A congregation was praying by the river. They started by singing songs, reading Bible verses, and then proceeded to the main part of their agenda: baptism. The faithful prod the unwilling participants with the barrels of their guns. “Please stop!” cried one candidate. Her pleas were then reciprocated by a rifle butt to the cheek. For the Deputy, it was the last straw. In a split second, a pink helicopter came zooming in from the skies, gunning down the small party’s armed faithful. Together with it was a bear, which proceeded to dash in and gnaw the nearest guy. The spectacle was finished once the Deputy launches grenades in quick succession with his newly bought “shark-themed” grenade launcher. After which everything was quiet and still. Such is life in Far Cry 5.

Far Cry 5 is an enigma of some sorts. It is set in a maniacally cultist/fanatic-filled town area in United States but still manages to find time to fit in a all sorts of out of place stuff. It is a Far Cry game and as expected, guns, looting, and other missions that require the player to go here and there, are abundant. Four years after Far Cry 4, is Far Cry 5 a good game worthy of the name or is it but another update to Far Cry 3’s proven and award-winning sandbox formula? Let’s find out.

Once Upon A Time In Rural America

The player plays as the silent protagonist, Rook, a Deputy from the US State of Montana. The game opens with the player and four of his mates attempting to arrest a doomsday cult-leader, Joseph Seed, as he is charged with committing murders under the pretext of evangelization and promising salvation. But as with all other Far Cry games, everything goes haywire. The party gets attacked by fanatics and then taken prisoner inside a number of secret bases erected by Project Eden’s Gate. The only one left to complete their mission is the Deputy.

Far Cry 5 tackles the themes of fanaticism and extremism when it comes to religion and beliefs. Joseph Seed is a charismatic leader with capable of convincing his flock with his booming voice and teachings. In this world, the unfaithful and the unwilling are culled. In a cult that teaches strength in the end times, the weak are fed upon. The game explores a society in which the law is concentrated on one man’s promises and ideals. In a place where the law is absent and with a leader proclaiming that he has the backing of the divine (what the congregation thinks), who can question him?

Other than these heavy topics, Far Cry 5 also manages to squeeze in comedy and light-heartedness in this bleak and dark land.

Far Cry 5 Being Far Cry

As Rook, the player can: swim, glide, hunt, shoot, swing, rappel, fire a gun while rappeling underneath a helicopter, order a dog and a large cat to maim bullies, contact aliens, and wreak unscripted and unwatered havoc. All in various good ways I suppose.

The game begins by allowing the player to customize Rook. Customization is quite limited as the game’s responses simply change depending on the gender. Also, the appearance of the character do not, in anyway, introduce advantages and disadvantages into the game. It is simply cosmetic as the Far Cry 5 also has multiplayer co-op. This is generally to distinguish players from one another.  

From the get go, Rook can ride any vehicle he can get his/her hands on. Be it a seaplane, a helicopter, a quad bike, or a propeller plane, Rook can pilot and maneuver all of them. Sadly, no bikes. But then again, we have planes which fly smoothly but in no way a required means of transportation aside from some select missions.

Typical open-world fare, Far Cry 5 allows the player to go around and roam. There are various missions scattered around the vast forested expanse of Hope County and the player just has to come to them to start. On some cases, the mission visits the player instead. Aside from these scattered missions, there are also collectibles which reward the player with either a sense of accomplishment or tangible in-game goodies.

A major change in the game is its implementation of hunting. Instead of skinning the live critters, their hides can now be only sold for in-game currency. Gone are the times that you have to punch sharks and bomb bears just to get their suits for a measly wallet. These equipment are now integrated into the game’s perk system. Using various means such as completing missions and finding stashes, perks can be assigned to skills that the player thinks would fit their style.

Outposts are also back. Systematic tackling of these large bases are part of the franchise’s charms and seeing it back sure brings back memories. As with the previous iterations, the player must eliminate all targets inside an outpost to capture it. Going through it is dependent on the player’s whims. Should the player go silent and kill everyone in close-range? Or would a sniper rifle from a nearby hill be enough? Or would going in guns blazing be the better way? Everything is up to the player.

Guns For Hire are specialized NPCs that grant passive or active bonuses to the player.

Another feature that got reintroduced was the Guns for Hire System. The player can make use of up to a maximum of two NPCs (or two players in multiplayer), to wreak havoc in Hope County. Each character has specific traits which could prove useful in traversing the land and eliminating threats. As an example, Hurk, who makes his return, can use highly accurate rockets to blast down incoming planes and choppers. Boomer the dog can use his abilities to automatically tag enemies, making them easier to see and hunt. Comboing these abilities would prove to be one of the best things to see in Far Cry 5. Just don’t attempt to different and incompatible traits as it would prove to be disastrous (and comedic).

Gun ‘Em Down

Aside from the heavily meme’d shovel of death in Far Cry 5, the game has a number of weapons to offer. But compared to the previous installments, even the age-old Far Cry 2, Far Cry 5’s armory is in dire need of an upgrade. For example, the game’s SMGs are but a handful. These include a WW2 era gun, the MP40, and the contemporary MP5 which is also offered in three variants. Assault rifles also received the same cookie-cutter treatment. We have the default AR-C, coupled with semi-auto rifles such as variants of the M14. Then we get three variants of the AK-47.

Only three attachments are available for most of the guns: scopes, silencers, and an extended magazine.

Among these guns are some “specialty” variants. These are weapons that have been given a good paint job to warrant a larger price. The good thing is that while most weapons in the shop are locked behind a leveling system, these special guns can be unlocked by just paying a large wad of cash, be it virtual or real-life. So in this regard, the player can make good use of a .50 cal despite having spent a small amount of time in-game.

The attachments also got the short end of the stick. There are only three categories here: extended mag, silencers, and scopes. That’s just about it. I mean, come on, can’t we have more guns to play with in a game like Far Cry 5? Or maybe I was just pampered by the gunsmithing and choices available in Ghost Recon Wildlands?

Hope County

As a place filled with lush terrain, Hope County embodies the natural battlegrounds that Far Cry has always been known for. Mountains act as borders with hills and forests dotting the centerscape. Rivers serve as borders for each of the warlords of Joseph Seed. There’s variety to be seen and is very different from the tropics of Far Cry 3 and the steppes of Far Cry 4. Accompanied with the stellar graphics and lighting, and a large number of vehicles to boot, Far Cry 5’s Hope County is a place one wouldn’t mind getting lost in, provided you don’t get lynched by the cult.

The chaos is sometimes heightened by the random participation of animals. Or in this case, a mission about putting down heavily drugged critters.

Also, one thing important to note is that there the scaling of radio towers is now done away with. Departing from the tower hiking adventures which were implemented way, way back, Ubisoft has finally decided to scrap it and go with the natural progression of travelling. Players can only discover places if they have come across it while trekking or riding a surface vehicle. Flying or hovering doesn’t count. Once discovered, the player can simply go back via fast travel.  

Far Cry 5’s world is a lot smaller than the previous ones but it also did give it an advantage. I can say that it is more detailed than the previous copy-paste sceneries. But the sad fact is that these locales can be consumed in as little as a few minutes. There’s nothing left to do once you finish off the bad guys hunkered in a richly-detailed manor. There’s no incentive to come back to these kind of places and that for me is a bummer.

Verdict

Far Cry 5 mixes the horrors of seeing a cult gone to the extreme. So much to a point that it kind of evokes a horror game in some instances.

Far Cry 5 is without a doubt, a very fun game. It’s fundamentally a Far Cry game through and through without very drastic changes. However, this might also be its weakpoint. Far Cry 5 feels oddly familiar especially if you have played a lot of Ubisoft games in the past, say AC: Origins, Watch Dogs 2, or even Ghost Recon Wildlands. Everything just reeks of being the same thing in a different setting and title. As the player, you’re thrust into an open-world with a variety of tools and gadgets to complete missions or simply cause havoc and have fun. The same thing can be said with Far Cry 5. Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s proven to work. But brand fatigue (or genre fatigue, for this matter) should be something Ubisoft should be wary of.

Oh, and there are also microtransactions. But it’s very optional and you can actually enjoy the game without even buying them! Silvers Bars can be earned by looting some safes scattered across the game world.

Another thing that caused me irritation were the bugs. Far Cry 5 runs smoothly, that I can attest to. But I did have a number of crashes, some confusing spawns, and a lot of missions that glitched objects out of existence. Other than that, I do think that some of the game’s designs are flawed. For example, Far Cry 5 just simply yanks you out of whatever you’re doing whenever a story mission is triggered. This feels forceful and is akin to having someone take the controller from you. Also, whenever you’re talking to an AI, most of the time, the game pulls the rug under you and spawns an awful lot of opponents to deal with. 

Now, we go to the story and setting. I don’t have much to complain about it as Far Cry as a franchise is known for its somewhat hinged villains. The theme about zealotry and cult fanaticism also fascinated me. But somehow, the delivery appeared to be inconsistent and there are moments that you can’t help but feel that everything’s either going fast or slow. Also, the ending sucked.

Other than the bad things, Far Cry 5 is pretty much a solid and fun game. It is also well-optimized too. For the PC, the game is very optimized and I had friends running it on a GTX 970 on high/ultra settings. Worth noting is that Far Cry 5 even manages to look good despite running with somewhat dated hardware.

Never getting tired of planning attacks then executing them like clockwork.

The open-world setting also shows how Ubisoft has perfected their craft. It has a lot of things to offer and the added features such as multiplayer and arcade mode further extend the shelf life of Far Cry 5. It can be described as a sandbox game with a lot of things to do. You’re given two feet and the game mostly allows you to tackle things whenever and wherever you want to. It might neither be the perfect game nor the God-sent game we were always praying for, but heck, it still is one game you should play if you’re in for quality shooter.

Ubisoft’s tagline for this game is: anything can happen. It is just that. I remember a lot of times I had to stop and laugh due to the sheer ridiculousness of how things spiraled into. Moments in which I had the whole cult seemingly coming down at me, and with the tools and weapons given to me, I succeeded in getting out. The feeling of empowerment in fantasy is deeply rooted into this game. And that for me, is what makes this a must-have.  

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