Give a shout for Old Glory’s stars and stripes, it’s finally here: Far Cry 5 is officially launching this week and there is a lot to talk about! So, grab yourself a strong cup of coffee or tea… hot or iced, who cares? This is America, baby, and you have the freedom to choose whatever beverage helps you celebrate that freedom, just I am free to practice my Constitutional Rights as we review Far Cry 5!
If you are new to the series, Far Cry is essentially Ubisoft’s open world “What-If” simulator. For this particular simulation, you take on the role of a rookie deputy and you are thrown into the heart of Hope County, Montana – a fictional county with a big problem: cultists. Not the “sacrifice-livestock-to-garner-favor-with-a-demon-lord” kind, the “they-didn’t-seem-crazy-at-first-but-have-you-seen-the-giant-statue-to-their-prophet-they-built?” kind. And that prophet’s name is Joseph Seed: leader of the Project at Eden’s Gate.
(In case you missed it, you can check out our first impressions here.)
There are a fair amount of departures from the typical formula of the Far Cry series. Not only is this game set on American soil, it also unfolds far more organically than any title in the series before it. Let me put this another way: no more towers. You gather information by talking with people, developing relationships, and observing the landscape. And there is a lot of all of that.
As you participate in following leads, locating prepper stashes, helping people in need, and liberating hostages, more missions become available and the resistance against the Project at Eden’s Gate grows. And as the resistance grows, so does the interest and attention of that area’s lieutenant: the Seed family. Each responds differently: Joseph and John respond in slightly more militant ways while Faith tries to reason… well, she tries to drug you into seeing her way, but that is a whole other conversation.
This formula works exceptionally well. Side quests feel rewarding and I did not feel like I was being herded into missions, outside of the interactions with the family Seed. So, our preview impressions were correct: if you want to hunt or fish, do it. If you want to stock up on all the prepper caches you can find, be our guest. If you want to feel more patriotic than a tear of freedom rolling off the cheek of George Washington onto the Declaration of Independence under fireworks, strap in and relive the feats of Clutch Nixon: Hope County’s venerable stunt driver – complete with explosions, screeching bald eagles, and screaming guitar ballads!
Combat in Far Cry 5 feels fairly natural… and that can be rather punishing at times. There were many moments where I brought the wrong weapons into a fight and found myself restarting missions with different equipment – especially when there were heavily armored enemies involved! It also doesn’t help that I kept forgetting to use my friends and fangs for hire. Let’s talk about that for a minute.
Because of the nature of Far Cry 5, it makes sense to have a follower system in place like the “Guns/Fangs/Friends for Hire” system. Unfortunately, I found myself more often than not forgetting to assign followers or them not being smart enough to jump into a vehicle with me… and as much as I love Boomer, my heart just couldn’t take hearing him get hurt. Maybe I’m just a softy. The one exception to this was Nick Rye: he can be my wingman any day!
(Welcome to Strafe City. Population: RATTA-TAT-TAT!)
The perk system provides a level of progression that makes each new perk/talent feel remarkably rewarding. There were very few instances where I felt like a perk was completely necessary for completing a mission. The beauty of this system is that every perk carries over from the story campaign to the Arcade Mode and co-operative multiplayer along with mission progression, weapons, and money. With the DLC content planned and the multiplayer capabilities, there is a ton to do to earn perks and to hold your attention!
What is most impressive about Far Cry 5 (outside of its wealth of content and beautiful setting) is that every interaction with the game’s main characters feels remarkably human. There is a real sense of the conviction, fear, loyalties, love, anger, and joy of the people you interact with. As a player, you experience some very touching moments. I found myself responding emotionally to more than a few situations within the story.
Even the villains have a humanity to them that I can’t say that I have experienced in any other game before. Their experiences in their formative years were tragic, setting the stage for the monstrosities we see in the game. While John’s sadism and Jacob’s militance made it easier to remove them from power, I found myself conflicted in my opposition of Faith. After all, she was a young woman rescued from a past of abuse and addiction, seeking to help others find peace. Even Joseph’s plight is one of a man with strong conviction and an angst for how things are within the world around him.
There is so much that I want to say about this game – about its cultural commentary, its deep dive into biblical imagery, and my personal observations as a pastor (who has had dealings with real world cults), but those will have to wait for another time.
It is important to note that Far Cry 5 is a highly mature title with ratings to match. It’s usage of strong language, violence, and thematic elements earn the rating. However, the usage of violence and thematic elements are not out of place in dealing with the subject matter at hand. That being said, there are some moments that can get very uncomfortable, so it is important for you to know what kind of game you are getting into.
At the end of the day, Far Cry 5 is an artistic lesson in juxtaposition. On one hand you have a group of devoted followers of a “message of peace” that live in violence. You have a calm and charismatic leader who insights calamity. There are communities united in anarchy. Far Cry 5 provokes its audience to think and wrestle with the uncomfortable answers to our own “what-ifs” about faith, family, and the power of community.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Playstation 4 with a code provided by PR.
COMPARE TO: Fallout 4, Far Cry Series