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Far Cry 5 Review: Perfecting The Ubisoft Open-World Formula

Far Cry 5 is the best game in the series and easily one of the most impressive open-world shooters on the market, even though it's a very familiar experience. This is coming from someone who wasn't too impressed with Far Cry 4 after the success and reinvention of the series with Far Cry 3. We won't even get into Far Cry Primal which I found boring and unworthy of the brand name.

Players of the last few entries in Ubisoft's "insane" open-world series of adventure shooters will find themselves right at home with Far Cry 5. It's the first game in the Far Cry franchise to be set on American soil and the first to let players craft their own protagonist - all part of Ubisoft's larger goal of making Far Cry 5 a choose your own adventure sort of experience. And by adventure we mean an endless sequence of intense chaos.

Related: Far Cry 5’s Arcade Mode and Map Editor Are DLC Game-Changers

It's hard to take a breath while exploring the rich and lifelike environments of Hope County, a fictional town set in Montana. Not a moment goes by where there's a car chase, wildlife battle, explosion or you name it. Try driving down a road 50 meters without being attacked or seeing something crazy happening. Players thankfully don't have to go it alone though - the entire game can be played cooperatively with an online friend and players can also enlist in-game help in the form of Guns for Hire (and a few "Fangs for Hire") but more on that later.

Far Cry 5 Has The Franchise's Best Characters

Greg Bryk as Joseph Seed (The Father) in Far Cry 5

Far Cry 3's Vaas (Michael Mando) is an iconic video game antagonist and Ubisoft does right by that legacy with Far Cry 5's big bad, Joseph Seed a.k.a. "The Father", and his family of cult leaders, but the characters of Far Cry 5 go above and beyond the usual roster of bosses, allies, and quest givers. The world of Hope County is realized around its characters, from hunters in the wild serving as store fronts, to quests and micro stories all being delivered by actual in-game people as well. Points of interest also come from characters met along the way and this is very frequent.

Hope County is essentially a bordered compound where the Project at Eden's Gate doomsday cult has taken over. They're devoted and extremely well-armed and with no outside help it's up to players to liberate as much of the county as possible to build up the resistance and as they do, more allies surface alongside increasingly lethal enemies. This extends to simple actions that stem from emergent activities - something Far Cry 5 does better than nearly any other open-world sandbox game.

A cult van can be driving down the road and taking that driver out allows players to open the back to release prisoners. These prisoners can sometimes offer information on nearby stashes of gear or note a location where someone needs assistance. Other times, players can save a hostage or meet a hunter in the world and enlist them as a gun for hire - someone who will follow the player and their commands until being ordered away, replaced by another ally, or dying off.

In that respect, the wide array of characters fleshing out the world of Far Cry 5 keep it relevant, engaging, and alive. It successfully and deliberately emphasizes that there are people needing help, that you're fighting for something. And some of the characters are just so lovable and memorabe that it's hard not to get pulled in. There's a weird balance of serious, dramatic elements given the nature of the cult-inspired violence the game embraces and the obvious social and political commentary on very real current events, but make no mistake, the game focuses on fun and delivers heavily on the meta humor too. These tonal shifts are as chaotic as the action sequences which seems to be on point for the Far Cry brand.

Far Cry 5 Improves On the Best Franchise Elements and Drops The Bad Parts

There are nine main and entirely unique Guns for Hire that can be enlisted in addition to the standard resistance fighters who can help, but three of them are actually "Fangs for Hire" - a diabetic bear, a revenge-seeking cougar, and a gun-stealing dog. This is just one example of how Far Cry 5 pulls from the best elements of previous games - bringing back iconic allies like Hurk (who appeared in the last three games) - but adding a full roster of heroes who can help. Each offer very unique personalities and abilities, from a family-focused pilot who can deliver strafing runs on enemy encampments, to an elite, anti-social sharpshooter who can knock a pilot out of a moving helicopter, to of course, the animals (a mechanic from Far Cry Primal).

The core gameplay and mechanics of Far Cry 5 remain largely the same as in previous games. Players are still tasked with liberating things (outposts, homesteads, individuals, etc.) to progress through the main story and countless side activities, but each step of the way is tied directly to very personable moments and sequences. Gameplay consists of approaching any situation in whatever style the player prefers (and as always, tagging enemies first via binoculars) but there are more options than ever before and these mechanics are refined.

Navigating the physical environment and shooting from cover or from a vehicle is smoothe and precise, but balanced with the weight of getting in and out of vehicles and reloading a weapon. Progression is cleaned up too with some of the upgrades that previously required hunting a certain amount of animal meats or rare furs being made available right away, and some physical actions being made part of the regular player movement. As long as players have the cash, they can purchase any of the available guns (they are unlocked as players progress through the story) and any of the modifications that weapon can support (like suppressors and optics).

Most notably however, is that Ubisoft's overplayed trope of geographic progression via climbing towers has been entirely eradicated. Instead, players reveal the map simply by exploring. Go anywhere you want and do whatever you want to do - every outpost and property is unique and there are plenty of fast-travel points. The game will throw an endless amount of opportunities the player's way, to the point where it's a challenge to stay focused on a given objective. The checkpoint system is also very generous given how easy it is to die.

The Money is the Bad Part of Far Cry 5

Purchasing gear can be pricey relative to in-game earnings and so there's a worthwhile benefit to searching out stashes that appear on the map. The in-game cash can be used not only for rearming and buying better weapons, but it can be used to buy vehicles and cosmetics. Each gun has several camo patterns and there's a wide assortment of clothing options for the player's customizable avatar - a character model that no one can see however, unless playing co-op.

Far Cry 5 includes a secondary real-money currency called "Silver" and it's built right into the in-game storefronts - allowing players to buy legendary guns, etc. with real-money. It's been described by the developer as a shortcut, but really seems out of place and downright greedy in a full retail game - even one with as much content as Far Cry 5. If offering shortcuts in a single-player/co-op game were the goal, there'd be cheat codes or easier skill difficulties with cheaper prices/higher earnings so let's not beat around the bush. There's a crappy pay-to-win business element built right into the main game's economy.

It's not needed though since basic weapons and ammo drop consistently and constantly, and of course it's optional, but since it does take hours to earn enough cash to buy a new rifle and equip it for instance, it's clear why Ubisoft has forced in a free-to-play microtransaction scheme into the game's stores.

Far Cry 5 Has Limitless Content Beyond Its Main Story

The main story of Far Cry 5 unfolds in interesting ways since the world map is divided in to three main regions, each representing a certain element of the Project at Eden's Gate and each run by a different Seed family member. There are no restrictions on where players can go so side missions and story elements can be explored back and forth between any of them at any time.

Each however, comes with powerful performances and strong writing - something that was clearly a focus this time around. And combined with the series' best gameplay, and the most polished and optimized experience yet - something very much lacking in some key game releases as of late - and Ubisoft has really perfected the formula with Far Cry 5 allowing them to get more ambitious and creative than ever before. That's obvious from the planned DLC announcements which include campaigns involving zombies, Vietnam, and even the planet Mars.

But that's only the beginning since there's a whole other segment of the game which can keep Far Cry 5 alive and growing far past the main story campaign. Far Cry 5 includes an Arcade Mode where players can craft and download community-made content. These are built around a variety of different modes, ranging from wave-based survival scenarios and co-op missions, to 6 vs. 6 PvP maps and weaponless mazes. And they can utilize assets from other Ubisoft brands including Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed. Ubisoft has also built community events around Arcade Mode into the game itself and has outlined plans for the weeks after release.

Needless to say, Far Cry 5 is a new, massive, and even prettier and more polished version of the established formula with the big bonus of a mode which adds endless possibility. It's extremely fun, wild, and oftentimes weird.

More: Far Cry 5's Lead Writer Explains How The Game Was Made

Screen Rant played the PC version of Far Cry 5 as provided by Ubisoft.

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5 (Must-Play)
Key Release Dates
  • Far Cry 5 (2018 Video Game) release date: Mar 27, 2018
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