Far Cry as a series has never really taken itself too seriously. It's a sandbox adventure series known for truly psychotic villains, Hollywood-style over-the-top action, with guerrilla-style stealth combat. Far Cry 5 fully embraces what the series does best with a confidence lacking in previous titles.
Simply put, this is one of the best open world games you can possibly play on Xbox One today. Here is our Far Cry 5 review.
Visuals and sound
Let's not beat around the bush, Far Cry 5 is an utterly stunning title on Xbox One X, joining other recent Ubisoft efforts like Assassin's Creed Origins as one of the best looking games for the console. The game is enhanced with UHD scaling resolutions on the X, at 30 FPS with HDR support. Sadly, there are no graphics tweaks, such as a 60 FPS performance mode, but perhaps they could arrive in a later update.
Set in a fictional county in the U.S. state of Montana, Far Cry 5 takes place across a huge expanse of land, with several distinct areas that depict environments in the American north west. Huge grain farms and rolling hills, gigantic mountains that you can travel to, and deep, verdant forests that you could get lost in, where it not for the game's compass and map systems.
Far Cry 5 packs tons of details into its open world, cutting out the sense of copy and paste that some other titles fall prey to. I was wandering through a serene forest, when I happened upon some friendly NPCs dancing, while one played a rendition of traditional American folk song "Where did you sleep last night?" on guitar, bathed in the glow of a HDR campfire. They weren't for a quest, they were just there to add flavour and believability to Far Cry 5's rural world.
Speaking of music, Far Cry 5 warps folk and country tones with all sorts of genres for its soundtrack. The fusion shouldn't work but it somehow does, evoking tension during combat scenes, and dread as you stalk through one of the cult's corpse-filled bunkers. The musicians on Far Cry 5 are a huge cornerstone for this game's unique character.
Ubisoft are known for creating gorgeous vistas and expansive open worlds, and in Far Cry 5, the company has proven itself to be a master of the craft once again.
Story & Narrative (Spoiler free)
Far Cry could be described as a series of "what if?" stories, often exploring real-world locations and regional politics. Far Cry 5 is no different.
Drawing on inspiration from real-world cults like ISIS and The People's Temple, Far Cry 5's "Eden's Gate" warps established religious doctrine to self-fulfil an apocalyptic vision. Joseph Seed, a preacher otherwise known as "The Father" has amassed a huge following owing to a combination of his uncanny charisma, and control of a narcotic known as "Bliss."
The game starts when Far Cry 5's silent and customizable protagonist, a rookie Sheriff deputy, joins a Federal agent to enact an arrest warrant for Joseph Seed, on charges of kidnapping.
Far Cry 5 has one of the best introductions in the series, if not the best. Entering Eden's Gate's compound is a tense affair, as violent fanatics encircle the rookie deputy and his colleagues like a pack of wolves. As you might expect, things go south, fast, as the rookie deputy and their team unwittingly fulfils Joseph Seed's apocalyptic "prophecy." It becomes readily apparent that Eden's Gate has control of the entire valley, including the local police and communications services. With all communications and road access cut off, it's on you to begin dismantling the cult and its sizable militia, which has taken root in Hope County like a fanatical cancer.
Greg Bryk's portrayal of Joseph Seed is utterly bone-chilling, and I'm confident Seed and his "family" will be remembered as some of the series' all-time great villains. Not just because of the game's confident writing, but also some systemic changes Ubisoft has made.
Similarly to other Ubisoft-style open world games, the player must work their way through the game's open-world regions, performing missions that unlock story quests, unlocking Seed's lieutenants. Once they have been dealt with, you can go after the big evil himself. The difference is, Far Cry 5 has far fewer supporting antagonists than usual, allowing for a much greater degree of character development. This makes impactful scenes far more evocative and memorable, as you'll have a greater understanding of your enemies motivations and evil deeds.
The main plot is full of depravity, exploring the full spectrum of evil humanity is capable of, but some of the game's side quests are a little sillier and light-hearted exploring stereotypes of countryside life. I did one quest revolving around crop-circles, cattle mutilation and "aliens," and then went straight into a Seed family torture chamber right afterwards. As a result, the tone of the game can come across as erratic depending on the order in which you do missions, but the trade off is a huge amount of variety. I've found myself laughing outloud at some of the game's dialogue and humor, and at other times, jaw on the floor in shock at some of the game's more horrific scenes.
The main story can take anywhere between 20 and 50 hours to complete, depending on the extent to which you explore Hope County and its side objectives. It's a wild, memorable ride that will take a seat as one of the series' best. And seriously, without spoiling, Far Cry 5 has an ending you won't soon forget.
Far Cry 5 is more of an evolution rather than revolution of the series' signature mechanics. It's a first-person shooter, and contains many of the typical Far Cry / Ubisoft-style gameplay tropes we've come to expect. There are outposts to analyse, raid, and ultimately liberate. There are convoys to sabotage, destroy, and loot. And there are climbing puzzles to traverse and conquer. However, each aspect of the game has been polished and refined, and Ubisoft has thankfully done away with some of the franchise's most annoying aspects.
The gunplay in Far Cry 5 is tremendous, and feels as tight and tactical as ever. You can play stealthily, hiding in the dense undergrowth, or go all guns blazing with a flamethrower, burning enemies (and, well, everything) to a crisp. It's still a little odd how gore-averse Ubisoft is, considering how horrific some of the game's imagery is. As a result, sniper rifle shots, explosives, and shotgun blasts might not feel as satisfying as they do in games like Wolfenstein II, but given the sheer mayhem that can unfold at the drop of a hat in Far Cry 5's open world, gore systems would probably turn the game into a ridiculous blood bath, shifting the tone of the game.
Indeed, Far Cry 5 features fighter planes, attack helicopters, gun-mounted trucks, and all other sorts of vehicles with which to sew chaos and destruction. The series' signature fire spreading systems return as well, making conflicts immersive and atmospheric.
Beyond more conventional vehicles, Far Cry 5's militiamen have constructed a host of customized vehicles almost Mad Max-style, featuring tractors emblazoned with weaponized farm equipment, and armored juggernauts equipped with guns. Your combat options feel virtually limitless as a result, and you can even call upon a roster of unlockable NPC support characters and combat pets to help you in battle. Or hey, you can bring a friend in for some 2-player co-op action too (although, they won't get campaign progress, which is kinda lame).
Far Cry 5 refines some of the series' most annoying aspects too, doing away with the Assassin's Creed-style exploration towers. Instead, you will talk to friendly townsfolk you have rescued, find annotated maps, and explore in the old fashioned way to find quests. Additionally, Far Cry 5 does away with the minimap, which might seem frustrating at first (particularly while driving manually), but it keeps your eyes on the game's gorgeous world as a result. You'll become more acquainted with the land itself, rather than the flat topographical circle in the bottom corner, trading convenience for immersion. And I think that's wonderful.
Far Cry 5 is truly open world, allowing players to roam to any of the game's three sizable areas as they see fit. You'll build up resistance movements from the local townsfolk in each area, triggering story events that lead up to battles with Joseph Seed's three lieutenants: Faith, John, and Jacob. Beyond the game's main storyline set-pieces, you'll encounter a wide variety of side characters, optional quests, and mini-games, including an awesome fishing system. The game's animal behaviour
Exploring a Far Cry world has never been more rewarding, putting a stop to the sense of meniality that all-too-often often accompanies open world games.
My only criticisms are minor nitpicks that only stand out because the rest of the game is so wonderfully realized. It's annoying how the same button for looting an enemy and swapping to his weapon are placed on the same button, as you'll often drop equipment without meaning to. Also, now that quest leads come from talking to NPCs, it can be frustrating when they suddenly freak out at the sight of an approaching eagle or enemy on the horizon, running away mid-conversation. Additionally, those typical open world glitches are back too, with enemies sometimes glitching through the floor, or wandering around robotically into walls or rocks.
Finally, the game's crafting systems still feel tacked on too, allowing you to insta-craft bombs and homeopathic "boosters" in the field, from gathered resources. There was an opportunity here to add more survival systems, or perhaps deeper crafting and customization systems, to complement the scrappy makeshift militia warfare taking place in the background. But hey, we can't have everything.
Ultimately, Far Cry 5 is a relentlessly fun, aggressively varied open world shooter that will keep you hooked for dozens and dozens of hours. The game's world has never felt more alive, brimming with animal ecosystems, serene lakes, and verdant forests, with spectacular scenery that's just begging to be screenshotted.
This is Ubisoft's best open world game since, well, Assassin's Creed Origins, which came out just a few months ago. Ubisoft as a company really seems to be delivering on the promise of "open world," shifting away from the genre's most boring features, while shining a spotlight on the genre's best.
- Incredible and explosive shooter gameplay.
- Hypnotic villains you won't soon forget.
- Confident writing making for a stunning story.
- Some of the best visuals on Xbox One to date.
- Fishing mechanics. Yes. These are important.
- Pretty much nothing.
- Would like to see graphics settings (60 FPS mode) for Xbox One X.
I would have liked to have seen Far Cry 5 change things up a little bit more, like Assassin's Creed Origins did, but at this poi,nt I'm truly scraping the barrel of things to complain about. Far Cry 5 is a cover-to-cover classic, fans of Far Cry, or open world sandbox games in general, cannot ignore. Buy this.
Far Cry 5 is available on March 27, 2018 for Xbox One, PC and PlayStation 4 for $59.99.
This review was conducted on Xbox One X at 4K, using a copy provided by Ubisoft.
Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!