Before we discuss how Far Cry 5’s multiplayer plays, we must first discuss how it works and how it differs to most games. Most games with competitive multiplayer come with their own maps, carefully designed by people who know how to design maps as it is a significant portion of their job. This (hopefully) results in a carefully crafted experience where the teams are balanced, the maps have some healthy variety to them and, crucially, they’re designed is such a way that there is plenty of depth to them.
Far Cry Arcade is different. It’s built entirely around a map editor that gives you plenty of tools and assets to design your own single player and cooperative multiplayer levels, as well as maps for competitive multiplayer with up to 12 players. The editor comes with over 10,000 objects according to Ubisoft, including assets from other Ubi games like Watch Dogs, Far Cry 4, 5 and Primal, and Assassin’s Creed Black Flag and Unity, allowing you to design a large portion of anything you can imagine.
The main hindrance when it comes to translating your imagination into Far Cry is the clunkiness of the editor’s controls, something that’s difficult to avoid with a controller on console. It’s far from an insurmountable issue, but the limitations of an analog stick are never more clear than when trying to very accurately place objects, though five different camera movement speeds does help you get around it. The editor’s user interface doesn’t help either, what with all the items being sorted by game rather than by category, so you’re constantly searching through menus for specific items, or even worse, looking for a texture in a long list that only actually shows you the one that’s currently selected.
Once you get through the initial clunkiness, though, you really can make some excellent maps. You can place anything from skyscrapers to trash cans to fill out your map, add fortifications, change the loadouts players spawn with and even change gameplay modifiers like gravity, jump height, health regeneration, etc. AI, whether animals for any mode or enemies for single player and co-op, can be placed or assigned places to spawn and given areas to control or defend. There are a lot of options and the things listed here are just the tip of the iceberg.
Being built around this map editor is a blessing and a curse. Most of the maps you play in the Arcade are made by someone like you or, god forbid, me. At the moment, it’s as inconsistent as that implies. Due to still being rather new the maps available haven’t had the time to be reviewed a lot yet, so any given game you could end up in a great map, a not so great one, or somewhere in the middle. There are measures to prevent this, as five players choose a map before a game starts and everyone votes and then plays the winner, but as the best maps are yet to have many ratings and the default display for picking a map is just new maps, you still find yourself in the middle of some messy creations.
There are good maps available to play already in both modes, including some created by Ubisoft. They show off what can be done with the editor quite well, such as a few versions of Call of Duty: Black Ops’ Nuke Town and a co-op level themed after The Last of Us that used the zombie-like Angels from the main single player in the place of TLOU’s own pseudo-zombies. These are a lot of fun, even though the good maps often have little niggling issues, whether it’s as simple as an ubalanced difficulty, odd things like the Angels in that The Last of Us level often failing to actually move towards you, or grappling hooks that don’t let you climb onto the platform to which they’re attached.
One of my favourite maps is a bow and melee-only team deathmatch where players spawn on islands and zipline onto a main island to have a good old primal scuffle with the odd molotov thrown in for good measure. Dodging arrows and takedowns alike is a lot of fun, particularly as you have to time when using the zipline or you’ll be turned into a pincushion. It was a little chaotic but that’s not always a bad thing, unlike on a single player/co-op map I tried that was an island filled with so many yetis that being spotted was basically a death sentence.
Hopefully these issues will be less common as people become more accustomed to the editor, but I have missed out on a few good looking maps because of spawning in areas that were supposed to be inaccessible or constantly being forced out of bounds by enemies and being returned to a spawn point which was also somehow out of bounds. Direct feedback can be given by reporting a map for being heavily unbalanced or for bad spawns, which presumably goes to the creator of the level so it can be fixed. Then again, inappropriate content is in the same list, so it’s a little unclear.
Unfortunately, the base gameplay has a few problems as well. Sometimes, teammates are difficult to tell from enemies as their name doesn’t appear above their heads for some reason (unlike in the above screenshot) and the mild blue outline they have isn’t immediately visible to help differentiate. You also find with a momentary gap before your guns are usable upon spawning, which is annoying on a map where you are also being spawn killed due to design flaws or morally questionable players. It’s nothing terrible and you can adjust to the flaws, but it’d be better if something was done about these things, particularly marking your teammates
It will take some time for Far Cry Arcade to take shape as people get used to the editor. Hopefully better maps find their way to the top of the pile via the ratings system and result in a more consistently good experience, because right now you spend a lot of time on average maps and occasionally venture into something terrible or special. Importantly, it’s still fun, even if some of that fun is laughing at the silliness of a map’s design.