New Far Cry 5 Gameplay Shows Familiar Insanity In A New Setting
Losing their religion.
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After the mountain ranges of Kyrat and the tropical charm of the Rook Islands, Far Cry 5 could not have picked a more divergent locale than the state of Montana. Yet if you've never driven by a farm or don't know zen-like serenity of fly fishing, it takes little to no time for any Far Cry fan to get acquainted with Hope County.
If you've retained some muscle memory from forays in Far Cry 4 or even Far Cry Primal, you should be able to make small work of many of the initial missions in Far Cry 5. As before, it's largely about studying enemy patrol patterns, knowing how to read alert meters, and mastering stealth takedowns. But unless you're a Far Cry stealth savant, being able to switch gears and go in guns blazing is an equally useful skill.
Your adversaries--the followers and leaders of the Eden's Gate cult--will make sure that the further you go to retake the land from them, the stronger their fanatical pushback. Every bit of territorial takeover gets you closer to the showdown against Joseph Seed, "The Father", and leader, of Eden's Gate. But first, you have to take out his three siblings who control various regions of Hope County. This pathway to the final boss feels like a less ambitious version of the route to El Sueno in Ghost Recon: Wildlands. That doesn't imply Far Cry 5 will be a lesser experience, though between the abundance of helicopters and means to infiltrate bases from the skies, it's hard to avoid comparisons to Ubisoft's early 2017 hit. Both games even have a helicopter shooting puzzle.
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Incidentally, our most recent hands-on session shed little new light on Eden's Gate, aside from the affirmation that their followers are some of the most rage-filled enemies in series history. Their idea of cleansing the land means poisoning the water system, even if it results in drugged out animals. It also means getting rid of Hope County's history, right down to its gravesites. It makes for a suitable introductory bonding session between you and optional Gun-For-Hire Grace Armstrong. You can win her over by helping fend off cultists attempting to destroy graves around her church. Whether you follow Grace's lead and snipe followers from the church tower or take the fight to ground level, there are a lot of weapon options in Far Cry 5, provided you can find or afford them.
So far, the most engrossing aspect of Ubisoft's vision of a cult-occupied county in Montana is the illusion that its creatures and citizens live and exist independent of your involvement, for better or worse. You can emerge from a forest to find a bear and a bull in a life-and-death struggle on a farm or you can drive by a couple of cultists on the road ready to execute a pair of non-believers. Obviously, and with a quick enough draw, you can affect the outcome of these conflicts--just be aware that cultists, bears, and bulls will reciprocate your hostility. If the heart of Far Cry is the cycle of recognizing, acting upon, and creating opportunities, what we've played of Far Cry 5 is a promising sample of this continuing trend of rich emergent gameplay.
It remains to be seen whether there'll be a meaningful take-away from Far Cry 5's provoking premise of religious fanaticism. This interpretation of rural America could be inviting enough to make up for the lack of a meaningful message. Even with all the cultists roaming Hope Valley, this could be the first Far Cry worth spending time in "just to hang," whether that means going fishing or taking a tractor for a spin. It's even gratifying to take a plane up and discover landmarks that are impossible to see at ground level. We didn't exactly spot Nazca Lines, but there were landmarks that could be interpreted as extra-terrestrial in nature. We're curious to see what those mean.