The Far Cry series has always been known for its over-the-top violence, eccentric characters, and beautiful landscapes. It always put players in remote locations, jungles, mountains, and islands as they battled control from a tyrannical dictator and saved the citizens, engaging in mindless bloodshed along the way.
But while the previous installments had stunning scenery and memorable villains, Far Cry 5 seems to have been streamlined for a more casual audience. While Joseph Seed is a deranged villain, he pales in comparison to the previous show-stealers Vaas and Pagan Min. With the absence of an experience system and a ho-hum story, Far Cry 5 seems to have taken a step back in terms of what the series has been known to offer.
What Is It?
For the first time in the series, Far Cry takes place on American soil, a small county in northern Montana named Hope County. It is here where Joseph Seed, otherwise known as “The Father” has started has own cult, Project at Eden’s Gate. Along with his “heralds,” Joseph’s brothers and sister (John, Jacob, and Faith) control all of Hope County and use coercion, torture, and drugs to force people to join their cause. Joseph Seed believes he was chosen by God to protect people when the world ends and will do whatever it takes to make his ranks even bigger. He is a highly violent leader with a short temper and is so thoroughly engaged in his cause, he has the words of some of the biblical sins carved into his body.
You control a U.S. marshal tasked with bringing Joseph Seed into custody after a warrant was put out for his arrest, but things go awry quickly (as is Far Cry tradition) and your friends are quickly captured as you make your escape. Your no-name character, only referred to as “rookie”, never speaks or makes any knowledgeable conversational decisions throughout the game. While other characters in Far Cry were the same strong but silent type, Far Cry 5‘s hero just seemed like your normal, average marshal, who apparently is not concerned by ruthless killing.
After getting saved by a few locals, you find out the entire area of Hope County is controlled by Joseph’s heralds; John in the valley in the west who likes to use torture to coerce people into joining the cult, Faith by the river in the east who uses a drug called Bliss to turn people into mindless followers, and Jacob to the north who uses mind control to get you to kill whoever he wants. Each region is unlocked from the start and your task is to liberate each region 100% from the grasps of each herald. It is a different approach to the basic Far Cry structure as it gives you much more freedom to explore at your own pace. You meet up with other freedom fighters throughout Hope Valley who will help you liberate each region. “Peggies” as the cult is known by the locals, have a serious arsenal of firepower at their disposal in an attempt to stop you, and they even have the luxury of owning a few fighter jets to shoot you down as well.
Why Should I Care?
You must liberate each region enough to be able to take down their respective herald. Doing story and side missions grants you liberation points, but various other tasks such as clearing out cult outposts and rescuing captured civilians reward points, too. There are certain story missions you must complete in order to advance the story, so although the freedom to do whatever you like is present, you are still bogged down by the need to return to a certain spot to be able to advance. While you are busy liberating each region, the herald of each will contact you as you get closer to the eventual showdown. These encounters are definitely unusual because the game forces you to interact with the leaders, only to miraculously escape each time. For leaders who are obsessed with violence and revenge, they seem to have a hard time of killing a random rookie U.S. marshal.
Besides the story mission, there are plenty of sidequests to keep you entertained as Far Cry is known for being completely enjoyable and random. You can participate in Clutch Nixon stunt races, use a wingsuit to fly across the county or fight off waves of Bliss infected Peggies.
You can also go on hunting challenges and fish in the rivers and lakes. Fishing is its own unique mini game as well, forcing you to reel and change direction against the stream of the fish to catch it. It’s a surprisingly addictive hobby, and you may find yourself spending hours trying to catch the biggest fish.
The wide assortment of characters you meet along the way will never have you doing the same thing twice.
New to the series is the ability to hire citizens to fight alongside you, called Guns for Hire. You can have up to two at a time and they will fight alongside you for the entire game and can be changed out as often as you like. They range from silent killers and snipers to full-on air support. You can also find three different animals to be your partners too, and there is nothing more enjoyable than seeing a bunch of cult members try to shoot you up and have a giant bear turn the corner and completely maul them to death.
But while the Guns for Hire is a welcome addition to the Far Cry series, the progression system seems to have taken a huge step back. Obviously streamlined for new players, no longer is there an experience points system from previous games, instead you earn perk points by completing challenges and finding hidden “Prepper” stashes hidden throughout the world. The perks help you unlock skills like lockpicking and increased weapon damage, but it felt like I was spending more time looking at the challenges menu whenever I engaged a battle than actually enjoying them. Trying to finish challenges just to get perk points is a chore and makes the combat in the game a much more dumbed down affair.
The game also does a terrible job of explaining key features to you. Takedowns, which are some of the most enjoyable aspects of previous titles, are almost nonexistent in Far Cry 5. Yes they are there, but the game doesn’t even explain them at all. In fact the only way I knew they existed was because it was a challenge to be completed. There are only three types of takedowns too. No more vehicle, knife, elephant takedowns. Those are all gone, replaced by Guns for Hire who seem to do your heavy lifting for you.
The use of medicines to increase your health or speed is also not explained unless you do a very specific side quest in the north, so if you spend your whole game without visiting that area until the end, you might not even know you were able to use these boosts at all. It almost seems like Ubisoft doesn’t want you to use these features but left them in there for returning players to use.
New to Far Cry 5 is the addition of co-op, where any player can join your game and become a Gun for Hire essentially. Only the host player gets credit for events that both players perform, meaning the joining player will still have to redo any missions on their own. Still, it’s a welcome change in a series that has always been about single player and going it alone. Far Cry 5 also added a side adventure dubbed Far Cry Arcade, an 8-bit take on their series. All perks and gear earned in the campaign can be used for your character here, too. This is a nice change of pace from the original game, and Ubisoft seems to want you to play it really badly by plastering a poster of it everywhere you go in Hope County. It also gives players the ability to create their own levels and it’s an interesting side activity to participate in if you ever feel that retro urge.
Far Cry is also known for its wide assortment of weapons at your disposal and Far Cry 5 is no exception. Rifles, grenade launchers, flamethrowers, and even a bow will be available for you to use. Its very easy to mow down groups of enemies with the ease of the weapon wheel being able to pick between dozens of different explosives and ammunition.
Vehicles have always been a staple of the series as well, and while past games have focused solely on automotive traversal and combat, Far Cry 5 now lets you take to the skies. As mentioned earlier, Joseph Seed sometimes sends the fighter jets to go after you so it’s comforting to know you can always fight back at a level playing field. There are more than 50 types of planes and helicopters you can buy and use at any moment from your garages. Using them to get a bird’s eye view of the massive landscape is always a welcome change of pace, too.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
So that brings me back to why Far Cry 5 feels different from the titles before it. Yes, there are plenty of new additions to love such as planes, Guns for Hire, co-op and the new American setting, but it doesn’t feel like a Far Cry game.
Joseph Seed is a great villain, but through all of his nonsensical biblical ramblings about protecting those he loves, he always lets your character go even after you wipe out three of his siblings and hundreds of his followers.
The ending in itself is such a complete letdown as it doesn’t even make sense with the theme of the game, which is a shame considering how much thought Ubisoft went into creating an original and dynamic story and setting. The lack of an experience system and notable combat takedowns makes Far Cry 5 feel less like a solid entry into the series but more so like your basic shooter game.
Far Cry 5 isn’t a bad game, but it also does not feel like Far Cry.