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Far Cry 5 (PC) artwork

Far Cry 5 (PC) review

"Better than Four, Not as interesting as Three."

This is one of those games where I feel a need to present my ‘credentials’ in a way. To outline my exact experience with the Far Cry franchise to prove to myself and others that I know enough about the games and their ‘style’ so I’m not missing out on much over time.

I, like many people, started with the third one. I enjoyed it enough for a playthrough and a half, nabbed thirty hours on it. Certainly a highlight of the franchise as I don’t meet many people who disliked it.

I couldn’t give a damn about Blood Dragon but I really should give that a look at some point.

I am in possession of Far Cry Primal but have yet to actually give it a chance. I’ve heard many mixed reviews, calling it a good game with a lot of ‘busywork’ in terms of mechanics and upgrades. So I’m iffy.

The fourth was less interesting to me and I’m not entirely sure why. With only ten hours on it, I couldn’t tell you a single thing about the story or any of its characters.

This brings us to FC5 and while I am enjoying it more than the fourth, there’s still a lot of ‘updates’ to the formula that I don’t feel are actual improvements. Yet, there are some. Let’s start with the story.

We play a customize-able rookie in law enforcement sent out to some backwater township in Montana to arrest some kind of cult leader while a local Sheriff tells us how “not a joke” the main villain is. Indeed, we even fly by a statue of the man’s likeness to really drive this home. As we land we are escorted through a fortification and are treated with scorn by some local militia, each dressed similarly and have an iron cross tattooed on some of their foreheads. Every single one of them is armed. You meet the big bad himself alongside his family as he spouts the usual stock religious jargon that we’ve all heard in this kind of story.

He gives himself up with the ominous claim of “God will not let you take me”. Sure, pal. Instead, his followers don’t let you take him as his people claw and grab at the helicopter and one of them even throws themselves into the rotary and the chopper crashes.

The story gets a couple points of credit against the “Why don’t you just shoot him” trope. Once Joseph Seed has you stuck in the downed chopper he begins giving a speech to his followers and instead of taking all the agents out in a blaze of murder, there’s an actual systematic ‘conversion’ that he puts people through. Every member of the seed family contributes to this brainwashing. John Seed uses pain and torture that carves the sins into your skin and then cuts it off when you ‘confess’. Jacob is the crazy survivalist who uses actual brainwashing, key words and subliminal imagery to reprogram people into thoughtless soldiers. Faith uses a drug called “Bliss” to completely rewire the brains of cultists.

So, you see, that is why they don’t just kill you outright in any of the several dozen times they capture you throughout the game. We’ll get to that when I start talking mechanics.

The game opens up to you properly once you leave the “tutorial island”, as a man named Dutch helps you get a hold of a few mechanics. He tells you to destroy cultist silos, rescue civilians, and liberate outposts.

Once you’re done with all that, the game opens up to you entirely. It’s separated into three regions, each controlled by various members of the Seed family. Each one of them has their own local threat. Get John’s progress up enough and his area will start having scouting planes fly around overhead which can complicate stealth encounters or even basic road traversal. Joseph will send elite dog units and hunting parties at you.

The basic idea is that the more you clear in a region, you’ll encounter less on-road cultists to interrupt your transit, but you’ll face more clever enemies going forward. Y’know, in theory. The game’s AI leaves a lot to be desired and quite frankly, older games have done AI better.

Unfortunately, the region’s resistance levels open up several ‘required’ missions. Once you get a nodule, the region’s boss sends a hunting party at you that will eventually stick you with a bliss bullet or dart and knock your character out. This will put you in a plot-relevant mission where your character is captured and then brutalized in the local boss’s unique fashion as mentioned before. I find this mechanic incredibly annoying because it forces me into a confrontation when I’d rather just be hunting outposts, animals, challenges for perks or any other money-making activity and instead the game just decides I’m playing around too much and decides to punish me with a short gimmicky mission.

These distractions are inevitable considering most activities give you resistance points so after a couple outposts and freed survivors, your capture is inevitable.

To give a perfect example of how bad both enemy and ally AI is; In my very early game I was using the pistol a lot. I was getting good with it and eventually found the perfect window of when enemies stop their trucks and get out. There’s a very deliberate pause that I started taking advantage of and just shot them in the head. I did this without leaving my own vehicle much of the time. So I had a friendly mate in my car once and he decided to lean over during one of those ‘windows’ and I shot him once, right in the ear. He slumped out of my car waiting for revival. As I was doing so another cultist convoy rolls up I take aim and start opening fire and my friendly idiot ran in front of me and took another bullet right in the back of the head, downing him yet again. I killed a friendly unit twice with a single clip.
No, the enemies aren’t much better.

I do like how the world is a bit more open to you without any kind of arbitrary beef gates, where if you go too far in one direction you’ll start facing against kinds of enemies that only die from gear you haven’t acquired yet. Nay, from start to finish you can alternate between regions however you see fit and you’re encouraged to do so after the game nudges you to liberate Fall’s End, which serves as a proper base of operations for your early game shenanigans.

The game can be very sandboxy at times thanks to this freedom. I was basically able to pick and choose my companions at will without too much fanfare. I wanted the stealthy cougar and frightening sniper in my roster of allies for my stealthy approach to most encounters. The cougar is hard for enemies to detect most times, and the sniper has a perk that makes enemies flee in terror once she starts opening fire. I switch between her and a bow user, whose shots don’t alert the enemies as much.

Unlocking any number of these “guns for hire” (or Fangs for Hire for the animals) is usually just a single mission which acts as a trust-earner. The dog (who automatically marks nearby enemies) was merely “kill three cultists” and unlock the cage, and he’s yours forever. No real fanfare, just get him out of there and he’s your buddy for life.

I enjoy the game and what it offers in terms of content but the Ubisoft trappings are all there. I am a well known fan of Ubisoft games anywhere so if you, as a player, are tired of their formula then there’s no real change to be had. I do however, have some issues.

When speaking with Dutch he has you climb a very tall antennae tower with a quip notifying that he won’t be having you climb towers all the time. Indeed, there’s no climbing to be had You map the area simply by exploring, and you can occasionally pick up a map item that will highlight some local points of interest. A mixed blessing in mechanical form as towers mapping the whole area usually helps give me a sense of direction. Still, the game does a good job of giving me stuff to do regardless.

One point of particular annoyance I found was that reloading in planes cost me money, and that was not immediately apparent. When you’re flying you see little ammunition modules in the form of green bars and they don’t really tell you how many shots you have left. On a whim I decided to press “R” and smiled as I noticed those red bars became green again. Ahoy! However at a certain point during a boss battle I noticed a little error popup basically saying “You cannot afford that”.

It turns out, reloading my rockets and bullets cost me a full grand every time I was pressing R. In a game where silencers cost 1700$, I had accidentally tanked around five grand during a single flight. All of my money. All of it gone because I suck at flying and shooting. I only noticed this during a later mission that did have the popup “Spend 1000 to reload”. If it was there during my initial battle, I was not noticing it given how harrowing the boss encounter was to begin with.

That’s probably been my only “Oh screw you, Ubisoft” moment in playing so far.

The stealth and gunplay are as fine as ever but the idiot AI still makes the success of fooling them all the more bitter. I was sneaking around one outpost taking potshots at enemies (and missing because I suck at games) to the point where they started shooting at the grass in hopes of hitting me. I sniped both of them and got the “Undetected” award anyway because indeed, they were never alerted. That was just the AI’s way of trying to cause movement to actually find me. It was clever but it felt a bit shallow when I feel like they did kind of know I was there.

In a related way, I found a bit of a cheese way to get the usual bonuses from Outpost clearing. After you acquire a silenced sniper rifle, I circle every outpost shooting out every single alarm. That’s already an instant extra 400$ regardless of alert status. (It’s 1000 if you’re undetected). Basically the time it takes for me to do that, every enemy is circling around the outpost trying to find me and they all end up marching single file as they return to their posts. Once I got a silenced sniper rifle I started swimming in money because of this.

Again, I just wish enemies were smarter so that outsmarting them feels more satisfying.

I’d recommend Far Cry 5 with the usual Ubisoft related disclaimers. If you’re against them for their part in the recent loot box controversies (and yes, there is an ingame money-bought currency) and various other business practices then you might technically not miss much here as you hunt for other opportunities. However if you’re a fan of the franchise, this game is certainly a step above FC4 as far as I’m concerned and take that as you will.


Zydrate's avatar
Community review by Zydrate (April 01, 2018)

Zydrate is most active on Steam and Tumblr.

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