(Reviewed on the Xbox One S)
“While Hope County, Montana may not seem as foreign and or impressive to the player as Rook Island or Kyrat at first glance, a Far Cry world has never been as realistic as this!”
If you are someone who has grown tired of the standard Far Cry formula of “Bad guys control map marked by red, you slowly take it back and turn it blue” then I would unfortunately say you are likely to not be as crazy about this game as I am. As I just stated, if you indeed enjoy that tried and true Far Cry formula from the previous games, then I would say you are in for a very good time! What goes above and beyond in greatly helping to create that good time is the world of Hope County, Montana. Between the great variety of fish species populating the rivers and lakes, to the many battles you will stumble upon between the Resistance and the Cult (including dogfights!) which gives the impression of a tug-of-war, to the greatly diverse wildlife which ranges from a simple rabbit or turkey, all the way to vicious grizzly bears and bison with EVERYTHING in between. This world accomplishes the difficult task of placing you in a location which feels like it was existing long before you came around, and will continue to do so long after you are gone from this virtual reality. It is this masterful job of making the world of Hope County feel like it is going on independent of you, instead of centering around you, that make it stand out from previous Far Cry games, and the open world genre in general.
This go round in Far Cry, we take on the role of “The Rook,” a newly minted sheriff’s deputy who is still on job probation. One of the many firsts for the series in Far Cry 5 is the choice of what gender your player character is, along with what they look like. Their gender will not mean much though as your character never speaks at all throughout the entire game (aside from grunting in pain,) and the only time you get a peek of your character model is when you are killed. While some have criticized the player customization calling it limited, I found it to be quite in depth, especially considering that previous installments simply handed you a pre-established character, and you had to like it. You can choose everything from race, skin-tone, hair style, to their outfit in a menu very reminiscent of The Sims series. While you may not be able to go Skyrim or Saints Row in depth by altering your character’s nose width or pupil size, you have more than enough here to construct a character that looks similar to you if you wish to do so.
You as The Rook are dispatched with Federal Marshall Burke, Sheriff Whitehorse, and your two fellow deputies Hudson and Pratt to arrest a man by the name of Joseph Seed, the leader and father figure of a cult known as “The Project at Eden’s Gate.” During the opening cutscene, Federal Marshall Burke is quite confident that he will have no difficulties bringing this lunatic to justice on kidnapping charges, but that confidence is quickly blown away with the wind when your party arrives at the cult’s compound to find them very angry, and very well armed. After a slow trudge to the cult’s chapel (a way for the developers to really show off how legitimate of a fighting force this cult is) Joseph Seed offers himself to you for arrest, ordering his men to stand down declaring that “God will not let them take me.”
While holding his hands out to you with a chillingly calm demeanor, Federal Marshall Burke demands you slap the cuffs on him so that justice may be done. You of course do so (though there is a secret waiting for you if you do not) and your party begins it’s slow journey back to the helicopter with the “Father” in chains. As you inch closer and closer to the departing helicopter, the situation quickly deteriorates between your law enforcement comrades and the cultists, before a shot is then fired. All hell breaks loose, and you are quickly tossing Joseph Seed into the aircraft and taking off, though you now have cultists hanging onto and crawling all over your transportation much like a zombie film. In the blink of an eye, a cult member hurls his body into the helicopter’s blades, causing the vehicle to come crashing down in the nearby woods in a fiery blaze.
You awake a short time later, and must flee from the cultists now tracking you down like prey in that classic Far Cry opening!
In all honesty, this to me was by far the most exhilarating portion of the game’s story, and you will never quite have another moment like this for the rest of your time visiting Hope County. While it served as a fantastic hook to kick off this story and force your full attention, I also feel as though the overall game’s story harmed itself by serving up this incredible opening, but then failing to deliver anything else near this for the remaining 99% of the story. When the next few hours primarily consisted of “go to point A, kill all enemies, mission complete” I found myself wishing the mission structure would return to that of the opening segment.
Soon after that heart-pounding opener, you awake (again) in a man’s doomsday bunker by the name of Dutch. Dutch is an old Vietnam War veteran who took interest in the cult’s activities quite some time ago, and conveniently began compiling information about the group and their multiple commanders. Dismissed by his fellow neighbors as a conspiracy theory nut for stating the cult would become a danger one day, Dutch states that his intel and your Rambo-esque fighting ability is the only hope (no pun intended) that Hope County has of being liberated from the grasp of Eden’s Gate, as the area is located in a deep valley, which has had all connection to the outside world cut off when the cult seized the radio towers.
Shortly after this second introduction, you are sent out topside to liberate Dutch’s small personal island. This is the gameplay tutorial of Far Cry 5 so to speak. After completing this in about 15-20 minutes, you are unleashed in all your one-man-army glory to liberate the entire map as you see fit.
The world of Hope County is broken up into three distinct regions.
Holland Valley – positioned to the west of Dutch’s bunker, Holland Valley is under the control of John Seed, the little brother of Joseph. John is essentially the propaganda minister for Eden’s Gate. This region is considered to be the easiest to liberate, as Dutch recommends this be the first area you tackle.
Henbane River – positioned to the east of Dutch’s bunker, Henbane River is caught in the trance of Faith Seed, the little sister of the Seed family (though there is some digging you may do regarding this.) Faith is tasked with overseeing the creation of a drug known as “bliss” which renders the user into an almost zombie like state where they will follow any order given to them by Faith. Generally, most players tend to liberate this region secondly.
Whitetail Mountains – positioned to the north of Dutch’s bunker, the Whitetail Mountains are under the crushing grip of Jacob Seed, the eldest sibling of the whole Seed clan. Being a member of the 82nd Airborne Division and a veteran of the First Gulf War of Iraq, Jacob has taken on the duty of training Eden’s Gate on combat and discipline. Any and all who step out of line are quickly made an example of. I highly recommend you leave this area for last, as it can get a bit hairy.
As you journey out into the world, you will stumble upon companions whom you can help out to later join your party. I would highly recommend helping these people (and animals) because they will give you a serious combat advantage, which you will very much appreciate in late-game missions, when the chips are down. As you save and recruit those companions, along with taking back outposts from the cult and completing standard missions, you will be involuntarily forced into cutscenes every so often with the respective cult leader of the region you are in. These intermissions will range from your standard cutscene with zero player interaction, all the way to a timed trial where you must complete an objective over and over.
Of the three cult lieutenants, I personally found Jacob to be the most fascinating. Jacob is the only person in the entirety of Eden’s Gate to openly state that he does not believe in his brother’s religious proclamations, and that he only plays along with the whole thing because he enjoys killing “weak” people. The general theme surrounding Jacob of PTSD from war and how it changes a man was interesting, if not something which has been done quite a few times before. (For a much better story centered around that topic, I would recommend Spec Ops: The Line)
Faith was a bit of a mixed bag for me. While at first standing out amongst the Seed family of grown men with large beards as a beautiful blonde female with a white dress, you quickly realize Faith is nothing more than the typical “young brainwashed girl whom you must make see the error of her ways” trope. Many of her gameplay segments are fascinating with the game leaning heavily into player hallucinations due to drug exposure, but her cutscenes do little to flesh her out as a fictional character. I could see where her story-ark was going to end fairly early on, and that conclusion had little weight behind it due to it’s predictable nature.
In both of my two playthroughs of Far Cry 5, I found John to be EXTREMELY boring and generic in comparison to the other two leaders! There were moments where I mistook John for Joseph during my first playthrough, which made for a very confusing time. While I understand there is bound to be a great resemblance due to the two being siblings, their character models were so alike to me that it confused me coming out of the start gate. From what is shown to us during John’s forced story cutscenes, there doesn’t seem to be much about John in a thematic sense other than he likes carving people’s “sins” into their skin which he later cuts off, along with drowning people in the rivers calling it “baptism.” Perhaps John is a symbol for Abrahamic religion taken to a zealot extreme? There is a constant stream of him telling everyone that they must say “yes” to all commands, which I saw as a commentary on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. That’s about all I got from him, and I was very much looking forward to when his section of the game would conclude. Easily the weakest of the three sections of story, which was quite a let down considering John will likely be the initial leader first time players tackle, and could lead to those new to Far Cry growing bored and quitting before the story heats up.
Once you have completed the quite hefty task of taking down all three of Joseph’s regional leaders, you will finally be invited to Joseph’s personal island for the classic video game final boss fight. As you arrive at the island to conclude the story, the game will alert you that once you complete the story, you WILL be allowed to continue free roaming afterwards, so there is no worry of a Fallout: New Vegas style true game over. Before the final boss fight, you will be given a binary option which will directly impact which of the two endings you receive. This choice will directly determine which of the two endings you receive. The final boss fight with Joseph is nothing to write home about as I completed it on my first try with minimal effort.
Despite which of the two are given, the general consensus without spoiling anything is that neither one was “good.” I would say that the story conclusion is what many players feel was the weakest point of the entire game. Unfortunately, while I myself was not super upset by it, especially with being able to jump right back into the game world, I can confidently say it was the weakest ending in the modern Far Cry series, and modern gaming in general.
Aside from the disappointing conclusion, I see it fit to wrap up my story review with what I found to be the most disappointing piece of Far Cry 5, and that was the main antagonist, Joseph Seed. As stated previously, even after two full playthroughs, much like John, I still don’t “get” Joseph. He constantly rambles about “God” talking to him, but that aspect of his character (which is his main gimmick) is never elaborated upon. There are some notes you can stumble upon while exploring the map which shine a light on when “God” first began talking to him, but that’s about the full extent of it. With Joseph carrying out such horrible acts from ripping a man’s eyes out with his own fingers, to drugging young women and making them his slaves, to ordering entire towns be leveled and slaughtered, it feels like Ubisoft had a social statement to make with this character, but got cold feet and backed out half way, leaving behind nothing but a half-finished character, who pales in comparison to Pagan Min from Far Cry 4.
“Sadly, the great increase of quality in regards to all other departments of Far Cry 5 caused the story to be left on the back burner, and resulted in something which is inferior to that of Far Cry 3 & 4” – Ken
Story Rating: 6.5/10
Gameplay & Controls
Where Far Cry 4 suffered a bit by reusing Far Cry 3’s dated and clunky controls years after they should have been replaced, Far Cry 5 is almost unrecognizable from the rest of the earlier entries with how responsive everything feels. From gunplay, to driving any vehicle ranging from a motorcycle to an attack helicopter, to stalking wild game or a cultist deep in the woods with a bow. If you had me blind play Far Cry 4 and drive a car for a bit, and then have me do the same with Far Cry 5, I would not even think both games were a part of the same series. I must give Ubisoft a grand round of applause for extensively overhauling almost every facet of the Far Cry gameplay experience, and taking an already outstanding series to a new monumental level.
As soon as the action kicked off with the previously mentioned chase intro sequence, I could feel that the player character seemed to have a bit more weight to them, with each step being pronounced. One thing I’ve noticed when going back and playing older PS2 games in recent times is that you seem to almost glide or hover over the ground, but Far Cry 5 does a phenomenal job of making you more grounded.
The firearms of Far Cry 5 also have varying levels of recoil and power to them during gameplay. A standard handgun has a small bit of power behind each shot, and this power only scales as you go from a handgun, to a sub-machine gun, rifle, shotgun, light-machine gun, and finally shoulder fired rockets. As you progress through the game, you physically feel that progress through the new and more powerful weapons you unlock. It also adds to the story as you gain access to more powerful weapons which allow you to more easily kill enemies, while the entire resistance itself is having the balance of power swing back in their favor.
The more that you use a particular companion, or “Guns-For-Hire” as they are called, they will unlock perks as they rack up kills. Some companion’s final stage perks are absolutely incredible and can save you in tight situations. Your companions are found on the roster tab of the pause menu, and can be set to either the left or right direction on the D-pad. When you are finished with a gun-for-hire and dismiss them, it will be a few real time minutes before you may call them back into your service again. There are perks you may purchase which will decrease this timer. If a gun-for-hire is incapacitated in combat with you and you fail to revive them in time resulting in their death, it will be roughly 10-15 real time minutes before they can be called back to the fight.
As you first enter a specific region in game, you will notice the resistance meter appear at the top of your screen. To progress the story further and force a confrontation between you and the regional leader, you must fill this bar up via a multitude of ways. You may complete straightforward missions, kill cult VIPs, destroy cult transport trucks and free prisoners, destroy important cult landmarks, and so on. Once you get it filled up one-third of the way, capture parties will be sent by the cult to kidnap you when in John or Jacob’s region, while Faith will cause you to pass out via the Bliss.
It’s interesting to note that during my second playthrough, I attempted to hide at one of my friendly outposts while one of Jacob’s capture parties was coming for me. Despite hiding in the corner of a room with no windows and a single doorway, shortly after hearing my resistance soldiers engage with the enemies outside, my character went into the capture animation where a dart pierces his leg and he begins to collapse. There seems to be no real way of hiding from the capture party once they are dispatched to your location.
As touched upon in the previous paragraph, outposts once again make a return to the Far Cry series. As in those previous entries, outposts are the main signifier of your progress through the story, aside from completing main missions of course. If you have played the previous games in the series, you already know the drill. An outpost can have anywhere from one to three alarms located within it. If the enemies populating the outpost become aware of your presence, they will immediately head to one of these alarms to trigger it and call in reinforcements to lend them a hand. While this may seem as not much of a big deal at early stages of the story, you will be in for a world of hurt late game where an alarm being triggered can result in truck loads of enemies arriving along with air support. Three alarms being tripped late game will more than seal your fate.
In order to avoid this and make things quite a bit easier on yourself, I would recommend staying a ways away from the outpost, and pulling out your camera via up on the D-pad. With your camera equipped, zooming in on enemies will highlight them in a bright red, almost similar to Predator vision. Even after you have put your camera away, those enemies will still be highlighted by a bright red, and will stick out to you even behind walls and other solid objects. This will allow you to recognize and memorize the path of the various guards in the area, and come up with a game plan to eradicate them one by one, without alerting the others, resulting in half the cult coming to tear you a new one.
Alternatively, if you are anything like me and your patience is non-existent, simply shooting an alarm will immediately render it disabled. If you memorize the location of all the alarms within a given outpost, it is rather easy to quickly sprint into an outpost and take out the alarms, and then deal with the mere handful of cultists left after the fact. If you want to take over outposts a bit more forcefully, hopping inside an attack helicopter will truly tip the balance of power in your favor in a way that almost makes the game feel broken. Raining down machine-gun and rocket fire on the cultists will make you feel like you’re shooting fish in a barrel, in a way that is almost not fun due to its ease. While attack helicopters themselves are very expensive to get a hold of, and the enemies will (once in a blue-moon) take you out of the sky with a well placed RPG, I almost feel as those I could speed run the game in just a few hours due to the ease of this method, which is not a good thing in terms of balancing.
Touching upon the enemies themselves, there honestly is not much variety in this department. The standard foot soldiers themselves only seem to have seven or eight faces, so you’ll be killing the same dudes quite a bit over the duration of your entire playthrough. There are a few special troops which follow standard tropes with a hunter, a pyro, a heavy, etc. Again, while it may feel like I’m beating a dead horse, Far Cry 5 is almost entirely similar to Far Cry 4 in the gameplay department, which itself is similar to Far Cry 3.
When it comes to getting on your hands on better guns, vehicles, and clothing, there are three main methods of collecting cash. Completing missions will of course render you some money, though this will not get you much when it comes to those big purchases. Finding prepper stashes will award you a good chunk of cash, along with some hunting magazines which will award you perk points, but be wary there are a limited number of these scattered throughout the world, so you will eventually run the well dry. Finally, hunting animals for me seems to be the way to go. Bagging a simple deer will net you around $400, and with increases to your hunting skill along with inventory size increase over the course of play, you will be raking in money with no problem.
Hitting on those perk points, the skill tree of the previous two games has been traded in for a perk menu this time. To access your perk menu, you simply hit the menu button and use the right bumper to flip to that page. Aside from this new layout, the perks themselves are unchanged from the skills of previous games. Your standard “carry more rifle ammo, breath longer underwater, and heal more health bars with healing” are all here, along with perks to bring companions back into the fight quicker. There is one perk which stood out to me, which allows you to be dropped off via plane and parachute your way down to your destination. I never unlocked this until half-way through my second playthrough thinking it was a waste of perk points, and boy was I right. If there are enemies present at your drop off point, they notice you falling out of the sky quite easily, which ruins everything if you’re trying to stealthily approach a location, which will be the case 80% of the time. There is zero reason to acquire that perk.
Having jumped into Far Cry 5 immediately after completing Far Cry 4, I was blown away and so pleased with how much love and attention Ubisoft gave to bringing the controls and gameplay elements up to modern standards. Everything from shooting a rifle, to driving a car, to fishing and hunting down collectables are all here. I was, and am still not a fan of the iconic Far Cry healing animations being traded away for the boring and mundane health packs, but that is just a drop in the large and beautiful ocean that is the controls and gameplay of Far Cry 5!
“Ubisoft spent quite some time bringing the sometimes clunky Far Cry controls up to modern standard, and it makes for a game which is simply fun to play!” – Ken
Gameplay & Controls Rating: 9/10
Sound & Graphics
I am unsure of where to even begin regarding both the audio and graphics of Far Cry 5, because almost everything is astounding! From the marks and dents in the metal of various firearms, to the wood and plastic interiors of vehicles, I can’t really see how the graphics could have been improved upon at all.
The sound, likewise, is suburb. Shortly after I began my first playthrough, I put on a gaming headset and proceeded to duck in real life when a sniper in game fired a round over my character’s head, and the snap of the bullet triggered that real life instinct. All firearms sound quite good, though some noticeably do not reflect what that particular weapon would sound like in real life, I however am not going to hold this against Far Cry 5 in the score department as very few games out there do so.
The character’s facial animations are quite well done, with Joseph Seeds’ cutscenes in particular being VERY impressive (A shame he wasn’t a better antagonist.) One scene which impressed me was Joseph growing frustrated at your progress of defeating his cult, which results in a string of snot coming out from his nose and slowly making its way down his face. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult that was to capture, but it was impeccably well done.
It may just be me, but it seemed like nearly all females in-game had very roundish faces. Even Faith herself, while shown to have an oval face, looked a bit different in game from her loading screen counterpart. Not sure if it has something to do with the mapping process of scanning in real life faces to the game, and it doesn’t hurt anything so I won’t be detracting points, but it was a phenomenon I really began to notice on my second playthrough.
The various calls from the wild game populating Hope Country are also excellent. Engaging a group of cultists, only to soon hear the roar of a nearby grizzly bear upset that humans are so close to his pot of honey will make your heart sink instantly, and cause you to run for the hills or the safety of a nearby vehicle. While I am not a hunter in real life, I found myself becoming familiar with the various animal calls in game, and I could soon identify an animal, such as a pronghorn, by hearing it’s call long before I set eyes on it. That to me is a testament to the quality in which the audio department went about collecting those sounds.
There is not much more I can add without artificially dragging this review section on. The gunshots are great, the car engines are excellent, the animals are insanely well designed, the in-game models look life-like, ect.
“Ubisoft have never been lazy in the sound and graphics department, but they threw everything and the kitchen sink at those studios financially, and it paid off!” – Ken
Sound and Graphics Rating: 9/10
Final Thoughts and My Price Recommendation
Far Cry 5 is one of those open world games which I will never forget. From driving down a highway in an 18-wheeler with hood mounted machine guns and multiple companions alongside me, to flying a WW2 era bomber over an enemy outpost and carrying out a strafing run, Hope County is one of those magical game worlds which will always remain somewhere deep in your memories. While the story starts on a very high note but then proceeds to only go down in quality towards the end, it was still an amazing time which I look back on with fond memories.
While the story itself was nothing to write home about, all other pieces of the game more than pick up the slack. Everything from fighting enemies with an AK-47, to cruising down the road in an American muscle car feels so good, and the world itself is so breathtaking. There were times in which I would literally take the long route to a mission because I just wanted to cruise around and hear my companions chatter amongst each other in the car.
I would recommend you pay nothing more than $40 for Far Cry 5.
The Story: 6.5/10
Gameplay and Control: 9/10
Sound and Graphics: 9/10
Overall Score: 7.9/10