For the past couple entries, the Far Cry series have been criticized for a lack of innovation in their games. Each one seemed too similar to the one before it. Ever since it was first announced, Far Cry 5 was built up to be the game that rejuvenated the series back to the heights set by the third entry. With the game set in Montana and the intriguing story elements presented in trailers, the hype for Ubisoft’s new product has continued to grow. The wait is finally over and sadly Far Cry 5 fails to change up the formula. Hope County, Montana is an enjoyable location to explore, but the overused formula the series is known for is only getting more stale with each entry.
In Far Cry 5, you play as an unnamed Junior Deputy who is tasked with arresting the notorious Joseph Seed. Also known as The Father, Seed is the leader of a doomsday cult called Eden’s Gate. As you go to arrest him, one event leads to another, and things do not go as planned. For the rest of the game, you will try to take Hope County back from Eden’s Gate. After a thrilling opening sequence, the rest of the story ultimately turns into a grind fest. There are three regions and in order to activate a story mission, you need to earn Resistance points. Once you earn enough points, you will activate a story mission. With the main quest clocking in a little more than 20 hours, there is too much grinding to just play the story and the end result never feels worth it.
Expectation led some to believe that the main story would explore serious themes not usually explored in video games. Far Cry 5 has a lot of very serious and dark moments that are quite captivating. Unfortunately, the game never fully commits to telling a gritty and realistic story. At times the game wants you to think it is, but the game fumbles over its feet trying to do so many things at once. It is a shame because there is potential of a great story here. There are a lot of themes and places the story should have explored more into. That is not to say the main quest is without great moments but they are too far in between. The main quest is at times too lazy to even create a good transition to a new story mission. Once the credits roll, the ending will leave you scratching your head in disbelief, and not in a good way. The main questline is arguably Far Cry 5’s most disappointing element.
Far Cry 5 tries something different by having the main character be customizable to the player’s liking, potentially allowing for a greater connection. However, the deputy is by far the worst protagonist in the series. He or she shows no personality and you cannot really emotionally connect with him or her. Having a lack of customizable options for your character right out of the gate leaves a bad first impression as well. Other than a few characters, most seem one dimensional or stereotypical. The voice acting is very well done and many of actors really chew up the material during cutscenes.
The same cannot be said about the game’s main villain, the aforementioned Joseph Seed. Every time he walks on screen, he commands your attention. A disturbed character that you constantly want to learn more about, he is unfortunately absent from a lot of the main quest. He suffers a lot of the issues Pagan Min faced in Far Cry 4, in that both are great characters who rarely show up. You mostly face off against Joseph Seed’s commanders and, while they have memorable moments, they are no where as well developed as The Father. John Seed ultimately turns out to be unmemorable, and Faith Seed almost seems out of place in the game. Jacob Seed has some of the more interesting moments of the siblings, but his conclusion left much to be desired.
Ironically, the game may fail to keep a serious tone, but it can actually be pretty hilarious. The side missions are where the game shines the best. It is with these missions that the game stops taking itself so seriously and where the real fun begins. They feel very unique and are really fun to play through. Prepper Stash missions are a new type of mission that show off some very creative situations with a puzzle element and great rewards. The repetitious missions like liberating outposts and destroying shrines are still here but still feel unchanged. With that said, there are plenty of side activities to choose from and many of them are actually very enjoyable to play through.
Regardless of what activity you are participating in, Hope County is a fantastic location to explore. The game invites and rewards exploration, and you are no longer climbing towers to reveal the map. As you explore, the map opens up, making the discovery of a new waypoint or a new town much more rewarding. Like most Far Cry titles, the world feels like its own character and Hope County, Montana feels fresh and exuberant with many chaotic things happening at once. At times it can almost feel too chaotic, with enemies constantly being thrown at you, but the biggest annoyance are the aerial vehicles. If spotted, you better be ready to fight or hide because fighting the aerial vehicle can at times be a real pain.
A system that continues to show improvement in the Far Cry series is the guns and fangs for hire. There are nine different specialists that you can recruit to help you, each with their own abilities and combat style. Whether you want to go stealthy with Jess, who wields a bow and arrow, or go guns blazing with Cheeseburger the Grizzly Bear, there are a wide variety of specialists. Each specialist has their own missions and stories which flesh out their stories. While some specialists are more interesting than others, the overall package of customizing your backup is quite rewarding.
You are greeted with a new leveling system that feels like an unnecessary, but welcome change. In order to level up and acquire upgrades, you need to complete challenges. Once you complete challenges, you will be rewarded with perks which you then use to unlock upgrades. This is a great change from the leveling systems in previous Far Cry, which felt quite simplistic.
If you are interested in trying something other than the main game, check out the Arcade, where you can access the map editor and multiplayer. The map editor has been tremendously improved with a wide variety of customization options to choose from. It can really be something special as long as it continues to get support. The community has already created a lot of great content to play so it looks like this mode definitely has a fan base. Time will hopefully provide more updates that will give players reason to come back to play map editor.
There are many multiplayer options you can choose from in Far Cry 5. Cooperative play returns and unsurprisingly it is still a blast to play Far Cry with someone else. One thing that should be noted is that cooperative play, at times, can be quite glitchy. Whether that ruins the experience is up to you, but anyone looking to play with a partner should be warned. As for the competitive multiplayer options, Far Cry 5 proves the series should stay away from that scene. There are plenty of creative maps out there that you can play, but the Far Cry gameplay feels quite awkward in head to head multiplayer. Maybe some tweaks can fix the issues, but there is a lot that needs to change to make Far Cry 5 an enjoyable competitive multiplayer experience.
Far Cry 5 can best be described as inconsistent. At times, the game feels stale by sticking too close to the tired formula the series has been criticized for, and a disappointing main questline isn’t doing it any favors. However, the game is far from lifeless, with a ton of fun to be had. Whether it is helping the citizens of Hope County with side missions or exploring the countryside, Far Cry 5 has moments of greatness. In the end, Far Cry 5 feels too inconsistent and hopefully future titles in the series can learn from this game’s mistakes.