If you are familiar with the Far Cry formula, then there are a few things you know you can expect with the release of a new entry in the series: an exotic location, a large sandbox to explore, and a lot of things to shoot. Far Cry 5 maintains that same formula, but instead of an exotic location like the Himalayas or an island in the Pacific for our adventure, it takes place in modern-day Montana.
This time around, we take on the role of a sheriff’s deputy who, along with a small task force, is sent to Hope County to assist in the removal of a religious doomsday cult, Eden’s Gate, and the arrest of their leader, Joseph Seed. This plan immediately goes awry, as the cult’s followers attack the task force helicopter, forcing it to crash, freeing Joseph and setting the game’s plot in motion.
Far Cry 5 does a few things differently right off the bat as it lets you customize your character; you can not only choose between different outfits and hairstyles, but the gender of your character as well. This was a pleasant surprise for me, as I am far more driven to advance in a game and complete quests with the promise of newer clothes or glasses as a reward, rather than saving the day or defeating bad guys.
As with other Far Cry games, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer scale of the game map as well as the seemingly endless list of things to do. From story missions, to side quests, to Prepper Stashes, to Guns for Hire, to collectibles, to hunting and fishing, the list goes on and on—all while you are constantly being hunted by Joseph and the followers of Eden’s Gate, not to mention all manner of aggressive wildlife.
Thankfully, this is where Far Cry‘s biggest new feature really comes in handy: online multiplayer. Featured prominently in the menu, all it takes is a few simple clicks and you can send an invite to your friends and have them seamlessly jump into your game; there’s no lengthy load times or watered down “online only” game modes. It’s the same full Far Cry 5 story, but this time with backup. This feature alone kept me coming back to Hope County again and again. Not only does it even the odds in your fight for survival against Eden’s Gate, but it also adds to the chaos and unpredictability of a game that is already overflowing with chaos and unpredictability.
Here’s an example: I was playing with a friend of mine on Xbox, and we had just destroyed a large Eden’s Gate roadblock. As I was looting bodies for ammo, I turned to see him engaged in a fistfight with a wolverine—which, in Far Cry 5, is a perfectly normal thing to do. I finished my looting and started over to assist him in his fight, which was going on for longer than I think he had intended, only for him to emerge victorious. His revelry was short lived though, as seconds after dispatching with the wolverine, a roaming wild turkey snuck up behind him and finished what the wolverine had started.
Even if you choose to ignore online altogether, there is a handy companion system that allow you to assemble a party of ragtag mercenaries, and some four-legged friends, to make sure you don’t have to face Eden’s Gate alone. Of course, the game does boast some impressive visuals that, even on my standard Xbox One, made a place like Big Sky Country feel like a fitting setting next to other games set in more interesting destinations. A wide variety of customizable weapons, character perks, and vehicles means that every enemy encounter can be as different and unique as you want.
Unless you are like me, and you just rely on your trusty rocket launcher to blow up anything and everything.
Meanwhile, there are a few things that do take some getting used to, but that don’t necessarily take away from the overall Far Cry experience. The weapon wheel is a tad cumbersome, and will leave you ill equipped for a firefight more than once as you try to switch from a shovel to a shotgun. Also, while I don’t doubt turkeys and wolverines are hard to defeat in hand-to-hand combat, even with the addition of a baseball bat it seems to take forever to put them down. Airplane combat also gets very confusing, especially when it is necessary for story progression; even if you ignore story missions, the game will railroad you through story if you advance too far without doing it.
All of that being said, Far Cry 5 is an enjoyable experience that is only made better with the inclusion of multiplayer; hopefully, DLC will keep the fun going throughout the summer. I, for one, am hoping for some additional cosmetic options, as I am in desperate need for some better shirt choices.
Far Cry 5 is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.