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Much more like it from Ubisoft

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    Far Cry 5

    Rating: 4.0 – Great

    Much more like it from Ubisoft

    Far Cry 5 very much feels to the Far Cry series what Origins was to the Assassin’s Creed one. A slight, but important move away from some of the more tired, aged tropes of the series, that hopefully is just the first steps that future games can follow on from.

    Like with Origins, gone is the mini-map in Far Cry 5, with a higher reliance on players seeing only what their character can see and using their surroundings to dictate their navigation, as opposed to just seeing what pops up on the map and following that blindly. Unlike Origins, however, Far Cry 5 doesn’t even help you out on the full map to start with, and the onus is entirely on you to go and explore and discover what’s out there.

    I loved this decision. Instead of entering a new area and having a load of question marks crop up on the map – encouraging players to mindlessly aim towards one – I simply had to pick a direction and walk, and then head to something that took my interest in the distance. After the initial introductory area, I was set free in the world. Having heard an answering machine message about someone needing help to the west, I headed that way. Before long, I saw an enemy with a flamethrower burning a heap of bodies. I stealthily took him out and stole his flamethrower, and noticed that he was burning bodies that looked to have come from a pumpkin farm nearby. I made my way up to it, cleared the area of enemies, and read the tragic letter of a mum telling her young son to run into the forest and hide if anything happened to them – to later find the mother and father’s corpses outside the house holding hands. I also unlocked a cage with a dog inside that had been tortured by the enemies, and just like that I’d found my first companion.

    It was all very organic. It felt like I was on my own little adventure in a world I knew nothing of, and I was having to make my own way. Nothing was leading me by the hand, and I didn’t have a checklist of mundane fetch quests to complete. From the pumpkin farm, I saved a civilian from some cultists, who proceeded to tell me about an outpost nearby. On the way to the outpost I got distracted by a small shack, where I found a note which led me to a prepper stash which contained a better weapon and three perk points – which I put towards my sneaking speed to help me seize the outpost undetected.

    This all took place on the first of three major areas within the game. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the second two areas I’d talked to enough people and collected enough intel that I had quite a few points of interest already marked on them, so the feeling of entering a completely unknown place wasn’t replicated. So a third of the way through the game, it did have the much more familiar feeling of a typical Ubisoft game. I think handing out the information less readily, along with NPCs only offering places of interest nearby to where they already are, would have improved things.

    I also had an issue with the progression of the story. After you had caused enough chaos and raised your resistance meter, you will be hunted down by the leader of the area and seized into a more linear level. But this would happen three or four times in all in each area, and unnecessarily broke up the pace. And the final encounter where you take down the leader results in the area becoming much more sparse of enemies, which can lead to some remaining quests becoming more difficult than they should be if you’re tasked with eliminating so many boats or trucks etc. It’s also hard to know at exactly what point you will initiate the final encounter, unless you calculate how many resistance points each action awards, and what you can get away with doing without sparking the final mission into motion.

    The enemy AI also left a lot to be desired, with their peripheral vision notably bad, whilst one enemy spotting you but then being quickly dispatched usually would mean every nearby enemy instantly knowing where you are. The impact of my weapons on them would often feel underwhelming too, with a couple of shots with a pistol to their midriff not even making them break stride. That was made all the greater shame, as the world is designed to show the damage and terror that these cultists are causing, meaning that they are an easy enemy to hate, but the satisfaction of bringing them down just didn’t live up to it. Which, without going into detail, might actually have foreshadowed the game’s ending for me, as I found that rather disappointing too.

    It’s a positive step in the series, and it’s reassuring to see Ubisoft listening to gamers and altering their game design after so long of the same formula. The opening hours of Far Cry 5 are as much fun as I’ve had in an open-world game in a long time, and if a full game can every duplicate that sensation, it will be a very special game indeed.

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