Far Cry 5 Review – A Bliss-filled Retreat

Far Cry 5 is bonkers. It’s a game that lives and dies on its insanity through moment to moment gameplay, and is an excellent evolution of what has become one of the most popular game franchises in recent memory. The new location of Hope County is an absolute blast to journey through, and, combined with an intriguing narrative with a fairly well developed big-bad, makes for the most confident, content complete and enjoyable Far Cry experience to date, with only a few minor issues dragging it down.

The opening of Far Cry 5 will stick with you, as you journey to antagonist Joseph Seed’s compound as part of a military operation to apprehend and take him away. As you hover over the compound in a chopper it becomes clear that a handful of comrades by your side are already doubting the success of the mission, though you soldier on. The sheer tension that comes from this sequence — as you and your squad move through the compound, consistently bellowed and stared at by Seed’s followers — is almost overwhelming, and is a perfect introduction to what is by far the darkest Far Cry story to date. And yeah, shit hits the fan pretty hard shortly thereafter.

Ubisoft have very clearly succeeded in making Joseph Seed a character that consistently evokes fear and dread, and the opening sequence is a perfect illustration of the control he’s managed to take hold of in the fictional setting of Hope County, Montana. He’s not the only baddie you’ll encounter on this expedition throughout the sprawling U.S. location, though, as Seed has stationed three heralds (also known as lieutenants) across the county to keep locals under control. Taking back these regions from cultist control is your first port of call before taking on ‘The Father’, as Seed is known, later down the track.

Each region in Hope County is different in its own way, with heralds Jacob, John, and Faith Seed all having unique ideologies and goals in the way they control their region. And while each region looks and feels similar, differing methods of control keeps things interesting as you journey through each, wrestling back control from the Seed family and the Project at Eden’s Gate cult. John Seed’s way of ruling is forcing followers and outsiders into his ‘Yes’ movement, whereas Faith controls her followers through the drug Bliss, which has them hallucinate and think that everything is all well and peachy.

I liked the way Ubisoft approached this, as each region feels like its own little story within the overarching narrative of Far Cry 5. You also have the freedom to tackle each region as you see fit, making the experience a non-linear one — which is also well appreciated. Joseph Seed’s appearances during these adventures are few and far between, too, meaning he doesn’t feel overused and remains intimidating throughout. And while the general narrative feels a bit under-utilised — mostly giving way for classic Far Cry experimentation and open-world play — the story missions are very well done and keep things moving at a good pace. Faith’s region in particular was as fascinating as much as it was fantastic to explore, showcasing a leader who’s very clearly had a troubled past and covering how that was capitalised on by The Father. It’s a shame the other two regions were a bit less interesting to experience, though.

Taking the mantle of a mute protagonist for the first time in the series, who’s also known as ‘Rook’, Far Cry 5 allows you to be the central protagonist this time around — giving you the ability to completely customise your character in a multitude of ways. And while the character creator is a bit barebones in terms of actual character modelling and creation, the large array of hairstyles and clothing options tend to make up for it. I still felt like my character was fairly unique, and while I couldn’t actually see my guy for the majority of the time it makes for a fun experience in co-op, as you lay eyes on your co-op buddy’s attire for the first time — either in disgust or intrigue.

Similarly, the game’s selection of weapon and vehicle customisation options are also nicely varied, allowing you to attach an array of scopes, suppressors, and the like to your weapons as you see fit. Further, you’re also able to upgrade vehicles and throw new skins on whatever you’d like, giving a nice touch of personality to proceedings. That said, the creation suite here is not hugely in-depth, though it definitely makes for a better experience overall.

The core gameplay experience in Far Cry 5 isn’t too far altered from previous entries, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’ll still find yourself in a huge open-world with a multitude of activities to take on wherever and whenever you see fit, though rather than completing objectives and liberating outposts for the sake of progression and opening up new activities on the map, almost everything you do in each region will contribute in some way to the region’s resistance meter, which reflects how much control each of Seed’s heralds have on their particular region in Hope County.

This gameplay system gives purpose to almost everything you do in Far Cry 5, and I really liked the fact I didn’t have to just play through story missions in order to feel like I was achieving narrative progression in the game. There’s so much to do here — from liberating Eden’s Gate outposts to finding prepper stashes littered throughout Hope County — that it can feel overwhelming at times, but I’d prefer that than feeling like there wasn’t enough to do.

After taking out a herald via the accumulation of resistance points — which leads to a confrontation and a fight thereafter — you’ll still find that there’s a heck of a lot to do in the conquered region in order to achieve 100% completion. Cultists won’t just leave after you take out the herald, and the roads will still be filled with crazed lunatics, which gave me enough reason to go back and take ‘em all out after all was said and done.

Another big design decision was to mostly get rid of ‘Ubisoft towers’ in Far Cry 5, which means you’ll now need to find out information about the game’s map and points of interest via other means. Rather than attaching this to some sort of objective or mission, the game instead pushes you to talk to the people of Hope County in order to gain intel on outposts, prepper stashes, people of interest, and so on. You’ll often find that captured civilians will also have important information on map objectives, and this gave me more reason to help liberate them from the cultists. Not only did the act award me with resistance points, it also helped me find out about an important person of interest. This change feels so much more natural than just scaling towers to get a scope on everything that’s happening below, and it is without a doubt a better way of experiencing and interacting with the world of Far Cry 5.

There’s so much to do and so much to enjoy in Far Cry 5’s main story that it can feel a bit overwhelming when you first jump into it, but I see this as an opportunity to explore and have fun as you see fit. The series has always been about player exploration and encouraging experimentation, and that works to a tee thanks to the multitude of activities you’re able to embark upon, from fishing to partaking in stuntman activities sprawled throughout the map — almost everything in Far Cry 5 is crafted with an undeniable sense of love, and that is further enhanced when you have a buddy with you in two-player co-op.

With so much to explore and immerse yourself in, co-op almost feels like an essential element in this year’s Far Cry outing. You can play through the entire game in co-op, too, though it’s worth noting that world progression won’t stick with the guest player. Player progression — like gained XP, in-game currency, and so forth — will though. I had such a blast playing Far Cry 5 in co-op that I would wholeheartedly recommend playing it with a mate from beginning to end — the story might not feel as intense and creepy as it does in single-player, but it definitely escalates the fun tenfold.

Far Cry Arcade is also included in Far Cry 5, and it seems like a complete reinvention of what was a fairly basic map editor in previous entries. This time around you’re able to build maps with a slew of Ubisoft’s game assets (ranging from the Assassin’s Creed series to stuff from previous Far Cry games), and share them with the world. You can download maps, rate them, and favourite them to play with mates, as well as being able to participate in PvP deathmatches on created maps. It’s a big change from what you’ll experience in the main game, but it’s a welcomed addition to what is already a content-heavy package.

I have very few issues with Far Cry 5, as it’s without a doubt the best Far Cry game I’ve ever played. Loading screens are prevalent quite a lot in this outing, and I noticed it can derail immersion after important story cutscenes and between gameplay. Similarly, I did notice some heavy framerate dips during gameplay when a lot was going on in the game world, though these dips didn’t happen all that often enough to hurt the experience too much.

Most of these issues don’t do enough to derail what is otherwise a fantastic game, though. Those who have played any of the recent entries in the Far Cry series will quickly notice the gameplay loop’s quite similar, but the new inclusions and additions make for the best Far Cry yet. It’s an absolute blast to play — whether you’re playing in single-player or co-op — and the story is one of the best in the series by a good margin.

THE PS4 VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED PRIMARILY FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
9
Conclusion
Far Cry 5 is an absolute blast from beginning to end, chock full of things to do and involve yourself in. The narrative is interesting, and everything you do in Hope County feels meaningful in some way or another — making for an experience that feels as rewarding as it does enjoyable.
Positives
Intriguing Story And Villain
Lots To Do In The Game World
Co-op Is Excellent
No Ubisoft Towers
Far Cry Arcade Is Good Fun
Negatives
John and Jacob's Regions Are A Bit Dull
Some Framerate Issues
Loading Screens Between Gameplay and Cutscenes Derail Immersion
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