While most people were not necessarily surprised when Ubisoft announced Far Cry 5 ahead of E3 2017, fans of the series were definitely excited. There’s been this uncontrollable hype around the series since the third instalment in the franchise, and everything the series has done since has been solid at the very least. With that in mind, most fans are willing to give what seems like a more traditional setting of Middle America a bit more leeway to see what Fra Cry 5 has to offer. And so far, there’s a lot.
Using a backdrop of an abandoned town in the heartland of the USA, Far Cry 5 seems like it might have the most to say about religion and people’s desire to latch on to false idols. This wasn’t explored much in the E3 2017 demo, but it is something to note considering the main antagonists of this game are cultists under the control of an insane leader.
Cults are creepy, no doubt. And Ubisoft uses that feeling of uneasiness to their advantage here. The E3 2017 demo I had the opportunity to play dropped users into the outskirts of an otherwise abandoned town that’s now used as an outpost for the cult. Abandoned may be a poor choice of word, considering it is crawling with cultists, but the fact remains that the only remnants of civilization are the hollow shells of the once bustling single story buildings that lined the streets.
The E3 2017 demo showed off a new ally system, which allows players to bring a partner into the fray. There were two options but only one obvious choice in my eyes. Players could choose from a cool sniper who can stay back and take out enemies from afar, or an adorable dog that can attack enemies up close. I chose the latter for obvious reasons, but he could be the most useful addition to the Far Cry franchise to date. He has the ability to wander the streets and tag any enemies he walks by without being detected. Since he’s a dog, enemy AI won’t recognize him as a threat unless they catch him in the act of tearing someone’s throat out. Players can control him using the left option on the D-Pad, where they can point him towards an area or call him back. There’s also a “pet the dog” button and it’s the single greatest contribution Ubisoft has made to gaming.
Dog aside, reclaiming the town remained a relatively familiar affair. Yes, his ability to walk the streets and tag any possibly baddies I didn’t see made for a somewhat more streamlined approach, and it definitely took some of the heavy lifting away from my end, but the actual takeover felt very reminiscent to past entries in the Far Cry series. That isn’t to say it’s a bad thing, Ubisoft has pretty much perfected this genre since they took out the Malaria mechanic from Far Cry 2, it just seems pretty par for the course.
I was presented with two options. Option one was to go in guns-a-blazing taking out anyone who crossed me. Option two was to set up shop at the top of a water tower with a sniper rifle and silently peg off anyone I saw. I chose option two, though it wasn’t entirely intentional. By the third or fourth enemy, the AI caught me, and I was essentially pinned to the top of the tower with no real way to go down. This spontaneous excitement was definitely welcome, and using a mix of my own skill along with the powers of my wonder dog, I was able to liberate the area. The whole ordeal was definitely familiar, and while it felt fresh I do worry that much like Far Cry 4, Far Cry 5, may become a little formulaic. Though the sample I played was so small, it’s hard to really say.
Far Cry 5 has potential to be a turning point for the series. Though my time with it was short, there’s no denying that the franchise—while maintaining a solid line up of entries—has been relying on the Far Cry 3 formula a little too much. Still, the additions made to Far Cry 5, specifically the companion, make the play style a little different this time around. While there is a chance this entry could fall into the same tropes that have worn down fans of the series, there might be enough to offer a unique experience in a relatively familiar setting for Western audiences.