When it first launched in 2004, Crytek’s Far Cry was a hallmark achievement in terms of organic, emergent gameplay and rendering distances. Never before was such a massive plot of in-game land fully explorable and entirely unhampered by a strict draw distance limitation disguised as fog à la Silent Hill. Though it’s more than a little wonky today, the original Far Cry certainly has a place in the annals of video game history. Sure, it’s not exactly Pac-Man or Mario, but turn-of-the-century PC gamers would be hard pressed to forget this tropical romp.
Fourteen years and four main-series releases later has brought us to the remote wilderness of Montana in Far Cry 5 and, though it may have undergone a bit of an overhaul since the early 2000s, the basic Far Cry structure is definitely visible beneath Ubisoft's polished exterior. Give or take a few extra microtransactions, this open-world action franchise has made a fantastic transition to the modern era.
It’s kind of hard to find time to complain as you vault a semi-truck over a cliff and land, weapons blazing, on the back of your tactical assault bear named Cheeseburger, but complain gamers have. Don’t get me wrong, it can be a great game, but there are a few flaws in this crazy rural adventure. The game has been out for about a week now, so let’s recount the fifteen best and fifteen worst things about Far Cry 5.
30 Best: Hope County, Montana
Until now, the Far Cry series was known for its outlandish tropical settings. We’ve traversed a few tropical islands, scaled Nepalese mountains, and made tracks through the African serengeti. The most recent installment in the franchise, however, pits players against a vicious cult in the rural sectors of the northwestern United States. A change of pace, to be sure, but you can rampage through enemy compounds and cause millions of dollars worth of damage, same as always.
The fictional Hope County, Montana offers the kind of environment players have been hoping to see in this series—it’s something of a bold new direction, and it’s nice to see that, for the most part, players have received it positively. Sure, it may seem mundane initially, but franchise fanatics will no doubt understand by now that Far Cry 5 is anything but.
29 Worst: Controversy or Publicity?
More than a few fans of the Far Cry series were a little taken aback when it was announced that Ubisoft's major franchise would be set in a fictionalized version of rural North America. Given the recent political diaspora in the United States, it didn’t initially seem like a great idea to poke fun at the values of any one certain group of people, lest a greater controversy blossom from the relatively mundane premise. That said, some fans were actually surprised to see that Far Cry 5 has very little to say about its subject matter. In an era of endless political commentary from all kinds of media, it’s almost strange to see that this game introduced a bold new setting, yet totally missed an opportunity to satirize the real world groups or ideas on which much of the plot is based.
28 Best: Boomer The Dog
How can you not love Boomer the dog, the faithful canine companion which can be recruited to stand by your side and help you out in battle. Hiring partners is nothing new to the Far Cry games, as it’s a mechanic that’s been around since the second installment.
Far Cry 5 shakes things up by taking a page out of Fallout 4’s playbook to some extent.
Yet, while Fallout’s Dogmeat could do little more than alert you to the presence of enemies and dig up hidden consumables, Boomer can literally take out your enemies, nab their weapons, and bring them back to you. In a way, it’s like the best game of fetch ever played, and this only begs the question of who is the best video game dog ever.
27 Worst: Disconnected From Reality
I’m a huge fan of Call of Duty’s zombies offshoot, as it’s the only reason I bought the last few releases. Yet, tons of members of that community have expressed their displeasure with the mode’s gradual departure from reality. In the beginning, we were first tasked with holding out against an endless onslaught of the undead with nothing but a small cache of weapons. Now the game’s plot has gotten to be so debased from reality that it’s nearly as complicated as Metal Gear Solid. I fear that, to a certain extent, the same thing is happening to the Far Cry series. Ubisoft’s franchise is still pretty far from becoming the spiraling mess that is CoD Zombies, but it is worrying. Far Cry 2 was, in my opinion, the best in the series thanks to it’s realistic antagonist and plot, and the same can hardly be said for later entries in the series.
26 Best: Multiplayer Online Co-op
Remember the awful late 2000s trend of shoe-horning in co-op features into a game? Or, worse yet, those mostly terrible co-op focused third person shooters like Inversion or Kane and Lynch which cluttered the multiplayer market for a time. I’m happy to announce that those days are long gone and Far Cry 5 is the kind of game to which co-op experiences of that era pale in comparison. Previous Far Cry games allowed for some form of co-op, but, to my knowledge, this is the first title in the series which allows for full-on multiplayer action the whole way through the campaign. If you’re more of a lone wolf—or lone dog, in this case—then this feature probably doesn’t interest you a whole lot, but it can be an interesting way to shake things up during a second playthrough.
25 Worst: Yet Another Season Pass
There’s two sides to every coin, so, though I think this season pass may turn out to be worth my while, plenty of people are beyond jaded over the unnecessary DLC packed in with seemingly every title these days. Though the promised upcoming content seems really varied and interesting, includes a map maker and enhanced multiplayer options, and even includes an upcoming remastered version of Far Cry 3, I can’t help but wonder what the base game might have been like had Ubisoft allowed it’s developers to focus solely on that. I suppose the game will remain relevant for a little while longer than normal—an added benefit of such extraneous content—but I would rather play a whole and complete experience than a set of tacked-on side stories.
24 Best: Put Bear Grylls To Shame
Some have voiced their concerns over the increased insanity of the more recent Far Cry titles. It’s certainly true that later entries in the series have become much less rooted in reality than earlier games, that doesn’t automatically have to be a bad thing. I’ve heard people argue that Ubisoft made an effort to GTA-ify the series, but it almost comes off as more reminiscent of the Saints Row series of which we haven’t seen a mainline entry since 2013.
What others series will let you run around hunting elk and grizzly bears with an aluminum bat like a crazed, desperate hunter?
I find it a bit odd that so many people enjoyed the utterly insane Far Cry: Blood Dragon, yet they don’t enjoy the zany nature of this title. It may not be for everyone, but Far Cry 5 is definitely a wild, enjoyable ride.
23 Worst: The Ending is Really Silly
So, like most of the other Far Cry games, the fifth entry offers multiple different outcomes by which your adventures may be concluded. That said, I have a few problems with this. For starters, the difference between the “good” ending and the “bad” ending essentially comes down to a single choice you make at the end of the game, and the endings were so strange and ambiguous that I couldn’t really decipher the good from the bad, anyway. Plus, they don’t entirely feel like much of a payoff for your thirty-odd hour investment. One ending in particular is just so completely insane that it made the whole game feel pointless. I don’t want to spoil anything, but anyone who has beaten the game will know what I’m referring to. Why did I even bother if something like that was going to happen?
22 Best: Make Your Own Maps
It seems like the jury may still be out on Far Cry 5’s mapmaker feature. On one hand, it’s an awesome extra feature which will surely extend the life-expectancy of the game. On the other, well, why does Far Cry need a mapmaker feature? That’s an argument for another time, though, as I’ve seen many praise the intense customizability proposed by Ubisoft’s unexpected conclusion. It has major implications for the game’s multiplayer elements, and I’ve already seem some people cobble together an early version of what may someday become fleshed-out battle royale experiences. I suppose we should all be thankful, at the end of the day, that Ubisoft merely allowed battle royale modes to be small, user generated add-ons instead of the focus of the game.
21 Worst: Hope to Hopeless
This is more of a complaint based on preference, but I feel that many of us use games as a form of escapism—to detach ourselves from the struggles of the real world. That sounds a little grim, but bringing the political and societal turmoil present in our everyday lives into the world of games doesn’t always sit well with me. I don’t mean to say that gaming shouldn’t mature or take on broad, complex issues, but it feels a little atonal in a game concentrated heavily on setting cultists ablaze with a flamethrower while Disco Inferno blares in the background. All I’m saying is that I don’t really want to think about politics when I'm playing games and, in previous incarnations of the series, I didn’t have to. Again, you may well be entranced by the nuances of the plot—sparse though they may be—but I’m not.
20 Best: Alright, The Season Pass Actually Looks Cool This Time
So, this is another semi-controversial inclusion, but I think that Far Cry 5’s upcoming season pass content looks awesome.
Sure, it may be a bit tacked on, but it promises the craziness of past games like Far Cry: Blood Dragon or, at times, Far Cry: Primal.
We’ll be lead through the horrors of the Vietnam War, blasted across the planet Mars, and pitted against a voracious zombie horde (though that’s a genre that has admittedly been done to exhaustion). Hard-hearted old video game industry cynics may critique Ubisoft’s move as nothing more than another DLC cash grab, but this one honestly looks like it may be worth our time. Plus, it’ll only set you back a thirty spot, which is nice to see in an era of extraneous content which countries the base game.
19 Worst: Battle Royale? Really?
This may be an issue that rings hollow with most gamers, but I’m really not a huge fan of the smash hit battle royale genre. Were Crytek’s Hunt: Showdown not such an unwieldy CPU hog of a game, I might enjoy it; as it stands, though, I really can’t think of any game of that nature that I’ve totally enjoyed.
And, yes, Far Cry 5’s limp battle royale features are user generated and reliant on a season pass, but that means that Ubisoft is currently asking for a tenner short of one hundred dollars to play some dude’s hastily thrown together PUBG rip off. I don’t mean to insult the people making this stuff too much, though I would advise differentiating your mod from Bluehole’s game enough that they can’t sue you.
18 Best: Character Customization
There’s only really been one previous game in the Far Cry series that has allowed you to pick your own character: Far Cry 2. The third game put us in the shoes of hapless tourist Jason Brody, Far Cry 4 had us traverse malaysian mountain ranges as ultra-devoted son Ajay Ghale, and the original game had us parade around as some polygonal nightmare in a garish Hawaiian shirt. The fifth game, however, finally allows us to truly customize our appearance. The customization isn’t super complex or hardcore-RPG levels of varied, and it honestly isn’t a huge deal in a first-person game in which you rarely see the actual character model, it’s still a neat little inclusion that helps to contribute to the overall charm of the experience.
17 Worst: Return of the Silent Protagonist
Though the Far Cry franchise is primarily known for its charismatic villains, the series’ protagonists are often just as vital to the progression and emotional weight of the plot. I really didn’t care about the player-controlled character in the original Far Cry, but I, at times, honestly did feel for everyone else.
The user-generated guy or gal you galavant around Montana as in Far Cry 5, though, damages the intrigue.
Far Cry 3’s Jason Brody was likeable because he was a rich, snotty brat forced to come to terms with the harsh realities of his new settings and Far Cry 4’s Ajay Ghale was compelling due to his quest to spread his mother’s ashes to a mysterious Himalayan mountain. What are our motivations in Far Cry 5, who are we really supposed to be? I honestly don’t remember.
16 Best: Exploration Incentive
Ubisoft have long been criticized for essentially crafting the same experience with each new release. They have the likes of intellectual properties like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and the Tom Clancy umbrella of games to work with, yet everything ultimately seems to end up as an open world collectathon with a segmented map littered with outposts to be liberated and NPCs to help. That said, the publisher has clearly taken these criticisms into account and generated a game which doesn’t rely on such tiresome mechanics.
You’ll no longer be wondering around an unchartable plain until a radio tower ascent magically marks the territory down on your map. Instead, the game goes for a decidedly Grand Theft Auto V exploration method, and new areas of the map will only be revealed as you slowly comb through the area, which makes exploring all the more rewarding.
15 Worst: That Map Seems Familiar
Far Cry: Primal was sort of an odd departure for the series. It’s not exactly bad, but I don’t think many fans of the series will label it as a franchise high point either. Fans of Far Cry 4, however, were quick to point out that both of the game's maps were very, very similar. I understand that game development can be a long, arduous prospect, but I don't know that recycling the layout of another game's map is a great method of cutting corners. Though that doesn't seem to be the case with this new installment, laziness is at times prevalent through Ubisoft's work, and that controversy makes me wonder just how many corners may have been rounded off of this new release. Time is money, and I can't fault the devs for trying to cut costs, but I think it's fair to point out that we're getting a game from the same people who were prepared to pull something like this in the past.
14 Best: A Villainous Brotherhood
The Far Cry games garnered a reputation over the years as having some of the most compelling villains in gaming, a notion mostly based on the unforgettable Vaas Montenegro who recited the definition of insanity so well that most players actually believe that he was the one who came up with it. Far Cry 4 hosted Pagan Min, an uber-charismatic albeit slightly less memorable antagonist, and the second entry had us up against a devilish arms dealer known as The Jackal.
Far Cry 5, however, breaks this trend someone by introducing us to the cult leader Joseph Seed and his family. While Joseph certainly takes precedence over his family, in this installment you’re up against more than one guy, and it’s really the antagonists who make this series what it is.
13 Worst: We've Been Hurt Before
While I still have plenty of faith in the Far Cry franchise, I am often sceptical of titles released by Ubisoft. I didn’t pick up Primal because, despite the unique setting, it felt like a lame cash grab—an attempt to cash in on the franchise name. Plus, I really felt burned by lackluster releases like Watch Dogs and The Division. Even if you’re a dedicated fan of either of those games, it’s an undeniable fact that some of the things the publisher showcased pre-release just wasn’t in the game. The former title wasn’t nearly as visually appealing, and the latter wasn’t even close to as complex or involved as they made it out to be. We aren’t quite reaching David Cage or Peter Molyneux levels of flagrant untruth, but I’m often wary of products presented by Ubisoft.
12 Best: Hunting, Fishing, and Loving Everyday
Previous entries in the Far Cry series of games were lambasted for their reliance on a semi-stale hunting mechanic. In order to increase certain skills or craft certain upgrades, the player was tasked with hunting down and obtaining the pelts of certain animals which could be hunted down in the wild. While fighting off things like tigers or eagles was interesting enough in previous experiences, things got old after a while, and many of the upgrades didn’t quite seem to be worth the grind. Far Cry 5 totally does away with this, and hunting and fishing are now done solely for the purposes of monetary gain.
If you’re really into this kind of stuff, then you could almost treat this thing as a hunting or fishing simulator if you so desired.
I’ve actually heard of players giving up on the Seed cult to transform the game into something akin to Nintendo’s Animal Crossing.
11 Worst: An Outpost to be Liberated
What do you think of when someone brings up the Far Cry series? Repetitive sidequests? Slowly liberating an island from the repressive control of a violent regime? Sneaking into an outpost, getting caught, and shooting your way out? Well, for better or worse, that’s all in the most recent installment to the franchise. That isn’t automatically a bad thing: Far Cry is a brand and a major part of branding is recognizing what you’re in for when you pick up the game. Yet, I’ve got to admit, I’m getting a little tired of firing at an endless swarm of bearded dudes and shoving myself up against small pieces of cover in an effort to lower a faction’s presence in the area. Granted, Far Cry 5 has changed things up a bit in that sense, but it still feels very, very much like a Far Cry game.
10 Best: Specialist Companions
Like other games in the long running franchise, Far Cry 5 allows the player to find and hire NPCs from a set of six specialists to join you on your journeys. Again, this was a feature available in past games, but often players could simply stick with whomever they liked best and keep them by their side for the duration of the game.
Far Cry 5 actually asks the player to be tactically minded when it comes to selecting sidekicks, as some won’t really be equipped for the job.
Though he’s actually a part of a different mechanic entirely, I tend to stick with either Boomer or Cheeseburger, as I perpetually see myself as the boy-and-his-dog type desperado ready to take on the world with his canine companion.
9 Worst: The Definition of Insanity
Familiarity breeds contempt and, while I’m certainly not an advocate of needless innovation in games, keeping the franchise in the hands of the same dev teams means that things will start to get stale pretty quick. Remember when people actually looked forward to the next title in the Assassin’s Creed series of games? Now that formula is so overdone that even an extra year in the oven couldn’t keep Origins from becoming a boring retread of familiar mechanics and situations. That hasn’t quite happened to Far Cry, but give it a few years. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again while expecting a different result, then I’d think twice about buying more Far Cry games.
8 Best: Safes and Prepper Stashes
Plenty of games have done the whole “hidden loot” thing before. No, I’m not talking about the perpetually hated loot box mechanic present in many multiplayer-focused games, I’m talking about the actual loot you can discover while walking across the game’s world.
You can literally open every safe that you come across in Ubisoft’s new release, and savvy players have no doubt scoured every inch of the map in search of such treasures.
If you have cultivated the proper skills, you can work your way into these safes—of course, you can always resort to using explosives if you have no other options. You may also come across cache’s of items left by Hope County’s doomsday preppers, which is a lovely little touch which goes a long way in making this fictionalized version of rural Montana feel more realistic.
7 Worst: Not Really a Shakeup
Hope County, Montana was touted as being this bold departure for the series, and though I’ve praised the new direction in this very article already, rural America isn’t exactly a crazy new concept. In the DLC, however, we’ll be going to Vietnam and Mars, so that promises to be pretty zaney. Just like the Middle Eastern backdrop didn’t do much to revitalize the Assassin’s Creed line of games, a slight change of scenery does hardly a great new venture make. Far Cry 5 definitely made some changes where it counts, but I’m not totally sure that we’ll be thinking of it as a true landmark experience twenty years from now. The original game was transformative and ambitious, but, at this point, I’d like to see a greater degree of evolution.
6 Best: Fangs For Hire
I’ve alluded to it already, but I am a huge fan of the Fangs for Hire feature in this new Far Cry title, and I have previously likened it to a more robust version of Fallout 4’s companion system which allowed players to keep their own canine companion. Here, of course, we have Boomer the cult collapsing, firearm toting mutt. Beyond that, we have Cheeseburger the bear and Peaches the mountain lion. Now, I’m not sure about you, but if I’m ever up against someone who is able to command an actual bear, I’m dropping my weapons and accepting my fate. Again, this isn’t the kind of mechanic you might come across in a more serious franchise, but stuff like this is what helps this entry in the series to stand out against a myriad of other, similar titles.
5 Worst: Far Cry 3: Classic Edition
I’m a huge fan of BioShock and, though I already owned it, I thought it was cool to see that you got a copy of the original game when you picked up BioShock Infinite back when it launched. Well, on the PS3, anyway. It wasn’t remastered or altered in any way, but it was a great way to introduce new fans to the origins of the franchise without asking for more cash. In the year 2018, however, Ubisoft shall grant us no such courticies.
If you are so inclined, you can get your hands on a remastered version of Far Cry 3, arguably the most notable title in the franchise, but you’ll need to buy the season pass.
You can also buy it as a standalone experience when it releases in June, but, either way, you’re still expected to stump up some extra green.
4 Best: A Far Cry From Fallout 4’s Dialogue Trees
I, like many others, was a little disappointed by the dialogue options present in Bethesda’s open-world RPG Fallout 4. Sure, the game was certainly more than solid in other areas, but the overly-simple speech options sort of diluted the game and served as a major regression from previous titles.
Ubisoft’s Far Cry 5 is a total departure from something like that, and while still a little goofy, you’re given way more freedom in your dealings with NPCs. You can engage in conversation, walk away rudely, and even literally assault the person with which you are speaking mid-conversation. So many games purport to being a living, breathing simulation of the world in which we live, and yet so many fail to deliver on that promise. Far Cry 5 is still pretty wonky, but it’s a step in the right direction.
3 Worst: Attack of the Turkeys
As far as I know, Montana isn’t particularly known for its turkeys. That’s not the case in Far Cry 5 however, as, on launch, these thanksgiving favorites were a harbinger of terror and destruction, perhaps as a subtle nod to the notoriously annoying eagles in Far Cry 4. As I’ve previously mentioned, hunting isn’t nearly as important as it has been in previous installments, which means that you’ll never really be forced to confront these fowl beasts—what a pun!
As far as I understand, these turkeys have since been patched to be a little less aggressive and much less durable. It also means something of a plot hole: why would we need a police task force to take out a cult militia when we could just use the turkeys?
2 Best: Ten Minute Speedrun
Far Cry 4 was famous for a funny little easter egg in which, should you simply exercise your patience during the game’s opening moments, you could actually find yourself staring at the ending credit crawl in about ten minutes.This new entry in the series continues that bold tradition, to the likely chagrin of most speedrunners.
Players discovered early on that, during the game’s inciting incident featuring the attempted arrest of cult leader Joseph Seed, you can literally just walk away from the whole situation.
The cult won’t lash out at you and business in Hope County will continue as usual. You’ll have to bare the guilt of knowing that you didn’t carry out the mission with which you were tasked, but that’s a small price to pay for avoiding the hazardous, insane scenarios of Far Cry 5’s main storyline.
1 Worst: It’s Got Microtransactions, Because of Course It Does
Microtransactions are an absolute staple of triple A productions these days. Publishers have often plead poverty and issues statements alleging that these slimy, ill-received monetization schemes are necessary to cover the added cost of game development. Electronic Arts’ Star Wars Battlefront II became something of a turning point late last year as the company was forced to retract its proposed microictransaction-laden schemes in response to fan backlash, but this stuff is far from gone from the industry. What’s worse is that this is a primarily single player game, which means that silver bars—the game’s premium currency—feel really shoehorned in. I guess if you’re really looking to get through the game quickly, you can buy your way through. In that case, though, why are you even playing games in the first place.