You know what the definition of insanity is? It isn’t doing the same thing over and over again. Rather, it’s building a franchise that has you exploring various world locales and then murdering all of the inhabitants within it, expecting that formula to be applied to an American setting and thinking that nobody will lose their sh**.
Because that’s precisely what happened with Far Cry 5. Ubisoft’s initial reveal of Far Cry 5 had the internet firmly divided: Some people argued that shooting the digital faces off of lunatic cult members in the heartland of the US of A was just what the franchise needed, while other folks donned tinfoil hats before protesting vehemently at the change in locale.
Far Cry 5 looked downright sombre then. A serious look at the effects of cults and the ramifications of their presence on the people around them. That much is still very much true in Far Cry 5, but it’s also not the defining aspect of this latest sequel. In a hands-on session at E3, Ubisoft’s open-world shooter was madder than a bag of agitated weasels, the kind of game that makes you echo America f*** yeah with gusto.
Far Cry 5 may have you murdering the wackiest of cult devotees with a small arsenal of assault rifles and sub-machine guns, but the way you’re aided and informed is properly blue-collar in its execution. Even if it is almost just as mad. Three guns-for-hire aid your efforts to overthrow the Heaven’s Gate cult, such as show and awe pilot Nick Rye, sneaky shotgun fanatic Grace Armstrong and the best dog of E3, Boomer.
Boomer may just be the best partner you could ask for in Far Cry 5, a lovable mutt who gets up to all manner of mischief in battle and can help mark out enemy locations for you at the mere press of a button. He’s also my spirit animal, a dapper dog who you can pet and command to rip the throat out of the crazies invading small-town America.
All well and good, but I’m not totally sold on Far Cry 5 just yet. It’s a fun Far Cry game, but its biggest change comes thematically, not mechanically. It’s Far Cry through and through, but the formula has barely changed. Same same, but different. While Far Cry 5 may have barely changed internally, at least it has a berserk amount of action tied to its core concepts.
Ultra-Christianity extremists can be slain by the dozen, like the final hilltop charge from Rambo 4 only with more cultists instead of oppressive Burmese SPDC soldiers and just about everything in Far Cry 5 seems to be constructed out of Michael Baytanium. It may be familiar, but at least it’s still solid enough to stand on its own. Plus you can go fishing.
Yes, fishing. At one point in the demo, just before I met up with Nick Rye and went on a bombing run for him, I took a detour and grabbed a rod. Mastering my bait, I was able to fling a line while Boomer swam around the lake for the sake of it. From there it was a game of reeling in fish and playing with the tension of the line and eventually caught what must have been the smallest guppie of E3. Mark my words, Ubisoft will announce Tom Clancy’s Bait and Tackle the second this mode goes big.
Far Cry 5 finds itself in an odd situation: It’s got a theme that’s begging for it to be seriously explored, a fantastic chance to bundle an entertainment product with a serious critique of the dangers of small town USA’s bible-belt and charismatic leaders whose belief in them being the hero of their own story manages to sway in the weak-minded gullible.
Ubisoft’s approach so far seems to be a far goofier iteration of Far Cry that wants to just be one of the good ol’ boys. There’s still plenty of time between now and the February 2018 release date for the game, but if you were looking for the most chaotic Far Cry game ever made, the fifth time might be the charm for you as Far Cry 5 mixes outrageous moments with a few quieter calms before the storm of anarchy and action. And pressing X to pet your dog.
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Last Updated: June 16, 2017