Nestled in the mountains of Montanna, Far Cry 5’s fictional Hope County is teetering on the edge of war. A religious cult, known as The Project at Eden’s Gate, led by Father Joseph Seed, dominate the land and mercilessly murder and reap all those who refuse to join the cult or fight for the resistance. You play as a Junior Deputy who has been sent to arrest Father Joseph Seed. The opening section of Far Cry 5 exudes an eerie atmosphere, with cultists chanting religious prayers and the Father, suspiciously calmly, surrendering to the law. As expected this interaction does not end in The Father’s arrest.
The massive open world of Far Cry 5 is naturally one of the game’s best aspects. New elements to the Far Cry formula freshen up the franchise and make for a more immersive experience. The 3D map screen adds scale and depth to the world with key locations charted out with radio transmissions and characters helpful to the overthrowing of the Fathers Cult. The open world is wonderfully diverse with entertaining side quests and collectables peppered across Hope County. The map is spilt into three large sections, each one controlled by one of Father Seed’s children. To take back that section (be it Holland Valley, Hebane River or Whitetail Mountains) the player must build up a level of resistance in that region by either liberating members of the resistance, destroying cult properties, completing resistance missions or liberating savage outposts across the land. Each piece of propaganda destroyed, or mission completed means that the resistance meter for that specific region will slowly increase. It’s not all plain sailing though. As you increase the points in the resistance meter each leader of the Eden Project will send members of the cult after you, with increasing determination. Each third of the map contains unique dangers and traps unique to that location. Wandering into Hebane River will cause you to fall under the illusion of the ‘Bliss’ – strange illusions will plague your character and enemies in this region.
Thankfully you aren’t alone when it comes to combat. The fan favourite Guns of Hire system is back and this time it’s personalised. Your potential team must first be aided in the open world before they can become a part of your brigade. As well as sharp shooters, pilots and well-muscled brutes, Fangs for hire is also now a major part of the game. Boomer the dog is not only a loyal companion and a fearless pooch, he can also retrieve weapons to get you out of a sticky spot. Likewise, all of your other Guns for Hire recruits employ special skills which fit perfectly for every situation you’ll face in the game. Combat itself flows perfectly in Far Cry 5, guns and other weapons work effortlessly, every item responds perfectly, and the bigger inventory wheel allows you to start the game with everything from a shovel to a rocket launcher. Cultists seem more resistant to your attacks and now anything apart from a direct head shot can cause them to merely falter. Once in this state they can be resurrected by a fellow cultist meaning that each and every one of your shots count.
The layout of the map and gameplay formula means that, unlike other Far Cry games, the structure feels smoother and unfragmented. The days of reaching the top of signal towers is over, now new story missions and side quests are uncovered by exploring the dense world. The concept of having three villains instead of just one is also a welcome touch to the franchise as it makes Father Joseph Seed feel more elusive, building up the anticipation to take him on come the conclusion of the game.
Just like any other open world game the customisation choices for your character are a key part of the gameplay. Perks are collected by completing simple chores in the world and their collection allows you to upgrade traits to perfect your fighting and survival skills against the cultists. These worldly activities range from covering set distances in the wingsuit to catching a variety of fish in the local ponds and rivers entwined throughout Hope County.
However, at times Far Cry 5’s story seems sparse and often the player is forced to wander into new regions to uncover side quests and the rare story mission to fuel the game forwards. On top of this the structure of the game is rooted in its Far Cry formula, a refreshed map and diverse open world including copious access points for planes, cars, boats and weapons allows for the adventure within Hope County to feel new and exciting. Underneath all that though there is the looming feeling that you’ve played this game before. Just like all the other Far Cry games before, it’s a great gaming experience but it doesn’t blow the player away with enough gameplay innovations.
Hope County is a recipe for riot. With thousands of angry cultists to eliminate, a variety of weapons to use against them and wildlife as temperamental as the enemy, Far Cry 5 is one of the most enjoyable instalments of the franchise yet. Only a slightly sparse story slows things down, but it’s not enough to detract from a fantastic open world experience.