I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ubisoft loves a sandbox. With plenty of big budget games released every year, it seems as if every single one of Ubisoft’s major franchises is set in a vast and open frontier for players to explore. From the concrete jungle of Watch Dogs to the actual tropical landscapes of far-off nations in the Assassin’s Creed series, Ubisoft really does enjoy giving players their own slice of digital territory to trek through.

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And that’s great! Freedom in video games is something that we take for granted, albeit what good is that freedom if it isn’t interesting. You can only admire salt plains for so long, you can only take notice of lush trees so many times. People make a land interesting, people make a nation what it is. That’s an idea that Far Cry 5 is building on for its release next year, as Ubisoft’s premier shooting and survival experience expands massively in a new narrative direction.

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You look back at 2012’s Far Cry 3, and you see the series truly start to take shape around that time. While Far Cry 2 had introduced a greater emphasis on survival than the gung-ho original game that kickstarted the entire series, it was Far Cry 3 that added character to the formula. People such as cover star Vaas and the insidious Hoyt Volker were intriguing thorns in your side.

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Far Cry 4 took that idea to a new level with its lead antagonist, Pagan Min. Two notable games, with a selection of even more notable villains. Far Cry 5 isn’t deviating too far from that formula then, as it tasks players with hunting down the doomsday preacher known as Joseph Seed. The region of Hope County in Montana has fallen victim to his cult of personality, as towns have been torn asunder by his brainwashed converts.

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Mechanically, Far Cry 5 doesn’t stray too far from its own gameplay gospel either. At its finest, Far Cry was a game where you’d sink hours into surviving long enough to become a badass. You’d scope out your surroundings, you’d plan your attack and when everything eventually went to hell you’d find yourself relying on good ol’ firepower and quick wits to stay a step ahead of the opposition.

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Between that desperate scramble to stay alive and eventually becoming a one-man army in the process, what really makes Far Cry 5 feel different from its predecessors? If my recent trip to London where I got to spend a lengthier amount of time with the sequel is any indication, it’s the character of Far Cry 5 that feels far more fleshed out in this latest chapter of the franchise.

While Far Cry games have always had a colourful supporting cast of characters, Far Cry 5 feels like Ubisoft is tripling down on that idea. With Hope County under attack, its remaining citizens have rallied around you, to help take back not only their lands from the Eden’s Gate cult but also their people. In many ways, that makes this Far Cry chapter the most American of the lot.

Sure, it’s easy to say that thanks to the abundance of firepower and explosions available to you, but that idea runs far deeper than just a surface fetish for guns. You think of the idea of America, the legends and myths that helped build the story of that nation, and there’s a common thread running throughout all of those stories: Resistance.

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Resistance to oppression, resistance to swearing loyalty to a king who lived an ocean away. The real storybook legend of America is that of a nation built on rebellion. On being that nation who drew a line in the sand and said “not another step forward”. I know it’s a far cry (HA!) from the country that we see today, which feels more divided than ever before, but when you see the truly good people of that land, you also feel their infectious spirit of standing up for those who couldn’t fight the good fight on their own.

Thematically, it’s a big influence in Far Cry 5, which feels like a game about the people, for the people. There’s a strong message layered throughout it, which feels even more relevant in today’s turbulent times than ever before. On the other side of that coin however, Far Cry 5 isn’t afraid to be downright silly with the adventures that you get roped into.

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One mission has you stealing a massive truck that is painted in patriotism, ramming crazy doomsday preppers off the road and into oblivion, while another adventure has you sampling the testicular fortitude of the local livestock so that you can help a chef with a…special recipe. Once again, Far Cry 5 is equal parts madness and contemporary commentary, all wrapped up in the stars of stripes of a crazy cult and the people who have had enough of a madman stealing their families and heritage away from them.

When it was first revealed, there was a knee-jerk reaction from some people who thought that Far Cry 5 was an interactive attack on the United States. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Far Cry 5 is rather a celebration of the America that we all want to believe in again, warts and all. It’s a modern-day western where you ride into town to save the day, a loud and explosive new chapter that feels familiar enough to pick up but entirely fresh and relatable to truly experience.

Far Cry 5 was played in 4K on a PlayStation Pro and a Samsung LU32H850 32” 4K monitor

Last Updated: December 18, 2017

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