Far Cry 5 on PS4
When I played Far Cry 5 at last year’s E3, I wasn’t convinced that what it had to offer would set it apart from the exotic, explosive adventures we’ve embarked upon in the series’ past. Skip forward just over nine months and I’ve finished watching the curtains close on my ramble around Hope County, Montana, and it was certainly worth the visit.
Far Cry 5 brings the series’ explosive, first-person action closer to home this time around. Eden’s Gate, an extremist cult led by Joseph Seed – otherwise known as The Father – has slowly but surely taken over Hope County. With the help of his siblings, Seed has managed to take control of all three regions, and it’s down to players to help what little resistance is left to fight back.
This is the basis of Far Cry 5’s plot, and it’s certainly one that, considering the hostile and divisive times we currently find ourselves in regarding politics and other ideologies, hits a little close to home. That doesn’t mean the game is going to try and shove some political agenda or ideology down your throat. Eden’s Gate poses a serious threat to the people of Montana, and you’re there to clear up the mess. If anything Eden’s Gate feels more like the Westboro Baptist Church times a thousand. Something that is within the realms of possibility, but not just yet. Ubisoft handles Far Cry 5’s potentially sensitive content well. Because just like how most of us believe that what we do or believe in is right, so do the Seeds.
Pretty much every objective or quest you do will help to raise the Resistance level in that particular territory. Raise it enough, and you’ll have an encounter with the Seed sibling whose territory you’re currently trying to reclaim. These were a particular highlight of my time in Far Cry 5. Amidst all the explosions and cursing, these are calm, quiet moments where the Seed siblings attempt to rationalize their actions, almost trying to bring you round to their way of thinking. There’s no doubt that the Eden’s Gate cult is messed up. Their methods of trying to save humanity are often brutal and intimidating, but they legitimately believe they’re doing the right thing deep down, and that makes Joseph Seed and his siblings far more interesting than being more insane cultists or unstable people in places of power.
Each sibling is memorable in their own way. John seeks to take everything from everyone with violence and intimidation; Faith experiments with a mind-bending drug known as Bliss and preaches the word of The Father; and Jacob is the more hardened of the siblings, with a military background and a group of terrifying wolves known as The Judges at his disposal. Thanks to their unique personalities and traits, building up the resistance in each of their territories offers minor alterations to the gameplay that keep things feeling fresh. Faith’s Henbane River, in particular, sticks in my mind, with hallucinations and bad trips plaguing your journey throughout. Not to mention your encounters with the Seed siblings will stick in your mind for time to come.
Building resistance against Eden’s Gate can be done in a bunch of ways in Far Cry 5. From destroying the huge, red silos dotted around the world, the shrines that crazed believers worship at, freeing hostages, or just helping the NPCs go about their own missions against the cultists. Having everything tie into your overall progress against Eden’s Gate makes every quest or challenge feel worth taking on. It adds an extra layer of freedom to the world, reminding you that you really can go about and do whatever you want without feeling like you’re wasting time focusing on something insignificant just to tick off a box.
This variety remains present throughout Far Cry 5’s main and side quests, too. One moment you’ll be saving hostages and liberating an outpost like the good ol’ Far Cry days, next you’ll be collecting bull testicles or listening to Hurk’s hilarious one-liners while he tries to retrieve his father’s truck.
Coming from one of these particularly great quests, however, makes some of Far Cry 5’s fetch quests feel tedious and a ploy to drag out the time you spend in Hope County, particularly those that send you off hunting for a particular animal. Despite going to a marked location on my map for skunks, I couldn’t track one down after 10 minutes of searching around. Thanks to the ton of other ways I could build resistance in that area, I just left it and worked on some other stuff (and found the darn skunks eventually), but these definitely come across as the weakest quests in Far Cry 5. Nobody wants to spend 30 minutes looking for skunks after just liberating an outpost. It’s just not fun.
You don’t need to play through every side quest to come face-to-face with The Father, but you absolutely don’t want to miss out on some of the great moments tucked away in them that don’t quite fit into the more serious tone of the story. The ability to go about quests however you want, with whatever weapons you want is intact here, too, and nailing a headshot with the bow still feels as perfect as it always has.
You’ll still purchase your weapons and gear from outposts like you always have, but Far Cry 5 introduces a premium currency in the form of Silver Bars. While these can be found hidden in the nooks and crannies of liberated outposts and other locales across Hope County, these also act as the game’s microtransactions. Silver Bars stand alongside your normal dollars, but are valued far higher within the world and can be used to purchase some of the game’s coolest-looking prestige weapons. Don’t worry, though, not once throughout my fight against Eden’s Gate did I find myself even remotely consider pouring money into the game (if I could have done). All of the prestige gear is just the normal stuff with fancy cosmetic skins on. As far as microtransactions go, Far Cry 5’s Silver Bars very much feel like a take it or leave it situation. Heck, I didn’t even use the Silver Bars I naturally found within the game world in my 30 hours with it.
Alas, Far Cry 5’s quests weren’t without their issues. On no less than five occasions did I have to reload my previous checkpoint or restart a mission, and once I had to start a new game entirely as some of the key quests wouldn’t spawn a particular vehicle, or enemies weren’t at an outpost I needed to liberate. Another time a character aimlessly walked around a village, while screaming at me to “get in the car” so we could “get after them.” She never got in the car. We never managed to get after them. I had to restart the mission several times until she finally plodded over to the car and we were on our way. Saying that, I did then manage to get through the rest of Far Cry 5 without any major glitches or bugs hindering my progress, but it’s disappointing that they popped up at all.
The series’ excursion to Montana did bring with it some changes, the headline of these being Guns and Fangs for Hire. As the name suggests, you’ll be able to recruit resistance members (or some four-legged friends) to help fight the Eden’s Gate forces. Through simple presses of the d-pad, you’re able to command your companions around their surroundings, or have them attack an enemy. It’s the specialist Guns and Fangs for Hire you’ll find yourself using most, though, with each one fulfilling a particular class role to assist you and abilities to help them achieve this. For example, Boomer the cute dog is a scout and can help tag nearby enemies or retrieve enemy weapons after attacking them. While these do lessen the challenge of Far Cry 5, it also opens up a whole host of new strategies and tactics for you to use, whether you opt for the stealthy route, or like to charge in all guns blazing. Seriously, run in with Cheeseburger the bear at your side and you’ll feel more badass than you likely ever had.
The hunting and crafting loop commonplace in past entries in the series has taken a backseat this time around. Rather than having to seek out all manner of exotic creatures so you can turn their pelt into a fancy new bag for your bombs or ammo, hunting is now a part of Challenges (and the odd quest now and again).
Challenges reward you with perk points, which, you guessed it, can be spent to unlock Perks and improved abilities. Get 30 kills with an Assault Rifle? Two perk points for you. Skin four Grizzly Bears? That’ll be three. These perks are a pretty standard affair, though they do allow you to turn your character into the perfect killing machine for your playstyle, whatever that may be. It’s this change to Far Cry 5’s progression system that also works in its favor. When I wanted a new perk, I’d scour through the Challenges and look at what I hadn’t yet accomplished. Going after completing these forced me to change up my playstyle, even if it was just a change from my usual choice of weapons for a mission, or taking a different approach to liberating an outpost. It ensures you sit up and take note of the all the different options at your disposal, rather than sticking to one tried and true method you’re comfortable with. Of course, you don’t have to, but your perk progression will be somewhat slower.
Far Cry 5’s entire campaign (aside from the intro and tutorial) can also be played in co-op, forming the final pillar of the game’s Hired Help feature. At any time, you can open up the menu, invite someone else who has the game off your friend list, and fight the good fight side-by-side within the minute. The whole process is incredibly hassle-free and it reminds the guest player that only their player progression (meaning XP, weapons, and perks) will carry back over to their game, rather than world progression (quests, Resistance Points etc.). Playing Far Cry 5 in co-op for a couple of hours turned out to be a heck of a lot of fun. The number of enemies scales up fairly well to reflect the added competency of another human player, and having a partner you can actually communicate with can make for some pretty great plans for liberating outposts. My partner did manage to glitch through the ground a couple of times during our session, though hopefully minor and infrequent issues like these can be ironed out in a patch in time for day-one players.
Together or on your own, Hope County is a joy to explore, whether you’re dropping bombs from above on unsuspecting convoys of enemy trucks, or snaking your way through dense forests on a quad bike. It definitely feels like Ubisoft wants you to just get lost exploring. There’s no mini-map, and you’ll have to follow quest markers and directions given by the compass bar at the top in order to navigate around the world (or keep checking the full map in the menus). It makes for a more immersive experience, one which allows you to truly get lost in the forest chirping with life, or the southern feel of rundown country towns.
Thanks to Hope County’s diverse terrain, there are ample extracurricular activities that players can dive into when they want to take a break from all the guns and explosions. You can do base jumping up in the mountains, head to a quiet dock to do some fishing, complete the aforementioned Chuck Nixon stunt challenges, find Prepper Stashes that have been hidden away or locked in tough-to-reach locations, or just explore and read the many notes that litter the world and flesh out the lore. This does seem to come at a slight cost, though, with loading times exceeding 20 seconds fairly often. Well, whenever you load up the game, fast travel, respawn, or transition from gameplay to cutscene. Again, this is more of a slight nuisance if anything, but combined with the technical issues I faced during my playthrough, I can’t give Far Cry 5 any gold medals for performance, even if it does look fantastic running on a PS4 Pro.
Outside of its single-player campaign, Far Cry 5 has a bunch of other modes, too. Arcade Mode consists of single-player challenge maps, which task you with finding your way out of somewhere, defeating a number of enemies within a set time limit, and so on. Multiplayer is exactly what you’d expect, though the Map Editor is sure to provide some added longevity to the mode if fans do latch on. And yes, it’s this map editor that allows you to mess with Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed, and other Far Cry games’ assets, too.
Far Cry 5 is exactly that – more Far Cry. If you’ve never been a fan of the series, this doesn’t do anything to change your mind. If you loved liberating outposts and blowing shit up in the Himalayas, you’ll enjoy doing it in Hope County, too. Its sprawling world, varied missions, and memorable characters all make for an incredibly entertaining experience, and helped me to overlook the niggling technical issues and occasional frustrating fetch quests in my 30+ hours in Montana.
Score: 4/5 – Great
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