It is often hard to put into words the feelings that arrive when playing a game that surpasses its expectations. Yes, I knew Far Cry 5 would be the biggest game yet. Yes, I knew it would star one of the best antagonists in the series and yes, I knew that it would touch on rather controversial themes of which many of us are in the dark about.
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What I did not know is that even hours after the climactic ending I would still question the game in so many ways. It is almost as if the Bliss got to me and it found its way into my mind making me believe everything the Seed family stood for. Throughout Far Cry 5, I questioned their intentions many times. Through the propaganda on the radio and through the excellent cutscenes, but I did not know what an impact it would have on my views on society. Not many games are able to do this and I have to commend Far Cry 5 for that.
But the game is so much more than a good story. Its an explosive and deep FPS that I found myself so engrossed in hours after completion. Many open world games I leave behind once completed but there is magic in Far Cry 5 and its world, characters, action and its story. All of which oozes from every crevice in the game.
Set in Hope County, Montana, you take the role of a nameless deputy that gets stranded in this now-communist-like state after attempting to arrest Joseph Seed for hijacking under the intentions to harm. Joseph Seed and his family lead an organization called Eden's Gate who believe the end of times is coming after their leader, Joseph “Father” Seed speaks to God himself.
The family are one bunch of messed up people. Faith the manipulator and the adopted sister controls the creation of Bliss, an air-induced drug that causes delusions and takes over one's mind. John is the brains of the cult. He believes that your sins need to be torn off your flesh after being tattooed on you in order for you to convert into a member of the cult.
We then have Jacob who is the man behind the muscle. He controls all guns and weaponry in the state. Last but not least is Joseph, the leader of Eden's Gate and the man behind the entire organization. Eden's Gate slowly bought up farms in Hope County and as they took over the land they become more and more powerful. They now control everything and everyone bar a select few individuals which form the Resistance.
Hope County, Montana, is as American as it could possibly be. Think American but with added American and an extra dash of American sauce on it. Each of the three regions has a distinctive look and feel to it. From the gorgeous Whitetail Mountains that offers breathtaking views and rivers to sit near and fish to Fall's End, a typical American one horse town with a bar, a church and some rather backwards people walking the street.
Far Cry 5's world is the biggest to date but it does not feel very big to the player due to the sheer amount of things to see and do. Every region is packed with towns and scrap yards, farms and depots, and of course lodges and bunkers. The world is a crucial part of making Far Cry 5 so wonderful and it goes above and beyond anything in the past. It may be the biggest but it is also felt the most alive.
After a rather explosive opening and an hour of learning the ropes, Hope County is yours to explore to your heart's content. Divided into three sections, you can go anywhere and start bringing down each family member's hold on the area the way you want to. Faith controls the creation of Bliss in Henbane River. Jacob resides in the Whitetail Mountains, and John controls the farmlands in Holland Valley.
Far Cry 5's open world is so brilliantly crafted that you will know exactly where you are when you look around you. The Whitetail Mountains are littered with forest trails and hiking paths. Tall trees scatter the mountains and rivers and lakes are always around you. Holland Valley, John Seed's region, is filled with farmlands.
Huge silos are seen in the distance and planes fly through the air as you explore the open fields. Henbane River, Faith's home, is much drier and rocky region. She controls the Bliss farms so the land is scattered with this moonflower-like plant. Of course, you also have a huge statue of The Father himself smack bang in the middle of it all overlooking his lands.
Exploring each of these regions was one of the best parts of the experience. There is so much to do and see that it is very easy to get caught up in the distractions. Even hours after the game I am still discovering new locations and completing side activities. Like all Far Cry games, activities are never scarce and Far Cry 5 goes above and beyond to create a new variety of things to do and see without making any of it feel like a chore.
There is an equal amount of outposts to conquer in each region, a good fifty plus side quests to take on and various cult objects to destroy the way you want to. I never once felt like I was being tasked with doing anything I did not want to do and once you have taken on a quest you are free to do it as you please. The entire experience is very laid back which pays tribute to the country way of life to some degree.
It also helps that the entire game is filled with characters that are both memorable and great to get to know. I make a close reference to the GTA series here as many games fail to execute memorable characters the way Rockstar does in their GTA series. You meet someone and you get to know them through good conversations. Their back stories and intentions. You also always remember doing that specific task for that specific person and Far Cry 5 has just that same vibe to it.
There are dozens of people to meet and each of them is unique in their own way and plays a role in the society or resistance. If it was not rushing Kim to the hospital to have her baby, it was collecting roadkill for Chad to use on his BBQ. Wheaty is in charge of the radio stations and he wants new vinyl tracks to play, and George collects baseball cards. These are all minor characters that you meet once, do a quest for and never see them again. The love put into each of them to not only make them look unique but sound and act their own way is truly remarkable.
Main characters are also voiced well and they grow on you from the moment you meet them. Many times my heart was racing as I truly thought I was going to lose one of them to the Seed family. While some of them did not make it out alive, the depth of each character and the impact on the player is an extremely rare occurrence even after knowing them for a short while. Your companions go a step further as they are by your side when you need them. Hurk (which you will probably remember from Far Cry Primal and Far Cry 4) makes his return in the fifth game and is as hilarious as ever.
His openness and rawness in his voice dialogues are one of a kind. Grace Armstrong, the ex-mercenary is hardcore to the bone and comes across very cold in her ways. We then have the animals like Cheeseburger the bear, Boomer the dog (did not like him, just not a dog person okay!) and Peacher the Cougar. Each companion has their own unique traits that come in handy throughout the game. If you prefer stealth then a Jess Black and Peaches combos would be ideal but if you want gun blazing then Hurk and his RPG and Adelaide and her machine-gun-equipped helicopter will do the job.
Companions are not as useless as past games and while they are still not perfect, the roles you give them when taking on an outpost or mission are executed well. I took control of many outposts without even walking into the area. I stood from a distance with my binoculars out and targeted enemies for Jess and Peaches to kill.
Peaches crept in and took them down while Jess shot them all with arrows. It was smooth sailing and a great way to make sure the attention is not on you if you do want to sneak in while they draw the fire. Later on in the game, you can use two companions at a time so the options are pretty open to you.
Far Cry has always been known for its gunfights and Far Cry 5 is almost perfect in that regard. Weapons are plenty with LMGs, pistols, bow and arrows, grenade launches and much more. Nothing new to what you would expect though but it works so why change it. Heading into a fight you can stealth enemies from behind, above or below or take them all out from a distance with arrows or a silenced sniper rifle.
Throwables include proximity bombs, molotovs, grenades throwing knives and more and all these can be crafted on the go if you have the correct materials. The guns combined with the throwable and the addition of the companions make every single encounter and mission in Far Cry 5 different from the last. It is truly fantastic and if you feel like you are getting bored then you just change things up with a quick inventory makeover, new companions and it feels like a brand new game.
While the enemy variety is lacking a bit compared to past games, there is enough to keep your combat on the edge of your seat. Flamethrower-equipped goons are tough to kill, and heavy machine gun mercs are even tougher. I would hate to say it but I did wish for a bit more enemy types but seen as the game does not limit you with any sort of difficulty wall you have to expect the same level of enemies and types throughout the game.
That is to say, the game has some rather tough fights as the cult pack a punch. Some fights had heavy mercs with Angels, crazy zombie-like people with bats, and snipers. To handle all this you have really think about what you are doing and how.
Weapons are all purchased through shops you find in the game. Money is hard to come by and Far Cry 5 probably has the most refined economy to date. You don't just get thousands of dollars to spend like past games. This time you have to work for it by doing specific things. Missions, clearing outposts, and even saving a hostage from the side of the road will give you some dollars. But the best reward comes from a new feature called Prepper Stashes.
In an attempt to prepare for the cult's takeover, people of Hope County have stored money and other items away in areas that are out of reach to the typical person. You, not being the typical person can get these but there is always a catch. These Prepper Stashes offer puzzles, unique parkour and make use of the environments around you to deliver fantastic exploration and discovery.
One most notable Prepper Stash was at the top of a silo and in order to get there, I had to slide all the way down a mountain and complete a few platforming areas to get to it. Another one saw me venture into a hot spring cave with boiling water. I had to carefully grapple my way across the hot water to the end in order to get to the stash. These activities are plenty in the game and they are all carefully crafted to deliver a backstory to the person who left the stash and a great way to find it.
Perks in Far Cry 5 act as the skill tree. These buff specific features of your character like the ability to carry more ammo or increased health. They are divided across various categories and depending on the player you are will depend on what you invest in first. Prepper Stashes offer Perk Points, the game also has a wide variety of challenges to complete that will reward you with points too.
These challenges are also fun and exciting to complete and range from killing a certain enemy with a set of different weapons to catching specific fish and even hunting down animals like bears and elks.
The challenges don't come back when you complete them which makes them a great completionist's goal in the game. I had a couple of challenges left when I finished the game so it just goes to show how easy they are to complete. Ubisoft has gotten rid of the material crafting system for gear this time and it works. Instead of having to find pelts to increase your ammo pouch, you buy the perk. It is a simplified system and I think it will go down well.
Each region in the game has to be completed to a certain degree to unlock the showdown between you and the leader. This is measured in Resistance Points and it is earned by doing everything from killing cult leaders to blowing up silos with the cult's logo on them.
The best part about this is that you can just simply play the game and before you know it you are ready for the fight. Once you get past, you can move on or carry on finishing up the region as you wish. It makes for a great way to spend your time and it helps that the game is so dense with unique activities to do.
Far Cry 5's story is a rollercoaster of emotion and a tense one indeed. The villains are unbelievable deep and layered with each confrontation leaving me questioning my own sanity. The way it all played out went beyond my expectations. I started to believe in what they did and there were times where I thought Joseph could have a point to this world being blinded and manipulated by the governments.
They are crazy but what makes it so scary is that they don't know they are crazy and they believe that they are right. That to me is the worst type of villain. Ubisoft successfully created four fully fleshed out people in a video game that I became obsessed with.
I wanted to kill them but I also just wanted to hear them express why they are doing what they are doing. In the end, I loved every single person I met. They were all memorable whether or not I wanted to put a bullet in their head or not and that to me is a true design feat especially in an open world game.
We then have co-op which is pretty much as the feature states, a co-op experience with a friend. It works well, it hella fun with a friend and I can see myself doing much of it in the future. Progress is not carried over to your game if you join a friend but perks, weapons and anything you collect will be. This makes it a great way to farm for some dollars or even perk magazines from those awesome Prepper Stashes.
Last but not least we have the Far Cry Arcade which is the creation tool in the game. The mode lets you use assets from various Ubisoft games to create maps and game modes to publish online or play with friends. I did not read the tutorial (who has time for that) and I successfully created a cool map.
The mode has the ability to create PvP and co-op experiences the way you want to and it is very easy to use. Placing objects and creating fog effects, water and even changing the time of day or weather. The sky's the limit in the mode and I cannot wait to see what people create in it.
This mode also acts as the game's main PvP mode as you can head into any of the featured maps to play against other players in it. If that is not your thing then you can also play a Journey mode which sees you go from start to end. This will hopefully be the base for some cool parkour experiences in the future.
There is also a survival mode too that will let you and a friend try and stay alive as hordes of enemies come at you. Again, this mode relies heavily on content creation and while I did spend a good few hours building and playing some maps the true creative juices are yet to arrive in the game and it can only grow from here.
Far Cry 5 is a jewel and one of the finest Ubisoft games in years. To create a world so filled with personality, scatter it with memorable people and experiences and top it off with a group of villains the likes of which you have never seen before is remarkable. Everything from the start to the end feels authentic and oozes with love and passion. Joseph Seed will always remain the greatest villain of this generation to me and to achieve the sheer level of detail across Far Cry 5 must have been an extremely daunting task. This is a new direction for Ubisoft and I am so happy to be here to see the studio go above and beyond anything they have created before.
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, Switch| Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 27 March 2018 | RRP: R999