Far Cry 5

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Giant Bomb Review

210 Comments

Far Cry 5 Review

3
  • PS4
  • XONE
  • PC

Far Cry 5's story is a real let-down, but the action still makes for a solid co-op experience.

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The setting and ideas of Far Cry 5 have a ton of promise that don't bear much fruit in the final product. There's probably a great story you could tell around a Christian Doomsday Prepper Cult that has you fighting them off as they prepare for the End Times by murdering everyone around them and stealing all the resources they can. That's meat that few games even attempt to chew. But the ambitious setting doesn't pay off in this story that seems to want to hedge every chance it gets. The end result is a story that goes nowhere, says nothing, and fails to live up to the previous settings and villains in the franchise. If you can get past that... the rest is pretty much fine if you're up for another Far Cry game.

The cult you're fighting has four leaders. Three control territories, and once you've executed enough missions in those territories, you can take that area back. Take over all three territories and you'll trigger the game's final mission against the Father, Joseph Seed, who looks and acts like a C-tier Matthew McConaughey character. Each cult lieutenant gets a bit of screen time as the game very much overuses the idea of you getting captured and hauled off to listen to a bunch of rudimentary rambling from the torture guy who looks like a low-rent coke dealer, the lady pumping hallucinogens into the water to ensure an orderly flock, or the ex-military guy who wants to train people like they were Pavlov's dogs. I found that most of the long speeches from these characters just go in circles and don't actually give any of them any real weight. They aren't charismatic the way Pagan Min was, they aren't menacing the way Vaas was, either. They seem flat. Monotonous, even.

The lack of conviction in Far Cry 5 permeates the entire product. It doesn't just make its bad guys feel like generic, uncharismatic cultists. The militias and other characters you befriend along the way are also just... there. Maybe it'd be interesting to know why this particular valley in Montana has multiple militias and what their whole deal is beyond "we're a militia and we hate this cult." Maybe it'd be nice if you occasionally met a meaningful character who wasn't already armed and talking about what's up with "their squad" mere days after the cult started going nuts. For as much as it's disappointing that the villains aren't given enough dramatic weight, the way the game portrays rural America is somehow even darker. Everyone is either crazy, stupid, or both. Multiple missions involve "getting someone's truck back, aw shucks, we sure loved that truck." Meanwhile, after you've rescued dozens of people including a guy who owns a freakin' airplane, no one thinks to revisit the game's first idea of "we should drive to Missoula and get on the phone to someone about this." In the end, most NPCs are just people holding guns, wearing distressed American flag T-shirts, telling you about some paramilitary shit they got into or want to get into. Meanwhile, the first "good" prepper you meet is a vet with a USA jacket and a Canadian accent. It doesn't feel like a believable portrayal of rural life, even rural life under extreme duress.

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Because so much of the game traffics in mindgames, either via Faith Seed's drugs or Jacob Seed's brainwashing--large parts of the game's biggest moments are spent with the screen all filtered or wavy because you're "not right in the head." You'll see things that might not be there, you'll do things that would definitely be impossible, you'll see stuff that couldn't possibly be happening. That's fine, up to a point. Beating one of the cult lieutenants who can seemingly teleport around at will, control minds directly, and both fly and shoot fireballs at you during her boss fight is a decent departure from reality, but with so much of the game leaning on this seemingly supernatural stuff, it's hard to take any of it seriously.

I guess I won't get into specifics, but did the earth-shaking events of the final confrontation even happen? Considering you're able to load back into the world after the credits and play like nothing happened, I want to say that it was all just another drug trip in a game with far too many drug trips. It only further undermines the potential of setting a Far Cry game in Montana and taking on a religious cult. At one point the leader of the cult gives the generic "free will is an illusion, maaaaan" speech and I nearly started just skipping cutscenes. The story leans on altered states and empty words too heavily and feels utterly weightless as a result.

The rest of it is fairly par for the course when it comes to Far Cry. Some changes have been made around the edges, some are improvements, some aren't. The more organic way you happen upon side missions and fill out your map is a nice touch. You'll find friendly AI characters out in the woods who will tell you "hey, this youth camp has been turned into a cult outpost, we should go kill 'em" and that will pop an outpost marker on your map. Or you might just stumble into the outpost while going from place to place. The cultists like to hold hostages, and saving a hostage usually gives you a person who will fill in another point on the map. This is a meaningful step up from the old "climb tower, populate region" style.

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Despite multiple missions dealing with truck recovery, the missions usually feel like they fit into the world more organically, too. The game feels less like a set of checklists while also helpfully contextualizing the overtly checklist-y quests like "destroy all cult equipment in this region" or "save X hostages in this region." There are interesting little "prepper stashes" that require a bit of puzzling out to unlock. The game has its share of goofy side characters, some of which work, while others most definitely do not. I'd also argue that the goofy side characters further take away from the potential for a weighty main story, but considering how far off the mark the game is with the tone of its main quests, the idiots on the side were a lot more welcome.

Player progression has been rebuilt via an in-game achievement system instead of the standard experience points and perk trees. Doing specific things, like getting 10 pistol kills, gives you points that can be spent on perks. Most perks don't have any prerequisites, so you can more or less grow your character as you see fit. That said, being forced to play the game in stunty ways, like getting flamethrower kills even though the flamethrower isn't a particularly great or fun or useful weapon, is pretty lame. The crafting system of hunting to get specific skins to build specific upgrade is also gone. Instead you'll sell skins for money and there are achievements (and, thus, perk points) for skinning a set number of each animal. The old system better rewarded you for playing the game the way you want to play it while making hunting feel like it mattered, and this system feels like a real step back.

The weapon selection is also weirdly weak. It's broken up into categories, but you'll see multiple weapons in some categories with the exact same stats, like different models of an AK-47 and such. This is made even weirder by the game's gun customization options, which offers skins and attachments for everything. Why have two of the same rifle for sale in the menu? Why isn't one of them just a skin for the other? The arsenal feels light, as a result. Also, getting into a store seems to take an extra second or two, like it's hitting a server or something. Considering there are "prestige weapons" and other skins that you can optionally buy with a premium, real-money currency, maybe that's why it takes so long to get into the store. While some of the skins, vehicle paint jobs, and outfits are fun, Far Cry 5 is a first-person game. You barely ever see that stuff when you're playing the game.

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Far Cry 5 is, at times, very fidgety and glitchy. I ran into multiple quest-bearing NPCs who ran off mid-sentence and refused to activate again, forcing me to quit and restart. One such character was in the middle of telling me that he couldn't swim, then he got into an actively scared "there's an enemy nearby" state and immediately swam away. Pretty good form, too. One boss fight simply instructs you to kill the boss, so I pulled out my sniper rifle and smoked him. But he'll pop right back up, awkwardly, if you do it that way. You need to get up close so you can trigger a cutscene death. At one point in the game you're being constantly hunted by planes, but getting spotted by a plane doesn't activate enemies on the ground, so I was able to stealthily take over an outpost while also being bombarded and strafed from above. Characters flop around the environment, your AI helpers use their loud voices in stealth situations and sometimes use their stealth voices in open combat... while some of these glitches are funny and all, there are a few too many of them. They've been making these games for years, you'd figure some of this stuff would have been cleaned up a bit better by now.

The game has a map editor and a whole separate mode called Far Cry Arcade that lets you share, play, and rate user-created levels and multiplayer maps. Some of the outposts and assault missions I've seen in these early days have been pretty good, and you'll earn some cash and perk points to take back into the campaign, but after 20 hours of finishing Far Cry 5 and messing around a bit with some arcade maps, I'm just not sure that I need an infinite array of mini Far Cry levels. The campaign was more than enough. The Arcade mode is well-made, though the competitive multiplayer doesn't feel great.

A big part of the cult leader's final plea to you as the player is a large speech about how you're the real monster, running around the environment and murdering everything in your path. He even goes so far as to say that there are some problems that can't be solved with a bullet. But aside from a good ending/bad ending choice, a gimmicky fake early ending that was done better in Far Cry 4, and one or two minor points along the way, Far Cry 5 isn't a game about choice--unless you count the choice of which cult leader you're going to kill first. You might not be able to solve every problem with a bullet, but when the game only gives you bullets to work with, you aren't left with too many other real options. It seems like a dumb move on the writers' part to shine such a bright spotlight on how inflexible their open-world game actually is, but that's Far Cry 5. A decent video game undermined by bad pacing, weak characters, and a wishy-washy world view. Play it cooperatively with a friend, ignore the characters and their motivations, and you'll probably have a good time.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+

210 Comments

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flasaltine

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Edited By flasaltine

Far Cry 5? More like Far Cry Bye.

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Blitzrules240

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A Far Cry from 3 for Jeff.

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tds418

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3 sounds generous given the text. Thanks for the review!

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dizzuncan

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It makes you wonder how this game would have reviewed without that first trailer setting everyone's expectations....

That being said, Jeff's point about the story aspect being a missed opportunity sounds valid either way.

I personally can't wait to get engrossed in the playground of "another one of those" Far Cry games, and have never relied on the story in these games, so it sounds like it'll still be a super fun game to play, hopefully!

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ShaggE

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Eep. The best thing modern Far Cry has going for it is interesting, fun villains. The lack of that is a bigger letdown than anything else to me.

Still looking forward to this, because they're fun games, but the "Far Cry 3, but again and less good" formula is pretty much out of gas now. The franchise needs an AC:O of its own if it's going to survive.

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Hyle

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Edited By Hyle

More or less what I expected, as a guy who just likes Far Cry games overall I will pick it up, but I have warned an optimistic friend that it will just be more of the same game that he didnt particularly enjoy the last go around.

edit

upon playing a lot of co op with said friend who picked it up on a whim this game owns lol

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Solh0und

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Edited By Solh0und

Well I'm hoping to still get fun out of this. I picked up a Gold Edition for $60 thanks to PSN's credit deal and Sony rewards. I'll at least get FC3 classic if this doesn't do it for me.

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Adaptor

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Sounds like some wasted potential. Probably still going to buy this, though. Just for the map editor. They really beefed that thing up apparently. Hopefully the MP gameplay isn't *that* bad...

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Bizarrohash

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I was pretty bummed to hear about the shortcomings of the story... but then I realized that other than the names of the main villains, I don’t remember anything about the stories from 3 and 4.

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danm_999

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Bit of a bummer this game ended up so middling in the plot and character department. I actually really liked what they did in Far Cry 4 with Pagan Minh.

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NickFoley

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Disappointededly ineffectual. I thought this would be the game to get me into Far Cry, but it doesn't sound that way at all.

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hassun

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The level editor is really the thing that makes this game interesting to me. I never expected them to follow through on their initial hints towards an actually meaningful story.

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Edited By steveurkel

I was born in Montana and currently live here still and ordered the game earlier today and can't wait. It looks very much like Montana and I am super excited to play it.

No one plays far cry for the story so lol at people complaining about the story. It's a game where you deliver testicles and fly stunt planes not an Agatha Christie best seller.

Origins was my game of the year last year and ubisoft has been killing it. I might even pick up steep since it's on sale right now. You can get 20 percent off right now on far cry 5 buying on gmg or ubisoft store.

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Dokaka

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This feels like the game before a franchise reboot happens.

This game is really everything I hoped it wouldn't, namely just more Far Cry. It's a shame because it showed so much promise, but FC5 doesn't take the franchise forward at all.

Played about 12 hours and stopped. No desire to go back. Maybe if I had people to co-op with.

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leejunfan83

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Video games!!

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mrangryface

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HAS A DOG! I CAN RUB ITS BELLY! GOTY

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leburn98

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Edited By leburn98

Well considering that I do not play Far Cry games for their story, this game sounds right up my alley. Far Cry has always been about what kind of open world shenanigans I can get up to, especially in co-op.

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AlanMcKinnon

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Edited By AlanMcKinnon

Everything about this game so far reeks of a project that had a clear vision that was muted or outright directed to be changed by higher-ups, and I think the change in tone from the game's reveal to recent announcements more or less bears that out.

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NTM

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Edited By NTM

Far Cry 5: As Expected. I might get this if it's super cheap, but everything I've seen of it with preview coverage looked like something I didn't really want to play. If it had pulled off some kind of meaningful message with the story or characters and really made the setting interesting I'd probably be into it, but it sounds like it falls flat.

It's getting tiresome now for me that they keep putting out the same thing over and over with very little ambition to innovate or bring something interesting to the table with the aspects they craft. It's just about taking what the previous games did and trying to fine tune it all. I am at least happy I can save some money.

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BladedEdge

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So..I never got much into 3, skipped 4..and now really wanna play this. Like, part of me just wants an open world single player shooter set in my back-yard (sorta kinda) without some kind of "Omg the Russian are invading!" Which, even if the story is weak, this game seems to deliver from what I've seen.

It's a shame to hear the story is not very good, however, since I value those highly in games. Still think I will enjoy my time with it, since I haven't touched a far cry game in a very long time, so its not well threaded ground to me, sorry to hear its not the update people who played a lot of the entries prior seem like they needed.

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VoshiNova

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Edited By VoshiNova

Great review, well written and clear.

It's so strange to have such fluid fun mechanics, a setting ripe for exploration, and yet somehow be tone deaf as far as a moving story goes.

It's just really fucking weird that a franchise with a clear history of somewhat provocative storytelling could have it's latest entry be such a flop in that department.

I didn't play Primal. I really enjoyed Far Cry 4 despite some of it's plot devices, and now I feel like I will play through Far Cry 5 having tons of fun with it's gameplay while keeping it's bullshit story at bay.

Edit: I just started playing and the opening is thematically Far Cry and I'm loving the way they just let you loose on the map.

Edit again: This game is really fun. Amazing visuals and what feels like a fresh take on the gameplay mechanics of past games in the series.

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Kamui97

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@dokaka:From the thoroughness of his review, I feel like Jeff is pretty disappointed too. Considering he was already kind of meh when Primal came out, this being more but lesser Far Cry is pretty weak for a series that has had multiple top 5 GOTY finalists.

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fram

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I got my fill of the Far Cry gameplay after 4 (I skipped 3) and there are so many other games to play right now; this is an easy pass for me.

Bummer to hear that the meaty pitch they gave a while back turned out to be pretty toothless in the end. Why go to the effort of creating such a potentially fantastic setting only to step back from having it say or mean anything?

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Edited By DaveKap
Loading Video...

Here is the reveal of Far Cry 5. This is the only time they ever made it seem like there might be an important, meaningful message in the game. However, that comes directly before a bunch of footage expressing that "nah, this is just the same Far Cry you know but in America." The same message that continued to flow out of the marketing since then. The presenter went out and marketed the game strongly in a few minutes to get your attention, only to walk it back almost immediately, with the company continually walking it back so you understood what you were getting into. I think Ubisoft was actually trying to keep you from having incorrect expectations.

And yet here we are... with the game getting poorly reviewed specifically based on expectations. Did Ubisoft want to stay inoffensive? Maybe the game was done being written 3 years ago? Maybe they saw what Wolfenstein did and said "if you want that experience, go play that game" because they knew they couldn't compete. I don't know but it's not like I was ever playing Far Cry for any deep message.

It really makes me wonder how folks would feel if this game came out and the militia incident of 2014 hadn't occurred or if all this current-day neo-nazi bullshit wasn't happening.

Mind you, I'm not trying to defend the game or Ubisoft. I just think expectations were too high when it was revealed and even despite Ubisoft trying to walk them back, people were too stubborn to notice and now we have a 3-star game instead of a 4-star game.

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larmer

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the flamethrower isn't a particularly great or fun or useful weapon

Damn, you gotta fuck up pretty hard to make a flamethrower not fun.

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FraggingRights

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I’m bummed out to see that the setting/plot didn’t bear the fruit I was hoping for. Maybe it was naive of me to expect a real, albeit over the top, story of turmoil on American soil. Maybe the game’s content got pulled back a bit during development to play it safe?

I’m still looking forward to playing it despite its seemingly abundant flaws. After non-stop Monster Hunter and Celeste, I kinda just want something fast and loose.

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Veektarius

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Far Cry might have had some memorable characters over the years, but let's be real, the stories have always been pretty hackneyed. I have to think that if I was from Southeast Asia, I wouldn't find the hamfisted portrayal of a kleptocratic nation any more interesting than we Americans feel about this take on Montana.

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Silellak

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Edited By Silellak

@davekap said:
Loading Video...

Here is the reveal of Far Cry 5. This is the only time they ever made it seem like there might be an important, meaningful message in the game. However, that comes directly before a bunch of footage expressing that "nah, this is just the same Far Cry you know but in America." The same message that continued to flow out of the marketing since then. The presenter went out and marketed the game strongly in a few minutes to get your attention, only to walk it back almost immediately, with the company continually walking it back so you understood what you were getting into. I think Ubisoft was actually trying to keep you from having incorrect expectations.

And yet here we are... with the game getting poorly reviewed specifically based on expectations. Did Ubisoft want to stay inoffensive? Maybe the game was done being written 3 years ago? Maybe they saw what Wolfenstein did and said "if you want that experience, go play that game" because they knew they couldn't compete. I don't know but it's not like I was ever playing Far Cry for any deep message.

It really makes me wonder how folks would feel if this game came out and the militia incident of 2014 hadn't occurred or if all this current-day neo-nazi bullshit wasn't happening.

Mind you, I'm not trying to defend the game or Ubisoft. I just think expectations were too high when it was revealed and even despite Ubisoft trying to walk them back, people were too stubborn to notice and now we have a 3-star game instead of a 4-star game.

This review doesn't read to me like an issue of expectations - it sounds like the story, settings, and characters are just unforgivably bland, expectations or no.

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larmer

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Edited By larmer

@fraggingrights: when does Ubisoft ever not play it safe? This is how all their games go. I still remember being bummed out that Watch Dogs had nothing to say about government surveillance. I think it's partially that they're afraid of rocking the boat, but mostly they just don't have good enough writers to deliver a meaningful message. The best they've been able to achieve is interestingly weird characters. They're better at delivering comedy than drama, which is why many of their games lately lean hard on goofiness. But now even their goofy shtick is wearing thin.

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FraggingRights

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@larmer: Yeah. That’s true. Such wasted opportunity.

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petervs

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Shu that was rough, feel like I need a bath

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NeverGameOver

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"Let's see how many times we can make the same game over and over again before people notice and stop buying them!" -The Ubisoft way.

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TopherMinski

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everything jeff said makes it sound like a far cry game. so if you like far cry then this will probably be okay.

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BaneFireLord

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Sounds about right. Kind of a shame since I’ve generally been pretty optimistic about Ubisoft recently (AC Origins has become one of my favorite games ever) but not too surprising based on all the prerelease “meh” swirling around it. Honestly more let down by the mechanics than by the story sounding like a shitshow...I mentioned it on the last UPF too, but that progression system sounds rotten and limiting and completely at odds with the more organic exploration system they’ve added.

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auron1014

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I assume there's going to be a Quick Look for this? I was surprised to see a full review up without any other coverage that I've noticed on the site

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VoshiNova

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gortonimo

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Review before the Quick Look? That's rather unusual ain't it?

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RiotControl

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This sounds... exactly like the previous three Far Cry games, complaints about the story/villains and all. The difference being that FC3 was actually fresh and exciting gameplay wise and not every game in the world had started using Ubisoft's "iconic" open world formula. Was Vaas really that memorable or was his marketing memorable? They tend to give decent introductions to villains, but then they disappear throughout the game and their story just bombs hard at the end when they show up for a face to face.

It seems like yet another sequel that piggybacks on the standard Far Cry 3 except with microtransactions. So yeah, I'd imagine a lot of the busywork in this game will have not stood the test of time in the 5 or so years since FC3, but I'd bet the general gunplay and the wacky drug-induced hijinks are alright. Hopefully with some okay comedy bits as well.

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chocolatebear

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Edited By chocolatebear

Damn, baby, I just bought this game. I semi-played through FC3 so I am ready for some Far Cry action, I guess. Would be great if one of these games had a legit story though. I look at Wildlands, and that game could have been amazing.

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acsct3

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If we keep this up, Far Cry 6 will get a 2 star review. You heard it here first!

Far Cry 3 - 5 stars

Far Cry 4 - 4 stars

Far Cry 5 - 3 stars

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Capstan

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Hey, has anyone else noticed the dearth of good writing/stories in AAA titles recently, especially from the big franchises? I was so put off by Fallout 4's pathetic dialogue and anemic subtext that I've found myself struggling to start a new game of anything besides puzzle games and indies. What I saw of Mass Effect: Andromeda's narrative and faux-future good vibrations (thanks, Giant Bomb, for the subtle and not-so-subtle warnings there!) seemed equally tentative. Where are the Portals? Where are the Skyrims? Has the industry just given up on story-telling?

Also, do I need to apologize for using the word "dearth"?

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Onemanarmyy

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Thanks for the review. Seems like more of the same. Again. Good on them changing the climb tower mechanic though. It's not easy to come up with new ideas.

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ripelivejam

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Ah the old "Jeff gave it 3/5 videogames are dead!" crowd. :)

Mainly got it to coop w/ a friend and I haven't played a Far Cry in a while, enjoying it and it's engaging me enough with the fun gameplay that I'll be fine with a mediocre story. It is giving me some strong deja vu for FC3 tho.

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htc

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More Giant Bomb reviews, good stuff.

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nodsknowingly

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Good Review. I still want to check out the game but I'll happily wait for a sale price to get it.

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heatDrive88

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Skumberg

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