Far Cry 5 has joined Xbox Game Pass on PC and Console. Originally released back in 2018 the initial pitch for the game was a hard look into the Christian-fueled madness of certain Alt-right sects of America. What we ended up getting was a highly sanitized shooter full of mediocre characters, infuriating kidnap mechanics, and a plot that reads more like a love letter to crazy cult leaders than anything else. This is a videogame first and foremost though, and in the gameplay area this was a big step up from the previous entries in the Ubisoft Far Cry franchise, so let’s break it all down and see if it’s worth checking out.
You are “The Rookie” a local law enforcement officer in Hope County, Montana. The game begins with a truly idiotic federal marshal leading you and a team to arrest Joseph Seed. He is the leader of the Seed family and is running the Project at Eden’s Gate cult alongside his brothers John and Jacob & their sister Hope. Each Seed sibling controls a section of Hope County. Hope has her Bliss drug farms to the southeast, Jacob runs a militia in the North, and John is the forced conversion preacher controlling things in the Southwest part of the map. In the end, I didn’t find any of them to be compelling. Things all felt too one-note and predictable for much of the campaign.
This is a Far Cry game so after a bombastic opening and sectioned-off prologue you’ll be thrown out into the wild to start taking over outposts, blowing up the cult’s convoys, and being a general menace while bringing hope to the people. The story was one of the bigger misses for me overall with the series’ trademark mysticism creeping in through the use of the cult’s drug, Bliss. It’s a powerful hallucinogen that also powers up cult soldiers using it so that they’re harder to take down. The game seemingly goes to great lengths to humanize the cult leaders and holds up John in a truly divine feeling light at times. He’s a crazy murderer but boy does the script try to build him up despite his character’s complete lack of actual charisma. He was a major step down from the crazy Vaas and horribly miscast but well-voiced Pagan Ming of the previous two titles.
Other main and side characters can be compelling with a mixture of serious and over-the-top comedic storylines. Far Cry 5 is a game that tonally shifts wildly in a way that never clicked for me. You have multiple companions to find and unlock throughout the roughly 20 or so hours it’ll take to see through the main storyline. From Boomer the dog, Snipers, Hunters, and even a Bear it’s a great collection of characters who are helpful in a fight though not overpowered by any means.
Good Gameplay Let Down By Poor Mission Structure
Far Cry 5 is a very different game on console compared to PC. Console offers up two ways to play on a Series X. First is the basic One X version which shoots for a 4k resolution but runs at a terrible feeling 30 frames per second. Boost mode will up things to 60fps but lowers the resolution and graphical details down to their Xbox One S levels. Despite how damned ugly it makes things look comparatively I can’t recommend the 30fps version of the game. It feels terrible in comparison to the boost mode 60 and in a game where the main thing you do is aim it’s just not worth things looking nicer. On PC the game ran flawlessly at Ultra settings on my decent but not top-of-the-line rig. I had everything set to Ultra and downloaded the optional 4k texture pack which doubled the game’s size from 31 to 62 gigs. Mouse aiming is perfect, and while driving never feels great on a keyboard it is easily the best way to experience the game. If you’ve played Far Cry 3 or 4 you know what you’re getting here. Solid gunplay mixed with older mission mechanics that demand you do things exactly how the designers intended.
Things blow up a lot in this game, and you will fail a large number of missions due to this. The number of times I was deep into a mission that offered up few checkpoints and someone that had to stay alive died due to a random explosion was more than I could take. I’ve beaten the game twice, both solo and in cooperative play and this was always the main source of frustration for both me and who I was playing with. Thankfully they seemed to take these issues to heart as it was far less of an issue in Far Cry 6, but know that you need to be both careful and damned lucky to make it through many of the main and side missions in the game.
Upgrades for your lightly customizable character are tied to perks that you earn from missions and completing tasks, such as getting a certain number of headshots or skinning enough animals. The system works well and allows you to choose what you want more easily than previous titles in the series had. The weapon system works well once you’ve unlocked more holsters, and with the Ubisoft Club rewards all being free now you’ll get some decent items right at the start once you’re done with the prologue island. Overall, the game is ok to play on console and excellent on PC. If you have even a mediocre gaming PC it’s a better experience than playing on a Series X, which is a shame.
The gameplay loop is still heavily based around spotting enemies and using stealth whenever possible. Your character cannot take much damage, but you can dish it out quickly, especially when you remain undetected. Companions like the feline help with marking and quietly taking out enemies and were my preference alongside the bow-using hunter who shares my namesake. Vehicles are all over the place with quadbikes, cars, airplanes, boats, and helicopters letting you zip around the very large map while having a blast. It’s the less serious moments of the game that these vehicles bring that are by far my favorite.
The Sounds of America & MTX
The music choices in the game do a great job at driving home the location and themes of the game. US Southern-style violins and guitars dominate the menu music, and the real-world song choice during certain missions and while driving is fantastic. Overall, the voice acting varies between good and great. There is a lot of repetition during gameplay that can be distracting, but the cutscenes are done well even when the writing isn’t very good.
Sound effects are a step up from Far Cry 3 and 4 though it’s a familiar soundscape overall. I did run into a few odd bugs where music or sounds would cut out, and a couple of instances where NPCs would t-pose at random while repeating lines of dialogue over and over again.
There is the Far Cry 5 Arcade mode which is a full user-generated content suite that has had nearly 4 years of people working in it, alongside some decent DLCs available for purchase that take you out of Hope County entirely. The package available on Game Pass is just the base game and on PC you will be buying things through the Ubisoft App if you’re looking to get any microtransactions or expansions.
Far Cry 5 upped the gameplay of the series in satisfying ways. The entire campaign was finally playable in co-op, and the premise had potential. In the end, it misses the mark severely story-wise, but it’s a really fun shooter. It isn’t the best experience on any Xbox console but it does run beautifully on even a mid-range PC. Since it’s on Game Pass either solo or co-op it’s well worth checking out.
|Reviewed on||*PC & Xbox Series X|
|Available on||Xbox One, Playstation 4, Windows PC, & Stadia|
|Release Date||March 27th, 2018 (Game Pass July 1st, 2022)|
|Rated||M for Mature|