Far Cry 5 is an excellent game. It is the ultimate first person sandbox adventure where you can just stick it on, blow shit up and have a blast. The downside to Far Cry is that sometimes it suffers an identity crisis. The beginning of this latest installment in the Far Cry franchise starts on a really strong narrative note. I uploaded the opening ten minutes to YouTube for people to get a taste for how this game sets the scene.
After experiencing this intro you really feel the gravity of what has happened and the stage is set for an epic struggle for survival and desire to start an uprising against Joseph Seed and his cult. This makes it jarring when twenty minutes later you are firing bazooka’s in all directions like a lunatic. This is nothing new to the series. Far Cry has always tread a fine line between trying to tell a serious story, having side missions that have no intention of telling a serious story and gameplay that while can be reigned in and treated seriously, is screaming at you to go full Rambo.
This is never more evident than early in the story when I had just finished a very serious storyline cutscene and the very next thing I was tasked with was a side mission to go and trample some bulls with a tractor to retrieve it’s testicles for a Testicle Festive that a chef was organising. I have no problem with the most serious or ludicrous moments in the game, but the stark contrast between the two doesn’t always fit.
I was also a little disappointed by the lack of variety in the game. Once you get out of the tutorial section and out into the open world you see the map is split up into three sections. Each section is headed up by a member of the seed family. You have John, Faith and Jacob. The game tries to direct you towards John’s region first but makes it clear you can tackle them in any order. I decided to follow the games subtle hints and go for John, Faith and finally Jacob.
It’s nice to get the freedom of choice, but by giving you this there didn’t feel like much real overall story progression. Faith never mentioned about how I had taken down John and likewise Jacob never mentioned that he was the last remaining road block stopping me from getting to Joseph.
In each region you have to fill a meter of XP to draw either John, Faith or Jacob out. You get this XP by doing story missions, side missions, looting locations or trucks, freeing hostages etc. Also, three times while attempting to fill this meter you will be notified that enemies are hunting you and you will be randomly drugged in different ways and taken to the bosses hideout. From here you will get a cutscene learning more about their motivation, be left alone for no good reason, escape and go back to whatever you were up to beforehand.
I liked the idea of this in John’s region and thought it was an interesting way to learn more about your enemy while maintaining the openness of the world. The fact that the same thing happens in all three regions absolutely ruins this though. Each region feels exactly the same and this is a direct result of them letting you tackle the game in whatever order you want.
My least favourite aspect of the Far Cry games has always been the weird dream/drug sequences they seem to shoehorn in every time (It’s the reason I have never even touched Blood Dragon). I had hoped that this would have been taken out this time, but unfortunately they doubled down on this direction and it’s more prevalent than ever.
In terms of gameplay, the series has barely evolved since Far Cry 3, which isn’t a bad thing in my eyes as they have a winning formula. I do feel that in the next entry people will be looking for a sign of the series evolving though. You can see that inspiration has been taken from Primal as we now have human and animal sidekicks and they were obviously very happy with their spear chucking mechanic as it makes a return, this time in the form of a shovel with a yellow smiley face on it.
Inventory wise Far Cry 5 has been stripped back a lot in large part to fit the narrative. Gone are skinning animals for a bigger loot bag, wallet, weapon holster etc. Now everything is upgraded via perk points which you acquire by completing challenges, missions, picking up collectibles and almost everything else in the game. It’s sad to see the old system go, but there’s no doubting that it would have made little sense in this setting and environment.
Trophies/Achievements also follow a similar style from previous games. Single player wise it’s a good list, encouraging you to explore all aspects of the game without turning the whole thing into a collectathon. In fact the game only requires you to pick up one of each collectible type for that particular trophy, although you can hunt down them all if you are looking for more perk points.
Unfortunately the good list does not extend to the online side of things. In previous games Far Cry has been generous with the online/co-op trophies, simply asking you to experiment with all the different modes they have available. This time though, we have the super annoying ‘ARCADE Competitor’ which requires you to win online matches on featured maps ten times. The problem with this is that featured maps are hard to come by.
I have played five games of team deathmatch so far and haven’t even seen a featured map so you can imagine the amount of time it would take to not only be in matches where featured maps have been chosen ten times, but be on the winning team. I am someone who likes a platinum trophy and am in the habit of getting the 100% in Far Cry games, but this time I have decided not to waste my time. There’s too many good games out and coming soon to sink hours into an online mode I don’t even like.
As I said at the start of this review, Far Cry 5 is a great game. It’s a joy to play and while the story never feels fully in sync the moment to moment gameplay is such a joy that you just overlook the flaws. I feel like I have been pretty critical in my writing today but it’s only because the series does so much right that what’s lacking stands out to me even more.
They have not tried to reinvent the wheel here. It’s very much a case of more of the same. If you like the series, you are going to enjoy Far Cry 5. If you don’t, this is unlikely to change your opinion. There’s plenty of interesting DLC coming and with around a 30 hour run time including side missions you get some serious bang for your buck.
In terms of ranking the modern Far Cry games, I would have
- Far Cry 3
- Far Cry 4
- Far Cry 5 & Primal
Three was such a game changer at the time that it holds a special place in my heart and I will be picking up the PS4 remaster when it drops later this year. To be honest in terms of quality 4, 5 and Primal are pretty even. I just felt Primal was limited with the setting and time period and 5 didn’t quite match 4 due to the repetitiveness of the three regions and the constant drug/dream sequences.
If you like the Far Cry series or first person shooters in general I really recommend picking this game up. There’s so much to do and it’s a world full of interesting characters and destruction opportunities. The gripes I have with it are small and in some cases would be plus points to others. This is not a game to be missed!