The Ballard Talisman

Far Cry 5: Hicks and sticks

Ubisoft sticks to what it knows and does it well

Ian Davino, Staff Reporter

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[DISCLAIMER: This article contains minor story / gameplay spoilers]

Far Cry 5 is a game of many balancing acts- some succeed, some don’t.

The latest Ubisoft title developed by Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Toronto follows a lot of the same roots of the Far Cry series; although opposed to prior settings, the location is pretty familiar, closer to home for it’s audience than Africa or the Himalayas.

 

Story

Set in rural Montana, fictional Hope County is under siege from an apocalypse cult lead by the mesmerizing Joseph Seed and his heralds- Faith, John, and Jacob Seed.
After a failed attempt to capture Joseph during one of his sermons, you are left as a deputy without a squad- your fellow officers captured and left in control of each one of the Heralds. The open world splits into three major regions, all belonging to their respective leaders; charismatic John in the fields, militaristic Jacob in the mountains, and whimsical Faith in control of the murky farmland. Each location has its own distinct trait, punctuated by a unique soundtrack and gameplay differences that reflect the personality of its herald.

Your goal is to increase the people’s resistance in each region, taking out cult outposts and convoys in standard open world game affair; completing side missions or events scattered across each region. Outside of the main goals, there’s quite a few activities like fishing or hunting that switch up gameplay so nothing ever feels too stale.

The story treds a pretty dark path, an emphasis placed on characterization of the people in Hope County. While it’s hard to shake the open world fatigue of feeling like an errand boy, the downright brutal acts the cult commits in the name of their father supplies enough ammunition to keep you motivated.

There’s certainly an attempt at moral greyness, occasionally cult members can be heard regretting the more violent actions that other members have done; or attempting to explain their reasoning to civilians, but considering the game has you mowing them down by the hundreds- it’s a bit of a lost cause.

Despite rumors during its launch cycle, there aren’t any large political or societal statements made other than the occasional comedic jab at various views in item descriptions / notes left around the world. It’s understandable that Ubisoft didn’t want to take too many risks with the divisive state of politics today, and at the end of the day it’s totally fine for a game to relax and stay separated from reality. The cult doesn’t attempt to mock religion, it’s more so a reflection on cult movements themselves.

Far Cry 5 struggles to identify what tone it has. One moment you are collecting bull testicles for a testy festy, the other you’re protecting a man and his pregnant wife from increasingly desperate cultists. While this duality may be good in concept, the execution is pretty poor, story missions suddenly interjecting your open world exploration with an unbeatable combat sequence that forces you into a cutscene.

When the story isn’t attempting to force itself down your throat during open world gameplay, the actual world is incredibly immersive. Having multiple companions allows you to listen to their conversations and natural banter. It’s easy to lose yourself in lush forests, stopping for a moment to fish or just sit by a campfire as two campers dance slowly in the moonlight, a third strumming his guitar to In The Pines- warm solace carved away from the chaos of the world; comfort despite the fact that they might never see each other again.

 

Gameplay

    Far Cry 5 knows how to have fun. Whether it’s playing with a friend in two player co-op, flying an airplane to catch them falling from the sky as a hail of gunfire rains from below, or going solo and strapping explosives to a car and ramming it straight into enemy territory; the game gives you the tools and keeps objectives generally non-linear for maximum fun.

The gameplay hasn’t changed much from previous titles, just polishing on what already works and removing what doesn’t. You no longer have to climb radio towers to reveal parts of the world, and the skill tree is finely tuned to leave no excess. Movement is a lot more fluid, and gun ballistics feel solid.

There’s a distinct lack in the variety of weapons, all melee weapons perform incredibly similarly (minus the shovel, which can also function as a spear) and it’s rather easy to just settle on two or three weapons to use for an entire playthrough.

Multiplayer is more than just a bit rough around the edges, but multiplayer hasn’t been the forefront of the series for a long time. Arcade mode offers user made maps in their most robust map maker to date, featuring close to 10k assets from Far Cry 5, Far Cry 4, Far Cry Primal, Watch_Dogs, Assassin’s Creed, and other Ubisoft titles. There’s a lack of any real “official” feeling maps and your enjoyment of the multiplayer can often hinge on whether or not the map created was any good.

Latency tends to me an issue, the damage system is a bit strange, and there’s already weapons that prove to be overpowered, ruining an entire map if they’re placed in the loadouts. Singleplayer and Co-op arcade maps are still enjoyable, providing infinite outposts and short missions after you’ve completed the base game.

But despite the state of multiplayer, the roughness of it has its charm, and it’s pretty often that I found myself in lobbies of other players all using their microphones and having a blast just messing around with whatever content (high quality or not) was voted for. Nothing quite like beating somebody to a pulp with your bare hands in the middle of a dense jungle- serenaded by the sounds of them insulting your mother over their mic and the rain of mortar strikes overhead.

 

Soundtrack

With four albums making up the soundtrack of Far Cry 5, it felt necessary to discuss it as an album of its own merits. The world certainly wouldn’t be the same without the ambient guitar in the menu, discordant combat music, or haunting post rock tunes of hallucinogenic bliss.

One hour and 25 minutes in total, The Original Soundtrack lead by Dan Romer is comprised of the main scores used throughout the game. Tracks like Now That This Old World Is Ending capture the wild with warm sounds and simple guitar melodies; while Take Heed Young Heathen offering more movie score inspired themes.

When The World Falls credited to The Hope County Choir helps mold the game world with hymns and concerningly catchy cult songs revolving around the family. You can often find this music playing on the cult radio stations, or broadcasted on loudspeakers. Occasionally cult members can even be seen and heard humming along. Other than the lyrics, these could be reasonably be slipped into a church’s choir playlist. 32 minutes in total.

Into The Flames covers the same songs with a variety of artists, alternating between bluegrass and country to fit the theme. Different instrumentals and vocals let it stand alone as an entirely different album. 32 minutes as well.

We Will Rise Again has cult songs covered by post-rock band Hammock, vocals distant and sometimes distorted over soothing soundscapes. While the three albums are the same lyrics, they all spin their unique twist on them and correspond with each region they lie in.

 

Overall, Far Cry 5 delivers Ubisoft’s most solid sandbox experience to date, checking all the boxes despite having it’s issues and certainly not sparkling with originality. It’s a fun one.

“Far Cry 5” (2018) ★★★1/2

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Far Cry 5: Hicks and sticks