The Far Cry series has seen dramatic shifts in gameplay design and tone, ranging from a goofy linear action shooter, to a desperate struggle for survival, to open world playgrounds with a freedom to experiment and explore at one’s own pace. Far Cry 5 is the hotly anticipated newest game in the series, scheduled to be released on March 27th, 2018. This is the longest time elapsed between Far Cry titles since the release schedule of Far Cry 2 and Far Cry 3, and after playing these two games one after another, one can hardly tell they were even part of the same series. While Far Cry 4 was rightly criticized for being little more than a small iterative step from Far Cry 3, Far Cry 5 has had the benefit of a few extra years to make an impression all of its own, and the return of a buddy system, lack of a minimap, and unique setting are all great signs of a memorable experience. However, to truly stand out for the rest of the open world crowd, these are some things that I want to see in this newest incarnation of the series, the inclusions of which elevate this game to be one of the most poignant and interesting games of the year
1. Diverse Biomes and Ecosystem
There is a pervasive perception that large portions of the United States are boring, flat featureless plains with not much to see other than a desolate fields of grass, interspersed with small towns of backwards hillbillies. While this isn’t entirely false, every single state in the union has beautiful locations full of natural wonder and unique vistas that are all worth visiting. Having visited Montana myself during a drunken ski trip, the fictional rural area of Hope County is a fantastic setting for an open world game, full of majestic mountains and dense forests, and yes, the flat open grassy plains previously spoken of. The Far Cry series always have physically large and expansive environments, but tend to be more or less a single biome repeated over and over again. Far Cry 4 was noticeably trying to take the game into more diverse locations with some alpine environments, but with Far Cry 5 with the region of Montana, there could be a range of high mountain ranges, dense pine forests mixed with deciduous aspen groves, raging rivers and pristine lakes, and grassy hills as far as the eye can see. In addition to this, the recent game’s focus on hunting mean that there is always a semblance of a natural ecosystem at work, illustrated through Far Cry 4’s eagles periodically drop markhors off of cliffs, or two tigers fiercely brawling over territory. I want to see this taken to the next level with interactions between multiple prey and predator species, as well as animals that are more active and believable than just standing around waiting to get killed by the player to make a bigger wallet. Nothing would pull me out of the experience more than watching hostile animals zoom towards me like a heat guided rocket, I’d much rather have them be skittish, guarded, and unpredictable. A perfect example would be the player coming across a black bear while looking for a decent fishing hole along a stream, and having to decide whether or not this fishing spot is really worth risking your life over.
2. Challenging Stealth
The bread and butter of recent Far Cry titles revolves around the capturing of enemy outposts, through stealth or more upfront methods of confrontation. The problems with this game are dumb human enemies who can’t see more than 20 feet in front of themselves, as well as the ability to “mark” enemies, allowing the player to be omnisciently aware of the enemy locations at all times, even through solid surfaces. Previous titles even had the gall to include a minimap that made sneaking through most locations trivial, since the player might as well have had X-Ray vision at this point. Thankfully, Far Cry 5 is already moving in the right direction with the elimination of the minimap, which already makes the game more challenging and immersive, but I would like to see even more emphasis put on the stealth aspect of the game. Unfortunately, recent gameplay show the marking ability still present, so a solution would be to balance out this overpowered ability by making the enemies better at detecting the player, but give the player a reason to use cover, concealment, and distractions to accomplish their goals.
3. No Boring Collectathon Quests
Ubisoft’s open world titles are notorious for being filled with countless hours of filler content. Most gamers can relate to the feeling of “Just why am I doing this” as they found themselves pointlessly hopping after a feather in the Assassin’s Creed series, or spinning the Mani wheels in Far Cry 4. Opening up some of the maps in these games, the entire screen is blanketed by a vomit of colors and noise, with the promise dozens of hours of boring content. The recent Assassin’s Creed: Origins has shown a departure from this filler type of content, with much less collectables and no towers to climb at all, which seems to indicate a shift in a different direction. If Far Cry 5 can deliver a compelling suite of content without the need for padding out its length with pointless collectables. Whether this takes the form of longer, involved side quests similar to the Witcher 3, or more involved hunting missions, this remains to be seen.
4. Villain who is Actually Present
Far Cry 3’s most iconic element was its fantastic villain, the insane and awesome Vaas. Unfortunately, he plays a much smaller role than to be initially expected. Ubisoft smartly realized the draw of a charismatic, intimidating figure as a main antagonist in their games, and continued the trend with Far Cry 4’s Pagan Min, who unfortunately falls into the same trap of being relegated to the background for most of the game. Far Cry 5 doesn’t deviate far from this formula, seeing how Father Joseph is being featured prominently the advertisements for this game, depicted in Last Supper-like imagery. However, I hope he has a much bigger role in this title’s story, instead of being relegated to taunting the player periodically through their radio. Being a religious leader in addition to a military warlord is a fantastic combination, and can lead to interesting motivations and plot elements that the Far Cry series has never explored before.
5. Story that is Uniquely American
This is the first Far Cry game to be set in the U.S.A., which was definitely a surprise to me when it was first announced. Previous Far Cry titles take place in exotic locales, full of strange cultures and unknown native people, stereotypical mystical bullshit and all, but this country is the home of many gamers, including myself. The cynical part of my brain tells me this is to give the player an expansive playground where wanton destruction and murder can occur without any hesitation. The society that the U.S. is composed of is unlike any other in the world, and despite having much of its culture influenced by outsiders still has special characters and folk heroes aplenty. The villains in this game are gun toting, religious fanatics, which are analogues to an ugly side of american society that most people don’t like to think about, but Ubisoft is brave for deciding to go in this direction, as they have already received the expected backlash for it from the usual groups. In the more recent Far Cry games, there are some interesting dives into the cultures of native people through drug trips and feverish dream sequences, and I am curious to see what the equivalence of Montana’s culture would be like. Hopefully, in Far Cry 5, Montana as a place will be more than just a pretty backdrop to blow stuff up in, but instead a reflection of the U.S. that will help people understand and appreciate the spirit, history, and mythology of the Big Sky state.
Far Cry 5 is shaping to be one of the more interesting games in series history, and as long as the things in the list above are explored in the game, can make this a contender for the best Far Cry game ever made. This is a series that I have always enjoyed to some degree even at its worst, and I can’t wait to experience what the games has to offer when it release in March of this year.