There has been a lot of hype (and controversy) surrounding Ubisoft’s latest Far Cry game and, with its new setting and creepy yet charismatic villain, Far Cry 5 is set to be one of the biggest games of 2018. Fortress of Solitude was fortunate enough to be invited to a special preview event for the game to see if it stands up to all the hype, excitement and controversy it has been receiving.
Without spoiling too much, Far Cry 5’s plot takes place in a fictional area called Hope County in rural Montana where a fanatical religious cult called Eden’s Gate has been slowly taking over. The group is led by the charismatic (yet creepy as all hell) Joseph Seed who, as the “father” of his followers, sees himself has their only salvation from the evils of the world. Naturally, no self-respecting cult-leader would ever leave home without an armed group of fanatics, which Joseph has plenty of. Those that don’t want to be “enlightened” by Joseph and his family soon find themselves staring at the wrong side of a gun.
You take on the role of the sheriff’s deputy, aptly named “Rookie”. Along with the sheriff and the U.S Marshalls, he is tasked with bringing Joseph to justice. After a truly unnerving introduction to the cult’s leader, you are asked to handcuff him (of course, they’ll ask the rookie) and escort him to a helicopter waiting to extract you and your team. As mentioned, I really don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say that the Father’s followers weren’t too happy with the “Law” taking their leader and within minutes I found myself and my fellow lawmen (and women) trapped in a crashed helicopter with Joseph escaping, thanks to his fanatic followers.
After escaping the burning wreckage, I soon found myself being hunted by the cult as I dodged bullets and ran for the nearest cover. It’s quite an exhilarating and tense introduction to Far Cry 5’s world and, after getting my bearings, I started doing what Far Cry heroes do best, sneaking around and taking out unsuspecting bad guys with a lead pipe. It didn’t take long for me to get my hands on a firearm. Strangely, even after having some firepower, I still found myself preferring to stick to the shadows as I scoured my surroundings looking for a way to escape the cult.
Catching my breath after the tense escape, I noticed just how stunning the Montana wilderness looked as the moonlight shone through the trees. Far Cry 5 is a good-looking game. From the abandoned buildings to the swathes of trees that line the branching rivers, each area has been meticulously recreated to resemble the environments one would find in Montana, U.S.A. Ubisoft has breathed a lot of life into the map. I saw creatures ranging from a bear to a moose and even packs of wolves going about their daily routines, which sometimes involved attacking me.
Far Cry 5‘s map is filled with all kind of random events, such as cultist hunting buffalo (they have to eat after all) and various other surprises which could lead to interesting missions. The map itself is divided into different regions, each being controlled by one of Josephs twisted siblings. As you progress through the game, you will eventually face off against each of these siblings until you finally face off against Father himself. Now, as you can guess, I didn’t have much time to appreciate my surroundings as there was a cult that I needed to stop, but first I had to find some friends who would aid me on my quest.
Missions and points of interest in Far Cry 5 are no longer activated by climbing radio towers over and over (the game itself even pokes fun at this mechanic) but rather they are discovered in a way that feels more natural and organic. As you make your way through the Montana wilderness, you will discover various NPC in need of help. It’s completely up to you if you want to aid them, but in many cases completing these missions will unlock new missions and, of course, brand new shiny loot.
Along with the natural unfolding mission structure, the game also introduces the much talked about guns-for-hire and claws-for-hire system, which allowed me to go into battle alongside a diabetic bear called Cheeseburger and a master huntress called Jess Black, among others. While Far Cry 5 is no walk in the park, as my many deaths will attest to, having the new AI-controlled partners covering your back not only made combat more enjoyable, opening more strategic options to me, but it also made taking on Eden’s Gate less lonely.
What did impressed me quite a bit when it came to my new AI-controlled fellow rebels was that they each had their own personality. On quite a few occasions Jess (the above-mentioned huntress) and my second companion (whose name eludes me) started discussing the area’s predicament, the mission we were currently on or just how their day was going. It’s a small touch but one that made me feel as if each member of my rag-tag team had their own personality and life beyond just shooting cultists alongside me. I actually started to grow fond of these AI companions, who on more than one occasion saved my life as I lay bleeding on the ground after a cultist sneaked up behind me unloading their entire clip into my body.
One of the most memorable (and at the same time disturbing) missions my team and I went on was when my kick-ass bow-wielding companion, Jess, asked me to help her take down a despicable being called the Butcher. Now, this guy is downright horrible. Jess informed me that he delighted in burning people and even went as far as to starve a group of children only to feed their parent’s body parts to them. After hearing this gruelling tale, I knew that I had an arrow with the Butchers name on it in my quiver.
The Far Cry series has always relished in the fact that it allowed players to take on missions as they saw fit and Far Cry 5 is no exception. With the ability to command both my AI companions, I was able to set up ambushes, silently take out snipers and even just go in guns blazing (or bears blazing) when necessary. This freedom once again extends to the arsenal of weapons available to players. There are more than enough variety to keep the stealthy killer and the wannabe action hero content.
After sneakily dispatching a few of the Butcher’s henchmen from the shadows, we finally met up with the man (monster) himself. Luckily, he and his armed group was no match for me and my well-oiled team as we took down the monster once and for all.
From the short time we spent with Far Cry 5, it seems that the game is on track to be one of the most immersive and captivating experiences of 2018. With a more down to earth setting, a weirdly fascinating and downright terrifying villain, and a world that truly feels alive, Far Cry 5 had me engrossed from the moment I stepped out of the burning helicopter wreckage.
It’s commendable how Far Cry 5 is able to balance a very relevant and serious narrative with more light-hearted and laugh out loud moments, something which very few games have been able to achieve. I can’t wait to take back Hope County from Eden’s Gate when the game launches later this month.
Thank you to Megarom for inviting us to try out Far Cry 5.