E3 2017: Far Cry 5 Plays it Safe Despite Controversial Setting

Far Cry has always done an excellent job of transporting players to exotic locations, putting weapons in their hands and letting them loose. Over five games, we’ve visited jungles, mountains, savannas and prehistoric forests. Far Cry 5, however, takes players to the most controversial location yet: Hope County, Montana. At E3 2017, we were finally able to get our hands on the game, and despite the setting, Far Cry 5 is just more Far Cry.

We got to see the game last month and were left unconvinced about the setting. We were unable to put aside our suspension of disbelief and accept that such explosive action could take place in America without the government intervening or the media catching wind of it. Playing the game at E3 did little to assuage the feeling, but it did remind us just how fun Far Cry can be regardless of the setting, even though little has changed from previous titles.

The demo began with a classic Far Cry mission, liberate an outpost. Like previous Far Cry games, players must eliminate all enemies. In Far Cry 5, these missions add-in an extra wrinkle to the formula. Thanks to the new Guns for Hires/Fangs for Hire mechanic, players can employ NPCs to help them complete the mission. In the demo, players could choose one of three NPCs; Nick Rye provides air support, Grace Armstrong tags enemies and provides sniper fire, while Boomer mauls enemies and retrieves guns and ammo for the player. It’s nice to get some help while tackling objectives finally, but it doesn’t change the experience in any meaningful way. Whether you have help or not, this is the same mission we’ve played so many times before.

After defeating all the enemies, the town becomes a safe haven for players to wander around in, talk to locals and collect new missions. It’s exactly like previous games. We were then instructed by the local barkeep to help Nick Rye at his airfield, which happens to be under siege at this time. Hopping into a big-rig, we rode all the way there before hopping out and mowing down some enemies.

Helping Nick leads to Far Cry 5’s big new addition to the series: planes. For the first time in the franchise, players will be able to fly planes and rain down bullets and missiles on the enemy. Planes feel powerful, and blowing up silos and vehicles was genuinely fun. It was the dogfighting that was the issue. The controls felt too unwieldy, the gunfire too inaccurate and soon taking down the opposing plane felt like a chore. This may have to do with the game’s sensitivity, which will be tweakable in the final build of the game.

There’s no denying that the base gameplay of Far Cry 5 remains fun, but there’s a strong case of déjà vu permeating the game so far. The simple truth is that we’ve been doing the same exact things for four games now. Since Far Cry 3, we’ve fought against numerous eccentric villains, liberated numerous towns/villages across an open-world map, hunted all kinds of animals and crafted all manner of pouches. Unless some significant changes or alterations are waiting in the latter half of the game, it’s easy to see Far Cry 5 as just another mod for Far Cry 3. Sure, it looks and plays better, but there isn’t anything new or extraordinary about it.

What we saw at E3 2017 is only a small slice of Far Cry 5. So far, it isn’t bad. In fact, it’s shaping up to be a good game with solid mechanics and plenty of content. It just isn’t the compelling leap forward the franchise needs. Far Cry hasn’t done anything to evolve since Far Cry 3, and the recurring formula is starting to show its age.

Far Cry 5 is out February 27, 2018 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.