Note: This review is full of spoilers.
Far Cry 5 is the next game in the open world fps action series Far Cry by Ubisoft. In this iteration, you play as a deputy who is tasked with arresting a cult leader that has been terrorizing a county in Montana.
I'll just get this out of the way: this game is still a Far Cry game. Their are bigger changes made to this game than the changes between Far Cry 3 and 4, but in the end this is Far Cry. Still, the changes to the formula are big enough that I can say those who are unsure about the series should at least check this game out.
With that out of the way, I'll start where I start most of my reviews: the story. You, an unnamed deputy, is tasked with arresting Joseph Seed, the leader of a doomsday cult known as the Project at Eden's Gate. This cult has been terrorizing the people of Hope County, Montana and it is your job to stop them from doing so. But just like any other video game, your simple arrest turns into a helicopter crash and isolation from the rest of the world, thus the beginning of the game. Or you can take the secret ending and leave, but this will be talked about later.
Far Cry has always had pretty weak stories, and this game is no different. None of the games really have gone beyond 'kill main antagonist,' and the story in this game is no different. Still, I enjoy the theme of cults more than the pirates of 3 and the dictatorship of 4, which makes the story a smidge better. But really, when it comes to the story aspect, the shining star are the villains. And while they don't beat Vaas from 3, I actually liked the villains a lot. The four villains of the game (Joseph, Faith, John, and Jacob) are complex human beings that represent different beliefs in this religion. They represent the four horsemen of the apocalypse, but also show how complex religion can be (which is why I am not going to talk about my thoughts on their religion). They all share the fact that they have been through tragedy and that is what got them to be part of this religion. And instead of just trying to kill like any old villain, they want to use you for their own personal gain that ultimately helps the cult. Now these 'persuasions' take the form of different missions where you are kidnapped by one of the three (you don't encounter Joseph until the end) and they try to persuade you with their tactics (Faith uses drugs, John uses torture, and Jacob rewires your brain). I found these scenes to be funny because at any time they could just kill you and be done with it, but they are so persistent with Joseph's order on not to kill you that they don't actually just kill you, then I just escape every time. With exception to Jacob, who is training you to kill Eli because he can't get close to him, I found that if I were in either Faith's or John's shoes, I would just disobey Joseph and kill the deputy. Despite these funny scenes, I still think that these characters trying to use you instead of just kill you was still a positive. On the other side of things, the main protagonist usually sucks as for they range from silent to annoying. This time, it is silent, but the character customization and clothing options make this protagonist the best yet. And for side characters, they are as American and diverse as you can find them, so they are also pretty great too.
When it comes to the story of Far Cry games, it's usually the intro that shows the most story, and the intro to this game not only shows the most story, but is something I quite enjoyed. The intro was wild from beginning to end. Whether it be seeing a giant Joseph statue at the beginning and seeing just how powerful he is to watching crazy cultists throw themselves into the helicopter blades to stop us from leaving. But nothing beats dangling upside down in a crashed helicopter hearing the intercom lady who was spear heading this operation address Joseph, showing just how far is reach is. The intro and just how powerful Joseph really is was amazing to experience, but it didn't really answer my big question: how does the outside world not know and why does nobody leave? Now I get that some of his believers can live outside of the county and spread lies to deceive the public, but we know that president knows because he sent good ol' agent Willis to pick up a 'classified tape.' And I get that some passageways are blocked, but people do fly their planes in the sky and could just leave and get help. Being isolated on a pirate island or in the mountains with a dictatorship is one thing, but I find this world where this cult can exist with that level of power hard to believe. Overall, I would say that despite some glaring holes, the story here is a tad bit better than the previous games because of its cult and religion, and the villains here are pretty damn good. It's an improvement to the story and characters, but still not enough to say that Far Cry 5 is a big story game.
I guess this is the best time to talk about it even though I don't want to, but let's talk about the politics (or lack thereof). Despite being 2018 and taking place in America with extremist and blah blah blah, I am actually happy that Ubisoft mostly avoided the hardcore politics. It's not because the politics would offend me or that video games shouldn't dabble in politics; it's actually the fact that I am annoyed with politics. I'm tired of experiencing any form of entertainment and seeing some sort of political agenda being pushed. I've always wanted to play Far Cry in the U.S. for its setting, but not for its politics. Ubisoft could've easily just picked the low hanging fruit and talk about issues that are being talked about today, but I am glad they didn't. I can see how it is weird for the game not to address at least some politics that goes beyond current events, but to see that they didn't and that I can enjoy killing guys and fishing without politics being shoved down my throat was definitely a positive for me. Going further into this absence of politics, I want to quote a youtuber named Hugbox who touched on the subject. He states, "Far Cry 5's story is too universal to be confined to temporary politics." I brought Hugbox up because I agree with his view on the story of the game. This story is a universal one about the cycle of violence, so why should it be locked to a certain time frame with politics? If the game still had the same story but took place in a different country, then no one would care about the politics. So why is it that if it takes place in America, their has to be politics tied to it or else it cannot be a good game (I'm looking at you Polygon). Still, the game inserts some politics into the game that I wish wasn't there but I guess have to be there. We Americans are so political, so not finding someone in the game without a political stance wouldn't be realistic. But if people there are trying to to fight a common enemy then I think they can mostly skip on the politics and focus on surviving.
I can't believe I am writing a second paragraph on politics, but here we are. In the end, I think the cultist and the story are too complex for obvious politics. I know that some (Polygon) wanted to see the group as some religious Trump-loving group wearing MAGA hats and killing minorities, but seeing that the group really isn't tied to any party means that they are upset with the game because it can't clearly push an agenda that I don't either either side of the political spectrum want to experience (some, but not many). I get all of the politics I need from the news, so why do I need more in games? Games and other entertainment are here to escape reality, so why do I need political reality in games? I'm not saying to not stay in touch with current events; I'm just saying to keep the news in the news room and let me enjoy video games in political peace.
Their was a lot to talk about story-wise, but even more to talk about gameplay-wise. As a whole, this game is still Far Cry, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Personally, I enjoy the Far Cry formula, and those who enjoy will will find a great experience with this game and those who don't enjoy won't. You are still going around an area liberating outposts, doing missions, hunting (and now fishing), picking up collectibles, and more. While the core of the game is Far Cry, many smaller changes have been made to freshen up the game and maybe even appeal to people who like the game but hate certain aspects. And don't worry, most of the changes made are good ones.
Changes were made big and small, so let's start with the big. Towers are gone and uncovering the map is replaced by talking to people in the world for mission and outpost spots, finding magazines to show plant and animal locations, and exploring the map to uncover the grey on the map and find the previous things stated. Not only is the annoyance of climbing towers gone (and kudos to Ubisoft for making fun of themselves with tower climbing), but this new way is a much more natural way of doing things. I love how you actually have to go out and talk to people to get information on the area, kind of like in real life. Speaking of natural, the world this time actually feels real. One problem I had with the previous games was that the environments and buildings felt copy-and-paste, with a new landmarks here-and-there to add variety to the map. This time, The world felt varied and the buildings were actually different from one another. No two outposts felt alike, and the different areas felt different. After awhile, I felt like I have been to a place like this before, and I could almost imagine living in a place like this in real life (without all of the cult stuff). Their are a few buildings that pop up multiple times and their are a lot of trees, but it's a world's difference than last time. Speaking of variety, the people and quests feel varied too. One moment I could be helping some conspiracy theorist kill drugged animals that he felt were drugged by the government and the next I could be reliving the crazy stunts of a knockoff Evel Knievel named Clutch Nixon. Even when it comes to the tone, Far Cry 5 is incredibly varied. I like the fact that this game can be serious one moment and silly in the next, because even if people lived under an oppressive regime, the American hoo-rah spirit will still prevail.
Speaking of big improvements, the campaign has a non-linear path to its missions and is achieved with resistance points. The map is split up into regions, and each region is controlled by a villain. Instead of following a main path, you choose which villain you want to deal with. Also, how you deal with each villain is with resistance points. You get them by doing missions, outposts, or just helping others out. I like this form of progressions, as for it allows both you're side and the villain to naturally level up. Vehicles can now be bought, and spawned in at various parts around the map, and the vehicles have more variety. A big rig with machine guns? Check. A dune buggy perfect for the off-road? Also check. But vehicle variety shines in the different air vehicles, which includes planes, seaplanes, and actual helicopters. Traversing the map is now easier but the bigger thing with this is that enemies also have air vehicles. Not only is it fun to have a strafing run on enemies below, but to have dog fighting up above. The new companions are always good to have on your side and are varied. These companions range from a sneaky animal to helicopter support, and even people you rescue can be used as well. Not only that, I actually enjoy the controls for these companions, as with most games I find difficulty with controlling companions on what to do and where to go. Picking up loot doesn't have an animation anymore (thank God), and useless loot only meant for selling has been replaced with parts used for crafting explosives and drugs.
Small improvements were made as well, and don't worry, I'll go through them real quick. Enemies can revive themselves (you gotta give them some advantage, right?), different ammo types are in the game, the music was pretty great, their are actual boss fights this time, and new tasks like prepper stashes and things to blow up add variety.
But not every new thing added was good, and actually some things were taken out. Air vehicles have rockets, but refilling them costs money, which I thought is kind of fair but dumb. Despite an increase in items like explosives and drugs, their are actually less weapons. What's kind of funny is that every time you unlock new weapons a picture shows up saying their are new supplies, but on the picture their is a gun that isn't in the game. Microtransactions are in the game, but I am more mad that they are their because it is kind of dumb how lenient they are, their are just enough important controls in the game that made it feel like too many, auto healing of yourself and vehicles makes the game too easy, skill unlocks and gear upgrades now come in the form of point progression, and how you get these points are by doing various challenges which get annoying pretty fast, resetting outposts involves resetting every single one instead of choosing which one like in Far Cry 4, and more. Overall, the main Far Cry 5 experience has been improved pretty dramatically while still keeping what makes it great, with a few bumps along the road.
When it comes to the arcade mode, Far Cry 5 improves upon Far Cry 4's level builder by adding more tools (including assets from other games), adding in multiplayer, being able to randomly choose maps, getting perk points and money that transfers over to the main game, and more. I can't say to the difficulty of making a map because I am equally bad at making maps in any game, but from what I have tried I can tell their are a wealth of assets to choose from. Unfortunately, the single player mode offerings are rather slim, and the maps can't go above being basic. I have seen some cool maps like the facility level from Goldeneyeor a weird trippy level, but the objectives of all of the map either involves getting to the end, or essentially kill everyone. I would love to see the mode offerings expanded and even include maps that have their own progression, but judging how the arcade is structured I don't think that will work. One other gripe I have is that you cannot favorite maps after playing them, which is rather annoying. As for multiplayer, I don't have a lot to say. I'm glad that it's there, and that's about it. Overall, I would say that the arcade feature is great but could use some more improvements.
One last thing I wanted to touch on was the ending, because I loved it. Their are three endings: either you choose to not walk away at the end and fight Joseph, you decide to walk away at the end and not fight Joseph, or you don't even try to arrest him in the first place at the beginning. What I love about them is that it's the secret ending at the beginning that is the only right ending. Trying to arrest Joseph at the end puts Hope County into a nuclear apocalypse where only you and Joseph survive in a bunker, and walking away at the end has you listening to the song that wired your brain in Jacob's region and has you kill the cops you entered the game with. The only way to win is to not feed into the violence they are trying to provoke. All four of these villains share the fact that they experienced trauma, and that trauma has led them to be evil. And their violence puts you through traumatic moments like torture or watching a friend die. You then act violence upon Joseph that makes him more deranged, something that could've been avoided if you simply left. I have experienced more meaningful endings in games before, but for a game like Far Cry this ending shocked me (even more than the one from 4).
The verdict: I should've made this shorter (even though I still have more to say). Also, Far Cry 5 is a great game that keeps to the Far Cry core while making some big changes to polish that core. Despite some stumbles here-and-there; the new cult story and setting, amazing world, and a myriad of improvements make this game a solid Far Cry experience. If you absolutely hate or absolutely love the current Far Cry formula, this will not change your mind. But if you are wondering just what this game is or is on the fence with the series, then I would recommend checking this game out.