While Ubisoft saw some success with the first two Far Cry games, Far Cry 3 is when the series really took off. It delivered a compelling open world game that sold millions of copies and won a number of year-end awards, leading Ubisoft to release a few followups that attempted to capture the same magic. The Far Cry games since Far Cry 3 have been decent mostly well-received, but none of them have managed to quite live up to the hype. Far Cry 5 is the exception. Simply put, Far Cry 5 lives up to the hype.
Far Cry 5 feels like a streamlined take on the open world formula established by past games. For example, instead of players having to hunt animals to craft equipment upgrades, almost all upgrades are purchased using perks. Animals can still be hunted, though players are able to skin them without a long, drawn-out animation, and their skins are sold at shops instead of used for crafting. Instead of players having to climb tower after tower to unlock portions of the map, the map is unlocked as players explore the game world, find new areas of interest, and meet new characters.
The result is that Far Cry 5 moves at a much faster pace than past games in the series, and it’s for the better. The lenient fast travel system, that isn’t hindered by arbitrary restrictions, allows players to bounce from one mission to the next without having to walk miles through the woods like was necessary in some of the previous games. In Far Cry 5, players are almost always in the action or moving the story forward, and it makes it really hard to put down.
Far Cry 5‘s mission structure isn’t perfect, however. Players have to earn a certain number of “resistance points” to unlock the final story mission in each section of the map, and sometimes this requires grinding repetitive tasks like blowing up cult property or rescuing hostages. While many of the side missions are meaningful and have a lot of substance to them, some of them also require players to do repetitive and boring things, like fetch quests or destroying vehicles.
This repetitiveness is sometimes an issue in the main story as well. There are multiple missions that require players to steal a truck for another character and deliver it back to them, and liberating outposts can sometimes feel like busywork, as they all boil down to the same basic strategy. The main story is also derailed on numerous occasions by short sections where players are captured by the villains, and while this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it happens so much that it becomes almost comical, and sometimes it can interrupt the player in the middle of a mission. Generous checkpoints make this less of an issue, but it still slows player momentum.
For the most part, though, Far Cry 5 moves at a breakneck pace and is one of the most consistently entertaining open world games from one minute to the next. The story missions may sometimes feel repetitive, but even though the objectives are familiar, the characters players interact with are different, and are all well-written, fleshed out individuals. They all feel like real people living in the game’s setting of Hope County, Montana, and so it makes it easier to power through some of the less interesting missions to see how their story develops.
Of particular interest when it comes to the citizens of Hope County are the people (and animals) that can be recruited as Guns for Hire. While a co-op companion may suffice for some, those without anyone to join in co-op can call upon AI-controlled teammates to help them on missions. The AI is pretty useful and smart most of the time, and the characters are capable of doing everything from stealthily infiltrating a compound to driving the player character from one part of the map to another. However, the AI sometimes has some questionable moments, and has a bad habit of getting crushed by spawning vehicles.
There are some rough edges for sure, but the partner AI is still impressive and extremely helpful more often than not. There will be times where missions are saved by the presence of a Guns for Hire teammate, and recruiting these new characters becomes one of the most satisfying driving forces of the game. Beyond utilizing the Guns for Hire characters in missions, it’s also fun to spend some time with them out in the open world, listen to their dialogue, and see the little ways they grow over the course of the game.
Far Cry 5‘s great character development can be seen not only through the allies players will make along the way, but also with the villains they encounter as well. Whereas Far Cry 3 and 4 both only really had one standout antagonist, Far Cry 5 features at least four that are all given the same level of care as Vaas and Pagan Min. Besides the highly publicized Joseph Seed, players will also contend with his siblings Jacob, John, and Faith, all of whom have their own stories that make them intimidating figures that are satisfying to fight against.
Far Cry 5‘s story is also helped by the main character being a mostly silent protagonist. This allows the other characters in Far Cry 5 to really shine, and at times the game feels like a collection of short stories about the various characters in Hope County, Montana, as opposed to a singular tale of revenge or survival for the player character. The player character is also customizable, which doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but it means players won’t be worried about their character’s personality clashing with the story.
Besides creating their own character, Far Cry 5 players can also create their own levels thanks to the Arcade mode, which essentially functions as a comprehensive level editor. In addition to creating their own stages, players will also be able to check out levels created by others, and the robust tools available means that some of these creations will be rather impressive. Pickings have been slim since the community has yet to try their hand at Arcade, but the few selections available prove that Arcade has serious potential.
Arcade is a great way to boost replayability in Far Cry 5, but some may be more concerned with how much content they can expect from the campaign. Far Cry 5 has all the usual open world activities for players to do, like completing side missions, finding collectibles, and more. The map is fairly large, though not obnoxiously massive, so there’s plenty to see and do in Hope County without feeling overwhelmed.
Hope County, by the way, is beautifully realized and is just a treat to explore, especially for anyone that lives in a similar area in the United States. Ubisoft has managed to create an accurate take on life in rural America, and while there was some concern that the game would be too harsh on right-wing individuals (to the point that petitions were made), rest assured that it satirizes people on both sides of the political spectrum. It mainly does this through its well-written characters, and while some feel over-the-top, many more come across as actual human beings.
By focusing on characters and story over cliche open world tropes, Far Cry 5 manages to be completely and utterly engrossing from start to finish. It’s one of the finest takes on the open world genre that we’ve seen, and while it may not deliver much in the way of revolutionary new ideas, it still stands as the best Far Cry game since Far Cry 3.
Far Cry 5 will launch on March 27 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant reviewed the game on PS4.