Welcome to Hope County, Montana, U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A. It’s as American as apple pie, mass shootings, and type-two diabetes, amen hallelujah praise Trump, and just in time for the end of everything, it’s also the home of apocalypse prepper cult The Project at Eden’s Gate. Come on in and be saved, y’all. We’ve got killer turkeys.
For the first time in the series, and one of the only times in any other game ever, Far Cry 5 takes its unique brand of preposterous anarchy simulation to the land of the free, introducing David Koresh cosplay fan and self-styled hillbilly messiah Joseph “The Father” Seed and his delirious family as the new bad guys in the war for WORLD_NAME and your immortal soul. Much like previous games, however, the (actually very compelling) narrative is more a pretext for gratuitous ultra-violence and fishing expeditions than some sophisticated or otherwise meaningful sociopolitical dissertation, moving from one bizarre plot point to the next with equal parts questionable fundamentalist ideology and tractor rampages, before ending, somewhat abruptly, with one of the most memorable finishes in the genre’s recent catalogue.
At first impression, Far Cry 5 is improbably beautiful on console, its woods, lakes, and mountains realised with the kind of sumptuous splendour that shouldn’t be possible on five-year old hardware, and swapping from Xbox One over to Xbox One X about two thirds of the way through the game, there wasn’t much obvious difference between the two versions besides a marginally improved framerate. It’s apparently more or less same on PC, with a report on PC Gamer claiming that you can push max settings even (almost) on a cardboard box.
Dropped into the middle of this sort of rustic extravagance, it’s so easy to get distracted with this, that, and the other thing that the very patriotic but totally useless residents of Hope County need you to do for them, without ever stopping to ask awkward questions like “why haven’t the feds or the army been sent in to sort this out instead?”. And between taking out junkie super-moose, eliminating opposition voters in a local election, and… aliens, there’s a lot of stuff to keep you busy. That doesn’t include clambering up an interminable series of structures because because, though.
“I know what you’re thinking,” you’re told near the start of the game. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to make you climb towers all over the county.”
This and other improvements like the new perk and crafting systems, fast travel that isn’t limited by arbitrary restrictions, and “Guns for Hire” henchies with real, practical skills make Far Cry 5 a more accessible and engaging game than its sometimes oblique predecessors, promoting consistent momentum and diversity of experience over tedious chores. I’ve clocked over 35 hours of the game now, and I’m ready for more.
Also for the first time in the series, Far Cry 5 adds campaign co-op for two players. So that’s rad, but for whatever unreasonable reason, only the host player’s campaign progression is saved, which means only the host player gets campaign-specific achievements and unlocks, which also means that if you’re joining somebody else’s game, you’ll have to do everything over in your own game if you want those achievements and unlocks. It’s an entirely inexplicable design decision on Ubisoft’s part, considering Borderlands 2 had this problem solved in 2012 already, and it’s the one big suck about this game. I had about five random disconnects playing co-op too, necessitating a game restart to fix. #Notblessed.