When it comes to developers delaying games, in my mind it means one of two things. Option one is that they want more time to polish the game, to try and squeeze out all the best possible outcomes for their upcoming title. However, option two is that the game is a disaster and they don’t want to release it because it’s simply not ready and it’ll get absolutely slaughtered by fans and critics alike. So, when I found out that Far Cry 5 was delayed, I was worried as to which category would this game fit into… would it be an open-world explosive extravaganza worthy of the Far Cry title? Or would it be a sloppy game with a crap tonne of bugs? And thankfully, this is a game worthy of the Far Cry title, and then some.
Now going back to when Far Cry 4 launched, my biggest issue with the game was how it felt way too similar to the third instalment of the franchise. I felt like they played their cards way to safely. Other than a graphical upgrade, the game barely changed, with two main exceptions being the location and the story. Oh, and the addition of the grapple feature, which in all fairness was pretty nifty. But anyway, here we are with Far Cry 5, and finally we’ve got a Far Cry that feels different.
The first thing you’ll notice when you are let go into the wilderness of Far Cry 5's fictional American state, Hope County is the sheer beauty of it all. I've played the game on Xbox One X, and my god is it impressive. All the surroundings are so rich, organic, and immensely immersive. The amount of foliage this game is able to render whilst maintaining a solid 30 fps in native 4K resolution is mind-boggling, and it's also really nice to see how Ubisoft have taken advantage of the Xbox One X's tower of power.
It really is clear to see that Ubisoft have taken their time with this title, and how they’ve somehow managed to give this game a ‘larger-than-live’ feeling. It’s scary how real this place feels, and thanks to the lack of mini-map now, you are able to see this world even more so, as that has now been replaced with a nifty little compass at the top of your screen. And speaking of removing features, this edition of the Far Cry franchise does not shy away from it. In fact, a small handful of things have been thrown out the window with Far Cry 5.
Remember having to skin animals, in order to get better wallets and unlock more weapon slots? Well they've now been replaced with a perk system, which you unlock through completing challenges or side quests, and as for your wallet, you can now carry any amount of money you wish right from the start of the game – removing any form of money limit, unlike the previous titles. Remember all those radio towers you’re used to climbing? Well they're now gone as well. In order to discover new activities, side quests and missions, you’ll just do so by playing the game. It sounds obvious, but hear me out on this. Ubisoft knew that one of the first things a player does when it comes to playing a vast open-world game, such as this, is to explore. So, whilst the game may have a linear storyline, it rewards you for playing the game in your own way. You can travel to wherever you so wish to do so, complete side quests in whatever order or way you desire, and it won’t affect how the narrative plays out at all.
Speaking of the story, I must say that after completing it, it wasn’t really what I was expecting it to be. By no means is the story of this game bad, but perhaps it can be a tad underwhelming. The first few moments of the game are simply gripping. You are brought into this county to arrest Joseph Seed – the game's main antagonist, and things just snowball into chaos from there. It’s the usual Far Cry intro scenario really. Go to a new place, aim to complete a simple enough task, things go wrong quickly, and then before you know it, you’re on the run trying to escape some religious extremists who are angry at you for trying to arrest their leader. It really does stick a hook in you and refuses to let you go for a while, but this is when I felt things took a bit of a negative turn.
My main issue is, I really wanted this game to focus on Joseph Seed, but instead, once you are finished being introduced to him you, you barely see him for the rest of the game. Instead you are greeted to his “family,” which you must hunt down and eliminate. The family consists of four people in total, with the father being Joseph Seed. Then the three remaining members; John Seed, Jacob Seed and Faith Seed, to which all are given a selected region of the map – each of which you must take over and attempt to save your fellow crew members who got kidnapped from the begging of the game.
Now credit where credit is due, John and Jacob are pretty solid villains, each with their own twisted take on why the cult is perfectly fine and that you are the one that’s crazy… but then there is Faith. For me, she is one of the more weaker characters in the game, a young girl who felt alone and lost, only to find ‘the way’ thanks to Joseph Seed and the help of the magical ‘bliss’ which you will encounter plenty of times throughout the game. It’s just these small little things I find a bit irritating, and as weird as this sentence may sound, I wish she had more of a twisted story of why she believes in the cult, rather than a magical gas that saved her.
So, three separate villains, each with their own regain and their own unique objects in their respective region to be destroyed. Perhaps it would seem nice to have a helping hand to join you on your journey throughout Hope County. Well thankfully, co-op makes its return, except this time it’s been heavily improved upon. If you remember, back in Far Cry 4, once in co-op, you could only roam about in the open-world and take over enemy bases with you pal without being able to progress through the story. Thankfully however, Far Cry 5 now enables co-op players to play thought almost the entirety of the game with each other, without any problems whatsoever.
The best thing about this, is that when it comes to certain missions in which you must infiltrate a certain base or building of some kind, it can really change your play-style during the mission. Instead of scoping out the location beforehand and then diving into the operation, now you can either; get your friend to scope out the location for you, whilst they direct you to which cultist to you’d be safe to whack over the head with a shovel, or, you can tell your partner to go guns blazing into enemy fire and use them as bait, whilst you scarper off to flick some switches, or blow up some containers. Whilst it may feel like a small feature being able to play campaign with your friends, it really does impact the game in ways that you may not have thought it would.
However, if perhaps you would rather absorb all the game's goodness alone without going into co-op, but would yet still like an extra pair of hands, or paws, then you can. As you explore the map of Far Cry 5, you will eventually bump into certain characters that will offer to help you – if you help them. There are in total up to nine different 'Guns for hire' and all have their own traits. If perhaps you are the kind of player that likes to do things quietly and leave no witnesses, then there are characters that will maintain that level of stealth for you. But, if you would rather go in all-guns blazing, and make sure no corpse is left until it’s cooked medium-rare, then you can hire people who will help you do that too.
When I came into this review, I mainly had one question on my mind, and it was if this game would be another copy and paste job of Far Cry 3 and 4, or would it be able to stand up on its own two feet and breakaway from its previous titles whilst maintaining its core characteristics? And thankfully, it does. This game feels completely fresh and new, for the most part. Whilst I must give huge amounts of credit for changing up the franchise and creating an absolutely stunning sandbox to play in, by doing so it’s created the odd issue here and there. I do feel as if the narrative was a bit weak, and that once you complete the main story, there really isn’t a sense for you to keep playing on, other than for the sake of getting all the achievements.
But, despite these little niggles, the game really does offer monumental amounts of fun to be had. Playing about alone, or with a friend, you will find yourself in countless moments that will leave you in tears of laughter. The fact that so much happens all at once, creates a vivid playing experience, such as running down a hill whilst getting chased by grizzly bears, whilst your friend fails to deploy their parachute and then just belly flops right in front of you, whilst getting shot by mad cultists… the list just goes on. Far Cry 5 is a game that offers you all of these things and more, which when combined together creates an incredibly fun experience, and at the end of the day, when a game is able to offer you hours of laughs, thrills and spills, what more could you possibly want?
Tom is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. He's the face behind the iconic Gear Knobs series, which is recorded and edited in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V. When it comes to Tom Matthews, two things come to mind – cars and Jeremy Clarkson, and you can expect to hear a lot of that amongst his various ramblings and rants in his weekly Sunday column.