With such an unparalleled amount of freedom and a focus on letting the player do whatever they want in a large, sprawling open world, it’s a bit of a mystery as to how a full-scale co-op mode hasn’t been implemented in Far Cry until its fifth mainline entry. The series has been ripe for co-op play for quite some time, and having spent an hour with the mode at a recent preview event in Paris, I’m inclined to think playing Far Cry 5 with a mate might just be the best way to play. However, there are still some niggling issues that will need to be sorted out prior to launch for it to live up to its obvious potential.
Booting into Far Cry 5’s co-op is fairly simple, with one player acting as a host and the other joining as a guest. It’s a system similar to that seen in Far Cry 4, where one player will have their story progress continue whereas the other will join in as an anonymous guest player, meaning no story progression will be saved for the latter when co-op activities are concluded.When everything is all up and running, you and your buddy are free to engage in whatever you want to do — story missions, side activities, fishing, hunting, and everything scattered throughout Hope County can be accessed and played in co-op, and most are enjoyable to play with two players.
Spending the majority of my co-op time in Jacob Seed’s territory on the map, another journalist and I undertook a handful of story missions and side activities to see how the game held up as a pure multiplayer experience, and it was an absolute blast. The way Far Cry 5 adapts to how you play and engage in activities means co-op suits it perfectly, and it made for an experience that always dealt out fun moments rather than frustrating ones.Something I really enjoyed during my time in single-player was planning out a perfectly-executed liberation of an Eden’s Gate outpost, which took a fair amount of planning and effort to pull off. Though the goal focused around eliminating all of the enemies in order to achieve liberation, these outposts are usually massive in size and contain more than your fair share of crazed followers, and being spotted can make things incredibly difficult for one player. Because of this, being stealthy and studying enemy walking patterns were key to a successful liberation.
Planning something like this in co-op, however, did not end well. More often than not our outpost liberation attempts would end up in us being chased around the place by dogs and crazed Eden’s Gate followers, subsequently making us scream unhelpful information at one another in moments of hilarity. It was wonderful though, and while we’d always start out with a sense of real confidence in our abilities, it was moments like these — where chaos would break out and amusement ensued — that were the most memorable in Far Cry 5. And to be fair, I think this is (and has always been) one of co-op’s biggest strengths — having a mate with you to adventure through a game like Far Cry 5 is so much fun, and made the entire experience much more enjoyable when compared to my time with single-player.With that said, my experience with Far Cry 5 changed entirely because of the extra person in my game, and it was a stark contrast to how I felt when I was playing single-player. All of the trepidation and fear I’d had for the Seed family during the first hour of gameplay was thrown out the window when I entered co-op, which was entirely focused around goofing off and having fun rather than focusing on the threat at hand. And while I don’t think this’ll necessarily detract from the game experience in any major way, players that have a big interest in the setting and narrative behind Far Cry 5 may get more out of the experience in single-player rather than in co-op.
Nonetheless, the inclusion of co-op seems to open up new avenues for players to invest in the world of Hope County and what it has on offer, though from what I’ve experienced it doesn’t necessarily showcase the game’s narrative in the most optimal way.
Some noticeable issues I had with co-op were mostly related to performance, with the PS4 builds of the game noticeably chugging in moments of intense action. I didn’t notice this at all when I was playing the game in single-player, though it became a bit overwhelming during times in co-op where precision was required in activities. Hopefully this will be ironed out prior to launch.Another issue I had with co-op is that local co-op is not an option — it’s all focused around online. I feel like there’s a missed opportunity here, considering how fantastic an experience Far Cry is when being played with two friends, and the fact the series is so perfectly suited for split-screen co-op play. Whether it’s technical limitations or just something the developers decided against, I’m a bit disappointed this doesn’t seem to be included.
Far Cry 5, at its core, is a game about exploration and having fun, and a fully realised co-op mode is such an excellent addition to the series. While I only played an hour of co-op during my preview session, I’m feeling positive about what it can do for the series going forward. It’s an absolute blast to play thanks to Far Cry 5’s fantastic, sprawling setting and the plethora of interesting things to do, and regardless of a few small issues I came out of my preview session confident that co-op will be something I’ll play a lot of when the game launches later this month.
TOBY FLEW TO PARIS AS A GUEST OF UBISOFT FOR THIS FAR CRY 5 EVENT. FAR CRY 5 IS OUT ON MARCH 27TH FOR PS4, XBOX ONE AND PC.