I never felt the need to be stealthy in Far Cry 5. Sure, I had this huge skill tree made up of ways to silently murder my way through compounds, but this rocket launcher and my best mate - an angry grizzly bear - did the job much quicker.
Hours of Darkness, the first big DLC drop for Ubisoft’s shooter, makes stealth the focus. Rather than unlocking abilities through a skill tree, silent kills grant you perks that make you even more deadly.
Hit enough enemies around the head with a lump of bamboo and you gain the ability to automatically tag enemies who are close by, walk faster from the crouched position, and even tag far off enemies with your binoculars through walls. Every stealth kill grants you one new perk until you hit the maximum of four.
Get spotted and all those perks are stripped away - it’s just you, your allies, and your guns against increasingly difficult odds. At least until you can break line of sight and squat in a bush again.
The system takes away the need to pop in and out of menus while also encouraging a more careful playstyle.
Vietnam itself - all grassy fields, shrubbery, and trees, all flammable - provides a great setting for such a stealthy sandbox.
I was a little worried about how Ubisoft would handle this setting, but the developer doesn't even try, really. You’re a helicopter gunner whose chopper is downed behind enemy lines. You have to rescue your allies - who can all die permanently if you lead them into gunfire - before getting to the evac zone. That’s it.
Of course, it hits all the cliches. One of the soldiers you need to rescue is nicknamed ‘Joker’ and has playing cards tucked into his helmet, and there’s a section at the end where you gun down Vietnamese soldiers from the side of a helicopter. All it’s missing is the license for Fortunate Son.
While working your way across the map, you can liberate prisoners, take out propaganda speakers, collect the Zippos of fallen infantrymen, and destroy enemy compounds. It’s a microcosm of the main game with all the bullshit stripped out, and it works.
You don’t have a wingsuit, there aren’t any boats, you can’t fly anywhere, and there are only a handful of trucks. It’s just you, the jungle, and one brilliant new addition: air support.
Hours of Darkness allows you to call in airstrikes by painting a target with your binoculars. It works a bit like a powerup, granting you airstrikes every time you liberate a point of interest, though some areas require you to first take out some AA guns before you call call them in.
Airstrikes allow you to clear out entire compounds with one well placed shot. Watching tagged enemies fly in every direction as each bomb lands is incredibly satisfying, and the ensuing fire makes it feel suitably Far Cry - especially when you accidentally set your arms alight.
It won’t be winning any awards and it suffers a bit from a lack of personality, but it’s a few hours of fun with Far Cry 5’s satisfying core mechanics in a refreshing jungle backdrop. At least it’s better than Far Cry: Primal’s ghost mammoth DLC, eh?