Far Cry 5 is the newest installment from the Ubisoft franchise and was released on 27th March 2018 on Windows, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. This review is written by JasonGunslinger for the Welsh Gaming Network who hails from Cardiff, and he played his copy on the PS4. You can catch up with him on Twitch, so drop him a follow. If you’d like to chat to Jason, as well as hundreds of other Welsh Gamers, content creators, developers and industry workers, pop on to our Discord and introduce yourself!
As a newcomer to the Far Cry franchise (not including Primal), I am unfamiliar with many of the tropes and cliches of the series. But, despite this, there are plenty of ways this new addition has eased me in and shown me the highs and lows of one of Ubisoft’s most successful IP’s.
From start to finish, it’s been an absolutely mental experience. I’ve watched bears on fire somersault through the air and gotten 200m head shots with the bow. I’ve spent hours fishing for Rainbow Trout moments before a Turkey, out of nowhere, came barrelling down to peck at my sweet meats. There are countless little Easter eggs throughout as well, so for any eagle-eyed gamer, it’ll be a treat to explore. The journey, though fun as hell, wasn’t without plenty of issues and bugs. In fact, some of them were bloody terrible. I’ll get into all the bits and pieces but first, I want to write a little about the sound and music.
Sound / Music
The soundtrack in Far Cry 5 is one of the best but, unless you drive a lot, you will definitely miss some of its best songs. From Motown, country and rock, Far Cry 5’s radios are constantly churning out serious goodness. This goes for the menu and narrative music written for Far Cry 5 too. The melodic, acoustic twangs resonate well with the theme and setting, fully immersing you into the American mid west of Hope County, Montana.
When the Clutch isn’t screaming from a nearby cabin radio, you can often find yourself trekking the length of a river, with nothing but the sounds of insects, birds and the distant tumble of a waterfall. It’s surprisingly peaceful and atmospheric. The world feels alive, not least when you hear the rattle of a snake in the bushes, or the ear-piercing squark of an Eagle circling above, waiting to scalp you. So for the most part, sound is spot on in Far Cry 5 but stumbles a bit with the weapons.
You get a fun, albeit limited, selection of weapons, but the ‘that-that’ of assault rifles can feel a bit cartoonish and unrealistic. It doesn’t help, either, that there’s no real feedback sound for hitting enemies. Nothing at all. It feels so dull and clumsy, which takes something away from the main thrust of the game – gun fights.
The thing looks gorgeous, there’s no question. Even on the PS4 (not the pro), the textures, lighting and overall colour palette is breath taking to drink in. The water isn’t the stuff of dreams like we saw in Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but it’s still pretty good. Trees are heavily detailed and forest floors are littered with twigs, ivy, rocks and the whole lot, something you’ll recognise if you’ve ever played on Endor in Battlefront 1.
Cars are dusty, dirty and rusted in places. Cabins are rich, warm and homely feeling and the wide, open prairies glow golden under a setting sun. The game, like the sound, nails the visual presentations here, but falls foul often to smudged textures, textures that haven’t loaded or, even a complete lack of textures. And if you venture too far off the beaten track, the mountains look almost as bad as the background landscapes in FF15 (it’s pretty grim). There’s also the issue with lighting flickering and it can get quite annoying. However, after a few hours of playing, it seemed to behave itself.
Despite the regular set backs we’ve known to see from Ubisoft, the menu layout, 3D world map and in-game HUD are all superb. Sharp, clear cut and masculine in presentation, it sits well with the blood and explosions and so does the lack of a mini-map. So overall, some of the best from Ubisoft but, unlike Assassin’s Creed: Origins and even The Division, it shows much less polish as if rushed out the door.
Onto the meat of the review. The gameplay. And blimey is it great. The moment I sat down and sank my first hour into it, I was like a seagull on a cheese toastie. I couldn’t stop and I just had to keep tearing into it, revealing hidden morsels of deliciousness. I also think I should have written this review after and not before dinner. Either way the shooting is easy and the auto-aim snaps well. The running, climbing, swimming and driving are all fairly good (driving mechanics are a huge step up from Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, where the cars handled like soapy bricks). But for the third time, like with sound, like with graphics, there are repeated let-downs. But this time, more of them.
The button mapping is ridiculous. The button to propel your plane is X instead of a more reasonable R2. The looting mechanics is mind-blowing frustrating when you don’t hold the square button down long enough, and end up swapping away your expensively customised shotgun. I also found plenty of glitches when going at it in co-op with a mate. One particularly lovely glitch was the death-loop. Spawning is unrelentingly poop in Far Cry 5 and unpredictable, which means if you get unlucky, you’ll be falling and dying on repeat.
And it gets worse. The infamous Ubisoft AI strikes again but with hilarious effect. For the most part, you’ll sit back and laugh at the madness but, at least a few times during a session, it’ll really boil your piss. The companions (of which there are 9), stand in front of enemy characters, despite you hiding behind a wall. One companion, will continuously fly their plane into the earth, alerting all the enemies in the outpost and leaving you with 5 minutes before they can respawn.
Suppose you want to game without the companions? Take the story slowly, avoid any gaming pitfalls? Well tough. Because the stealth in Far Cry 5 is about as functioning as the Trump administration, which this game openly mocks. A single, silenced shot or arrow will quite often alert all the cultists, whom will mysteriously zero in on your exact location. I’ll admit, for me it got so bad I almost opened my own salted produce business. But, if you’re good with a throwing knife and can go in quick, it can work. Otherwise, don’t bother. Zip line in, throw three sticks of dynamite and blow them all to hell.
Story / Narrative
You play a Deputy Sheriff who is tasked with bringing down the religiously fanatical Seed family, following their ingenious method to cut off Hope County from the rest of the world, providing them the freedom to ensure chaos. After escaping from their clutches in dramatic fashion, you are left to explore the world, setting free civilians and main protagonists (who provide you story missions), to ultimately kill John, Jacob, Faith and finally, Joseph Seed. Also known as the Father.
Unfortunately for you, they command an army of loyal cultists, who will hunt you down in their trucks, planes, quad bikes, boats or small groups without mercy. You will cultivate your own growing band of civilians to fight back against the cultists, by destroying their outposts and resources. All familiar territory for other players of Far Cry and other open world games.
The bad guys are great. Unhinged, maniacal and commit acts which give you plenty reason to want to wipe them all from existence. Here, Ubisoft improves on the pathetic, soulless antagonists of Ghost Recon Wildlands. In Far Cry 5, the enemies feel more layered, with real motive and emotion (except a few) which allows you to be more emotionally invested. The same goes for the companions; though utterly devoid of intelligence thanks to the programmers, their dialogue is fantastic. Wait until you meet Hutch.
Throughout, the game implements an original feature during the story, having the character abducted in a variety of ways. It results in you having to escape or play out an event, which often includes a brilliantly unnerving monologue from The Father or one of his family members. It’s a huge let down unfortunately, that after ten to fifteen hours into the game, it grows old. Its function to propel the narrative stutters in the second and third acts of Far Cry 5, but performs much better in the first act. Perhaps more evidence of a lack of polish, or running out of ideas? Nameless and without voice, agency is high in this title but these sequences can often ruin that. Which, to me, was a crying shame.
In general, the side missions all have a purpose and richly reward you with perks, money and sometimes, silver bars to invest in a bigger arsenal to take down the cultists. I especially loved the Prepper Stashes littered throughout the world. Hidden bunkers filled with perk magazines, weapons and piles of cold, hard, American dollars. You really do feel like you’re out in the wilds of Hope County, sneaking through muddy farms to empty your new incendiary shot gun shells into some fascist, unfashionable country neck-beards. Or rope climbing your way up to a watch tower, to sink your throwing shovel into the skulls of your foes. And it feels good too. Upon the liberation of outposts or completion of missions, you’re awarded with a cut scene of victory, fireworks, raised flags and other celebrations. The area grows empty of enemies and your hard work has actual impact. But, if you do want to go back to the chaos, you can repopulate the outposts via the main menu. A nice touch.
Before I wrote this review, I read a great many others. I played Far Cry 5 more thoroughly and really took my time. I noticed that a lot of discussions centred around the marketing point and strong themes of the game. That was, you would be dropped into the all-American back drop of Montana to dispense of a cult of religious extremists and white supremacists. Many argue that, politically and indeed its overall social commentary is weak. I say, it’s not exactly GTA levels of witty societal analysis, but it still packs plenty of mockery toward the right side of the spectrum.
There are constant references to the Trump administration throughout, uncountable biblical references and, they even have a red-neck type character refer to ‘Obama-loving libtards’. It is a loose, satirical play on the ideas of how political American people are. It’s not meant to be accurate or provide a serious message. It was never marketed to be a political game. It’s meant to be over-the-top fun and craziness, whilst also saving the day.
Not to forget, there’s also a huge map editor and online multiplayer section to Far Cry 5, which adds dozens and dozens of hours to play time. It’s got a whole lot of options and so far, it’s a good bit of fun away from the main game.
I would ultimately recommend this game to anyone, but not at full price. Despite the gorgeous charm, atmosphere, fun gameplay and interesting story and side missions, the lack of weapons, the proliferation of bugs and truly terrible AI, mean it’s only good on a sale. Which is a shame because if it’d gone through some more polishing, it would utterly brilliant. Perhaps after an extensive patch it could be an 8 but, currently, it’s a 7 out of 10.