The most striking thing about Far Cry 5 at the outset is how accomplished its audiovisual presentation is.
I’m playing on the Xbox One X, and it’s a top-notch game visually, rendering lush forests, dusty mountains, fields of wheat, and detailed interiors without even a mere hint of a performance hiccup. It seems like this performance is kept up on all other platforms too…showing the full power of the mature platform that is the Dunia engine combined with Ubisoft’s massive art teams.
It’s never bad-looking. Every shadow, particle effect, and physics interaction is brilliantly executed. The first time I killed an enemy with a throwing knife, I got a little sick feeling in my stomach.
Every Dunia-powered game has delivered visuals at the height of current expectations…but what I wasn’t expecting was the amazing sonic presentation.
Far Cry 5 has the best audio mixing and design of any Far Cry game. The gun sounds are more realistic and hard-hitting than in past games. The environmental audio is more lush and layered. Voices are correctly mixed for their surrounding locations.
And the music. The music is exceptional. It does a wonderful job of enhancing the slightly creepy environment of Far Cry 5’s fictional Montana, with a lyrical, surreal vibe that has echoes of Bioshock Infinite.
The music is good enough that its lilting strains make it much easier to sit through the mandatory logos for Ubisoft and the Dunia engine that appear every time you boot the game anew.
Aside from the graphics and sound, Far Cry 5 has radically overhauled the progression systems from previous games. The experience system is gone entirely, as are the hunting mechanics, and the radio towers. It’s all been streamlined into challenge-based perks and cash unlocks…earned either through in-game play, or real money transactions.
Everything else in the design is focused on freedom and chaos.
After completing the tutorial, you’re dumped out into the wider world. You’re told about these three bosses…and then you’re completely on your own. You can tackle the missions in the game in almost any order. As you explore, you’ll come across more friendly NPCs who will give you more missions. You’ll find letters and maps that lead to different locations. And you’ll encounter hunting and fishing areas.
Also, a bunch of nonsense is going down all the time! The random events from previous games are now just constantly happening everywhere. There’s always a convoy to fight, or an animal attack to prevent, or a rescue mission to attempt. The chaos just never stops, lending the world a constant sense of manic fun….but also making it harder to complete the actual game, at times.
I’m not as good at shooters as I was when I finished Far Cry 3 numerous times back in 2012. And often, my currently-feeble skills aren’t up to the task of keeping up with everything Far Cry 5 asks of me. I’ll be trying to take out an outpost…and suddenly a convoy will roll up and make things about ten times more difficult. It’s fun, but the freeform nature of the design means I have to do a little more trial and error to figure out what I can actually accomplish with the tools I have, rather than knowing the more difficult stuff won’t happen till later in the game.
I’m really enjoying Far Cry 5 so far, and I’m sure the visuals will keep me going. It’s a great “big game” to play in between bouts of bashing my way through Titan Quest. If you thought the open worlds of the last few games were somehow too linear, you’re in for a treat. But if you like your shooters meticulously designed and balanced for peak player engagement…Far Cry 5 isn’t really about that, as much.