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.