How Far Cry 5 Breaths Fresh Life Into The Series

Far Cry 5 is a game that cuts close to the bone. While it keeps a lot of the same over the top action, the silliness and ridiculous characters, it takes the series to America’s backyard and features more than a few quite chillingly relevant underlying themes. The game’s antagonist, the messianic Father Joseph Seed, stating “They will take our guns, take our freedom, take our religion” is a soundbite that feels all too familiar. In typical Far Cry fashion, however, it goes to the extremes. Take the cult that Seed leads, the Project at Eden’s Gate. While they do tap into very real concerns of modern day America, its network of followers in this part of Montana is so widespread and fervent that it’s unimaginable that it could possibly be real.

That doesn’t mean that the Peggies, as the locals call them, have gone unnoticed by the law. An arrest warrant is put out and you start the game as a rookie cop in the small team of local cops sent in to enact it. It goes wrong, very wrong, leading to near all out war in the county between the Peggies, now convinced that Seed’s prophecies have come true, and a growing local resistance. You might be wondering why you can’t just call in more officers, the FBI and the National Guard? Well, there’s a pretty good reason for that, but who wants spoilers these days?

– ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW –

It turns out the only way to stop a bad guy with a bunker is to have a good guy with a bunker. Finding yourself in truly dire straights after this botched arrest, a man called Dutch comes to your rescue. He’s his own kind of conspiracy theorist, having built his bunker and had his own run ins with the law for collecting rain water, of all things. His character helps to ground the game, I feel. In any other light you might see him as a bit of a wackadoodle, but rummaging around in his cabin and reading the letters lying around from friends and family, we see that he has his own real world troubles for his convictions without the excesses of the Eden’s Gate cult.

Venturing out from his bunker, there’s actually a little feel of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in the world’s design. Richard ‘Dutch’ Roosevelt’s island is right, slap bang in the middle of Hope County, and once you’re done reconnecting it to the rest of the world, you can head off in whatever direction you want, with large regions that are presided over by Seed’s lieutenants. Though you can play the game following checkpoints to your destination, you’re not led by the nose through the story if you don’t want to be.

Dutch’s island is a little microcosm of the wider game world, with all the kinds of things that you’ll find out there. Your overriding goal in each region is to antagonise the lieutenant in that area enough that they decide to come and get you themselves, probably muttering “If you want a job right…” under their breath as they do so. It’s more than just following the path of the story missions though, as all of your actions here add to the resistance meter. Every civilian you save from a brutal roadside execution (who might then join you as a Gun for Hire), every piece of cult property you blow up, every main and side mission you take on, every one of the well established cult outposts you liberate, they all add up.

Your actions don’t happen in isolation either. If you build up enough resistance in the South West of the map and don’t liberate the town of Fall’s End, then they might go and do it for themselves, and to the North there’s already the Whitetail Resistance fighting back against Joseph’s brother, Jacob. This is really one of the key areas that the game’s design has advanced, creating a more fluid and natural feeling world. You don’t have to constantly climb stereotypical Ubisoft Towers anymore to unlock parts of the world, but instead talk to key people for missions and get hints and tips from regular NPCs as to what’s nearby.

The sprawling Guns for Hire system is also a great step forward. You can call upon key people to come fight alongside you like Dutch’s daughter Jess, grab willing regular NPCs as well, not to mention grab a real world friend to hop in for co-op through all of the game, even the main story missions. There’s also Cheeseburger the bear, one of the ‘Fangs for Hire’. He really likes cheeseburgers, but you can’t feed them to him because of his diabetes. He’s also a big sweetheart when he’s not viciously attacking your enemies, and another great use of the animal petting that debuted in Far Cry Primal.

Cheeseburger’s just one of the many things where Far Cry 5 doesn’t take itself too seriously. Yes there’s a dangerous religious cult to take down, and Seed’s character is fascinating in how truly he seems to believe what he’s preaching, but Far Cry is nothing if not sensationalised, over the top action with a humorous twist. There’s a knowing “Press X to…” moment, there’s the Testicle Festival to help organise, Cheeseburger to rescue, there’s the return of Hurk from Far Cry 3 and 4 – this time we get to meet his family – and Clutch Nixon’s stunt trials through the world. It’s the typical sprawling open world design filled with things to do that Ubisoft have mastered making over the last decade.

The more I see of Far Cry 5, the more I like the look of it. As someone that had drifted away from the series after Far Cry 3, it feels both familiar and reinvigorated. The story cuts closer to troubles and concerns from the real world, but views them through the light of an sensationalised action game that’s broader, that feel more freeform and engaging than ever before.

– PAGE CONTINUES BELOW –
Written by
I'm probably wearing toe shoes, and there's nothing you can do to stop me!