This morning at rAge 2017, I took Far Cry 5 for a spin before the doors opened. I knew it would draw a crowd, and the power of a media badge means I get in earlier than other expo-goers. The demo was the same that was playable at E3 2017, and it gave a short opportunity to test out gameplay and features of the upcoming title.

With no preamble I was dropped off near a settlement run by a crazed militia, and instructed to liberate it. It’s a stock-standard mission type that has been a gameplay staple since Far Cry 3, and the demo didn’t show much deviation from the formula. My first attempt ended poorly when I misread the controller layout and threw several stick of dynamite into a shrubbery. My next attempt was better.

There was an overwhelming sense of familiarity to the demo. The setting and character designs were different, but the gameplay was practically identical to recent entries. The controls, healing system, weapon selection, and basic gameplay loop are basically the same. Besides having a canine companion, and a new weapon slot dedicated to melee weapons, there’s little to separate it from Far Cry 3 or 4.

Bearing that in mind, repetition and familiarity are not bad if you enjoy what you’re doing. And Far Cry 5 was great fun. The familiarity meant I could enjoy the new additions, like the added weapons and brutally hilarious baseball bat stealth kills. The soundtrack was terrific too, transitioning swiftly from ominous hymns to pulse-pounding rock when the bullets start flying.

There are a few nitpicks, such as the UI not being informative enough, or some firearms being unrealistically underpowered, but they don’t detract from the whole. Far Cry 5 is exactly what series veterans will expect, but with a new setting and shiny toys. Take it for a spin at rAge 2017, before it launches on 27 February 2018, for PC, PS4, and XBO.

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