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Far Cry 5 review – The Lovable Mess

It’s widely known that as a franchise, Far Cry is both loved and hated by many – same as another Ubisoft’s property, Assassin’s Creed. It often happens with these annual…ish titles. Some people love the basic formula of Far Cry 3 (shoot anyone you see, travel the world, take over bases and climb radio towers) and some dislike the repetitiveness and the lack of innovation. And while I understand both parties, I’m happy to assure the skeptics: this is not a reskin of Far Cry 4, even if the formula is still there.

Which is good, mind you. I think that the base idea of Far Cry 3 is, well, ingenious. It was a perfect open world shooter with neat little story, a fantastic (and iconic) bad guy and revolutionary visuals. Far Cry 5 is a lot like that which is… great. But it isn’t the same. In fact, a lot has changed. It is recognizable as series, but the developers did take risks and added a lot of new stuff. And the result is… intoxicating,

Unlike many other shooters, Far Cry has always took its story seriously. While the game has an open world, everything is connected to the villains, who, as always, run the show. So let’s start with the first “unlikeness”: the game takes place not on some tropical island, but in the very real USA. More precisely – in Montana. Here, a huge group of religious fanatics started terrorizing everyone. Their leader Joseph Seed calls himself The Father. He is their god, their messiah – and your enemy number one.

This time, though, there is more than one baddy – in fact, there are three. They are Jacob Seed and Faith Seed. Conquer them all you you’ll get a shot at taking The Father down. Three main antagonists instead of one is a neat idea, which makes the game feel bigger. I won’t tell you if any of these guys are as awesome as Vaas or Pagan Min – you better decide for yourself.

Read also: Assassin’s Creed: Origins – Ancient Egypt, New Ideas

Far Cry 5 feels bigger also because there is more stuff to do and more people to talk to. There are lots of characters, many of which become your ally. Allies come in different shapes and sizes – there’s your pilot and a sniper, which are nice and all, but I personally prefer my animal buddies – the dog Boomer and the bear Cheeseburger.

Far Cry 5 is a game of contrasts. On one hand, we have a deeply disturbing story about domestic terrorism and hatred, and on the other – the so-called Anecdote Factory, as the game creates utter chaos when the physics engine, the AI, the animals and vehicles all collide. This is when the game is at its best and funniest. And, this being Far Cry, there are also nonsensical missions like the one with the crazy scientist with a sci-fi gun or an FBI guy who hires us to find “a pee tape” about a certain president. Far Cry 5 is a mess and can’t help but love it.

I can describe to you in great detail why Far Cry 5 is awesome, but if you dislike the base formula, I still won’t change your mind. Most of the things stayed the same: you fight, you kill and you survive. Far Cry loves its chaos and its freedom, but even with all the similarities there are many surprisingly new elements. Yes, I liked Far Cry 4, but it was very similar to the third game – even in terms of UI and sounds. Far Cry 5 is very different.

Being a vigilante in a real country is not the same as becoming a wild killing machine is the jungle. Far Cry 5 feels more real… more personal. It channels our own fears about the world. Sure, the Father is a crazy maniac, but when he talks about the ridiculous day-to-day reality of today, something resonates within us. The crafting system has also been revamped – in fact, it was almost completely removed. You no longer need to hunt for some rare shark to create bigger pockets; for that, you need perks. Perks can be earned during missions or by completing some milestones. There are still a lot of animals on the loose, and you can still hunt them for profit.

The side missions are no longer boring grindfests, indistinguishable from each other – they are a lot better, similar to how Assassin’s Creed Origins improved in that aspect. But the main change is truly shocking – you no longer need to climb the radio towers! I mean, is this a Ubisoft game or what? You’ll need to climb some structures though – to preserve tradition, I guess. If you want to explore the map, just do it like in a regular RPG.

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Far Cry 5 has improved technically, too. The series has always been known for stellar graphics, but I can’t call Far Cry 4 (or Primal) phenomenal. These games were a bit underwhelming for me – they looked like they belonged on a souped-up PS3. Far Cry 5… is something else. The game looks amazing – there’s no other way to say it. I can’t remember seeing better nature in a video game. The colors, the light, the overall feel… this is how Far Cry must look on modern consoles. What’s even more impressive is how well it is optimized. I’m not surprised to see special enhancements for PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, but to see it run so well on older hardware is… well, I am impressed.

The sound does not disappoint as well, starting with the music (there’s anything from Christian rock to The Black Keys) and ending with voice acting. Sure, the brilliant Troy Baker doesn’t voice our main baddie, but Gregory Bryk has also done a terrific job bringing him to life. Same can be said about all others, especially about the actress who played deputy Hudson (sadly, I couldn’t find her name).

Now, the plot and the visuals are fine, but that’s not what matters the most. As our beloved Satoru Iwata used to say, games are supposed to be fun. And Far Cry 5 is very fun. It doesn’t hold the player back and gives him the freedom to do what he wants. The whole world is open to explore. After just 10 hours you’ll have an impressive arsenal of machine guns, flamethrowers, assault rifles, grenade launchers, pistols, shovels, bats, bows, and even slingshots.

Every camp requires different tactics: you can be stealthy and quiet, or go in guns blazing. Tired of fighting with your hands? Hop into the armed truck and emulate the famous Mad Max. Or you can fly a WW2 era fighter. Far Cry 5 is as crammed with content as possible.

Not everything is great, though. Some negatives from the previous titles are still here. For example, the drug infused missions, where you must fight hallucinations, survived. The physics engine is as dumb and unpredictable as always, which is both hilarious and aggravating – sometimes you’ll have to replay the mission because your vehicle just decided to explode. There are some bugs as well, although nothing bad or game breaking. For such an epic game Far Cry 5 really is very polished. You can see Ubisoft learning from past mistakes – they don’t want to repeat Assassin’s Creed Unity fiasco.

Ubisoft also decided not to repeat after EA, so there aren’t any lootboxes. Microtransactions are still there, though. They are mostly cosmetic, so it’s not that big a deal.

Read also: Super Mario Odyssey review – Well Worth the Wait

The excellent Arcade Mode is also worth mentioning: the mode allows any player to create custom maps and missions using assets from such games as Far Cry 4, Far Cry Primal, Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Thanks to that, you will play Far Cry 5 even after finishing the story mode.

Final thoughts

Far Cry 5 is still, well, Far Cry. A crazy fun game about killing anything that moves, but even better, bigger and more beautiful. Without removing the best parts about the previous titles, Ubisoft created something new and fresh. Montana looks and feels real. The company didn’t rush it, and Far Cry 5 feels like a complete game. Nothing was chopped off to be resold as a DLC. You don’t need a Season Pass to understand characters and their motivations.

Far Cry 5 might not be perfect, but those who love fun story-driven shooters with open world won’t find anything better.

Denis Koshelev

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