Far Cry 5 (Xbox One Review)
When you dare to utter the words “Ubisoft Formula”, it’s never with admiration. As a signifier for tired design, repetitive takes, and an open world that’s wider than it is deep, it’s almost a signifier that you need to lower your expectations. This homogeny in design results in titles like Assassin’s Creed, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and Far Cry all being bunched together in spite of them being at odds thematically. And in some ways Far Cry 5 does try to break this cast iron mould.
While it Far Cry 5 does cast aside the trademark tower climbing puzzles of previous games to set itself apart to encourage more exploration, it seldom does much else to distinguish itself. So for those of you that take comfort in the other traditional comforts of similar titles, you’ll be more than happy to hear that it’s still a Far Cry title through and through. The map extends to the horizon and is littered with redundant collectibles and inconsequential side quests. This dilution of content ultimately detracts from the core campaign and doesn’t do enough to revitalise a franchise wrought with tedium.
Instead of stepping into the shoes of a specific character, Far Cry 5 finally lets players create their own character free of the predefined narratives of earlier entries. You’ll explore Hope County as the newly appointed deputy, tasked will tackling a cult known as Eden’s Gate. At the forefront of the cult is Father Joseph Seed, a fanatical dictator and the self-proclaimed saviour of Hope County. Within minutes of starting Far Cry 5, you’ll confront Father Joseph and his entire regime of spiritually lost residents. From there you’re expected to locate each member of Eden’s Gate and adopt a brisk sweep and clear mentality as your progress onwards.
The structure is par for the course when it comes to Ubisoft titles, but the implementation within Far Cry 5 was a personal sticking point. To avoid breaking immersion, a lot of the unfolding story is told over the radio and ultimately lost when some of the key villains’ tales conclude on air as opposed to cutscenes. Having Joseph Seed taunt me over the airways isn’t quite as threatening as seeing his fearsome posturing in the flesh. Thankfully the campaign isn’t devoid of custscenes, in fact everyone does get a small portion of screen time, but its spread so thing that many of the characters fail to leave a lasting impression.
The need for continual sacrifices to the Gods of Immersion meant that Ubisoft have stepped away from the traditional HUD and minimap of previous entries, which I don’t totally agree with. Thankfully the removal of these elements means that you’re able to truly appreciate Hope County. I’ve never explored a more visually stunning setting than Hope County. Within the rural farmlands you’re able to explore and discover set pieces that are nothing short of spectacular. There’s even the added bonus of a photo mode than allows you to share these astounding sights with friends. Walking through a heavily vegetated forest as a small ray of light breaks through the valley is breath taking to a point that it almost feels real.
The lush environments soften the blow of the grand amount of time you’ll be expunging in Hope County. Unfortunately most of this time will be spent partaking in mundane fetch quests for residents who don’t seem particularly eager to do anything more than sit about and get drunk. There are a few standouts, like ‘Testy Festy’ and taking down drug addled animals called ‘Judges’, but they aren’t enough to raise the average above mediocrity.
When you’re not picking up the locals’ groceries, you’ll be blowing them up. Yes, that means Far Cry 5 still retains its predecessor’s outpost system. Eden’s Gate have laid siege to farmhouses, local establishments, and warehouses throughout Hope County and it’s your job to liberate them. Just like the old days, you can go in all guns blazing or opt for a stealthier more rewarding route but this is hampered by some fairly poor A.I. that swings between super human senses and no sense at all.
Although the A.I.’s inability to detect you becomes a god send when a Herald sends their entire squad after you for destroying a base. Nowhere is safe as an entire army descends upon your location, leaving you little time to spend your skill points or even check out what’s left of your inventory. This all results in you being forced to tackle a Herald in a specific zone after destroying an outpost, flying in the face of the otherwise free roaming nature of Far Cry 5.
When you do find some respite between fending off cultist, you’ll be able to invest your hard earned perk points. Points can be allocated across a variety of skills, ranging from larger ammo reserves to increased health. It’s as standard as standard can be. The real diversity comes in to play when you start to earn cash and silver bars (which can also be purchased with real world currency). There’s so much to spend your cash and silver bars on and the need to spend real money to get better gear never feels forced upon you, in fact you can get everything you want without ever spending a dime. So, even though silver bars are a questionable inclusion, Ubisoft have implemented them in a fair way.
When the paradisal scenery of Hope County wears thin, you can hop on over to Far Cry Arcade. Through the arcade you can create your own maps, explore other player’s creations, or partake in the odd deathmatch. The obvious draw here is Far Cry 5’s level creator. With a bit of imagination, a plethora of tools at your disposal, and a lot of free time, the sky is the limit – like the actual limit, there are no space exploration options. However, actually getting to play any custom maps is a massive problem. When you’re placed in a match and left to decide where to explore, there are far too many menus and lists to scroll in the rather limited 15 seconds allocated to do so. Thanks to this rather tight timescale, it’s very hard to find an interesting map to play on and most players will end up in one of the standard Ubisoft levels. However, even with these rather frustrating components, Far Cry Arcade is by far the most promising and exciting part of Far Cry 5 and it will only get better as time passes.
Far Cry 5 tries to convince you that it has taken massive strides to distance itself from the old formula by ironically following the old formula in a reductive fashion. By removing some key focal points and focussing on what remains, content often feels spread thin and shallow. Quests lack spirit and the antagonist just doesn’t hold the same level of threat as previous instalments. Even with such a beautifully crafted open world and the potential of Far Cry Arcade, it’s hard to really invest in. Personally, it just doesn’t hit the mark and there wasn’t much hope left in Hope County.
Far Cry 5
- Beautifully crafted world.
- Map Editor is fantastic.
- Multiplayer has loads of potential.
- Microtransactions don`t feel forced
- Antogonist fail`s at being impactful
- Story/Side missions are uninspired.
- Too much repetition in activities
- Playing custom created content in multiplayer feels overly difficult.