The fifth in the mainline series, Far Cry 5 is the first game to be set in the USA, something a lot of people were not counting on. However, the fictional Hope, Montana, is indeed a beautiful setting for the series that manages to finally bring a much needed shakeup to the series.

Taking place in the serene Hope County, the game lets players take on the role of a customisable and mute deputy who goes against religious extremists after their coup is accelerated. The players will then have to help out the characters around Hope County in order to give the people a chance to fight back.

When the game was first revealed I was a bit sceptical as to how much was changed. As much as I adore the Far Cry series, I have to admit that certain things were getting a bit recycled in their implementation. However, the more I saw of the game, with interesting additions like fishing, the more I felt relieved. Now after finally playing the game I can easily say that this finally feels different.

A lot of things have changed, and all for the better. One of the most interesting changes has to do with the skills. In the previous 3 Far Cry games, certain skills would only be available to unlock if the ones before it had been acquired. Thankfully, Far Cry 5 does away with that and you can unlock any skill from the perk page as long as you meet their cost or unlock requirement. Not to mention, certain skills like heavy take-down are now available for you from the beginning, allowing you to take down armoured foes from the get go. This is certainly a welcome change, as this particular enemy class really used to break the flow of gameplay, making everything less fun than it should be and ultimately going against the sandbox nature of the series.

Furthermore, the crafting system has been completely overhauled, with holsters and ammo bags becoming a part of the perks you can unlock. Still, this does not mean that the aspect of hunting animals has been played down, as skinning certain numbers of animals as per requirement will now net you perk points that are used to unlock various skills.

Fans will be extremely pleased to know as well that the tower climbing system has been replaced with something better. Whereas before you had to climb towers in order to unlock skill points or weapons, you now have to find bunkers around Hope County which are filled with perk points and cash, giving you a good incentive to look for them. Since each bunker has a mini puzzle to solve in order to get in, it feels varied, as well as interesting.

The gun for hire has been radically improved as well, where you can have well written characters follow and help you, each with their unique skills. Boomer is the best though, easily! Not only is he a good boy, but he is a good boy who can help you take out enemies silently and take their guns. Seriously though, I am the type of player who likes to be alone and does not prefer AI companions, and have played games like Skyrim alone. However, I never wanted to be alone in Far Cry 5 due to, not only how fun some characters were, but also because of how useful they could be, with some even providing you cover from the air.

What really makes them convenient to utilise is the simple command system, where at the press of a button they can be moving to different places, climbing structures or laying down suppressive fire. I would really recommend that you unlock the two gun for hire slots as soon as they are available since it really helps having two different fighters helping you out. One for stealth, and the other for full-on assault, increasing your tactical possibilities.

The co-op I did find hit and miss since it didn’t fit with the whole flow of the game. It felt weird that you’d be running around story missions with other deputies, and the storytelling would make a point of how there is only one nuisance to the cult leaders. The matchmaking is something that needs to be fixed more as well, as even now I have issues jumping into some games. Still, when it does fully work it comes off as highly entertaining, where a lot of fun stories can be conjured up.

In terms of  multiplayer offerings, the arcade mode is more of a breakthrough than co-op, as it sees the return of the excellent map editor that feels like an in-depth video-game engine rather than a tacked on map editor. Interestingly you can use it to create, not only multiplayer maps and modes, but single player wave or objective based experiences as well. The community is quite imaginative and I have already played through some really interesting levels. In fact, you don’t have to create anything to be able to enjoy what this mode offers. It already adds a lot of value to the game and more assets are yet to come.

What I was more interested in seeing this time was easily what sort of vehicles we’d have, and with this being rural America, Ubisoft has gone all out, including in the game: Planes, Helicopters, boats, cars, trucks, etc. This is by far the most diverse the vehicles have been in a Far Cry game, which all feel fantastic when controlled. Major props have to be given to the developers for the handling of the helicopters as that is something a lot of games struggle with. Basically, by staying away from the norm and making the controls a bit more arcadey, the developers have made it so that anyone can easily control the planes or helicopters without crashing too easily.

Speaking of controls, Ubisoft has done a fantastic job with the UI and controls for both the PC and console versions. Rather than create a universal control scheme and interface, the designers have instead elected to have different aspects to each platform’s controls. For example, to make it more ergonomic, PC users have to just tap their button to perform certain actions, whilst the console users have to hold the button.

The UI changes on the fly as well on the PC, depending on if you have your controller plugged in. With your keyboard and mouse combo, the weapon selection turns into a grid based selection system, making it easier on the mouse, and with controllers it reverts to the iconic weapon wheel. I truly did mean “on the fly” when I mentioned how the UI changed as you could have your controller plugged in, but still play with mouse and keyboard. I did the stunt modes on the controller as the pitch for certain vehicles was easier to control whilst the other parts I elected to use a mouse and keyboard. I didn’t have to go to any settings menu to modify anything and I could just pick up the controller and start pressing buttons, relying on the game to take care of everything else.

Controls aren’t the only thing focused on with the PC version, as it does look like Ubisoft has gone to great lengths in order to optimise the game on the PC. Not only does the game look absolutely stunning with breathtaking vistas and characters, but it does so without compromising on the performance. I was easily able to maintain 60fps on a single GTX980ti at 1440p. To be fair, Ubisoft has been improving with its PC counterparts recently and a lot of the features I have mentioned in terms of dynamic UI and performance optimisation can be applied to Assassin’s Creed Origins as well, which on its own was a fantastic game.

The premise and story is really interesting, but it has unfortunately been held back by the decision to make the characters a blank canvas. I do understand the fact that Ubisoft wants players to feel empowered by their decisions, and to have their own personal avatar, but even then I believe the characters could have had different voice actors that you could pick from, similar to what games like Saints Row 4 did. That game not only lets you completely customise your character but it does so without sacrificing characters, something that Ubisoft can learn for the future of the series.

Still, Ubisoft does a decent job with its setting, providing us with not 1, but 4 compelling and contrasting antagonists. The cinematic cutscenes kept me on the edge of my seat most of the time and kept me wanting to play the story missions more. What it does interestingly is, it divides the map of the game between 3 of its villains, where they have their own unique influence on their occupied territory. So rest assured, you won’t be going around destroying the same sort of structures or collectables as they change depending on which area you are in, giving it a much needed variety. The main goal of the game is to cause enough damage against the cult to liberate each area.

Still, the star of the show isn’t the protagonist or even the villains, but are in fact the residents of Hope County, and the best are those that eventually become specialist guns for hire. Nick is a great example of this, as through his setup mission, you get to see his struggle and hopes as he fears for his unborn daughter, choosing to leave with his family on their plane rather than fight, as much as he doesn’t want to leave his family business behind.

These kinds of backstories really help cement these characters and makes it feel like your actions are helping innocent people take back their lives. It’s something that a lot of games unfortunately drop the ball with, where we are given a lackluster cast of supporting characters that you hardly care about. This is easily a strong suite of this game.

I do have a huge problem with how the story is presented in regards to the main events though, as the game forcefully makes you do certain story-based missions. Basically, every time you achieve a milestone whilst liberating territories, you are abducted and forced to complete a critical story mission. This goes against certain player types as there are gamers like me who prefer to finish the side-missions before taking on the story missions. However, anything you do here will count towards filling up the progress bar, automatically bringing you to milestones whether you like it or not. Luckily the final showdowns are always up to the player to start. Still, this is a feature I wish would be removed somehow as it goes against Ubisoft’s notion of letting players do what they want. Sometimes you just want to be running around fishing, you know?

Speaking of fishing, it is one of the best additions to the game, one that lets you soak in the beautiful scenery and take a much needed break once in a while. Besides, just like loot and skins you can sell the fish at any shop, making fishing more convenient. Lastly, Dan Romer has done a fantastic job with the original music as well as the original hymns heard throughout the world. The original music particularly stands out for its energetic approach during action sequences, making everything not only memorable and exciting but fun as well. Thankfully this does not mean that Romer has done injustice to the dark undertones of the game, as when needs be, it gets pretty gritty as well. It is easily one of the few games where I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the soundtrack.

All in all Far Cry 5 is an absolutely stellar game that does a lot of things right, as well as fixes a lot of issues with the previous games. No more radio tower climbing, no more copy pasted structures to destroy and no more boring side characters or missions. Everything tedious has been revamped, and Hope County is easily one of the best locations we have been to in Far Cry that offers, not only breathtaking vistas, but exciting stories as well. Not to mention Ubisoft has to be applauded for how much care they have put into making sure each version is perfect to control in its own way, playing to each platform’s strength. Still, I do wish that the “mute character is the only way you will  play as you” stereotype will stop happening soon, as we have seen better ways this has been implemented without losing character.



Author

Haris Iqbal
Haris Iqbal

I am a guy who loves anything with a powerful storyline, whether it be a game, book or movie, it doesn't matter. Just so long as it hooks me in and keeps my imagination captive till the last word/scene! Also, I am huge Silent Hill fan, so I love all things Silent Hill... and anything horror. Huge horror fanatic!