The fifth installment of the beloved franchise is an underwhelming successor.
A Step Down
Like previous entries in the series, Far Cry 5 drops you into an open world littered with animals and psychopaths trying to kill you. This time, instead of an island, the game takes place in a fictional America, Hope County, Montana. I played the game on a PS4 Pro, and the game looked great. I was happy to see the return of co-op in the open world. Like Far Cry 4, the entire game is playable in co-op and if you have a buddy to play with, definitely do so because it makes the entire experience more enjoyable with another person. However, unlike the other games, you have to create your own character from scratch which I did not mind. My biggest problem about this is that they decided to have a silent protagonist. This becomes a problem in Far Cry 5 because you will have heavy action scenes or very intimate moments with other characters, but your nameless silent character stays quiet throughout. Rather, the story is heavily carried by other uninteresting characters in the game. This makes it very difficult to care about the character you are playing as and the plot as they have little emotion or personality. This was very disappointing for me as the previous entries all had solid and engaging stories, and that was largely due to the fact that you played as a character that you cared about that could drive the story forward. Sadly, I received none of that from this game.
Progression in the game has also been changed. Rather than gaining experience for killing enemies in different ways, progression is now tied to challenge points you earn for completing certain tasks. That means one of my favorite parts of the previous games, upgrading gear by killing specific animals, is removed. Instead, killing animals is also tied to challenges, which in turn rewards you upgrade points. This makes the game feel less rewarding and ultimately less enjoyable to play. However, combat in Far Cry 5 is definitely the best in the series. Shooting feels great and there are a wide range of weapons, attachments and gear for you to utilize in the open world of Hope County. Unfortunately, because the combat is so good, it makes the fact that you’re not earning any actual experience more disappointing.
I found the fictional Hope County to be less enjoyable than Rook Island from Far Cry 3 or even Far Cry 4’s Kyrat Mountains. Hope County is definitely the largest Far Cry map, and I feel Ubisoft does a good job of making it feel alive. As you explore the world, there are people and animals all around the place just doing their own thing, and it helps bring Hope County together. However, because it is so large, you’ll find yourself driving from one mission to another taking oddly very long. Ubisoft does a “The game also litters the map with countless of random encounters”, to liven up the trip, but it made my journey to the next mission even longer and more like a chore. This would be fine if I these encounters were more sparse, but they literally come at you constantly, especially if you have not taken out the outposts in the area. Loading times are also a problem in the game. Because the map is so large, whenever you’re forced into a loading screen, whether that be fast travel or because of a death, loading takes abnormally long which can be frustrating at difficult parts of the game where you have to respawn several times. Playing on a PS4 Pro, I would not have expected an issue like this to occur.
Throughout the game, you encounter different companions to aid in you in combat. I very much enjoyed using them as each had a different skill like the dog Boomer who was able to scout and mark enemies ahead for you or my favorite, or Cheeseburger the Bear who would be able to decimate enemies while still being able to soak up lots of damage. Because of this, all the companions you find felt unique and vital to use in battle.
Far Cry 5 also introduces a new mode, Arcade. Players can use the arcade map editor to create their own missions or multiplayer maps. Because all of Arcade is user generated content, a lot of it feels very half baked and unfinished, making most of the Arcade mode feel lackluster. Besides the missions and maps created by Ubisoft, there aren’t many other stand out missions or maps to keep you interested in this mode.
Overall, I do not think Far Cry 5 is a bad game, but I also don’t it’s very good. It’s a very mediocre game. The entire package just feels lazy and a step down from its predecessors. Many of the things I enjoyed from the previous games were completely removed, making the overall experience lacklustre. There some new additions that I liked, like the companions or the addition of prepper stashes, but they weren’t enough to balance out the monotony of the world traversal, the uncompelling protagonist and supporting cast, and the shallow Arcade mode. Definitely explore Hope County with a friend to maximize your enjoyment of Far Cry 5.