Fans of the Far Cry series have come to expect a few staples in the series: there should be outposts in need of liberation, animals to hunt and skin for upgrades, and side quests galore to distract you from the main story. When Far Cry 5 hits PS4, Xbox One, and PC early next year, gamers will be able to once again take part in all of those standard Far Cry activities as well as so much more.
During the gameplay demo at E3 2017 I felt right at home, slipping right back into the controls that have stayed mostly the same since Far Cry 4 and Primal. My first objective: what else but liberate an outpost. The demo began by letting me choose one of three allies that would assist me along the way: an all-around fighter, a sniper, or a dog (who can maul enemies or retrieve items from afar and bring them to you). Since I was afraid of the dog getting killed, and seeing a water tower directly in front of me, a sniper seemed the most logical option for the outpost takedown (don’t worry though – the developers confirmed that while any ally can be taken out, you may always head over to their body to revive them, dog included). Sure enough, after directing my ally to the water tower and telling her to fire away, she helped take out at least half of the baddies waiting in the town below.
After conquering the outpost, of course a new quest popped up with the bartender. For the most part the game continued to play out like your standard Far Cry. After accepting the bartender’s quest I hopped in the closest vehicle (a flashy big rig with an Optimus Prime-inspired paint job and a Vaas bobblehead on the dash) and drove down the road to a man at a barn, who then gave me a follow-up mission to find his airplane and destroy a few silos nearby. While hoofing it on foot to his plane’s location I killed a few wolves and took down a small convoy of enemy vehicles, then spotted a fishing hut and small lake just next to the plane.
Fishing in Far Cry 5 is a solid challenge, mostly thanks to there currently being no reticle to show where exactly you’re throwing your line, bar to show how much tension is left before it snaps, or anything helpful like that. This isn’t a complaint; merely an observation. It’s interesting and actually kind of refreshing to see a fishing mini-game in 2017 that doesn’t hold your hand the entire way. After two snapped lines I finally reeled in an average-sized bass, that I proceeded to do nothing with. It is unclear at this time whether fishing will be necessary for upgrades (like with other animal skins and pelts), or if it can be used as bait or actually for consuming (what a novel idea that would be!), but at the very least it could be a fun way to pass the time when you need a break.
Moving on with the quest I hopped in the plane and took off, immediately knowing that this would be a huge help for traversing the Montana countryside in the full game. Far Cry 4’s Buzzer was the only aircraft in that game, but if a group of enemies happened to notice you in the air, it didn’t take much effort on their part to shoot you down, and its firepower was mediocre at best. The airplane, however, boasts three methods for attacking baddies, and flies much smoother and faster than the buzzer ever could. One trigger fires off quick-fire butters, while the other shoots rockets. The third attack gives you a top-down view of the ground directly below you, allowing you to drop powerful bombs on whatever it in your way.
After destroying the handful of silos and subsequently thwarting a convoy on the road that was heading to the silos, the enemy made a last-ditch effort to stop me by sending their own plane in the air to bring me down. We circled each other several times, neither one able to touch the other, so I flew off in an attempt to zig and zag around him. Frustratingly, several times I flew out so far that the game warned me I was leaving the play area, and to turn around immediately. On the ground it felt like the area available to me was endless, but in the air that space felt much smaller. It’s not fair to fair to claim that this will be an issue in the full game, as it is unlikely such invisible walls will be present in the middle of an open field where you’re supposed to be having a plot-progression dogfight, but in the demo it made things difficult.
Regardless of that hiccup I managed to best my opponent, ending my time in Hope County until February 27, 2018, and eager to return as soon as I can. While it would have been nice to see more plot context, for now it’s good enough to know that Ubisoft is hanging onto some series staples while adding in enough new content to keep it feeling fresh.