Please note: This review only covers the single-player portion of Far Cry 5. Our coverage of Co-op, Multiplayer and Arcade modes will come soon after the game has had some time to breathe out in the real world.
Far Cry 5 – Single Player Review
PC, Xbox One, PS4
You can feel it can’t you, something is coming
The scariest villain in any horror movie isn’t the monster, isn’t the alien, it is the human. What humankind is capable of when they feel they are in the right or feel their survival is threatened can be truly terrifying. People will go to great lengths, commit atrocities and destroy lives all in the name of the greater good. It is a horror story that creates fear because we as humans realise that we are only one disaster away from becoming that very villain.
So it is with Far Cry 5, in fact, this seems to be the central theme. This is a game that takes an obvious villain, the type of person we all fear, and asks the question, what if he is doing the right thing? What if, this seemingly insane person is correct and the ends truly justify the means? It is a tough thing to contemplate and yet, surprisingly Ubisoft has handled it with aplomb and class.
The story starts with players taking the role of a rookie deputy who is on their way (with a group of law enforcement officers) to arrest Joseph Seed, an enigmatic cult leader who calls himself The Father and who has gathered a sizeable flock of people who believe that the world is going to end soon. During this arrest, things go pear-shaped and the deputy is left stranded in the wilderness, only being saved from the cult thanks to the timely intervention of a local hermit and doomsday prepper. After being nursed back to health it is up to the Deputy to locate the other law enforcement officers and help the people of Hope Valley regain control of their land from The Project Edens Gate Cult (or Peggies as the locals refer to them)
To say more would ruin the story and it is a story worth experiencing cold. There are shocks, twists and surprises throughout and all are handled in a wonderful manner. At times it is brutal, at times it is difficult to watch, but there is no doubt that it is engrossing. The story dips into slight science fiction at times yet despite that it remains wholly grounded in reality, firmly planted in the world of possibility and the game is all the more captivating for it.
The key to it all, as with any Far Cry game is the main villain. Joseph Seed is a ruined man, a charismatic leader and, at times, a sympathetic victim. This is an evil-doer that is wholly relatable and his actions, while extreme are understandable. In Far Cry 3, Vaas was a certifiable maniac and while entertaining, he was very much a traditional baddie. The same can be said for Pagan Min in Far Cry 4, who at times felt more like the bad guy from a Bond flick. With Joseph Seed, Ubisoft has created a villain that players can both fear and feel for. This is helped immensely by Greg Byrk’s wonderful acting job. The voice work and motion capture is a wonder to behold and Greg brings Joseph to life perfectly. The remainder of the Seed family are also interesting and understandable characters that have found purpose and meaning within The Father’s cult and they add depth and intrigue to the story with every line of dialogue.
There are some negatives to the characters during the game however, namely with the companions that players rescue throughout the game. Once rescued they can tag along with the deputy and help out, but sadly most of them are obnoxious and grating. Their constant chatter a distraction and their, shall we say, redneck tendencies a horrible contrast to the rest of the game’s serious setting. Players may find themselves choosing the animal companions (a dog, a bear or a cougar) just so they don’t have to listen to the jarring prattle every two seconds.
The gameplay on offer will be familiar to any fan of the Far Cry franchise. An open world map is there to explore, outposts are there to be captured, treasures exist to be found. However, everything has been refined and improved from previous entries. Perhaps the biggest change is that side missions, even the small treasure hunting activities, feel like they have weight. These missions all feel important to the setting and the story. This is something that Ubisoft also managed with Assassin’s Creed Origins, so it is pleasing to see it carry over here. The second major change is how the map unfolds. Radio towers are gone, no more, kaput. No longer are players required to climb a tower to scout the surrounding area. The map now unfolds in a much more fluid manner, with rescued hostages telling players where to find treasure, maps found in gas stations highlighting good fishing spots and companions seeing interesting things in the distance. It feels natural and is certainly a welcome change from the old way of doing things.
Graphically the game is stunning, especially on 4k capable systems. The level of detail is astounding and there are many moments during the campaign that scream for a built-in photo mode (which at this point in time is missing). Stunning mountains, eery forests and quaint country towns are all present, looking exactly how you would expect them too. Another thing that Ubisoft has managed to do in their portrayal of this area is avoiding the obvious cliches. There isn’t a single Deliverance reference and not one note of banjo music to be found. It would have been fair to assume that Ubisoft would have gone for the low hanging fruit, but they have, to their credit, avoided it almost entirely.
Is Far Cry 5 just another Far Cry game? Well, yes it is, but at the same time, it is more than that. This is a game that has taken what came before it and improved upon it in every single way. The story is brutal, engaging and utterly enthralling, the main characters are memorable and the gameplay is refined and presented in a clever and natural way. So yes this is just another Far Cry game, it is Far Cry at its peak, the best that Far Cry can be and that is truly something worth playing.
I told you god would let you take me…