Far Cry 5 is an incredibly interesting game, especially thanks to today’s current political and social climate. But at its core, Far Cry 5 aims to be an evolution on the same action-first person shooting franchise that has helped to make Ubisoft a household name for gamers. The newest entry in Ubisoft’s long-standing franchise brings with it a host of changes from the original formula. Gone are the towers of old, replaced by good old-fashioned exploration. However, Ubisoft’s changes to exploration in Far Cry 5 make it feel like a very different game than its predecessors.
The opening of Far Cry 5 definitely sets the mood. Swooping in on the compound of an extreme doomsday cult led by the fanatical Joseph Seed, also known as the “Father,” the tense mood aboard the helicopter is palpable. The brash U.S. Marshal rebuffs the warnings of the absolutely scared straight Hope County Sheriff, and the walk up leading into the church where the Father is giving a rather topical sermon based on the situation unfolding around him. Even he gives the player the chance to turn back — an offer obviously rebuffed by the player given the whole game that stretches out in front of you after the fact. This type of storytelling is incredibly compelling and showcases the horrors and convictions of the main antagonists. Jacob, John, Faith, and ultimately Joseph Seed are all incredibly well-written and conceived enemies, and these opening moments do a great job of solidifying the horrors you can expect to see unfold in Hope County — a county that seems to be devoid of any and all hope.
Once the game allows you to roam free, you’ll notice that the map is broken up into three major areas in the county, each one controlled by a member of the Seed family. Your job is to build up enough resistance points in each area by liberating strongholds, freeing helpless folk, sabotaging New Eden’s resources, and more. The game really doesn’t hold your hand either. Feel like liberating those strongholds? Go ahead. Want to fish or hunt instead? Grab a rod or a bow and hit the trails. However, the core of the game is in its people. It’s the stories that unfold in front of you that really drive home the horrors the people of Hope County have lived through with no hope of being liberated. You genuinely feel for these characters and want to help them — and in doing so, you are actually driving the plot forward.
The more you do, the more resistance you build against the Seed family. And unfortunately, the way the game handles these moments is one of the few narrative disconnects I’ve found with Far Cry 5. Eventually, you’ll get pulled into a cutscene with one of the family members who will drone on about New Eden, culling sinners, seeking atonement, and so on. It seems a bit jarring — though I guess getting abducted does that to you — being pulled into an encounter instead of being able to freely trigger these moments yourself. In a game that really gives you the freedom to do what you want, it’s a bit of a disconnect to have that same freedom work against your ability to do these story encounters at your own pace.
Thankfully, Ubisoft has created an incredibly believable world that is a joy to romp through. Playing it with all the graphics set to Ultra on my GTX 1080 powered PC at 1440p, Far Cry 5 doesn’t skip a beat, maintaining an average framerate between 75-80fps. Additionally, testing on AMD’s Rx Vega 64 provided similar results, hovering around 70-75 fps on full ultra using the latest AMD driver. Ubisoft’s PC ports in recent years have been on the upswing, and Far Cry 5 performs across a swathe of industry GPUs at ultra settings. In a benchmarking report by Guru3D (by way of Forbes), Far Cry 5 runs reasonably well on ultra settings across 26 different GPUs. And while not all of these GPUs run the game at a blistering 60 frames per second, they do stay above the targeted 30fps that will be experienced on console.
Far Cry 5 is set to release on March 27 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Full reviews hit today with the game sitting at an 81 on Metacritic, while Opencritic lists the average scores around an 84.