formula to a cult-run corner of America, and while the game retains its entertaining gunplay and atmosphere, its unpolished story and overreliance on unnecessary narrative elements bog down the experience.
Microtransactions: Some – Far Cry 5’s ingame store offers weapons and vehicles that can be bought for both in-game currency and a premium currency. The in-game currency is not difficult to obtain, and microtransactions are optional and unnecessary.
Tedium: Little – Far Cry 5 offers repetitive side missions and activities, but none are necessary for completion of the game.
Graphic Content: Blood, Mild Gore, Depictions of Torture
Set in the fictional Hope County, Montana, Far Cry 5 is an open-world first-person role-playing shooter that stages familiar themes and elements of its series in front of the backdrop of a cult-run area of the United States. This cult, “Eden’s Gate” and its leader, Joseph Seed, have Hope County firmly under their control, and it’s not until now that the local sheriff, accompanied by three deputies and a U.S. Marshall, has elected to take action. As one of the sheriff’s deputies, you’re charged with taking the cult’s leader into custody and disbanding the fanatical organization, removing its hold over Hope County.
First Person Combat: Far Cry 5 is, first and foremost, a First Person Shooter. The game is meant to be played with a gun (or bow, or… shovel) in your hand, and its shooting is well-composed and responsive.
Open World: Hope County, Montana is open to be explored as you see fit. Take out Joseph Seed’s lieutenants in the order you’d like, or don’t do it at all. The world is yours to approach.
Co-op: Far Cry 5’s co-op allows you to play through the game’s open world campaign with a friend, or to invite a group of friends to play through maps created in the game’s Arcade mode.
Guns for Hire: Far Cry 5 isn’t meant to be played alone, whether or not you have available friends to play it with. If co-op isn’t your style, the game offers nine companions (six human and three animal, all with distinct looks and personalities) and three generic guns-for-hire. Between the twelve, up to two guns/fangs for hire can join your party at and be switched out at any given time.
Custom Maps: A staple of the Far Cry series, the game’s map editor program is among the most robust of its kind, and for the first time ever, Ubisoft launched it with assets not only from Far Cry 5’s campaign, but also with objects and set pieces from previous Far Cry games and other Ubisoft titles, such as Watch_Dogs and Assassin’s Creed. Custom maps can be played in the game’s Arcade mode, which offers players access to custom missions and player-built multiplayer maps. Beware, though: Far Cry 5’s map maker is among the best currently available, but its user-friendliness is up for debate. If you’re interested in spending hours hand-crafting a fun and engaging level, this is right up your alley. If you’re looking for a utility to spend ten or twenty minutes in at a time, the Far Cry 5 map editor may not be for you.
Multiplayer: Far Cry 5’s multiplayer versus mode puts players into a combination of developer-crafted and community-made maps, allowing for the use of the weapons, vehicles, and mechanics of single-player in a multiplayer environment. Play with your friends or with groups of strangers online in free-for-all or team deathmatch.
WHAT I LIKED
Gunplay: Far Cry 5’s gunplay is satisfying and responsive. I don’t know if the game’s guns are realistic, but I do know they’re fun to shoot and that they’re responsible for the bulk of Far Cry 5’s fun.
Arcade Mode: Far Cry 5’s lifespan depends entirely on how the game’s Arcade Mode is received. Being able to create and easily play on custom maps is the perfect (and maybe only) way to transport the game’s fun combat and gunplay to a more infinite experience. So far, the game’s community has built up a steady supply of fun levels, with more coming every day. The game’s map browser could be better designed, but I didn’t have much trouble finding new maps to drop into.
Multiplayer: I spent 40+ hours in Far Cry 5’s single player campaign and arcade mode without having even attempted its multiplayer. In the hours before completing this review, I jumped into it for the first time and found myself impressed with the available depth and the fun I had. For the most part, this multiplayer is simple; how you play single-player is largely how you play multiplayer, and any changes to the formula are dependent on the map you’re playing on, with the map’s creator setting loadouts and playstyle.
The first match I played, I jumped into an in-progress game on a player-made map. A large mansion at its center, the map and its player classes were all themed after popular hip hop artists. I’m a big Kendrick Lamar fan, but I’ll admit I stuck to 2Pac’s class for nearly the entirety of the game. My experience with Far Cry 5’s singleplayer fed directly into my experience with its multiplayer, and I found myself almost immediately engaged with the map and its players, having a good time blasting my way through the estate.
As I continued playing, I fought my way through a surprising variety of maps, all hand-built in the game’s editor. I tried my hand at sniping from the top of a factory silo on an industrial-themed map, reawakening my inner spartan for a match on a remake of Halo 2’s Beaver Creek, and dodging AI yetis as my team and I battled the enemy on a reinterpretation of the Call of Duty: Black Ops series’ Nuketown.
Overall, the game’s multiplayer was an unexpected pleasure, and its close relationship with the Far Cry 5 map editor opens the door to endless possibilities.
Story: I don’t know what happened to Far Cry 5’s story. I don’t know if the team didn’t have enough ideas for its Montanan cult, if an approaching deadline necessitated a shortening of their plans, or if they lost a few chapters of the game’s script in a freak accident. Regardless, Far Cry 5’s story attempts something, but falls short on most fronts. The game’s villains (all four of them) are lackluster in nearly every respect, from their backstories and their relationships with the player character to their voicing. In a game clearly designed to have a creepy, culty feel, the leaders of the cult don’t follow. Story is delivered in bite-sized increments, with each of the game’s three zones receiving three real “story” missions. The levels aren’t bad, but they’re not enough to deliver the player enough information and character engagement to feel like a real and important part of the world. Moreover, without spoiling the game’s story directly, the storylines of the three regions feel like they’re the slow-burn to a payoff that doesn’t come; the game has three endings, and they’re all unsatisfying. One of the game’s “real” endings at least incorporates elements from its story, but the other, the one the game pushes you toward, ends in what can only be described as an unnecessary and uninteresting deus ex machina.
Realism: Far Cry 5 isn’t supposed to be a realistic game. I went into it expecting as much, and I had a good time. If you’re more a fan of Far Cry 2 than Far Cry 4, or if you prefer more realistic combat mechanics, beware of disappointment. If you’re looking for a game that lets you take out an entire squad of armed enemies by throwing shovels at them, this is the game you’ve been searching for.
Characters: The characters Ubisoft Montreal built for Far Cry 5 have the potential to be interesting, but the player won’t be exposed to any of them long enough for their personalities to be made clear or have any lasting impact. Each of the game’s four villains has limited screen time, and the player never really develops a relationship with any of them. The game’s ‘good guys’ are given even less exposure, with each region sharing its limited story missions between three or four of them, failing to build a real story behind any. The game’s minor characters, the ones that offer you occasional side missions, are better written, but their time with the player is still limited, and they don’t contribute much to the broader world of Hope County.
Simplified Experience: Having never been much concerned with the absolute realism of the Far Cry series, I didn’t find myself considerably put off by the simplification of some of the game’s core mechanics, but the more hardcore players among us may see reason to be concerned. Where previous games emphasized more hardcore interpretations of the health bar, Far Cry 5’s health regenerates automatically, though med-kits can still be used to speed up the process. Tower-climbing for exploration is a thing of the past, and hunting is no longer necessary, having been replaced with a perk system. Additionally, while previous games in the series have offered the player access to an expanded inventory, Far Cry 5’s is pretty large from the start and absolutely massive at the end, with the player being able to hold up to four guns, over twenty explosives, several different melee weapons, and alternate caches of ammunition.
Drug-Induced Montages: This is a personal gripe I have with the Far Cry series. Again, understanding that the game isn’t meant to be realistic, I accept that some gameplay elements are going to feel off or uncomfortable. That said, where Far Cry 3’s story sort of excused its drug-fueled fever dream boss fights, Far Cry 5’s equivalent situation is difficult to reconcile. The Eden’s Gate cultists have concocted a drug they call “The Bliss”, and they’ve apparently secured a manufacturing operation sufficient to supply the entire population of Montana with it for years to come. The Bliss is everywhere, causing the player to experience hallucinations, beefing up some of the game’s zombie-esque enemies, and propping up one of the game’s three primary regions, being the central element in that zone’s boss fight. The Bliss feels unnecessary at its worst and disruptive at its best. A cult using drugs to subdue and control its members is an interesting idea. The Bliss isn’t.
WHO’S IT FOR?
If you’re interested in a not-too-serious first person shooter set in a cult-run enclave of the United States, or if you’re looking for an arcadey co-op/multiplayer experience where battlefield variety is limited only by player creativity, Far Cry 5 may be the game for you.
If you’re looking for a more hardcore shooter experience, a game with a compelling story, or you’re put off by the concerns listed above, consider waiting for a sale or giving Far Cry 5 a pass altogether.
From Steamspy unless otherwise noted.
Average Playtime*: 33 hours
Average Cost per Hour**: $1.82
Median Playtime*: 26.75 hours
Median Cost per Hour**: $2.24
* Playtime rounded to the nearest quarter-hour
**Costs calculated using a price of $59.99