Far Cry 5 Review – Cult of Mediocrity

Far Cry 5 is the latest in Ubisoft’s bi-yearly franchise, known for sweaty, often shirtless men getting way too close to your face and saying intimidating things. The newest entry in the series is no different in that regard, but is it fun to play? Hopefully, this review will inform your potential purchase.

Far Cry 5
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal/Toronto
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), PC, Xbox One
Release Date: March 27th, 2018
Players: 1-2 Player Co-op, Multiplayer
Price: $59.99

Far Cry 5 starts out in a helicopter, wherein US Marshals have teamed up with the local Sheriff to serve Joseph Seed with a federal arrest warrant. Seed has risen to prominence in the area, starting off as a preacher and slowly forming a cult called Eden’s Gate. While seemingly benign at first, they’ve started amassing weapons, forcibly converting the citizenry, and even producing their own highly-addictive drug called Bliss.

Joseph goes willingly with your party, but as you’re leaving with him in the helicopter, his people attack you and force it to crash. When you come to, the sweaty, shirtless antagonist gets uncomfortably close to your face and says some intimidating crap, then proceeds to command his flock to capture you all. The player, a nameless Junior Deputy, manages to get free and meets up with Marshal Burke from the chopper.

The two of you go on a wacky car chase that ends with you both crashing into a lake, and the Marshal is captured. You’re fished out of the water by a local survivalist named Dutch. After being clothed and briefed on the situation by this fellow, the core game begins to unfold.

Joseph has three Heralds, who are considered his top-ranking underlings. They consist of his brothers Jacob and John, as well as a former captive named Faith. Your goal is to take them down, and then cut off the head of the snake, Joseph Seed.

If I’m being honest, I found the narrative of Far Cry 5 to be a giant let-down. Even before the game’s release, I was looking forward to the setting and plot—I’m fascinated by cults and the ideologies that form them, and having a game in this series set in Montana of all places sounded awesome.

I’m not sure whether it was due to lazy writing, or their crippling fear of offending anyone in the volatile political climate we currently find ourselves in, but so much in this game felt safe and inoffensive. I had to look up the names of most of the characters I talk about in this review as well, since pretty much all of them were entirely forgettable.

I’ll just break it down character-by-character, starting with John Seed. John was the only Herald I found particularly interesting, just because he follows the teachings of Joseph to the tee. His practices consist of him baptizing people in water, engraving their ‘sins’ on their bodies, and then ripping this skin off once they’ve atoned. Amusingly, there’s a part where even Joseph thinks he’s going too far, stopping his younger brother from drowning you during your baptism.

A few caveats about John, though. A few times during your stay in Holland Valley, John seemingly sends you video messages of him threatening you. That seems well and good, until you think about it for a second. How the heck are you watching these videos? You don’t appear to have a phone, and even if you did, you wouldn’t have service on it. Had your phone been functional, you probably would’ve just…I dunno, called the national guard? It’s baffling.

He also captures you three or four times, and like a true Bond villain, neglects to kill you. This is a really eyeroll-inducing practice that Far Cry 5 employs, as every single one of the Heralds does this crap.

Jacob is Joseph’s older brother, a military vet who trains the cult’s initiates. Using a music box, he mentally conditions his trainees to associate uncontrollable rage with that song, causing them to basically go berserk and kill everyone.

This was probably my least favorite of the three Heralds. The music box wasn’t sufficiently explained, so when he first used it to trigger the player character’s rage-induced freakout, I had no idea what was going on. Ubisoft clearly has a boner for dream/trance sequences, since this game is chock full of them. Jacob’s area is no exception.

The part that bugged me most was the rage episodes, since they’re basically the same boring obstacle course full of enemies each time. The very last one has something vaguely interesting happen at the end, but I was frankly pretty surprised at just how lazy they got with his questline.

The final Herald is Faith, who oversees the production of Eden’s Gate’s home-cooked narcotic, Bliss. It seems to be a gas that causes its users to, you guessed it, go into a trance-like state. She operates out of Henbane River, and most of your missions there consist of blowing up her production plants and rescuing teammates from the Bliss’ addictive hold on them.

I honestly didn’t like Faith as a character at all, though there’s a bit of a shocking plot development in her part of the game that I actually enjoyed. All in all, though, what the Bliss actually does isn’t quite clear, and it ends up just seeming like voodoo magic at the end.

Talking too much about what happens at the end of the game will get into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say there are two endings. Neither of them were particularly satisfying to me, but I do respect the fact that they took risks in some regards with what happens in them. That’s all I’ll really say on the matter.

Overall, the story is mediocre, and I’ll probably have forgotten about it in a few month’s time. There’s also a lot of silly stuff going on that arguably detracts from the super-serious main storyline. Main characters are being tortured and dying in one scene, and in the next you’re running around with your diabetic bear friend Cheeseburger, while hunting down bull testicles for the “Testy Festy.”

Narrative aside, the gameplay is your standard Far Cry fare, with some minor changes. Gone are the insanely tedious tower liberations, which the game even jokes about at one point. This is a welcome change, as nobody actually liked doing those, but the game itself is still full of tedious fetch quests, cult outposts, and boring side missions.

The gunplay is serviceable, and some of the weapons are pretty entertaining. Recently, they’ve even released a shovel launcher, after noticing people’s affinity for pitching shovels around like javelins. Unfortunately, Far Cry 5 actually feels kinda skint in the weapon category. There are a bunch of guns, sure, but most of them are just modified versions of the same gun. All assault rifles feel and work about the same, and the same goes for SMGs. Shotguns are also so terrible for most engagements that I can’t imagine anyone wasting a weapon slot on one.

There are plenty of characters you can bring along on missions, with some being more useful/amusing than others. Unfortunately, the AI in this game is really dumb, and my teammates were not exempt from that. After watching Boomer actively kill himself over and over, I just stopped summoning him altogether.

The perk system sucks, too. As you accomplish various objectives, you unlock perk points, which can be used to beef up your character. These were so inconsequential for the most part that I honestly forgot about them. When I remembered about halfway through the game, I had around 30 points to spend. The only ones worth a damn are the health upgrades and the ability to carry additional weapons.

I’m admittedly not much of an aficionado for competitive multiplayer shooters, so I didn’t clock too many hours into Far Cry 5‘s online features. Far Cry Arcade seems to have a pretty serviceable map editor, which I’m sure someone will spend countless hours making a penis-shaped battle arena in. When I played, there were only two game types, Team Deathmatch and Deathmatch. With such a robust map making tool, it does seem to me like there ought to be more multiplayer modes.

The graphics are up to bat next, and I can say with certainty that this game looks pretty great. The only issue I can think of is that it’s a bit hard to see when you first walk out of a building. It’s supposed to simulate your eyes adjusting to the bright light, but it usually just ended up getting me shot a few times before I could see my enemies.

The sound in Far Cry 5 is similarly impressive, with explosions and gunshots having that deep bass that I crave in these sorts of games. Voice acting is passable for the most part, with some characters being much better than others. The music on offer is also pretty great, with kickass bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Heart, Ted Nugent, Thee Oh Sees, The Black Keys, and Bad Company punctuating the action.

Good looks and a kickin’ soundtrack aren’t enough to save Far Cry 5 from being a mostly forgettable romp through Hope County, however. While the gameplay is passable, and some story beats deliver a nice punch, it’s still the same tedious time-killer one might expect from this series. If you love Far Cry already, you’ll probably like this one too. If you hate the series with a passion, the fifth entry isn’t gonna change your mind in the slightest.

Far Cry 5 was reviewed on the PlayStation 4 using a review copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 6

The Good:

  • Great soundtrack
  • Satisfying gunplay, the weapons sound awesome
  • Gorgeous graphics overall
  • You can have a diabetic bear named Cheeseburger follow you around

The Bad:

  • A lot of the story feels too safe, the narrative is generally mediocre
  • Tonally confusing. The core story takes itself very seriously, but the side missions are goofy
  • Guns are incredibly samey, shotguns are useless
  • The perk system is so minor I forgot about it until halfway through the game
  • Tedious missions, especially Jacob’s questline
  • How many dream/trance sequences can you cram into a series?
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