Release Date: March 27, 2018
ESRB Rating: Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol)
Platforms available: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC (Reviewed on PC)
Ubisoft have a knack for some seriously crazy shenanigans in their Far Cry games. They've all been wildly popular, tossing players into far flung regions that are brimming with danger. But Far Cry 5 brings it much closer to home. Welcome to Hope County, Montana. Let's dive in, shall we?
The game starts on a helicopter ride leading into Hope County. You're a Sheriff's deputy helping a US Marshall arrest Joseph Seed, the leader of a religious cult called The Project at Eden's Gate. Everything goes to hell in a handbasket right out the gate, assuming you can even watch the opening cinematic! That's the problem I ran into. Ubisoft overestimated my computer's abilities, and thought my computer could handle the game on high graphics settings. They were very, very wrong. After dialing everything WAAAAY back, I was finally able to play the game. If you're following the Gamers United discord, (wink, wink) you would have heard my lament about this last week. It was...frustrating, to say the least. And I was sick with the flu, so thinking and troubleshooting were not exactly in the cards, either.
I degress a bit, but anyway! You go to arrest Joseph, and the helicopter you're escorting him in is being attacked by his follwers. One jumps in the rotor, chopper goes down, and you find out just how alone you're going to be. Joseph kicks off what is called "The Reaping," which the Peggies (that's the local resistance's term for the cultists) head out and capture all the non-believers in preparation for "The Great Collapse," The armageddon that is coming. In my influenza-addled state, I thought the subtitles said "Begin the RAPING!" when he actually shouted, "Begin the REAPING!"
In my defense, I was sick. But it's really not that far off. Peggies go out and ransack the land, take over everything, and you're on the run. The other people you're flying with are picked up by the cult and shipped off to different regions in the county. Now, Joseph has quite the sway over hope county. You really don't have much choice but to retreat and build your resistance. Because nobody is coming for you. You have the help the three resistance factions fight back against Joseph and his family, The Three Heralds. Each one controls a different section of the map. You have to defeat all three Heralds before you can take the fight back to Joseph.
If this sounds familiar, that's because it is. Ubisoft has perfected this formulaic progression system over the past three Far Cry games. Compared to other Far Cry titles, Hope County feels like the largest, and most sprawling map yet. There's mountains, rivers, plains, farmland, forests, all in this little mountain valley you're stuck in. Joseph Seed is every bit the psychopath that Vaas Montenegro and Pagan Min were to Far Cries 3 and 4, respectively. His story, his motivations, and his psychosis are brilliantly laid out to you over the course of the game. We've seen this song and dance before, but damn if it isn't entertaining to see the web that Ubisoft weaves.
The ending to the game is...climactic. The true ending (yes, there's more than one) has quite the twist at the end. You don't see it coming, until the very end. It's a hell of a way to cap off an explosive game, and leaves me waiting for the upcoming events that start on Tuesday, April 3. Both the true ending and the other one are very, very good. One leaves it more or less open, the other doesn't.
Ubisoft paid a lot of attention to detail with this game. Even on the reduced graphics settings, the vegetation, faces, and animals around you feel far more alive than any other Far Cry game I've played so far. On several occasions, I found myself face to face with a wolf, just looking at each other for a few seconds before it scampers off. Bears are big, angry, and they will ruin your day if you're not careful. Climbing mountains to reach that upper lake to go fishing is a rewarding experience. The prepper stashes are fun to find and explore, because they're not all the same! Each stash has its own way of getting in. Granted, they all revolve around finding the entrance, then getting the key card (if needed) or turning on the power (if needed) or turning on the sump pump (again, if needed) to drain the water.
They also did a solid job with showing just how much the resistance knows these guys are a cult. In one of the areas, the resistance leader is a pastor at the local church. On the outside sign, they announce:
If you grab a bible, you'll see just how relevant that passage actually is:
'Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the LORD.'" (NIV)
Uh, yeah. That was pretty much on point. They could also have used 1 John 2:18-27, as it is rather relevant to the context of the cult and false prophets. But the verse from Jeremiah is definitely on point.
But for as much as Far Cry 5 gets right about the atmosphere, they also make a lot of mistakes. First is the accent. The locals don't use an accent from Montana. I do IT support for farmers, and I work with a lot of people out of Montana, across the state. The accent I hear in Far Cry 5 sounds more like the people I talk to out of Kansas or Nebraska than Montana. But that's not the big issue with immersion. You can tell that the writers have never set foot in farm country. I may be a city slicker, but I went to college out in a rural town. I have at least a little bit of an understanding of that small-town sensibility. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY I know from farm country talks about fish like this:
And these guys that I talk to? A lot of them hunt, and a lot of them fish. And I can guarantee you that none of them talk like that. They also take a very...lampoonish view of Republicans in one of the resistance members you find. The voicemail he leaves on several people's machines would be funnier if it wasn't so cringe inducing. And ketchup chips are a real thing, by the way. And they're disgusting. It's not really a huge deal, just...if you're easily offended by political jokes, you're going to have a hard time enjoying this game.
Beyond that, there's the occasional graphical glitch that just seems more silly than anything else. Some of the jokes in Far Cry 5 are going to be dated in a few years, namely the "deflate-gate" reference early on in the game. It's a good joke, don't get me wrong. But if you play this game in five years or so and you're not already over the age of 8, you're not going to get it. Good humor can transcend time. Richard Simmons humor can transcend time. This one probably won't.
And the side quests. Oh my god, the side quests! There's tons of them. Lots of collectibles to find, cult properties to blow up, civilians to be rescued, Ubisoft wants you playing this game for a long time. There's tons of videos up on Youtube, talking about this. We know that there are a lot of nods to other Ubisoft titles in Far Cry 5, as well as other nods to pop culture. People will be poring over this game for months, trying to find it all. And good on them! It's gonna take a lot to turn over every stone in Hope County. Sounds like it needs it, too!
Far Cry 5 features an arcade mode with an incredibly robust level editor. Ubisoft has graciously included assets from a variety of their titles, including Assassin's Creed, previous Far Cry titles, and even the Rabbids! That mode could probably deserve its own review, given how large it is and how much it features. Which is probably going to happen at some point...
There were a lot of concerns with the purchase of Silver Bars, the premium currency, and how tight the economy feels. Having played the game, it's definitely there, but it's not bad. You can find 40 silver bars (less than $1USD) in every outpost you liberate. And it sounds like items purchased with Silver Bars stick around in your inventory. That may or may not be correct, but I have not tested this theory. What I did try and do, though, was buy as many weapons as I could with my cash, just to see if I could do it. In one play through, I managed to unlock all of the melee and pistol weapons, as well as most of the shotguns and a few other primary weapons that I felt were necessary. Hunting wild animals and fishing yield decent enough results that if one wanted to spend an hour farming for cash, they would see a decent enough return on investment. The only hard part would be finding an area with a vendor nearby to sell off the skins as soon as you get them. Seriously, until you max out that Prepper skill tree, you don't have much bag space for anything. But no, obtaining money while playing the game is very, very doable. You also earn cash for campaign by playing the Arcade mode. So getting everything is certainly doable.
My one mistake while playing Far Cry 5 was doing the true ending instead of the other one. Currently, I cannot do anything else. I cannot go back and complete all the other side missions, I cannot spend my money, I'm basically forced to start a new game. Turns out, this is a bug! They're gonna have to fix that one, because a lot of people are disappointed in the lack of ability to continue their game right now.
Bugs aside, Far Cry 5 is a lot of fun. I want to get back into it as soon as I can, because the scenery and setting are totally worth it. Now, if Ubisoft could figure out their bug situation, then we miiiiiiight be much happier. Knowing my experience from prior Ubi titles on PC, it's gonna take a bit to get better. Here's hoping it happens soon! Is it worth buying now? Eh, I suppose. If you really like the Far Cry series, this is about as good as ever been. It's still buggy, so be aware of that. But you'll enjoy it, nonetheless.