Far Cry was first released in 2004, and has released it’s fifth main installment earlier this year. Being well noted for its vast open world, strong narrative, and AI interactions, the Far Cry series has become a staple in the AAA industry. While this basis stays the same for each game, the setting and narrative change with every edition of Far Cry. Each game is individual with no direct connections to the previous games (except a few well placed Easter eggs). Far Cry 5 makes some changes to the roots of the series, affecting it both positively and negatively, while still maintaining the heart of the Far Cry series.
The game takes place in Hope County, Montana, where a radical preacher Joseph Seed (“the father”) has risen to power. Joseph has installed a cult in the region called Eden’s Gate, trying to convert others to prepare the “inevitable collapse”. The game starts by establishing the protagonist as a rookie deputy, surrounded by fellow officers. Through conversation, you learn that you are currently on your way to arrest Joseph for kidnapping with intent to harm. After a long cutscene, the arrest fails, the other officers have been captured, and the protagonist escapes. From here, the game becomes the vastly beautiful open world of Far Cry that players have fallen in love with.
The game sections off into three regions. Each with a “Herald” that needs to be terminated to win over the region. This includes: Jacob, John, and Faith. Jacob is the older brother of Joseph, and is an ex-military sniper in charge of training members for the cult. John is Joseph’s younger brother, and has uplifted most of the property from Hope County through legal actions. Faith has no blood relation to the Seed family, but oversees the production of ‘Bliss’. ‘Bliss’ is a mind numbing drug that the Eden’s Gate uses for multiple purposes.
From here, the game opens up, allowing to player to complete the game in any order that they would like. Although still somewhat narratively linear, the player can change the ending of the game in a choice based sequence.
Unlike the previous Far Cry installments, the way to unlock each regions is through a new system that is dependent on “resistance points”. After accumulating enough resistance points, a player is able to progress the story for that region. The previous games relied on liberating outposts and completely discovering the region to progress the story. This new system actually makes it so the previous ways are not necessary at all. These resistance points can be gained through liberating outposts or discovering locations, but can be earned through other ways as well. By completing side missions, or even doing random encounters can instead give you enough resistance points to progress the story. This new system affected the gameplay pretty drastically, because the player no longer needs to take over outposts (although I highly recommend it) or trek the wilderness for discovery. This affects the pace of the game because players are not able to rapidly push through the narrative. However, this comes with a toll. Because the main story is not allowed to be directly pursued, side quests become more of a necessity to complete the game rather than an opportunity to promote the game’s lore. So, rather than enjoying the side-quests and random encounters for the lore and fun, Far Cry 5 instead forces the player into completing them to push the narrative. Often, I found myself completing side-quest after side-quest, without a care for what is being done or said, but rather caring about the resistance points earned.
Another new system that relates to the resistance points is the way to discover the map. Previous installments had systems of “radio towers”, where the player would scale them, and complete some task at the top, resulting in a clearing of the fog that hid the map. Far Cry 5 instead removed the radio towers entirely, and only removes the fog by literally traversing through it. By physically traveling throughout the map, the fog around the player disappears. This new system pushes players to see everything that Far Cry has to offer, including new locations, people, and the beautiful scenery. This affected the pace of the game the most, since players aren’t able to rapidly unlock areas of a map at a time. This new system also went hand in hand with the new resistance points system. While this system sounds nice, it can be very frustrating too. For a player to completely discover an area, the have to traverse it, which takes a large amount of time. While there are planes and other forms of transportation (planes don’t discover the area underneath it), there is no fast way to discover Hope County. Since the game offers a fast travel option, the need for discovery is only based on the player’s desire. Also, since it is the wilderness, to fully explore Hope County requires a lot of patience and endurance.
The customization system in the game is also different from previous games with new innovations, and also eliminations. This is the first Far Cry game that allows for character customization. This allows for a better infusion of player and character, with unlockable outfits that match your character, and also some that are humorously unaesthetic. However, despite the customablity, the game fails to give the character a proper name. Besides his rank, the protagonist doesn’t get a name, which is odd, because it defamiliarizes the character and narrative.
The progression system is also different from previous installments. While the perk progression system is similar, it engulfed the carrying capacity parts of Far Cry. In previous games, the player would have to hunt animals, then skin them to craft better items (such as wallets, bags, etc.). This would always end in a hunt for a strong and almost mythical creature for the maximum unlock. However, Far Cry 5 takes this away, and instead infuses it with the perk progression system. This was highly disappointing, since it seemed to decrease wildlife encounters (which were incredibly fun in previous games), and rid the game of some of the most interesting and easy lore that players indulged themselves with. While making it a bit easier to obtain these perks, the game suffered aesthetically from this choice.
One of the newest and most anticipated features of Far Cry 5 was the recruitment system. This allowed for players to have guns for hire, befriend animals, or specialists to fight alongside the player. Some of the animals and specialists can only be unlocked through side missions, which again funnels the player to get those resistance points. While it did give the player more options, it often became more of a handicap than a crutch. Because the AIs were almost Bethesda quality, they would often interrupt a surprise attack, or just frankly get in the way. Despite the anticipation, the recruiting system in Far Cry 5 was one of the most blatant disappointments of the game.
The Far Cry 5 experience:
While there are a lot of new systems in place, it still plays like a good Far Cry game. The Dunia engine runs smooth, revealing the beauty that the Far Cry series is known for. There was an occasional glitch when driving, but nothing that shattered the games immersion too much. The weapon wheel still plays an effective way that offers different experiences of play in the huge open world. Talking to AIs to find and gather lore was prominent to the progression of the story, but was still immersive. So, noticeably, the things that stayed the same were still fun and the new changes worked okay.
While the narrative seemed awesome, it was honestly more of a annoyance than a fundamental part of the game. When the player receives enough resistance points and unlocks a new part for the story, it interrupts the player with no regards to the realism of the game. This was disappointing, because it gave the player no chance to evade the “hunting parties” or main story. The game began to force the narrative, which was undelightful. In addition to this interruption of gameplay, the game also gave long and boring cutscenes, where only a few were actually interesting. While the narrative did have a lot of potential since it relied heavily on biblical parallels and lore (a lot with the seven deadly sins), it failed. With the main premise being that it is my duty to rescue my fellow officers, topple a cult, single handedly without giving the character at least a name, puts too much of a suspension of disbelief that made the narrative uninteresting from the start.
The combat was very fun, with a range of enemies to fight. Players have the option to play as they please, from stealth to full rambo, with no penalties. The missions were fun, and even challenging. With a large range in arsenal to a range in transportation, Far Cry 5 delivered a fun experience.
Despite Far Cry 5’s smooth transition into the Far Cry series, it fails in comparison to its predecessors. The game is still fun, fluid and Far Cry, however it’s failure to captivate the players with a strong narrative ultimately destroyed the game’s main arch. With interrupting narrative, long cutscenes, and repetition of missions, the main story becomes repulsive. The new systems fail to push players into wanting to discover Hope County, instead pushes players into mindless quest running. The lack of lore and animals also prove to be a whiplash of forcing the narrative. Overall, Far Cry 5 is a fun game, but it is definitely the weakest one in the series.