Like many BIG releases, I did a one-day rental and plowed through as much as I possibly could so I could be well informed without taking up a lot of time. Although, when I say as ‘much as I could’, I’m not referring the campaign necessarily. I’m referring to the stuff I like, like exploring, using binocs to plan, routing guard posts, wandering around in the forest looking at details — anything that feels legit to me. In my 12 or so hours of play, I’ve learned Far Cry, for me, is one of those games where I’ll have the most fun as long as I steer my play in a direction that is personally fun for me. That typically involves imagination because the game is not exactly made for me as an audience. I like things that are slower, more deep, more atmospheric, more strategic. Far Cry has those things, but it’s also saturated with Michael Bay type stuff too, to make sure its hitting a broad spectrum audience… So to enjoy it, I try to do what I like and avoid what I don’t. This is an open world game after all, it’s up to the player how to use it. As a result, I managed to take over every outpost before getting very far in the story, just like in Far Cry 3 and 4… :P What does that tell you? (I like wandering around finding my own reasons to fight).
With that in mind, here’s a various bunch of pros and cons I discovered during my play:
Pro: The game is beautiful. It’s really only Ubisoft and Naughty Dog that are making games this good-looking right now. It’s expected of them. So I knew it would be immaculate.
Pro: (apart from the graphics) the environment. I love the way this vision of Montana looks and the way it feels to be in it. Farms, weeds, shacks, forest floors at the bottom of tall sequoias that make you feel you are on Endor… It’s actually refreshing to experience a ‘country life’ interpretation that isn’t related to The South and confederacy. It’s less “hill billies”; more “mountain men”.
Con: The frame rate was something to get used to at first. Being so graphically intense, it makes sense it would run at (maximum) 30fps. At least half of the time, though, it feels more like 24 (film frames). Its actually the ideal rate for exploring scenery. But during the intense action scenes, it’s sometimes nauseating to try to make sense out of what you are seeing.
Pro: The world feels alive. It’s one of those world where things are happening apart from the player… You hear gunshots or explosions off in the distance, and because of the style of game, you instantly know it’s not just ambient noise — it’s actually a battle of some kind that you could go help out with. The npcs and animals seem to have lives of their own. You dismiss a follower, and after saying goodbye, suddenly they are getting in a car and driving down the road, just like any sensible person would do. In one piece of footage I captured, I had just finished cleaning up an outpost area, and I looked to the left to see a black bear chasing a dear randomly. It had nothing to do with me; it’s just happening, and you might see it, you might not…
Pro: Stepping into this world for the first time. You feel so many possibilities. It’s like most any open world game, but a pro is still a pro.
Con: The game is too easy. I turned up the difficulty to hard, which is the max setting, and I still didn’t feel as much danger as I would have liked. My first few outposts were very methodical and thrilling, but it eventually got to the point where if I came across an outpost on my way to something else, I’d just do it really quick before continuing, because I felt zero apprehension about it. I felt confident I’d be able to do it no matter what follower I had, weapons I had, etc. This game has a great facility to support strategy. It’s too bad, that I don’t feel enough of a reason to strategize. An increased threat of danger could really add a thrill to the game, and keep the experience going for longer.
Pro: The followers. The followers are so cool. I remember talk of using a dog in this game, and how people thought that was so cool. Well… they had no idea how far they’d take it. Yes, you get a dog. And a cougar, and a bear. But they are nothing compared to the human followers. You get a sniper, a rocket dude, a bow chick, a pilot who follows you from the sky and takes strafing runs on your enemies… Pretty much any cool idea you can think of is here, and it’s fun to try to make the best use out of each of their very different specialties. Even the basic followers are fun. There are random citizens in the world you can hire to join you, and they all have different abilities too. One guy specialized in hitting people with a bat… One girl even had a dog that followed her everywhere, so you get the dog too.
Pro: The follower control system is great as well. They ‘follow’ in a realistic way, going from cover to cover, whispering when enemies are near, always relying on you to make the decision to go loud or remain stealthy. If the enemy hasn’t spotted you and you give your follower a kill order, they’ll do their darndest to keep it silent. I got the leadership perk as soon as possible, because I’m super into squad tactics.
Pro: Jess Black gets her own pro. I loved her design, I loved her dialogue, and I loved the way she helped in battle. She’s a beast with the bow, and it feels super legit to sneak around with her. By the time I was done playing, she had over 150 kills because I used her so much.
Con: Followers are not perfect. Their scripting is great overall, but with a few bugs here and there. For example, once, Jess was standing in a burning field and wouldn’t move. She was getting killed by the fire, but still wouldn’t move despite me trying to give her move orders. And sometimes its hard to get them to do things you want. Especially the rocketeer followers; most of the time they are just sitting there aiming not firing. And when they do fire, you should hope it’s not at a vehicle you are standing right next to.
Con: The loot. About 75% of the time I was playing, I was “full” of loot. I eventually stopped looting any corpses or boxes because 1) I figured I was probably full anyway and 2) I had no reason to use any of the stuff I had. Ammo is nice, but all the other stuff, I just didn’t care to do anything with.
Con: The throwables are too complex. In this game, you have the option to use pipe bombs, molotovs, grenades, prox mines, trigger bombs, dynamite, throwing knives, animal bait, smoke grenades, and their all controlled by the same throw button. I usually didn’t care to choose the one I had selected — I would just throw it! So maybe the enemy gets hit by a grenade, maybe they get hit by a knife, maybe they get hit by a flying piece of meat, who cares. And there was rarely a moment I wanted a specific throwable anyway. You can craft any specific one you want; but 100% of the time, if I didn’t have a good throwable, I would just do what I was trying to do some other way. It’s more satisfying to me to roll with the situation than to craft an item for a specific purpose.
Con: All the weapons, tools, and general means are too accessible. If this game was made ten years ago, it would have been very ritualistic in revealing the bow for the first time, and the rocket launcher for the first time, and parts of the map would be inaccessible due to bogus road blocks or some story about a flood… But in FC5, you basically get everything up front. You can go anywhere and use any weapon you can find. And the most valuable perks are just a few hours of gameplay away, because it doesn’t take much to level up. So it ends up feeling like there’s not much left to achieve. I got to that point in my brief rental period. I think there should be more looking forward and working for a specific gain. I get that FC devs want to give the player everything they desire so they can start playing their way as soon as possible. But I actually don’t prefer that. I’m probably alone in thinking this, but when I play a game, I want to experience someone else’s vision. I want to run the course that an expert dev has set for me. That’s why I will always respect Fumido Ueda’s games; they may not be perfect, but you really get the feeling you are playing his way, because he wants you to experience it in a certain manner. Far Cry 5 is such a sandbox that it feels more like my own vision is taking control of the experience. Which is cool in its own right, but gets dull for me.
Con: I hate the silent protagonist method. Your character doesn’t say a single word throughout this game, yet it still tries to make conversations feel authentic.
Con: And I’m really not a fan of the evil psychopath angle the Far Cry series has been using since 3. There’s a crazy guy with power, and he becomes the icon of the game, and you can never get to him until the end, and you have to sit through all his annoying rants.
Con: There’s not a whole lot of dimension to this story. The cult are obviously deranged; we don’t take anything they say seriously, yet we keep listening to them speak over and over. It’s a one-note experience storywise.
Pro: Performance capture and voice acting is pretty decent.
Pro: In Faith’s territory, you’ll often have hallucinations where you see her dancing in the grass and speaking sweet nothings to you. I really enjoyed how sometimes this would intermingle with the situation. It doesn’t discriminate based on what’s going on around you.
Con: I hate the “You are being hunted” moments. It’s designed to be impossible to escape. It’s unrealistic for enemies to know exactly where I am at all times when hunting me. Am I sending off a GPS signal or something? I guess it’s kinda interesting to see how long you can last though.
Pro: Vehicle handling.
Pro: The details. There’s a bunch of little designs that help make it feel more legit. Like when a follower hops in the back of your truck and taps on the side of it to tell you they are ready to go. And when I twist the camera around to the rear of the vehicle, they say “you just focus on driving, I’ll take care of the rest”.
Pro: The autodrive is a nice feature. If you hop in the passenger seat, your follower will hop in the driver seat and drive to whatever marker you have placed, and you can just enjoy the ride or shoot things you see along the way. That’s never been done before!
Con: Going all the way back to the original Grand Theft Auto games, anytime there are factions in an open world game that drive around in faction vehicles, there’s always that moment when you pass them on the road and they start shooting you. I’m tired of that! It’s so unrealistic. Think about how it would be handled in The Walking Dead for instance. Enemies see each other, and they stare each other down, because they understand that fighting to the death is a serious undertaking and there will be a better place and time for it. They wouldn’t rush into it on a whim. I think instead of shooting you, maybe they just shout something snide at you… or maybe they make a U-turn and start tailing you, looking for a quiet place to attack you. Imagine if there was tension like that. It’d be so much more interesting and compelling.
Far Cry 5 is a pretty neat game. I’m mostly done with it. I wouldn’t mind playing it again at some time in the future to pal around with Jess again and explore more of the countryside. But it’s definitely not urgent.