A key part of the Far Cry franchise for some time, the series’ map editor has seen noticeable face lifts over the years, and for good reason. Player engagement can be tough in a landscape where multiplayer experiences consistently evolve and change, and the success of recent games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite are clear examples of that. In that sense, what Ubisoft are doing with Far Cry 5’s multiplayer-focused creation suite, titled Far Cry Arcade, is in response to that — allowing players to craft and create with a suite of tools that should remain interesting overtime, though I’m worried the charm of the series will be lost when you transition from Hope County to the depths of Arcade.
While Far Cry’s map editor has been around since the series’ humble beginnings, it was never fully designed for multiplayer experiences. Rather, it was more based around giving the player creative freedom to design and participate in their own customised adventures. This all changes with Far Cry Arcade, with the introduction of a full, in-depth multiplayer creation suite designed from the ground up, allowing players to create maps, share them with the world, and involve themselves in other players’ creations. After playing maps you can rate them, give them a solid thumbs up or thumbs down, and save your favourites, and the idea of having a hub like this one in a game with such excellent gameplay mechanics like Far Cry 5 makes a lot of sense.Players aren’t constricted to just Far Cry 5 assets either, as you’re able to make use of other Ubisoft franchise assets to craft your own masterpiece of a map, which gives a nice touch of personality alongside the ability to design maps that aren’t bound to the Far Cry universe.
Maps also don’t have to be confined to multiplayer-focused arena battles, as there are options that allow you to design single-player experiences, too, and that’s where I spent most of my time with the mode last week in Paris.
Adventuring through two seperate single-player experiences — one with a focus on exploration and the other a bounty hunt-styled experience — I got a fairly solid understanding of the levels of detail that can go into Far Cry Arcade for those that want to put the time and effort into it, and it’s exciting. There’s a wonderfully passionate community online that thrives off of creation tools like those seen in Far Cry Arcade, and I hope that they take to it. Because while the aforementioned levels were nice taste testers for the mode’s potential, I didn’t feel anywhere near as much joy or fun as I’d had in Far Cry 5’s main game.
Dubbed ‘Journey’, the first level I played was very PT-esque with an exploration focus. In this level my goal was to simply make it to the end, making my way through a house that, quite literally, has been flipped upside down and inside out. The idea here was to not get stuck and persevere through some noticeably tight corridors that would keep changing up the verticality of the level, and it was fairly neat. That said, about halfway through the 2-and-a-half minute level I lost a lot of interest, as not a lot was really happening. Besides having encountered a couple of random goats along the way, Journey felt a bit lacklustre as an experience. It was, however, a good showcase of what can be done for something single-player oriented in Far Cry Arcade, but a lack of music and atmosphere drained a lot of the soul out of it.
The second level, which was more focused around gunplay and taking out a marked target, was a lot more fun. The map design reminded me a lot of something you’d see in Rainbow Six Siege, and while the AI was a bit clunky I did enjoy the way the map played out; slowly slaloming your way towards the target through shipping containers, taking out enemies as you go. This map encouraged experimentation and I really appreciated the way you could select a user-created loadout before jumping in.
While there were only two loadouts to choose from, I was keen to see how I’d go with the throwing knife-only loadout after I completed the map the first time around, and that in itself was enjoyable. The music and sound design here was much better than in Journey as well, and the general atmosphere was noticeably better because of it.
Having concluded our time with the single-player levels available in Far Cry Arcade during the preview event, we jumped into a custom multiplayer map and played a bit of team deathmatch to conclude the day’s proceedings. And while multiplayer itself was fun, I didn’t particularly take to the way the game played and the way the map flowed. The latter, of course, is subject to change and when creators get their hands on Arcade I’m sure we’ll see some fantastic designs, but the multiplayer itself — in an age where multiplayer games are in a constant battle to one-up each other in terms of both design and feel — was a bit lacklustre. Hit markers were unreliable and didn’t feel weighty, and I just didn’t enjoy myself too much as it all felt rather barebones.
That said, much like the single-player experiences in Far Cry Arcade, I think there’s a lot of potential in the creation suite included here, and that should show when the game is in the hands of the public later this month. And that’s when I’d fully expect to see some truly fantastic creations come to fruition and for the mode to come into its own.
It’s also worth noting I didn’t get a chance to check out the level creation side of Far Cry Arcade, though the levels we were shown were a good example of what to expect from the creation side of things. As has always been the case, though, the creative minds of the community tend to bring out the best of the tools available, and I’m really keen to dig into that side of the editor myself when I’ve got the full game in my hands.
For now, I’m a bit indifferent on how I feel about Far Cry Arcade. Like many creation suites, the mode is going to live and die by its community, and that’ll be fascinating to watch. I think the potential is certainly there, and I do like the fact there’s a progression system embedded in the mode too, which allows you to gain experience and levels as you play through maps and modes. But for now everything I played in Arcade didn’t stick out to me in any notable way. The main game’s so full of polish and is filled with so much to do that I think the Arcade experience was tarnished because of it, though I hope the creative community get behind it and, with some tweaks and improvement, Far Cry Arcade becomes something special. All of the tools are there, that’s for sure.
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.