E3 2017 hands-on: Wreck havoc in Far Cry 5’s small town America

Far Cry 5
Long story short, Far Cry 3 is one of my favorite games of all time. Far Cry 4 and Fry Cry Primal? Not so much, so you can easily see why Far Cry 5 really piqued my interest after Ubisoft released the game’s first trailer. Since it is the first time the franchise has been set in America and the main antagonist is a group of religious extremist who has taken over your hometown, the premise alone was enough to sell me. Coming into this year’s E3, I could not wait to get some hands-on time with Far Cry 5.

During my demo, we started off at the main small town in Hope County, Montana. I was introduced to three different companions to help me clear out the town. Players will be able to choose one, whether it’s Boomer the dog, long-range sniper Grace, or Nick the pilot. Each companion offers different types of gameplay and has special abilities. Boomer is made for those opting for a more stealthy approach. He can fetch weapons, attack and locate enemies as well as distract them. Grace is also on the stealth side, however, she is a little more removed from the combat.

In the game, you can pick vantage points for Grace to set up her role. There she can pick off enemies on command and will watch your back when you enter the town. Nick is more of the screw it, let us just level this town approach. Using his airplane, he will make sweeping bombing runs that will decimate the small town. Warning for players: there are friendly NPCs in the area and if you kill them or they get killed, you lose out on whatever intel they might have on the town, special items or cult hideout locations.

Fary Cry 5 Stealth

Being more partial to Far Cry’s stealth gameplay style, I picked Boomer. Who better than man’s best friend? Boomer walks alongside me as I descend onto the small town. From my vantage point, I could see many members of the cult had taken over key areas. Once I tagged all the enemies “in sight” with my binoculars, I began to plan my attack. Since it is such a small town, Ubisoft did a really good job by laying out the enemies in a way that both makes sense and feels natural.

After Far Cry 4, strongholds really began to feel by the numbers. Once you take out the alarm guy, you take out the sniper, then the guys in the towers and then move in to clean up the rest. The layout of the town was so unique I wasn’t able to spot a cult member in a high vantage point or the sniper until I was already in the town.

Save the Hostages

At first, the Far Cry 5 demo seemed too easy. I was able to use Boomer to distract a few enemies long enough to sneak up behind them for the stealth melee kill. Like I mentioned earlier about the NPCs, I noticed them in the streets surrounded by enemies. They were on their knees and were being beaten by one of the cult members. If you’ve played Far Cry before, you know that there will occasionally be missions to save captured people. The majority of the time you just need to be careful not to alarm any of the enemies, because if you do, it will result in the immediate death of the hostage.

With Far Cry 5, Ubisoft has changed up this aspect of the game to make it seem lifelike. I watched as one of the cult members beat a civilian and another kneeled beside him just watching. As I got closer to the group, without any warning or acknowledgment of my presence, the cult member killed the civilian. With the NPC now laying face down in a pool of his own blood, the group turned their attention to the other civilian. I was able to save him before the cult could kill him, and he gave me some information about a weapons stockpile nearby. Unfortunately, I did find out what the other civilian knew. This is a unique aspect of the game and I hope they expand on it more in the full release.

Fall’s End

For the most part, I was able to navigate easily through the town in Far Cry 5. Ubisoft has done a great job of making the small town of Fall’s End feel genuine and authentic. Each house or store has its own look and feel. Looking back, it is easy to see how unmemorable most of the locations were in Far Cry 3 and 4. After a while, all the shakes and hits just start to blur together. Here, Hope County feels alive. I could sneak through back doors and slide out of windows. I also liked that the level designers didn’t want to make the houses and shops too similar, so not every house has a back door and not every story has a ladder that leads to the roof.

This will make gamers think more about their plan of attack through the town. I also like that inside the buildings there were NPCs that just stayed inside. How many times have we played Far Cry where an enemy comes outside then goes back inside? Which after you’ve already tagged them, doesn’t really matter. It was a small changed that really shook up the gameplay style because I was less likely to just run inside for cover.

Unlimited Rocks

You can, of course, draw enemies out with everyone’s favorite gameplay mechanic… UNLIMITED ROCKS! Yes, they are back, but I did notice that Ubisoft did seem to update the AI a bit on these situations. In one part, I threw a rock and then naturally it caught a guard’s attention. Being too out in the open, I opted not to move in for the kill. The second time I threw the rock in the same area, the enemy became suspicious and would not go over to that area. Eventually, he began to investigate where the rocks were coming from.

This is a good update to the element of gameplay. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve lured a lone militia soldier from the base with a rock by continuously throwing a rock about 4 feet in front of him. Once he is eventually out of sight from his fellow comrades, I would move in for the kill. I think I’ve actually emptied out entire strongholds with this same technique. It’s good that Ubisoft finally caught onto it and updated the AI.

Far Cry 5 Level Design

Going back to level design, I can’t express enough how well this town was laid out. Being someone who’s actually visited Montana on multiple occasions, I can only say that the game does the setting justice. Hope County, feels like the small town where everyone knows each other’s name. Locals live miles away and only travel into town once a month for supplies and to maybe get a haircut. Especially when literally right outside the town there was nothing but farming fields, and even those were being patrolled the cult.

By the tail end of the demo, I had cleared out most of the enemies. I decided to get cute and let Boomer kill one of the cult members. The AI for the enemies was really smart. They are pretty good shots and were smart enough to know that once I started shooting at them, they should take cover and go out of sight. While originally I only had a handful of enemies left, “going loud” attracted a nearby patrol who came rolling into town in a pickup truck. It’s moments like this that made me fall in love with the franchise in the first place.

Killing Animals

I vividly remember playing Far Cry 3 for the first time with literally no clue on how the game worked. Seeing one of the many animals you can kill in the game, I figured what the heck, let’s kill this deer. I unloaded a couple of rounds into the poor animal until it laid on the floor motionless. While I was walking over the carcass, a pickup truck pulled up and three enemies jumped in. They were nearby, heard the shots, and came to investigate.

This is what makes Far Cry so unique and different from any other franchise. Eventually, I did clear out the town and I was treated to a cutscene of the people of Fall’s End returning to their stores and removing boards off their windows. They cleared out the dead bodies in the street and painted over the Eden’s Gate insignia. The town is restored and all is right with the world.

I really enjoyed the Far Cry 5 E3 demo. It takes a lot of the key elements and features that fans know and has really expanded on them. It is good to see that the franchise continues to progress and improve on what has made them so great. I can’t wait to check out the full game when it is released.

Far Cry 5 hits store shelves February 27, 2018.

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