The Best of ‘Far Cry 5’ Part Two
Far Cry 5 is without a doubt one of our favorite games of 2018 so far. We’ve published a raving review as well as a list ranking our favorite characters, and now we bring you our list of the 15 things we love most about the game. Participating in this list is John Websell, Christopher Underwood, and Ricky D. Be sure to sound off in the comments below and let us know your thoughts as well.
Overall there’s a lot of good that can be said about Far Cry 5 when taken as a whole, but what is it about Jacob’s region of Hope County, the Whitetail Mountains, that makes them so special?
First and foremost for me would have to be the fact that they’re mountains. Call it ridiculous but mountainous areas in games have consistently been my favourite type of biome to explore. It might have something to do with the fact that the area of Britain I live in is largely dedicated to arable farmland and as such is relatively flat and featureless, so the obvious difference in the morphology of the terrain has an inherent appeal. The Whitetails of Hope County may not be the most enigmatic of mountain ranges I’ve ever seen featured in a game, but they’re no less beautiful for that. Holland Valley with its golden fields of crops and the twisted waterways of the Henbane River are undoubtedly great but the unique verticality present in the Whitetail Mountains means that you never know exactly what’s waiting for you around the corner until you get there. Grappling your way up a cliff face to reach a seemingly isolated cabin only to find that it’s just part of a much larger encampment built into the mountainside with much more potential for hilariously deadly hijinx than you first thought is not only practically rewarding in gameplay terms but also helps to build player appreciation for the aesthetics of the world design. That Far Cry 5 can feature three such vastly different landscapes and blend them so seamlessly together is a testament to the evolving mastery of Ubisoft’s environmental artists and designers.
Another great thing about the Whitetail Mountains is wing-suiting. Granted, you can wingsuit and parachute off of just about anything that’s more than a meter or two off the ground and if you’ve purchased the airdrop perk then you can do it at will when fast travelling, but the terrain of the Whitetails makes them uniquely suited to this pastime of the questionably sane. After barely surviving consecutive engagements with wandering squads of cultists and some bloodthirsty turkeys, there’s no more stylish or dangerous way to make your escape than to dive off a cliff before gliding elegantly to relative safety on the other side of a valley. Of course, the wingsuit is by no means a feature unique to the series but Ubisoft’s impeccable environment design really allows it to shine as a traversal mechanic and combat tool in a way that most other developers have never really matched.
Two other things that make the Whitetail Mountains particularly enjoyable are Cheeseburger the diabetic bear and Jess Black. As two of the named companions available in the game, they both offer up excellent combat support in the form of a walking tank and a silent assassin respectively. Both are an absolute delight to have tagging along. Cheeseburger serves as a terrifying distraction that keeps cultists occupied as you lay into them with all manner of firepower, whereas Jess is an extremely capable hunter who perfectly complements a more subtle approach to any given engagement. They may not have the self-evident utility of Boomer or the pyrotechnic audacity of Sharky Boshaw, but they fulfill their niche roles excellently and are always welcome in a fight.
The set-piece moments that occur at set intervals depending on how much you’ve built up the resistance gauge in each area may be a tad immersion breaking as there’s no real way to avoid them, but they each offer insight into each particular supporting antagonist and the part they play in the cult’s plans. Jacob is the Seed sibling charged with recruiting an army that will defend Eden’s gate to the death and beyond. However, such unfaltering loyalty is bought at a heavy cost: anyone wishing to join the ranks of Jacob’s army must first be found worthy by having their minds cleansed of all other ambitions. Essentially, they’re brainwashed into becoming the perfect soldiers. Players experience this first hand as Rook goes through a sequence of surrealistic, hallucinatory training scenarios prompted by an audio cue; in this case the song ‘Only You’ by The Platters. Each time this occurs players memorize the locations of every enemy in this psychic obstacle course until killing them is basically an act of muscle memory.
This is brilliant for a couple of reasons. The first being that it reinforces the game’s point about the mechanical and functional nature of ordinary life (getting up, going to work, coming home and going to bed repeat ad infinitum) being little different to being a brainwashed member of a cult. The same routine is drummed into you from the moment you leave school until you can’t really imagine another way of living. This is a huge element of the narrative’s politics that has been sorely (perhaps intentionally) overlooked by a large proportion of the gaming media. Yet it’s also brilliant because it ties the protagonist – the player – into Joseph Seed’s apocalyptic prophecy and makes them fundamentally vital to the game’s story, whilst simultaneously exposing the player’s function as a narrative and gameplay component. The lyrics of the song, the foundation of Rook’s brainwashing, are being used by the developers to emphasise the fact that events could unfold in the story with his/her presence at the same time they make a wry nod to the fact that nothing could transpire as it does in Far Cry 5 without the player’s participation. It’s a surprisingly deft use of thematics and mechanics to offer insight into the metaphysical nature of gaming itself.
Tune in tomorrow for part 3 of this list.