Big Sigh Country

After targeting tin-pot dictators and megalomaniacs across the globe, Far Cry 5 sets its sights closer to home. This entry moves the open-world mayhem to Hope County, Montana – a beautiful base of operations for outdoorspeople, rugged individualists, and a murderous death cult. It’s also a playground for the explosive antics that we’ve come to expect from the series, where you and a friend can seamlessly go from taking down an armed convoy to bow hunting to fly fishing – or flying a plane – depending on what sounds fun. Once the luster of the new setting and co-op companionship wears thin, however, you’re left with an experience that’s familiar to a fault. Hope County has been overrun by Joseph Seed, leader of an apocalyptic cult called Project at Eden’s Gate.

The setup is interesting, but soon settles into a standard routine. Your job is to clear out the Peggies (the local slur for the cultists) by any means necessary – most of which boils down to reclaiming outposts and taking on missions for the locals. Joseph has a lot of land to cover, and he’s a master at delegating. His church heralds include the charismatic John Seed; hunter of man Jacob Seed; and psy-ops hippie Faith Seed.

Far Cry 5 isn’t as provocative as its posturing may lead you to believe. Its exploration of religious extremism is too bizarre to be taken seriously, and it’s delivered with a self-serious tone that it doesn’t earn. You get knocked out, abducted, and tied to a chair a ridiculous number of times. Since your character is mute and can’t (or won’t) engage in conversation, you end up with extended scenes where vamping bad guys talk at your immobilized form and over-explain their half-baked philosophies.

It’s competent on most fronts, providing a massive world to explore and an arsenal of destructive tools, but it doesn’t feel fresh. Taking down outposts doesn’t provide any new thrills or challenges, and new items like proximity bombs don’t open up encounters. Past games introduced strategy and light puzzle elements as you were rewarded for staking out these camps and figuring out how to take advantage of their weak spots. The Peggies seem more interested in maintaining their human flock than setting up decent defenses.

You’re certainly welcome to scout the bases and direct your A.I. companions to help you remain undetected, but going in with guns blazing is just as effective and definitely more efficient. You may miss out on a few cash bonuses, but I was generally flush throughout the game and at no point felt like I was missing out.

Ubisoft Montreal does break from past games in a couple of major ways. First, your deputy doesn’t reveal the world around them by climbing towers to get a better view. Instead, you remove the fog on your map by doing missions and finding maps scattered in ranger stations and other structures. Environmental puzzles are still here in the form of lucrative prepper caches, which are one of my favorite parts of Far Cry 5.

I got excited every time an NPC conversation put a new cache icon on my map.  The second major break from tradition is a decreased focus on hunting; animal pelts are only redeemable for cash, and are no longer associated with crafting. I enjoyed the survival aspect from past games, as silly as it was, and it felt strange to see a previously important part of the series fall to the side like that. Instead of using skins to build holsters and ammo pouches, now you invest points in upgrades as you see fit.

For instance, if you prefer diving into fast-travel locations from the air instead of spawning on the ground, you can choose to do that. Or you can prioritize potions, making it easier to find the required components and reduce their cost. You will be able to pick up most, if not all, of these perks along the way, so it doesn’t matter too much in the long run.  Dismantling Jacob Seed’s operations could be downright tedious if not for one of the game’s most fleshed-out systems.

I. companions that you recruit to fight alongside you, add some much-needed variety to the game. There are nine of them to find in the world, and you have to complete a special mission to convince them to tag along. It’s generally worth it.

Feel like being stealthy? Bring Grace, a sniper, and a tamed cougar named Peaches. Would you rather go a little crazy? Put Hurk (and his RPG) in your crew. Each companion brings something special to the table, too, such as dog Boomer’s ability to automatically mark targets for you. It makes playing solo feel less lonely, and I got a kick out of experimenting with different pairings.

  For the first time in the Far Cry series, you can play through the entire campaign in co-op. Having a second player around makes the game significantly more entertaining (even if the difficulty balance seems tailored for one), and exploring the playground together is a blast. I had a great time tormenting my partner, whether I was luring him under beehives, blowing up dynamite inside our plane, or rigging his car with explosives. Players are tethered together, so you can’t freely roam around the entire world independently, but it’s a generously long leash.

The scripted tasks can feel like chore lists, but players who enjoy messing around with systems can find plenty to love. It’s worth noting that you’ll need to find a charitable partner, since only the host’s mission and world progress is saved. Your buddy will keep their character progression and inventory, but they’ll have to repeat everything else on their own game.  The experience isn’t necessarily about beelining through the critical path, however.

Still, Far Cry 5 doesn’t deliver on exploring the lives of people who live in this Red-Dawn-meets-David-Koresh nightmare. You can read notes that outline some of the challenges the characters have faced, but the tragedy isn’t typically explored through gameplay. Instead, you’re asked to chase down baseball cards for a former player who is sad, or harvest bull testicles for a picnic. Those moments of levity are especially jarring when you routinely drive past corpses that have been hung from bridges or strung up in grotesque effigies.

March 26, 2018 | Source: Gameinformer