When I first heard about Far Cry 5 and the possibility to play the entire game as part of a duo, I jumped at the opportunity to review it based on that alone. My partner in crime, Shelassa, and I have spent the better part of the last week playing through FC5 in tandem to see the story and to test out the duo-player mechanics.
Since the purpose of this review is to spend more time discussing the multiplayer component of FC5, it will be less focused on the story, though the two are closely related. For an excellent assessment of the single player experience, you can head to GameSpace.com to read Damien Gula’s review.
In reflecting on FC5 and writing this review, I considered the things I love about it and the things that I am less happy with. I can’t even honestly say that there’s anything I utterly hate in FC5, but there are things that could be much, much better, particularly for PC players.
There is no question that the major high point of Far Cry 5 is its aesthetic look. It’s breathtakingly gorgeous, even on lower settings. The photorealistic graphics paint a portrait of Montana as real as if you are standing there yourself. You can almost smell the pine trees and feel the chill wind on your skin. It’s simply that good. Everything, and I do mean everything from NPC models to animals to vistas and rainbow trout is out of this world. Honestly, there aren’t enough good things to say about level design and graphics in Far Cry 5. It’s worth your time to find a quiet spot and just drink it in. We did and we did often. If this were the only criteria on which to judge the game, it’s a solid 10 out of 10.
Another major high point of FC5 is the open world exploration. A lot of games talk about being open world, but not many of them pull it off to the level that Far Cry 5 does. You can literally walk or fly or drive or float on a boat to anywhere in Hope County. You can fight in an aerial duel, plow through roadblocks in your Widowmaker 18-wheeler, sneak around on an ATV or sail off in your pontoon boat in any one of a number of flowing rivers. If you get tired of fighting, find a quiet spot on the river and go fishing. You can even go bow hunting for big game that includes pronghorn, buffalo, moose and these weirdly murderous turkeys.
The story is a good one and interesting enough to keep me wanting to play through to see how it pans out. It’s a purely American story based in the unique phenomenon of religious cults in the country and how twisted some of them truly are. It doesn’t delve too hard in the politics of ultra right wing cults and, to be very honest, we are both glad about that. There’s enough of that in the “real world” so it suited us fine that the overarching story is on the shallow side.
However, the thing that we have both been more interested in are the small stories you find along the way. We’d be trudging through the forest and hear random screams, head in for the rescue and hear a story about how the cult has affected the life of this one citizen. We’d be culling through an abandoned house and find a letter with a sad or tragic tale to tell, or hear a phone message with a plea for help. Sometimes, we’d even find letters from cultists that helped flesh out its story. There are little touches all along the way.
However, there is one part of the duo experience that is so odd: When playing together, only the host of the game actually progresses the story. Games going back 10-15 years or more have the ability for multiplayer story progression to be mutually saved. That FC5 doesn’t is just weird. In addition, the host is the only one who can speak to major NPCs, though both can speak to the more minor players which is fine. If, for instance, I wanted to know what the Sheriff had to say about things going on at the prison, I needed to stand close enough, though admittedly, I usually just jetted off to look for loot.
If we stopped here, Far Cry 5 would have a rock solid 9/10 score. However, there are some things that are frustrating and when collected together, end up reducing the PC partner play score somewhat significantly:
Navigation System: The navigation system is similar to that found in Elder Scrolls where it provides a horizontal line across the top of your display. As you turn, significant points of interest are shown though in this game, it’s just the wrong way to navigate. We lost each other. We lost objectives. We lost the other NPC companion and the enemy routinely. A much better option would have been a minimap in the corner.
Inventory Management and Crafting: Keeping track of what you have in inventory is pretty typical, though you will only see crafting components, collectibles, consumables and throwing items. You will not see your weapons. Crafting allows you to create consumables that can, for instance, increase speed or to make a grenade. If you want to craft, you can do so on the fly, but this brings me to…
The Wheel: Crafting is done via a “wheel” which is accessed after opening the weapon wheel. This wheel system on PC is one of the most awkward, unintuitive things either one of us have ever had the displeasure of using. In fact, the console wheel is infinitely preferable to the PC version. It’s painfully obvious in FC5 that the game was designed for console, or in the best-case scenario, for PC players using a gamepad. We both use mouse and keyboard and the continued awkwardness of the “wheel” was an ongoing frustration especially….
Weapon Swapping: If we thought the crafting wheel was “the most awkward, unintuitive things” we’ve ever used, it’s nothing compared weapon swapping. It should be simple, right? If it’s in inventory, equip it or have a hotkey that allows you to swap weapons of a similar type on the fly or, if not when out in the world, then at least a simple “equip” system that lets you change one type of sniper rifle or shotgun or pistol for another. But nooooo. You can change out weapons but only when at a liberated outpost or vendor and only after clicking customize and then assigning it to a slot where it can be equipped. It requires far too many steps and took quite a lot of trial and error before figuring it out. And while we’re on weapon swapping….
Looting: The only time you can swap weapons of a certain type is when you’re out killing the enemy. Looting a corpse and “taking” a weapon use the same damned key! We had to constantly be on alert to make sure we were looting, not taking. If the latter, we would equip the weapon the enemy dropped and replace the one we had been using that had customized with additional scopes or magazines or silencers. Too many times, we wouldn’t notice and run off to the next location and go to pull out that wicked ass sniper rifle to find… some other less effective one. We didn’t “lose” it as it can be re-equipped again at a vendor, but it was frustrating if one wasn’t around.
Connectivity: This one is so odd. There were times that we couldn’t stay connected to each other for more than 2-3 minutes at a time. An hour later, we connected fine and could play for hours. It’s probably Ubi’s servers since there was no difference regardless of who was hosting.
Multiple Saves: FC5 has a “Save” option, but only saves the most recent progress without the ability to create multiple save files. There’s no picking up and trying to replay a specific mission or trying a different tactic. Once a story mission is past, it’s gone.
While all of these sound like a lot of grumbling and things that really take away from the game, none are really all that bad. They’re more frustrating, if anything, though they do color the duo experience and lower the score somewhat.
All in all, the duo multiplayer experience of Far Cry 5 is fantastic. The aesthetics alone manage to overshadow the frustrating mechanics that the game brings to bear and keep us wanting to play.
If you’re looking for a fun, engaging, exciting game to play with a partner, this is definitely one to try out. Let’s hope that the games industry creates more partner play experiences for those who love to game together, but not necessarily in huge piles.
- Gorgeous game world
- Exciting gunplay
- Fun modes of travel (planes, cars, trucks, boats, etc.)
- Interesting setting and story, even if not all that deep
- Duo play
- The awkwardness of “the wheel”
- Looting & equipping should be different keys
- Lack of an option for multiple saves
- Story progression is not shared
Two Far Cry 5 PC keys were provided by the publisher for the purpose of review.