Tag Archives: Far Cry 5

Opinion – Far Cry 5’s Ending

Spoilers:  I’ll be talking about the ending for Far Cry 5 so, unsurprisingly, there will be spoilers for Far Cry 5.

 

Let’s get the verdict out of the way: the ending for Far Cry 5 isn’t very good, but it is representative of the failings that plague the game’s story.  Whether or not you saw The Collapse coming, it was possible to predict how the story would falter.

For those who haven’t beaten the game, here’s a quick summary.  The player is fighting against The Father, a religious figure who built a militant movement around an amorphous, apocalyptic scenario known as “The Collapse”.  When the player confronts and defeats The Father, nuclear bombs go off suggesting that he was right all along and lending credence to the prophetic powers he claimed to have.

Much of the criticism of the ending is lobbied against its unpredictability.  While there’s plenty of discussion about the end of the world, Far Cry 5 doesn’t provide sufficient clues to forecast the apocalypse.  I can’t agree.  The mechanics of the apocalypse are left unexplored, but its arrival is given increasing evidence when looked through the perspective of The Father’s prophesy.  I agree that we don’t see much about encroaching war (though apparently some of the radio broadcasts talk about North Korea), but we do see quite a bit to suggest that The Father may be right.  The three heralds (think cult vice presidents) all highlight how the player’s actions were foretold by The Father with Jacob Seed even highlighting how he doubted The Father’s religious connections, but believed in his prophesy.  Furthermore, the beginning even has the cultists waiting for the arrival of the supposedly unexpected police officers.  Far Cry 5 may not set up a nuclear exchange, but it does support the idea that the apocalyptic prediction could be right.

My problem with the ending is a continuation of my problem with the broader storyline.  The story often tries to shock and awe the audience with plot twists, but rarely spends the time it needs to earn the pay off.  The concept of The Bliss is the perfect example.  Rather than spend a little time developing the concept of The Bliss, it is instead an obvious dues ex machina that does whatever the plot needs at the time.  It’s supposed to create an otherworldly atmosphere, but instead feels empty and unsupported.  Another related example is the final fight where the player must defeat their allies who have all been exposed to The Bliss despite there being no sign of that exposure happening.  Instead, the fight feels like just another convenient setup.  Far Cry 5 wants these powerful and impactful moments, but doesn’t spend the time to support them.

The apocalyptic ending falls into the same pattern.  Yes, the story lends some support to the ending happening, but it never grapples with what that actually means.  A prophet who predicts the end of the world and even knows how it will happen sets up a millenarian cult movement that he knows will fail.  He knowingly creates the scenario that will bring about the end that he’s trying to stave off.  How does any of this make sense?  The ending is yet another jump where Ubisoft wants to get to the good part of the story without thinking through the path to get there, and that’s the real problem.  The game does let you know what’s coming, it just doesn’t want to figure out how to make it work.

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Review – Far Cry 5 – PC

Short version:  Far Cry 5 is a good game.  It won’t change your life…or even your view on Far Cry games, but it’s polished, fun, and generally does what it set out to do.  Got it?  Good.  Let’s start reviewing this thing.

The game begins with the player running from the Eden’s Gate cult in Montana after failing to capture its leader, The Father.  The player joins up with up three sets of resistance groups trying to overthrow the three “heralds” of The Father, collectively known as the Seed family.  This is a solid enough set up for the game, but really relies on the personalities of the Seed family to carry the story beyond a basic “kill these dudes” premise.  Fortunately, the Seeds are a well-acted bunch of zealots who both convey the necessary charisma to sell their role as cult leaders and the arrogance to incentivize their downfall.  The desire to take down the cult and their leaders is enough to carry the player through the game, but the rest of the story can’t quite keep up.

For all the quality of the cast, the basic plotline is all over the map.  Developer Ubisoft clearly had larger ambitions for Far Cry 5’s story that it couldn’t quite reach.  The story has major plot elements that are haphazardly introduced and unexplained even as they take on an increasingly large role.  This all culminates in an ending that doesn’t have the support its needs resulting in it landing flat (I’ll cover this, spoilers and all, a little later).  The saving grace of it all is that the game rarely dwells on the story.  Far Cry 5 benefits from not looking or thinking too hard about it.

The gameplay is a more polished version of the standard Ubisoft fare.  All the usual staples are here including an open world map, taking over forts, doing side quests for locals, and hunting down collectibles.  Where the game shines is how it parcels these all out in interesting chunks the mean that no element ever feels overwhelming.  Even at the start, the map feels full, not cluttered.  Furthermore, the high ratio of character driven quest to mindless side mission means that I never felt obligated to do boring tasks.  I always felt I could engage with the game on the level I felt interested in at the time.

Another strong element of the gameplay was how it feeds into the look and feel of the world.  Success in missions translates to success for the resistance movements in the countryside.  Sectors that start off as overrun with cultists as civilians flee for their lives transform into battlefields and finally transition into resistance controlled space.  It’s a nice touch that makes each mission feel like a battle in a broader war and lends impact to the player’s actions.  I wish more games did this.

Even without the dynamic change in the environment, Far Cry 5 impresses with its high mountains, gentle farmlands, and lived-in buildings.  Perhaps it’s my familiarity with the setting, but I found this iteration of the series to have the most compelling, realistic world.  Seeing a place that I knew could be real and that was so well drawn pulled me in to the struggle of its residents.  This felt like a living world and an accurate reflection of the setting it wanted to portray.

In the end, Far Cry 5 isn’t a revolutionary game.  If you didn’t like its predecessors, this one won’t change your mind.  On the other hand, if you like this type of game, or were on the fence about the genre, give Far Cry 5 a shot.  It’s a polished example of the form and worth the $60.

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Opinion – When Less is More

I’m pretty close to finishing Far Cry 5.  When I write that, I mean that I am pretty close to completing the main story and all of the side missions.  By the time I am done, Farcry 5 will have nothing scripted left to amuse me and the best part of that is, I enjoyed every minute of it.

The mantra of open world games seems to be “more is better”.  More collectibles.  More mindless missions.  Shoot 5 bears.  Retrieve 10 ingots.  Open world titles are chock full of meaningless busy work that, by some alchemy which I cannot fathom, is supposed to add up to a better game.  Far Cry 4 was a fine example of this thinking with tons of things to find, yet no real reason to do so beyond checking a box.  Even worse was Mass Effect: Andromeda which put in so many pointless quests that they obscured the meaningful ones.  Some games are not much more than one giant level with nothing but mindless crap to do.  On the other hand, Far Cry 5 seems to get that less is more.

Far Cry 5 still has collectibles and mindless quests, but it’s smarter with each.  Collectibles exist, but they’re part of single quests that don’t clutter up the map or hang over the player’s head.  Collectibles aren’t tied to a side line story or key to unlocking a super special ability.  They’re merely there for the player that wants a little direction while exploring.  The side quests fulfill a similar role.  Side quests come with a little exposition, end quickly, and aren’t much more demanding than the collectibles.  Meanwhile, the story and broader structure of the game chugs on with its own gravity.

This all works because these bits of busy work augment the main quest rather than serve as the focal point of the game.  When side quests and collectibles are a part of a broader open world with deeper activities, then the smaller quests serve as a nice break.  Players can find lighters or mow down enemies instead of save the world or figure out the next challenge.  With the pressure off being the dominant part of the experience, the little quests can serve their intended role.  When the busy work dominates, then the game itself becomes busy work.  While there are plenty of things to do, none of them are entertaining and the player often bounces from one to the next out of a sense of OCD like obligation rather than out of any feeling of fun.  Players want to clear the map rather than actually perform the activities that would result in that outcome.

And this is why I’m happy about completing Far Cry 5.  My completion isn’t a reflection of my compulsion to clear the map, but rather a demonstration of how I enjoyed the experience in its totality.  I completed the game because it was fun, and that’s how it should be.

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