‘Far Cry 5’ showcases solid gameplay, environment integration despite lackluster storyline

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Ubisoft/Courtesy

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Grade: 4.0/5.0

Two years after the last addition to its beloved action-adventure franchise “Far Cry,” Ubisoft once again invites players on a journey of unadulterated, chaotic fun with “Far Cry 5”. A collaboration between Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Toronto under “Far Cry 3” executive producer Dan Hay, “Far Cry 5” revisits the franchise’s open-world, first-person shooter formula with yet another unique and riotously unconventional storyline.

Far from the Himalayan mountains and Mesolithic panoramas featured in previous “Far Cry” games, “Far Cry 5” takes place in the fictitious Hope County, tucked away in the deceptively serene Montana countryside.

Upon extinguishing all communication between Hope County residents and the outside world, Father Joseph Seed anoints himself the leader of the Project at Eden’s Gate, a glorified religious doomsday cult aimed at bringing salvation upon it followers through drug-induced manipulation and extreme violence.

Taking on the role of an unnamed sheriff’s deputy tasked with arresting the father, the player becomes the unofficial leader of the Resistance against the Project. The Deputy must recruit a slew of ragtag Hope County residents to take down each of Joseph’s siblings — Jacob, John and Faith — in their respective territories before confronting the leader himself.

In a first for the “Far Cry” franchise, the player is given the ability to choose the gender of the Deputy, as well as customize the unvoiced character to a limited extent. Yet, the strength of “Far Cry 5” rests in its environment and gameplay rather than its characters and resulting story.

“Far Cry 5” features a massive, lush map that includes everything from rolling plains to dense forests filled with wildlife, which can be used for hunting and resource scavenging. The game presents a robust integration of its open-world map with its combat system — even traversing Hope County becomes a true challenge, with cult members lying in wait to ambush the Deputy at every turn of the road.

Admittedly, building the Resistance does not present itself to be an easy task. With a plethora of enemy outposts to take over and quirky side quests to tackle along the way, the game forces the player to put in a considerable amount of legwork to complete each region of the map.

Ubisoft/Courtesy

Ubisoft/Courtesy

Admittedly, building the Resistance does not present itself to be an easy task. With a plethora of enemy outposts to take over and quirky side quests to tackle along the way, the game forces the player to put in a considerable amount of legwork to complete each region of the map.

Yet the range of weaponry featured in the game, as well as the guns for hire system, manage to shake up an otherwise monotonous routine of receiving a target and then attacking another enemy outpost. “Far Cry 5” features an impressive array of guns and melee weapons to suit various play-styles, alongside an assortment of vehicles that deal considerable damage. In addition, the game’s guns for hire system allows the player to recruit Hope County residents to fight the cult alongside the Deputy — specialists such as aerial combat expert Nick Rye or sniper Grace Armstrong can be recruited to the Resistance by completing story missions, providing a much-needed upper hand in combat.

“Far Cry 5” also introduces “Far Cry Arcade,” a platform in which players can build their own maps and levels through robust editing tools. While lacking enough assets to sustainably extend gameplay beyond the Hope County map, the “Arcade” feature is a unique idea that is bound to increase in viability as the game is updated. As of now, “Far Cry 5” maintains its playability through its co-op gameplay, which makes the game enjoyable even when trudging through the main campaign’s grunt work.

Given its underlying themes of religion and far-right politics, “Far Cry 5” faced considerable controversy upon its announcement, as many critics envisioned the game to be a response to Trump-era politics. Instead, “Far Cry 5” attempts to avoid offending players of any religious or political alignment. While its villains are overt misusers of religion, the game offers no definitive commentary upon that fact. What results is a muted storyline that dances around its potential controversy rather than facing it head on.

Filled to the brim with beautiful landscapes, inane explosions and infamously reckless gunplay, “Far Cry 5” certainly embodies the wonderfully bizarre approach that makes Ubisoft’s action-adventure franchise a fan favorite, despite the game’s lackluster storyline. With its penchant for the flamboyantly chaotic gameplay that “Far Cry” fans have come to know and love, “Far Cry 5” hits the target, delivering a downright fun gaming experience.

Manisha Ummadi covers video games. Contact her at [email protected].