The Far Cry series has been going on for several years now without changing too much of the core game mechanics since the first Far Cry I have played – which was Far Cry 3. What’s new in FC5 is a coop mode that lets you play the main campaign with a buddy. Far Cry 3 had some form of coop as well, but it worked differently by presenting a story unrelated to the game’s single player campaign. I’m not sure how version 4 handled multiplayer, but to my knowledge Far Cry 5 is the first Far Cry to support coop gameplay. It has a few quirks though, which unfortunately still doesn’t make it a 100% coop enabled game. We nevertheless decided to give it a spin and here are my thoughts about the game, its story and gameplay and how the coop experience was.
Alright, so let me quickly tell you why this game’s coop implementation is not perfect. The most annoying part of it all was that only one player was able to talk to NPCs and accept missions. The other one didn’t even see if a person was a mission giver or not. It’s like the coop buddy was dead to the NPCs. This created some confusion occasionally where I stopped at some location to talk to someone because my buddy didn’t see that there was anything of relevance. Ultimately, it doesn’t take away from the core experience. It’s just odd that one player doesn’t get all the information. The other thing players must be aware of is that story progress doesn’t carry over for the buddy. Skills and weapons, yes, story no. The game distinguishes between the host and a buddy. It’s more like you are playing the single player campaign and suddenly one of your friends joins your game. And it always stays your game. The coop buddy is more or less a human replacement for one of the NPCs that can follow you around during the adventure. This is something that did not bother us too much apart from some skills not being available to the coop buddy. A few special kills, e.g. a boss, only count for the host. More on the skills later. Another weird thing is that coop is not available from the very first minute. Both players must progress to a certain point in the game before that function can be enabled. It’s probably because NPC companions are not available earlier.
Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s get into the details. As everything Ubisoft these days, Far Cry 5 is an open world game – as it has been for a while. Unlike Ghost Recon it’s a first-person shooter, not 3rd person and this puts you more directly in the middle of things and makes everything feel more personal. What doesn’t help to make this the perfectly immersive experience is the fact that your character is mute. Not a single peep leaves the mouth. I don’t recall how it was in Far Cry 4, but in FC3 the main character did talk and thus had more personal depth. That is a step backwards. Other than that, the story telling is still incredible. All the cut-scenes are well directed and of high quality, although sometimes a tough pill to swallow. That’s mainly because the boss enemies are 110% crazy, religiously idealistic, arrogant stereotypes. These are the kind of people I really despise, and it was hard to watch and listen to their fanatic ramblings. Don’t get me wrong, the presentation is top-notch. This is just so over-the-top and all I wanted to do was slap ‘em in the face every time one of them opened their mouth. And it’s not only the bosses. I’d say that roughly 95% of the NPCs are nutjobs in one way or the other, too. It’s like everybody is bananas in this game, good or bad, and nobody is shy of telling you the story of their life, even if you didn’t ask for it – because, remember, your hero doesn’t talk. In some way this is what makes Far Cry the game that it is. In another way this makes it hard to bear at times when everybody you talk to is a batshit crazy lunatic. It’s hard to form any kind of relationship with these characters when all of them are a bunch of unlikeable weirdos.
Apart from my segues, another part of the game that keeps going crazy is the game’s AI and physics simulation. Like in other Ubisoft games, people like to run in front of the car you are driving. It’s as if all games are using the same engine – but they are not. It’s not even funny anymore. We also ran into situations where we managed to start a plane straight up, like a helicopter, by somehow pointing its nose to the sky. Don’t ask how we managed to do that. We also experienced some weird car crashes, flipped cars, sudden turns or other oddities along the road. Pun definitely intended. This doesn’t make the game bad per se, it also doesn’t make sense and is somewhat embarrassing. It does feed into the general chaos of the game, however. I’m not sure if it is on purpose, but it does help. And I think “general chaos” is something the designers aimed for and is core to the Far Cry DNA. To me, though, it became annoying rather quickly. It’s a good thing that you can mostly avoid it by not staying in the same spot on the main roads for too long. That’s where enemies will appear seemingly without end. One could argue that Ghost Recon follows a similar approach. However, I claim that where you wreak havoc in Ghost Recon, Far Cry 5 brings mayhem onto you.
Another situation where Far Cry is rather pushy is when you reach certain stages in the story’s progress. As much as this game is a combination of reality and fiction, it does not make any sense that enemies were suddenly able to tranquilize and capture us while we were hiding in a remote room in a big house without the enemy being anywhere near us. Or when we were in a helicopter flying around, far away from any enemy’s grasp. The game just wants to move forward in the story and snatches you away however it can. And for what? The ramblings of a madman (or woman). I can accept many of fictional concepts in this game, I even think some of them are rather nice ideas and provide a breath of fresh air. What I can’t wrap my head around is being kidnapped over and over again, without being able to defend myself while, through all of the game, I’m handing the enemies one kick to the balls after another. On a few occasions we wanted to quit playing, but the game wouldn’t let us. In one instance, we all of a sudden found ourselves in a boss fight, more or less “forcing” us to add roughly thirty more minutes of gameplay where we didn’t want to.
I know I’m overly negative, so let me continue with that. Another thing I didn’t like was the feedback of the weapons impact. Because there is none, not like in Ghost Recon: Wildlands. This made it hard to gauge whether I managed to hit an enemy or not, especially at a distance. Close range it was more obvious, but I still prefer GRW overall. It’s a personal preference, I guess.
How about something positive? Far Cry 5 isn’t a long game.
Let’s continue with the verdict then.
It’s not like the game is bad. It certainly provided several hours of fun and seeing the ending made me think I want to play Far Cry New Dawn. The storytelling is that good. The Open World is beautiful and performant. The shooting elements, despite the lack of a better weapons-hit feedback, still feels good. It is snappy with exact controls and no lag or other delays. Driving around in vehicles is fun and flying and landing a plane is much easier compared to GRW. I also liked the concept of “Prepper Stashes” a lot. These were some simple, yet entertaining and diverse “riddles” that led to locations with a lot of gear and level up perk points (or whatever they are called). As the name suggests, those can be spent on pimping your character, like increasing ammo carrying capacity or repairing a vehicle while you’re in it. To be honest though, after about half of the game I completely forgot about the perks and didn’t bother any more. Guess what, it didn’t make the game any worse. What surprised me was that the game didn’t require us to hunt for specific animals or plants in order to upgrade our gear, e.g. a pouch for ammo, a wallet for money or other forms of loot. In Far Cry 3 this was the case and at some point, the wallet was too small to carry all the money I could have made from the loot I had collected and wanted to sell. But I couldn’t just throw away all the loot in order to go hunting for more materials to upgrade the wallet. Stalemate. Luckily, Far Cry 5 threw that concept away. It’s more of a shooter this way and less of an RPG, and that’s a good thing.
To sum things up: For us the game was a mixed blessing, although I’m overall more positive than negative. We didn’t regret spending the time and money. For me, however, it was always kinda hard to get back to the game. Once I was in it, I was having fun for the most part, no doubt. But it wasn’t like I wanted to play because the game completely captivated me on all fronts by its gameplay, the story, the presentation. Far Cry 5 is not a bad game, but it’s also not the right game for me. It didn’t float my boat like Ghost Recon did, for all the reasons I mentioned.