Far Cry 5 Review: Pure Entertainment

Feedback for my previous review was pretty good, so I guess I’ll continue writing these! I apologize ahead of time if they are excessively wordy; these are meant to be in-depth reviews that try to cover all aspects of the game.

Cover art for the game

Far Cry 5 is the 5th installment in Ubisoft’s famous Far Cry series, a series of single player, open world, first-person shooter games with a premise of you being dropped off in some given environment and proceeding to, pardon my language, fuck shit up. In 5, you are a deputy in Hope County, a fictional(?) county in the state of Montana, a place with a cult problem. Fanatical cultists have banded behind a man named Joseph Seed and have more or less taken over Hope County, and your job is to basically destroy the cult and liberate the place. Joseph has three crony family members, each with their own piece of the Hope County pie, and you have to liberate those 3 regions through various means before finally being able to take on the big man himself.

As a shooter, the game looks and feels fantastic. The graphics are amazing; Hope County is gorgeous, filled with bright colors and scenic landscapes that make traveling across the map almost relaxing, if it weren’t for the fact you were constantly putting bullets through enemies’ heads. Your character’s movements are fluid, the gun play feels smooth, and for the most part the shooting mechanics are extremely solid. Far Cry 5 features bullet velocity and drop, and while that is not a new feature in shooters, it is nice to have and makes longer-ranged gun fights more rewarding to win, as you have to adjust for those factors to get your bullets to go where you want them to. Vehicle handling in this game is also decent; it can be a bit clunky at times but it is more than serviceable, and honestly I prefer going on foot most of the time anyways as it allows me to enjoy the scenery more. There are some bugs though, including some quest bugs where you have to reload your game to fix, and various interactions (especially regarding take-downs) are either buggy or poorly implemented (considering it’s less than a month old I’m willing to chalk it up to bugs that will likely be fixed in upcoming patches).

Like most single player, open world games, there are a few ways of progression for your character to get stronger, in the form of unlocked perks and weapons. You can obtain perk points through completing various challenges (killing enemies in a certain way, hunting specific animals, etc.), participating in the online game mode, or getting them as a reward from completing Prepper Stashes. With those points, you unlock perks to make your character stronger, from the most basic stuff like increased health to new abilities such as being able to pick open locks or rig any vehicle into a ticking time bomb. The stronger perks require more points to unlock, so if you’re interested in a specific perk but don’t have enough points, start saving up! What I like the most about the system is that the perks are only obtainable through playing the game; there are no lootboxes or any paid mechanisms to acquire perks faster, and I would’ve been pretty annoyed if there were such things.

The weapon progression system, in comparison, is not as cool though. The weapons store has a lot of “re-skins” of guns that are normally locked behind a resistance level requirement, but these re-skins do not have the same resistance level requirement. That means you can unlock the gun much earlier than intended, provided you have enough money to buy it. Problem is, money is easy to come by, so the progression system is rendered kind of moot. The weapon diversity is another issue; there is not a lot of reason to use a large amount of the game’s weapons from an efficiency standpoint (obviously use whatever you want as it’s a single player game, but that’s subjective). The biggest culprit is probably the M60 light machine gun. You can get it very early in the game by getting lucky with a supply vehicle, and once you have the relevant perks and attachments to improve it, congratulations, now you have a weapon that has the firepower of a machine gun, a huge magazine size so you’ll never have to worry about reloading, and at no expense of stealth too (you can attach a suppressor, rather hilariously). Why use anything else?

Best weapon in the game, courtesy of this video.

As far as the open world is concerned, the game does provide a good amount of interesting content to encourage players to explore. Some of the side quests are interesting, and liberating outposts is fun (after all that’s basically what most people play this series for I assume). Playing this game to completion however, is a chore. There are quite a few “scavenger hunt” missions where you’re required to explore the entire map hunting for some collectibles, which is already pretty tedious on its own, but a lot of them don’t even have a substantial reward for players who complete them. The only reason to do them is if you think searching the world for 12 comic books is fun, and that is not my cup of tea. The quest-line involving the occult (minor spoilers) is a blast though, and the reward you get from completing it is pretty funny to use, so there are definitely some good ones worth completing.

On to the story’s writing, which was a pretty controversial point in the gaming world. Apparently people were expecting this game to make strong political points, and ended up being upset when they realized the game didn’t meet their expectations. I guess maybe Ubisoft’s advertising might have given them that idea, but either way, I never cared for that personally. I bought this game to explore a world and shoot bad guys, and as long as the writing was not utter garbage, I’m satisfied. I think Far Cry 5’s story fits the bill; it certainly is not the most well-written narrative in the world but it is decent and does not drag the game down. I think the strongest part of the game’s narrative falls in the atmosphere. Assuming that this game makes a realistic attempt at depicting what people are like in Montana, the game does a real good job of making the experience feel somewhat authentic as you deal with Hope County’s various citizens (it seems like its residents prize their vehicles alright). Another theme I liked was the lack of clear moral superiority of your character to the villains. Do not get me wrong; Joseph Seed and his family/cult are not exactly the best people. They run a crazy cult that brainwashes people and have no issues with killing and/or kidnapping citizens who are not a part of their group. However, your character isn’t much of a saint either, considering how many people you brutally slaughter over the course of the game without really batting an eye (also I would like to believe a good amount of the cultists are not inherently evil, just brainwashed because Bliss is OP).

The story certainly isn’t perfect; there are three major issues I have with it. One is how it ties into the game’s resistance bar mechanic. Every time you reach a “checkpoint” in the bar, your character gets kidnapped by the boss of that region and you’re forced to complete the relevant story mission to return back to what you were doing before. It is extremely annoying from a gameplay perspective, and from a story perspective it makes you really wonder why the boss didn’t bother to kill you after the first time, and each attempt they make to kidnap you gets progressively more ridiculous to the point of almost bullshit. The second is with the drug Bliss, which is a fictional drug that is essentially LSD on steroids that also has the ability to brainwash people. How often it’s used to help forward/explain the plot reminds me of the infamous nanomachines in Metal Gear Solid 4, where nanomachines were used to basically explain almost every plot mechanic in the story, and to me that is just lazy writing. Finally, the ending was poorly executed. I definitely see what Ubisoft was trying to go for, and I appreciate the idea, but the way it turned out was pretty ham-fisted and it honestly could’ve been done a whole lot better. Not as bad as pre-DLC Mass Effect 3 was, but definitely not one of my favorite video game endings. At the end of the day, this is a Far Cry game, not The Last of Us, so the plot is serviceable enough for what the game tries to be.

Single-player aside, this game also has some online features, which include an “Arcade” mode that lets you explore custom maps created by other players and even dabble in some player-vs-player action, and a co-op mode that lets you help other players in the single-player mode. The Arcade mode has some cool toys if you ever want a change of pace from exploring Hope County, but honestly it’s not really worth writing home about (though you do get perk points from playing, so there is some incentive). The co-op is a bit more interesting, as it lets you and a friend double the mayhem and destruction, and all the other fun things that co-op modes usually bring. One thing to note is that story progress does not get saved for you, so personally I recommend playing through the game yourself, and then when you’re ahead, go back and help others through co-op.

Overall, Far Cry 5 is solid entertainment, and if you were searching for just that, this game is perfect. If you’re looking for something deep to change your world view or a literary masterpiece that throws you on a crazy emotional journey, then I suggest you look somewhere else. This game does an excellent job of being a fun experience, and really doesn’t try to do anything beyond that, and that’s perfectly fine.

Rating: I don’t think it’s worth getting at retail value, but definitely get it if there is a good sale.

Software engineer and gaming enthusiast, writing reviews to share quality media; check out my personal site at www.edmondwu.dev