It’s been a while since we last got to enjoy a numbered Far Cry game. After Far Cry 4 saw the light of day in late 2014, we got the pre-historic spin-off dubbed Far Cry Primal in the beginning of 2016. This year the series is back with a full-blown sequel, simply called Far Cry 5. After the four years we hoped for something more than simple iteration, but unfortunately that’s all what we got.
The fifth numbered Far Cry takes us to the fictional Hope County, Montana. A huge sprawling area in the American heartland where a religious cult has chosen to set up shop. The cult, led by charismatic leader Joseph Seed, is in a perpetual war with the locals and it’s up to you, the sheriff’s deputy, to restore peace in the rural warzone.
Far Cry 5 follows the exact same formula that Far Cry 3 established back in 2012. You’re dropped in a gigantic open world, scattered with outposts to liberate, allies to aid, and animals to hunt. As you make your way through the overwhelming amount of missions and other activities, you’ll anger the local cult, allowing you to fight one of three lieutenants, and ultimately confront the leader of the doomsday cult.
I would be hard-pressed to list any major difference between this game and its predecessor. Far Cry 4 already caught its share of flack for being overly iterative back in 2014 and Far Cry 5 is no different. Sure, there are minor tweaks in the progression system (no need to craft ammo pouches anymore ?), and Hope County feels a lot bigger than the environments of the previous two games, but that’s about it.
The guns are similar, the vehicles are similar, the story beats are similar. That’s not to say any of these aspects got worse all of the sudden; it all feels just as good as it did in the previous games. It’s just a little stale and outdated at this point.
When it was first announced back in May 2017, the game seemed to have a darker, much more serious tone. The far right was outraged, people started (mock?) petitions and one writer even asked if this could be ‘the most controversial game of the Trump era.’
None of that sharp edge is found in the end product. The game plays it way (too) safe, carefully eschewing any sort of political message. There is one right-wing conservative tucked away in the game’s optional content and that character’s son makes a cringe-inducing joke about gender politics, but that’s about as far as Far Cry 5 is willing to go.
Suicide cults have a rich history that the game barely dips in to and the politics of Middle America are avoided in a similar fashion. With Netflix’ new documentary series Wild Wild Country fresh in our collective memories, we can’t help but to be disappointed by Ubisoft’s shallow take on the matter at hand.
A big selling point for Ubisoft is the co-op play. The Far Cry publisher loves this mode so much that we got sent two pre-release copies of the game so we could check it out. It was more fun than playing solo but the same can be said about literally everything. Even doing the dishes becomes semi-enjoyable if you do it with a buddy.
After wrapping up our co-operative murder spree we went our separate ways, only to find out that the second player’s story progress isn’t carried over. Some stats are saved, but you’ll have to replay all the same missions if you’re not playing as the host in co-op. Initially, we planned out to finish the entire game as a duo, but we had to cancel our buddy-murder-dreams when we realized it was only to the benefit of player numero uno.
If you come to Far Cry 5 for a bigger, slightly better and more streamlined version of the series’ previous offering, you’ve come to the right place. Far Cry 5 is by no means a bad game, and if you didn’t mind that Far Cry 4 was only a small step up from 3, then you will love 5. If you expected something more than an upgrade, or if you’d hoped that the series finally grew up, then you might want to spend your time elsewhere. Or wait until it’s on sale, after all: it’s still good clean fun.
Unfortunately, it’s a little too clean.