Far Cry 5

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: March 27, 2018


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Far Cry 5'

by Thomas Wilde on July 3, 2017 @ 3:00 a.m. PDT

As the new junior deputy of fictional Hope County, Montana, players will find that their arrival accelerates a years-long silent coup by a fanatical doomsday cult, the Project at Eden's Gate, igniting a violent takeover of the county.

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I'll say two things right off the bat for Far Cry 5: It easily features the best current-generation dog technology of any game at E3 2017, and it's one of the only open-world games I've ever played where the flying controls didn't immediately try to kill me. That's two points in its favor, right there.

Gameplay-wise, it's more or less what you may have come to expect from the Far Cry franchise. Once again, you're in a vast open world that's mostly hostile territory, held by a large, well-equipped enemy force. It's your job to retake that territory through any means necessary, using all the available tools at your disposal to do so, ranging from small arms to vehicles to close air support, and eventually drive off the threat for good.

This time around, the hostile territory in question is the isolated, rural county of Hope in Montana, in some analogous period to the modern day. A local cult, the Project at Eden's Gate (nicknamed the "Peggies" by the locals), has been quietly buying up land and businesses in the area at the behest of their Father, a figure who believes the end of the world is coming soon.

Your character comes into this as a sheriff's deputy who's been newly assigned to the region. Unlike the last two numbered entries in the series, this time, you're a silent protagonist, the "Rookie," with all other details about your avatar left up to you. In some way that Ubisoft wasn't yet willing to disclose, your arrival in Hope County galvanizes the cult's activities, turning them from a collection of cranks into an armed and motivated militia, out to kill you on sight and forcibly convert anyone and everyone else.

You can play Far Cry 5 in co-op, but when you're alone, you also have the option to use NPC Wingmen, characters who you can recruit out in the game world and bring along with you into the field, much like companions in Fallout. In the E3 demo, we could simply choose one of three at the start; in the full game, you have to find them first, and can then go find them wherever they usually hang out. The three options for Wingmen in the demo were Nick Rye, a local pilot, who harasses your enemies from the air with strafing runs and dropped bombs; Grace Armstrong, an Olympic rifle medalist and Army veteran, who serves as a sniper; and Boomer, a dog wearing a bandanna, who can ambush enemies from stealth, then fetch their loaded weapons to bring them back to you.

I was told that pretty much everyone had picked Boomer, which explained a lot of chatter I'd heard about how he was the Best Dog of E3 2017 (I assume Boomer is a linear descendant of Jack Slate's dog Shadow from Dead to Rights, brought up on a steady diet of fresh human tracheas), so I picked Grace just to be contrary. She heads into the fight alongside you and can be given simple commands with the d-pad, including targeting options. She can also revive you if you go down, and you can revive her if she drops.

The start of the demo puts you and your Wingman up against the "Peggies" who've taken over the tiny town of Fall's End, population 38. I started on the outskirts of town with a full loadout, and I had a lot of leeway about how to progress. Apparently, some players at E3 were able to clear out the entire town by picking Nick Rye, who bombarded the town from the air with impunity; Grace and I ended up climbing a water tower, marking all the Peggies on the ground, and wasting them with sniper fire. One of them tried to take cover behind a big red drum full of what must have been nitroglycerin. It was a good time, as long as you weren't that guy.

Once the town was liberated, we gained access to a few buildings, including a strip club where we picked up a clue as to how to progress and met a couple of new NPCs. From there, the world opened up a bit, and we could pursue a variety of objectives and minigames: disrupting barricades set up by the cult, fishing, hunting wildlife, or, as it turned out, liberating Nick's airfield from a Peggie assault.

When you're out in the world, your Wingman will jump into your vehicle with you, or failing that, will commandeer a vehicle of their own and give chase. The AI's actually weirdly advanced for that purpose, to the point where Grace drives a lot like a player would — that is to say, she drives like an absolute maniac.

The demo ended with a mission that had you borrow one of Nick's airplanes, which he's thoughtfully kitted out with rocket launchers, machine guns, and a supply of bombs because this is America, dammit. It begins with a simple objective to destroy a bunch of grain silos that are hiding the cult's weapon shipments, but eventually, you end up in a dogfight against one of the Peggies' elite pilots. I was expecting it to be miserable because nine times out of 10, the flight controls in an open-world game tend to be awful.

This time, though, they were genuinely all right. As long as I stayed far enough off the ground that I didn't have to dodge trees, the plane was responsive and even fun to fly, as I constantly spun the stick looking for my opponent. It was disorienting, and I didn't get the chance to land the thing, but I didn't feel like I was fighting the stick the entire time. You'd be surprised how many games I've played where I can't say that. I was expecting a disaster and got a pleasant aerial battle to the death, which is always a nice surprise.

You've also got some crafting to do, some fishing, a vast selection of licensed Southern rock on the in-game radio stations, and the most crucial Far Cry ability: hunting for wildlife with a rocket launcher. There's a certain element of gentle parody to it all this time around, as a bunch of Canadians put out a game set in an almost cartoonish version of small-town America, complete with the American flag being smeared liberally across every flat surface that can hold it, but at the same time, they've made it into a beautiful living environment that you're actively trying to save.

While I do feel like the silent protagonist is an unfortunate step backward (half the fun of Far Cry 3 was Jason Brody's headfirst hell-dive into insanity, which wouldn't have worked if he didn't have a personality), there's a big cast of characters — one of the biggest Ubisoft's ever included in a game, they say — to help take up the slack.

Last word about Far Cry 5: From what I played, it's more Far Cry. It's well-made, I got a few laughs out of it, and you more or less know what you're in for right from the title screen. It's an iteration on a proven formula.

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