Far Cry 5 Review – Open-World Done Right

Far Cry 5
Ubisoft

Ubisoft’s new open-world title, Far Cry 5, starts off with quite a heavy dose of atmosphere. You play a nameless rookie deputy who is part of a fugitive apprehension party riding on board a helicopter. Across from you sits an obvious veteran of the local sheriff’s department, as well as a federal marshal. They are having a subtle debate about the merits of going in and arresting Joseph Seed, the leader of a fanatical doomsday cult called Eden’s Gate who are fine with using violence to achieve their “holy” ends.

While the U.S. marshal is dead-set on the fugitive apprehension task at hand, the deputy, who is a native of Hope County, Montana (the fictional place where the game takes place) is rather hesitant about the whole affair. And after you touch down within the cult’s main compound, you quickly find out why.

Without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say that all hell breaks loose and you soon find yourself alone and hunted in the woods not far from the compound. From there, you run into a friendly prepper who sees an opportunity to stand up against the cult by rescuing you. After a little macho banter, your new pal hints at some of the things that you can do in order to begin your insurgency.

This brilliant intro really sets the tone for the rest of the game, as well as some of the general gameplay elements themselves. What exactly do I mean by that? Well, for instance you are always gently prodded to seek out specific goals, but never feel forced. This stands in stark contrast to other open-world games where you are either restricted to a linear mission structure, or you feel that you are more or less playing on a set of rails. Not so in Far Cry 5.

One of the first things that I noticed was that the game’s three major regions are unlocked from the get-go. While other kinds of gamers might like a little more guidance, to me this choice by Ubisoft to be less hand-holdy than usual was extremely liberating. And not only are they taking chances with the general gameplay elements and structures but also the narrative. The background story was not as politically correct as I’d thought it would be.

The overall goal of Far Cry 5 is to gradually build up your insurgency movement enough so that you can challenge the three main bosses who rule over the three main regions within Hope County. In game terms you can do this by accumulating Resistance Points.

Utilizing the members of your resistance movement in order to accomplish the mainline missions as well as side-missions are the primary ways that you build up Resistance Points. You can also accumulate these points by carrying out various tasks that you stumble across in your travels throughout Hope County. These can include anything from liberating occupied bases, rescuing innocent citizens, ambushing enemy supply vehicles, and taking over enemy compounds.

Luckily, you can take on the main missions or any side missions as you see fit, and at your own pace. You’ll find plenty to occupy your time with by simply traveling throughout the game’s various regions, unless you’re one of those ADD-afflicted completionists/speed gamers who is out to do things quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Sadly, this is where most open-world games tend to fall apart.

Take for instance last year’s much anticipated sniper-fest, CI Games’ Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. Although it offered a similar mission structure, once you got out into its open-world it felt more like a ghost world. There weren’t any people walking around and going on about their daily activities, and no vehicles to be seen driving along roads unless they were part of a mission. Oh, and they also reneged on their promise of delivering co-op play.

In stark contrast to that, Far Cry 5 makes it feel as though you’re part of a living, breathing environment. Hope County citizens mill about here and there, working on projects or gossiping about the latest happenings. Vehicles—including not only a wide-array of ground vehicles but also helicopters and planes—are everywhere to be seen. And guess what? You can drive or fly in anything that you can see. Heck, I think the most fun I’ve had so far with the game was just stumbling across random encounters, or performing such leisurely activities as fly fishing or hunting.

Game mechanics-wise, Far Cry 5 feels more polished than previous iterations of the series, and that’s saying a lot. There are a wide range of weapons that you can utilize, from pistols and assault rifles, to bows and even throwing knives. Each of them feels weighty and very precise, rather than floaty. They also seem to be much more dangerous and I think that Ubisoft has done a great job of re-tooling their damage modeling system. For instance, now it only takes a couple of well-placed shots from a firearm to take down an enemy or animal.

Far Cry 5 also lets you tackle each of your objectives in any way that you desire. If you’re more of a stealthy person like me you can take out enemies silently from the shadows. But you can also do such unorthodox things as corralling cantankerous critters into enemy compounds and watching them chew up cultists. For those with a predilection to pyromania, Far Cry 5’s got you covered as well—simply set part of a base on fire and watch people scatter as fuel barrels become alight and blow everything to kingdom come (no pun intended).

Far Cry 5 has being lauded by many in the gaming world as the best game in the entire series so far, and I can clearly see why. It gives you the freedom to accomplish the game’s various goals in any manner you see fit. It also sports beautiful graphics, impactful sound design, and an engaging story. I definitely could see it being nominated for this year’s gaming awards.

SCORE: 90%

Far Cry 5 features outstanding graphics that make its first-person gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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