How does the new game fare after ten hours? (Rush Review)
Ubisoft’s new major game for 2018 just released, and instead of taking like a month or so to get around to writing a review, I am opting for a first impressions review. I have generally enjoyed the Far Cry franchise, but the last one I played was the third installment. Work and other games got in the way of the fourth entry, and I wasn’t interested in the prehistoric set one, but that does not mean I had abandoned the series. The decision to make this game (almost) entirely co-op was a major plus, and probably the major driving point to buy it on day one.
Instead of a lush and distant setting, we are in Montana as a vicious cult led by Joseph Seed has taken over the area. Montana has some beautiful areas, and they are captured nicely here. A lot of folks were worried about the political setting—it seemed as though the game was making a profound statement due to location and enemy choice. (I had no intention of diving right into the controversy of the game, but here goes nothing). For me, I think these concerns may have been unfounded. Yes, you could probably force a more political reading onto this game; however, just about everyone in the game is right of center (at least) and I don’t think Seed’s cult represents Christianity—and I don’t think they were meant to.
Sure, the foundations of this cult (Eden’s Gate) seem to be rooted in Christian dogma, but they are hardly representative of most folks. This is a cult—plain and simple. I think Ubisoft wanted to be more provocative with the advertising than the game actually is—and in some ways this is a negative.
Far Cry has always been an odd series. It is like a separate universe where serious issues and absolute absurdity can flow together. With the weight of this narrative, the more silly moments are somewhat jarring. My friend and I went from killing bulls while they mated (to get fresh testicles) for a Testy Festy event, got drunk, shot balloons with slingshots, woke up next to pigs, and then about ten minutes later we were captured and given a powerful monologue about abuse by John Seed (the leader’s younger brother). Combining these moments gave me a bit of a “huh?” feeling that was hard to ignore.
Joseph Seed is interesting, but his cunningness is manufactured due to sheer stupidity of the local law enforcement. You play as a nameless deputy, who accompanies a U.S. Marshall, another deputy, and the sheriff to arrest Seed. The plan fails as pathetically as you will expect, and now you are isolated and alone with no help coming. To save your friends you must mount a full-bore resistance to this cult that is more like an army.
I get that you have to be isolated, but the whole thing is a bit thin. I actually think it would be more prudent to walk to another county than stage a full rebellion, but that would be less fun.
The characters are interesting, and there are some fun moments as well as serious scenes. Sometimes it works, but the balance here seems off from previous installations. It might get better as the game goes, but right now the story is somewhat missing its mark due to an imbalanced tone.
The gameplay is tight, and Ubisoft is good at offering solid first person combat. The driving sucks—not only are the controls a bit wonky, the health of the vehicles seems imbalanced. Our vehicles seem to be made of wet toilet paper and blow up frequently, but the enemy vehicles can withstand 90 rifle rounds and 7 shotgun shells unto the engine (yes, we counted). Yet, other times it seems like our car is indestructible and their vehicles are crumpling like nothing. The driving sucked in Wildlands until a patch at least made it serviceable. I think the driving here is better than Wildlands, but it still isn’t great. You are forced into a first-person perspective, which limits your visibility in about every vehicle. The driving aspects are also amplified here (compared to 3 anyway), and this makes a large portion of the game intermittently annoying.
A lot has changed this time around. The biggest change might be the customizable character (complete without a voice actor for whatever reason). I like being able to create my own avatar, and recently these are the only games I want to play. Stock characters just don’t interest me as much as they used to. However, I do have a gripe about the character customization: it is bare bones. The options are incredibly limited, and it seems like they wanted to give the absolute bare minimum to include this feature. My biggest complaint is a personal one, and some folks may find this silly, but I wear glasses—I like my characters to wear them as well. I can accept that many games are set in worlds that do not have eyewear, but this is set in 2018 America! I get that some might say this is a petty complaint, but let’s not forget that this is the company that only added a female character to Assassin’s Creed after claiming women were too hard to program.
Character customization allows companies to fully embrace the diversity of contemporary gamers by allowing the gamer to choice their own representation. This should include more options than four skin tones and eight hair cuts for players to choose from. I am levelling a lot at Ubisoft here when they are not the only company guilty of this—but if I were a publisher, I think this is a good way to embrace diversity without alienating anyone.
The other changes to the game are a bit subtler. The perk system is linked to collectables and achievements. The game wants you to diversify your combat as much as possible, and it makes it easy to do so. Climbing stupid towers is mostly gone. Gated areas are also gone—you can go just about everywhere right from the start. The increase in freedom can be somewhat disorientating as you will bounce all over the area as you try to get everything. Finally, the hunting is now a sport—no longer needed for upgrades.
Companions are now a major part of the game, and they vary greatly. I don’t want to go into them until I have unlocked all of them, but I think this is a fun new addition. A lot of the game is simply fun, and cheers to Ubisoft for this one.
Where does the game falter? The storytelling is a little imbalanced, but that might not matter to some. Another aspect that doesn’t work is the enemy saturation. Eden’s Gate soldiers are everywhere, and you can’t go anywhere on the map without being shot at. I think this is a major oversight by the developers—the combat is already running the risk of becoming routine (hell, we drive away when we can even now).
Another negative is the game already has the now-standard season pass (with three DLC already planned—I’m sure there is a reason we have to pay more for it). I went ahead and bought this one at full retail, so if I buy the season pass I am up to a $90 investment. Is the game worth that much money? Well, no, probably not. I don’t think most games can even claim to be worth half that.
However, the game is fun. I am looking forward to continuing with it, but it is hard to scream “go out and spend nearly a $100 on a game.” If you like the series or other open world FPS games, this one might be worth a run. If you’re worried about the political stuff, I think you don’t need to be. This is a solid game so far, but it probably won’t blow your mind.
My full review will come in a couple weeks. Thus far, I think it is worth playing.