Set in slightly exaggerated version of present day America, Far Cry 5 features a cult (Eden’s Gate) taking over a secluded region of Montana, direct warfare with said cult, and explosions, lots and lots of explosions. Despite the change in setting, it should all feel familiar to returning fans. It’s built on the foundation of the previous games and reoccurring features such as taking over enemy controlled regions, free-roam gameplay, hunting etc., that will all be there. Rather than dramatically shake anything up with the gameplay, Ubisoft is opting to add new (fun) stuff on top of it, and instead entice those on the fence with a very unique and perhaps to some, controversial, narrative. In a recent hands-on session with Far Cry 5, we got a little taste of all of that.
The highlight of our gameplay demo was the new Guns for Hire, a mechanic that allows you to call in a buddy to assist you in combat in very different ways. There’s Boomer a cute pup that has a taste for cult members (better for fighting up close and personal), Grace Armstrong a sneaky sniper, and Nick Rye a pilot who drops massive bombs down on your enemies at your command. Boomer and Grace were cool and all, but I could not get enough of Nick Rye. Other than wanting to hang out with a dog (which I do understand) I can’t think of any reason why anyone chose to NOT pick Nick Rye 100% of the time. Far Cry 5’s explosions are THE BEST I’ve experienced in a game to date. They’re so satisfying. They are huge, fiery, envelop the screen leaving you and your enemies confused (if not dead), and with good headphones they are loud and you’re going to be a little shook from them. Even car explosions from sticks of dynamite feel like small tactical nukes. No complaints here, give us all the gratuitous explosions you want Ubisoft.
Explosions aside for a second though, the Guns for Hire mechanic in Far Cry 5 does look like it will be a whole lot of fun. It will spice up the gameplay, allowing you to chose a partner that enhances or compliments your play style. I don’t have patience for stealth, so I just want to CHARGE and blow up everything in front of me with Nick Rye (see explosions were aside for only a couple of sentences there), but those that like the challenge of clearing an entire encampment unnoticed until its too late for the enemy, would probably go for someone like Grace Armstrong.
I also got a small taste of a story mission. After clearing out an Eden’s Gate controlled area, I had to head over to Nick Rye’s place and defend his hangar from another cult attack. After clearing out the ground troops, I took to the skies in his plane, and took out several Eden Gate oil facilities with the plane’s bombs (BOOM), and then duked it out in a dogfight to finish the mission. It was short, but it was clear that despite going for a poignant and topical narrative, Far Cry 5 is still going for over-the-top action and not taking itself too seriously in that regard.
There will probably be some people that get defensive about the direction the game is going in with its story, but honestly, as long as you’re not in a violent cult that abducts people and count yourself among sane America, you really don’t have anything to be too worked up over, at least not that I can see yet. Normal Americans are the good guys from what I can tell so far in Far Cry 5.
Finally, after completing the story mission, I had the opportunity to do a little exploring. Far Cry 5’s take on Montana is beautiful and gives me a Firewatch vibe in terms of how peaceful it feels (when people aren’t shooting you and you’re not blowing things up that is). I was able to do a little hunting, some fishing (new to the series!) and just walk around the wilderness. All of that was a welcomed detour from the violent mission I had just wrapped up.
Fans should be feeling pretty good about Far Cry 5 as of now. It appears to have just about everything people liked about the previous games, plus new features that so far seem to fit in very nicely, and a story that stands out from the crowd.