Some people just want to watch the world burn.
“Far Cry’s attitude to chaos is perfectly suited to this new vision of rural America. It’s as lethal and noisy as picking up an AK-47 with the safety off.”
How much chaos and fun can you cram into one game?
In my 30 minutes of playing Far Cry 5 I managed to shred a muscle car and a pick-up truck across the map, clear a small town of fanatical cultists, clubbed a dude with a star-spangled bat, accidentally ran over a deer, flew a seaplane and bombed silos, had an aerial dogfight, nuked a convoy, fired a pistol that folded enemies, got through at least 800 rounds of AR ammunition and blew up an airstrip. The only thing missing from my redneck rampage was shotgunning a couple of beers, although my new found pilot friend did promise me a cold one.
It’s fair to say that Far Cry 5 moves at a cracking pace. It’s as lethal, noisy and destructive as picking up an AK-47 with the safety off. That’s the attraction to me, the simple ability to jump in something and put your foot down, or just go batshit with a machine gun you can barely control. And it feels like Far Cry’s attitude to chaos is perfectly suited to this new vision of rural America. This fictional state in Montana is familiar through Preacher, Hell Or High Water, The Dukes of Hazzard and the greatest movie of all time, Road House. It’s about cut-off shirts, dirty baseball caps, stubble and stale beer. With a little bit of old time rock n’ roll thrown in for good measure. Yee-hah.
My hands-on with Far Cry 5 began with the same set-up we saw in Ubisoft’s E3 presentation. After assigning my sniper buddy to the water tower, I snuck into the town of Fall’s End and bludgeoned a few cultists with a bat. I couple of headshots later and a blown attempt at stealth I’m down in the streets spitting bullets, before climbing the roof of a church and taking out reinforcements as they roll into town in a machine-gun mounted pick-up truck. Fall’s End is now liberated, new quests are available. It’s very much the Far Cry we all know.
From there I grab a muscle car and thrash it to the airfield, deciding to go weapons free. There’s just too many gasoline barrels to be bothered with stealth. The resulting noise and fiery death gets me a new pilot friend once all enemies are burnt to a crisp and he hands me the keys to a seaplane, asking me to take out a bunch of silos. I don’t remember why because I was too busy sprinting to the plane with a “fuck yeah”.
This isn’t an ordinary seaplane. It has cockpit-mounted machine guns and rockets. The silos prove to be no problem, the machine guns accurate but the rockets less so. Inevitably a cultist in another plane turns up to take me down, but after a brief dogfight he’s spiralling to the ground to meet his maker. I usually hate dogfights in games as they become a tedious chasing loop, but this was actually a quick thrill, the plane responsive and easy to control. I finished the mission by blitzing a convoy for good measure.
It’s difficult to gauge some of the more detailed or subtle moments of Far Cry 5 in such a short hands-on play but it’s fair to say you’ve been here before. You can spot enemies from afar with either a scope or the more accurate binoculars, and doing so makes any confrontation a lot easier if you’re planning a more patient takedown. You’ll have gathered already that wasn’t really my style.
The enemy AI is easy-ish to fool when there’s only a few dudes giving you grief, but getting overwhelmed with enemies isn’t recommended unless you’ve got some explosives in your backpack. I missed not having a bow – always my favourite weapon in a Far Cry game – but I’m sure that’s just because I wasn’t given one at that point in the game. And at no point did I stop to even consider crafting anything together (or see any prompts to do so) but again I suspect that was a choice by Ubisoft. You can go fishin’, which seems like the most obvious past-time to do in Montana. But we only have 30 minutes, let’s not waste time crafting something when we could be going buck wild.
“Far Cry games usually create divisive villains – Vass, Pagan Min – and The Father sounds like another figure set to niggle and provoke. I’m all for it.”
I didn’t play co-op either, instead having a fairly reliable AI buddy by my side. Grace popped a few decent headshots but she wasn’t someone I wanted to micromanage. You can give orders for her to move to a spot and take down bad guys when you go loud yourself, or command specific headshots. Similar things can be done with other buddies Boomer the dog and Nick, the guy in the plane who likes to blow shit up. Spot an area on the ground and he’ll drop bombs to help clear it out. The Guns for Hire feature isn’t something I’ve used a lot in previous Far Cry games and I suspect it’ll be the same for my adventures in Hope County. I appreciate that help is there, and it’s fine if these people want to hang and help out while I’m kicking ass. Playing through the story in proper co-op with a real buddy is going to be much more attractive for most of us.
I can’t really talk too much about the story because I just didn’t see The Father and his Project at Eden’s Gate cult in detail, apart from as cannon fodder. The whole idea that it might be controversial because you’re fighting against white religious nutters or the far right might add an interesting twist. Or it might just be the background excuse for some rollicking action out in the Great Plains. We’ll have to find that out when the game is released and we’ve had a chance to really play through the wider campaign. Far Cry games usually create divisive villains – Vass, Pagan Min – and The Father sounds like another figure set to niggle and provoke. I’m all for it.
So after the curiosity that was Far Cry: Primal, the series is back to what it does best: handing you tools and toys to raise hell. Setting up a world for you to burn to the ground. I’m ready to light the match.
Far Cry 5 is out February 27, 2018 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.