Since the original in 2004, the Far Cry franchise has changed. If the original two were developed with the help of Crytek and established the root of the gameplay, it’s truly Far Cry 3 that revolutionized things thanks to the Dunia Engine and of course the iconic antagonist Vaas. Now into 2018, Ubisoft wants to reinforce their solid franchise with a fifth core game set in a way closer to home, in modern-day Montana’s fictional Hope Country. Far Cry 5 will have you confront a sect of Christian extremist led by Father Joseph Seed and his family, in what is possibly the best entry in the franchise since Far Cry 3.
While fans of the franchise are used to visit exotic destinations like the mountains of Nepal in the previous one, or even the Caribbean islands in the third opus, it’s quite strange to be just deep in the Midwest of United States. But throughout my gameplay, Hope County has shown me that it can be as paradisiacal than the beaches of Far Cry 3 or the snowy peaks of Far Cry 4 both visually and story-wise. At first glance, Far Cry 5 may seem more of the same: it has frantic shooting, stealth mechanics, a set of charismatic villains, hallucinogenic substances and of course a nice big crazy story. However, Ubisoft’s latest also made some solid changes that alter the franchise for the best, and while some may be unnoticed, the overall results is solid.
The story in previous Far Cry had us complete a series of missions in a more or less open-world, which led to then unlock new areas on the game’s map, and so on. That was the general trend that most sandbox or open-world game follow, but things changed here with this game. In Far Cry 5, the core map of Hope County is divided into 3 distinct regions, but instead of doing some set of required missions to access them, they are all open by default, letting you go wild on which to free first from the crazy cult. And so, the story clearly gives you the end goal to the game within the first 30 minutes: to destroy Joseph Seed and Gate of Eden sect, you’ll have to overthrow his three siblings, each one in charge of one of these 3 Hope County areas.
While most Far Cry games since the third opus had one main villain, the story here is quite different now split with 4 key antagonists. Each of the Seed family members has its share of prominence in the story, and although somewhat predictable, their stories leave us some very surprising moments, especially with my favourite which is Faith. But the most interesting story aspect is the caricature of modern UAE that Far Cry 5 somehow manage to nail. While I assume that most of you know enough of the current state of American society, Far Cry 5 tackles almost every topic ranging from hardcore pro-weapons owner rights to Christian extremism, and referencing the ugly side of what that country could become if not kept in check. A criticism that at times scares, because what is represented through the parody is not far from reality, with hidden references to other American cult leaders like Charles Manson, the current US president’s scandals and much more.
You still have a sort of pattern to follow through, with several main and side missions to choose from, but they no longer mark a progress to reach the main villain. In Far Cry 5, everything revolves around building a resistance, a tiny bit like Far Cry 4, with a constant reminder in each region with a numerical meter that increases when carrying out all kinds of actions, whether missions, optional side activities like freeing hostages, bringing down important members of the sect, etc… And so the grindy kind of players could possibly reach the villain of each region without even finishing a single mission in that area. On that front, you should know that conversations when accepting the story and side missions change to reflect if the villain is gone or not, which is quite a nice touch.
As the bar fills up, Far Cry 5 story missions with greater plot changes pop out on the map, which helps players understand both the motivations of the siblings and Pastor Joseph himself. But things won’t get easy, as the closer we get to completing a region, the greater the counter from the cult will be, to the point of even sending planes against us. In general, everything in Far Cry 5 develops in a much more organic way, with logical continuations of your action, which I’m happy with. For example, after rescuing a simple Hope County citizen from a random hostage situation, he may give you a hint about some sort of stash of weapons in a nearby warehouse, thus activating a new optional side mission on the map. It kind of reminds me of the Ghost Recon Wildlands open world mechanics as well, with each region assigned to one of the Santa Blanca drug cartel leaders.
Far Cry 5’s character progression system has also been changed, moving away from the sort of RPG mechanic of previous games, by ditching the whole experience points concept. While you still have a series of perks to unlock (50 in total), divided into five categories with some new to the franchise, it’s how you unlock them that is different. Now you have a series of challenges to beat, also divided into different section such as combat or hunting, rewarding us with talent points when completing them, and thus used to unlock new perks. The challenges are quite varied and entertaining since they force us to leave our comfort zone to improve and get into a rhythm where progress is much more fun, like hunting and skinning deer, killing X amount of enemies with a set weapon, and so on.
One of the most notable additions to Far Cry 5 though are the hired gunmen: AI-controlled characters that will support you on missions. They can be given a couple of orders, such as to go to a certain position or attack an objective, but despite their simplicity, they comply without too many problems and can even be stealthy. Even some of them have special features, like a tank based shotgun fighter, a sniper, and more that also get new perks as they reach a certain amount of requirements.
But the interesting hired guns are the specialists. These unique fighters, each with their linked story or side missions have unique talents and can be a blast to play with. Varied in terms of style and personalities, the game lets you pick the one you prefer depending on your needs, resulting in a lot of different combinations thanks to 9 different specialists in total. Boomer the dog, For example, can mark nearby enemies, while Grace Armstrong is a veteran sniper, and Nick Rye, a pilot giving you air support. Let’s not forget as well fan-favourite Hurk Drubmann Jr, who was also in Far Cry 3, 4 and even Far Cry Primal, now equipped with a tracking rocket launcher that does massive damage on vehicles.
In terms of multiplayer element, Far Cry 5 has a cooperative mode for two players, which is a much-improved version of Far Cry 4’s similar mode. You can play coop from the start to finish of the game, with not a single restriction whatsoever. Sadly, there’s some small limitation to the fun, which is that your guest will not carry the progress in missions that are completed during those coop sessions. The other mode though in term of multiplayer is the prized Far Cry Arcade, accessed from the main menu which is split into a map editor and competitive modes.
The map editor is no novelty to the series, having been available since the early day of Far Cry 2, but things do change in this edition. While the previous ones were already decent – and although only available on PC – this version is the most complete to date. Not only because of the number of options, but also because it includes assets of other Ubisoft games like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Watch Dogs and all previous Far Cry titles. You can then create levels for both coop or PVP modes, which obviously will help the modding community to create some crazy mixes, especially with additional asset packs coming in the future.
So now that we established are complete the game is in terms of gameplay mechanics, aren’t you curious to know how well technically Far Cry 5 is? The title continues to use the Dunia Engine 3, but it’s quite an upgrade from the previous Far Cry 4 and Far Cry Primal which we did a deep technical review of on our site. Since the 4th title was a cross-gen game, it had to do some compromises, but with Far Cry 5, the focus on next-gen has made for some remarkable tech rendering. The draw distance has considerably improved, which becomes evident as soon as you get to fly your plane, with some great sceneries from high up in the sky. Physics have also improved drastically, with more objects that can explode in a more realistic way, but I’m still annoyed at these random trees and other small elements that seemed to be more solid than steel (especially when trying to ram through a dense forest). Surprisingly though, even with all these changes, I have not witnessed a single Far Cry 5 slowdown even in the most chaotic situations on both Xbox One and Xbox One X. On the latter though, the difference in terms of quality is intense, with Far Cry 5’s engine making the full use of UHD scaling resolutions, but is limited to 30FPS. While the game also mentions 4K Enhanced, it seems to use Dynamic resolution, fluctuating from 3K at 1620p resolution when the action is intense, and up to 4K when it’s “calmer”.
But despite all these technical benefits, the main reason I think Far Cry 5 looks so good is the setting itself. The three areas in which the map is divided have very varied terrains: to the southwest we have the Holland Valley, characterized by its wide fields and plains; to the north are the Whitetail Mountains, with lush forests and focus on verticality; Finally, to the southeast, is the region of Henbane River, which is a blast and home to Pastor Joseph’s sister, who also happens to be the create the hallucinating drug known as Bliss… So expect some crazy shit, literally!
Finally, the original soundtrack composed for the game is quite a treat for the ears. Whether it is the main theme in the menus, or even the songs in car radios, it’s the crazy church songs from Joseph’s cult that are the cherry on top. It’s almost scary how catchy they are, and that is reinforced by the fact that some of your enemies can be heard humming these tunes, as you sneak through their outposts.
Far Cry 5 was reviewed using an Xbox One digital version of the game provided by Ubisoft. The game was tested on both a normal Xbox One and Xbox One X for technical comparison. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC via digital retail store releases. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published (click here for more information about our review policy).
• Amazing rendering of the US Midwest
• Perfect soundtrack, voice-acting and audio effects
• Great upgrade to the gameplay mechanics
• So much to do in the game whether alone or with a friend
• A fluid and free-flowing progression
• Far Cry Arcade and multiplayer modes
• Interesting storyline
• A credible cast full of charisma
• Some issue with collisions
• Coop mission progress is saved only for one person