“It comes close to trying to say something, but never actually does...”
March 26, 2018 12:01 PM   Subscribe

Far Cry 5: cults, chaos and all-American silliness [The Guardian] “It’s emotionally confusing to be buffeted constantly between tense sadism and tongue-in-cheek tomfoolery. Far Cry 5 doesn’t succeed in reconciling these two sides of its personality, but then it doesn’t really try. This is a game in which you will be listening to lurid descriptions of cannibalism and torture on one mission, then tearing down a highway in a monster truck with mounted machine guns the next. To enjoy it, you have to inoculate yourself against these sudden changes in mood. Far Cry 5 is most enjoyable when it embraces the chaos that ensues when a player is left on an island full of hostile cultists with enough guns to embarrass John McClane.” [YouTube][Launch Trailer]

• “The bulk of Far Cry 5 feels like gonzo camping trip.” [Kotaku]
“For all its nods to contemporary politics and societal strife, Far Cry 5 is just another fun permutation of the usual Far Cry formula with nothing very interesting to say. Ubisoft’s latest open-world first-person shooter depicts a society on the edge from the point of view of a small midwestern town cut off from the rest of the country. Creative director Dan Hay has said as much in interview after interview, stemming, he’s said, from anxiety following the financial crisis of the last decade. The game does try to clumsily tap into a pervasive sense in the real world that something’s got to give. In the game, we’ve got heavily armed Americans beginning to find back against other heavily armed Americans. In real life, we’ve got Neonazis and Antifa brawling, endless polarization by the United States’ major political parties, worsening climate change and a doddered wandering the White House with access to the launch codes. Far Cry 5’s sense of the end times thus has a ring of truth to it, but the game has no idea where to take things from there.”
• Far Cry 5 - a competent yet conflicted open worlder [Eurogamer]
“You can kick off a spectacular set piece pretty much anywhere in Far Cry 5. All you need do is stand in the road. Give it 60 seconds, and - yes, there it is, a van full of hostages, cruising around unescorted, the lowest of low-hanging fruit. You pour hot lead into the windshield until the driver flops out of his seat like a spent shell casing, then follow the vehicle off-road and help its dazed occupants to safety. One grateful civilian waves you over, a side quest icon materialising over his head. "Wh-" he says, and is promptly swept off his feet by a speeding pick-up truck. The truck screeches to a halt and a huge, tattooed lady with a light machinegun climbs out, only to be set upon by the cougar you didn't notice lurking near the treeline. Your AI companion blasts the cougar with incendiary buckshot, setting it on fire; the cougar charges into your AI companion, setting him on fire; everybody runs in circles, yelling at each other, until a plane soars over a hillside and bombs the whole, silly escapade to ashy gristle. Moments of unrehearsed, systemic inanity like these have always been Far Cry's calling card as an open world shooter, and the fifth game continues that proud tradition.”
• Far Cry 5 cares less about politics than being the reinvention this series needed [A.V. Club]
“There’s something hollow about that carefully neutral positioning, given how much of Far Cry 5's marketing focused on the specter of a violent uprising lurking in the heart of the tranquil Montana countryside. (Certainly, it comes off a bit chickenshit in comparison to the last big shooter about occupied America, the blatantly political Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.) There are a lot of modern anxieties that a violent video game set in the modern-day American heartland might address, but “What if a group of apocalypse cultists suddenly deployed a heavily armed force of drug-crazed maniacs to secretly seize an entire county?” isn’t one of them. There’s a “have your cake and eat it, too” approach to the way the Cult easily elides any kind of real-world political positioning—outside a certain nostalgic “the old days were better” sentiment, at least—that renders them less the symptom of a peculiar American madness that the game’s writers seem to have been aiming for, and more a sort of fantastical outside force.”
• The villains of Far Cry 5 steal the show [GQ]
“It’s a standard Far Cry setup. Much like the aforementioned Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed sequels before it, Far Cry 5 sets you free in a vividly realised world and gives you an enormous amount to do. So far it’s been a little mixed in its execution, ranging from exciting freeform missions that let you approach objectives as you see fit; all the way to boring and uneventful distractions like catching trout. But the range of activities on offer is hard to fault. As with previous Far Cry outings, the best aspect of the game is the level of choice you have from moment to moment. Most missions are essentially mini sandboxes in which you approach, infiltrate and decimate enemy outposts, and the massive world gives you endless angles to tackle any given objective. How you do it is up to you – sneak in and snipe people under the dead of night, or go in guns blazing and blow everything sky high. Newly tweaked mechanics – like the ability to call in allies who have special abilities, or the option to tame and ally with animals for short bursts of time – add extra layers of dynamism to your arsenal, but don’t alter the fundamentals. You wander the world, you shoot stuff, and you revel in the destruction you leave in your wake.”
• Far Cry 5: American violence [Metro]
“For a Ubisoft Montreal game Far Cry 5 is otherwise not too glitchy, although we did have a few missions were an in-game event wouldn’t trigger properly and we had to start again. And while it’s not a bug there is an issue where the default weapons the enemies have are really all you need for the majority of the game, which undercuts the desire to unlock and customise other ones. Especially given the game is extremely easy and a lot of it can be beaten almost on autopilot, literally when you have guns for hire in tow. The only other issue is the weird tonal shifts, which have always been an issue with the series. The Far Cry games always feel like they should be funnier and more outlandish than they are, and this one in particular is held back by trying to make some serious points but being too afraid to upset Americans by saying anything interesting about gun control or religion. It beats about the bush so timidly you’re often not sure whether it’s even really trying or if you’re just reading more into it than was intended. Although we chose to take the fact that most of the good guys are unlikeable, survivalist gun nuts as an intentional satire.”
• A horrible story ruins an enjoyable world [Polygon]
“But I never saw anything that hinted at how these cultists were radicalized. And their ultimate goal, revealed at the end of the game, undercuts any grand statement. The “everyone is bad!” argument pops up often. In one jaw-dropping sequence, you leave a scene of torture perpetrated by the bad guys, only to end up in the bunker of the “good guys.” Guess what they’re doing? If you said “torturing someone to get information,” you win. These two situations literally happen back to back, without anyone in the game remarking on it. You can be in a cult, or you can fight a cult, but torture is worth it and effective either way! Equally flabbergasting is that many of the peggies are taking part in this violence because of a drug called “bliss.” You can tell when characters are under the influence of the drug from the green cloud around their heads; bliss is used as a shortcut to get away from realistic storytelling and dive back into tired video game tropes. A boss fight with a character who warps around the level, complete with a health bar, is as ridiculous and pointless as it sounds. The drug is meant to dehumanize the characters, so you feel more like you’re gunning down zombies than humans. However, the game totally fails to recognize the horror of shooting American drug addicts while the nation deals with a very real ongoing opioid crisis.”
• The Controversial Blockbuster Video Game Taking on Trumpland [Daily Beast]
“Quickly, you see something strange about the congregation. It’s not the cult imagery or the threatening hollers from dozens of The Father’s followers—it’s their demographics. I don’t know much about Montana, but I do know that it’s really white; according to the 2016 Census, 89.2 percent white. So why does Hope County appear to have more non-white people than the real Montana? It’s disingenuous and a deliberately missed opportunity to tell a story that takes place in a “modern universe…inspired by reality.” The Project at Eden’s Gate, as the cult is known, feels bland—passé even. The figureheads each play into a different stereotype—the televangelist, the drug-pusher, the militant—but only the latter speaks to the current moment, and even that isn’t properly explored. What role does a Christian-adjacent religious cult play in the chaos of 2018? I’m not entirely sure, and Far Cry 5 doesn’t seem to know either. The PEG is anti-government as a matter of course, but it’s defiantly apolitical. The Father whips up his group into a frenzy telling them that you and your cohort have come to take their guns, their freedom, and their faith. For just a moment, you give the game credit for making a statement.”
posted by Fizz (50 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yeah, the people that are all excited to go kill "white supremacists" in a mockery of my home state (I saw one video showing a giant statue of Seed, and was immediately disgusted about how they were shitting on the work of the people of Butte there) are making me somewhat sick.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:17 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I won't be buying this because Ubisoft games all sort of run into each other and seem to follow the same recipe: open world, climb a tower, expose a map, complete a mission and kill a thing, earn a skill point, rinse, repeat. I think I stopped around Assasin's Creed IV: Black Flag, a legit fun game where you can pretend to be a pirate. But even then, it sticks to the same formula so many of their other games all seem to be plagued with.

The story and the politics of this latest Far Cry intrigued me when I first heard about it a year or two ago. I was hoping they might make some interesting social/political commentary. But based on many of the reviews I've read, it looks like that didn't land quite right.

Also, I think I've just reached that point where these styles of games no longer appeal to me. I do not have interest in paying $80 to play an open world game where I'm inhabiting the toxic masculinity and ugliness that pervades so much of N. American in 2017-2018. If I want that, I can just turn on the news or log into Twitter. I watched some Twitch streams and it honestly looks boring when it's not reveling in its absurdity. But to each their own I guess.
posted by Fizz at 12:32 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I feel like you can pretty much describe Ubisoft games in similar tropes now - stupid, dumb game with good controls that set up stupid, dumb explodey situations that unfortunately also tend to be steeped in toxic masculinity, rampant sexism, weird race politics, and an inability to say anything significant

the above has been the selling points for Far Cry / Just Cause / Saints Row since the very, very beginning. like, they had one innovation way, way, way back in the day with the original Far Cry's open-worldness, good graphics, and just blatantly stupid 80s-action movie plot and they've pretty much been doing the same thing for over a decade

and people love it and it sells and we wonder why they can't say anything interesting or like even slightly more-than milquetoastedly political. if Marvel can make Black Panther, Ubisoft can make a less stupid game. they're just too corporate, boring, and apathetic to do so
posted by runt at 12:46 PM on March 26 [6 favorites]


I've heard a lot of good things about Watch_Dogs 2, which suggests that it's still possible for an Ubisoft Open World Game to be fun to play and have an interesting narrative... But maybe only when the suits aren't paying attention or are more willing to let the dev team take risks because it's a follow-up to a previous game that flopped critically and commercially.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:00 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I think it's pretty exciting to kill white supremacists, but I never loved the Far Cry series, and this has to be really good to tear me away from the new Wolfenstein games (well, The Old Blood was only ok, but both The New Order and The New Colossus are great, and have white supremacist killing a plenty.

Then again, that description of the total havoc from Eurogamer makes me at least a little interested. Full-on ridiculous over the top mayhem is pretty fun, and while the new Wolfensteins have a few of those setpieces, they're not the core of the games.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:03 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


I'm getting the game.

I figure the fact that I don't have to climb a tower to expose new areas of the map, since the whole map is available, is a plus, as is the fact that I can run around as a woman for once in one of these games. And the fact I don't automatically run in murdering a bunch of brown people.

I really should try Horizon Zero Dawn.
posted by anem0ne at 1:04 PM on March 26 [7 favorites]


Sigh. Reviews so far: the team played the "both sides-ism" trick at least as much as the late previews made us worry it would.
posted by introp at 1:12 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


See also Austin Walker's write-up at Waypoint.
posted by introp at 1:14 PM on March 26 [5 favorites]


Those are some impressive crags for a Midwestern town.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:17 PM on March 26


And the fact I don't automatically run in murdering a bunch of brown people.

I’ve not played it, but watched a Twitch streamer over the weekend. While the religious group and leadership are white supremacists, there are also brown and Black people among their footsoldiers.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:18 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


It's too bad that this game isn't going to heal America, but I think I'm still going to play it.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:21 PM on March 26


I’ve not played it, but watched a Twitch streamer over the weekend. While the religious group and leadership are white supremacists, there are also brown and Black people among their footsoldiers.

I mean, that's progress--in 3 and 4, from what I recall when I played them, there weren't any white people? And Primal was its own thing. I did feel bad in that one for destroying the one matriarchal society.
posted by anem0ne at 1:21 PM on March 26


in 3 and 4, from what I recall when I played them

In three, I recall that after you destroy an army of largely non-white pirates, you moved on to fighting better-equipped, whiter mercs.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:25 PM on March 26


This game is like porn, you'd expect a story but it doesn't really matter.
- a random steam review of Far Cry 5
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:03 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I happened to watch PC Gamer's Cheeseburger Problem video a couple weeks ago, which very clearly illustrated a convincing argument which is just one reason (among several) why I will not be playing this game.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 2:04 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


I bought this on pre-orders today. "Fairly good but not brilliant" is enough for me, this kind of game is catnip for me. I loved Far Cry 4. Watch Dogs 2 is fantastic, doubly so because the parody of the Bay Area tech scene hit close to home. I even sort of liked Assassin's Creed Origins. Blink and these are all basically the same video game, and I hate the formulaic nature of it, but then I buy it full price and play the hell out of it because it's fun.

Shame that they didn't deliver on the promise of the Montana cult setup. That could be some delicious writing but it's very hard to have a careful and consistent voice in video games. Doubly so if you're walking a line trying not to offend anyone.

Still would love to play a game like this where the interaction verbs aren't "kill people".
posted by Nelson at 2:13 PM on March 26


John McClane didn't really have all that many guns.

I am picking this up this afternoon. Despite Far Cry games being one hour of gameplay copied and pasted over 30 hours, I find them enormously fun.

Since the core conceit of them is shooting a bunch of people and blowing up a bunch of buildings I'm not going to suggest that there be a "pacifist" game mode, but it would be good if there was an "animal protector" game mode and rather than shooting exotic animals to collect their pelts to create grenade harnesses, I would like to be able to shoot poachers and collect their pelts grenade harnesses.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:22 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Still would love to play a game like this where the interaction verbs aren't "kill people".

Yep - while I love killing bad guys as much as the next person, it’d be awesome if photographer or scientist or reporter were also available options, armed only with cameras or sensors or notebooks. Also if all of the local non-human animals weren’t apparently hopped up on PCP-laced meth.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:23 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Yep - while I love killing bad guys as much as the next person, it’d be awesome if photographer or scientist or reporter were also available options, armed only with cameras or sensors or notebooks.

I'm living in 2018 and you're living in 2038. That's an awesome idea for a Far Cry game. Or, at least, a DLC pack or a bunch of side missions in the main game.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:31 PM on March 26 [4 favorites]


I really should try Horizon Zero Dawn.

OMFG YES YOU SHOULD
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:40 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I've heard a lot of good things about Watch_Dogs 2, which suggests that it's still possible for an Ubisoft Open World Game to be fun to play and have an interesting narrative...

I'm playing that right now and enjoying it, despite it being a copy-and-paste across 30 hours, same as Far Cry and Assassin's Creed. The protagonist is a black male - which, whoa! - and your cohorts are significantly minorities (if that makes sense). The writing is pretty good and the characters are reasonably interesting and well-acted. San Francisco looks nice, I guess? There are fun clothes to buy, and the soundtrack is rad and diverse.

It's just a big bucket of side-missions basically, but based on the cool idea of collecting social media followers, so that they download your special app, so you can use their computing power (!) to somehow bring down the bad guys. I mean, at least they put some effort into the leveling-up mechanism.

I've a few gripes about it: you're kind of tacitly encouraged to be all stealthy, but it's almost impossible - enemy automata spots you a little easier than is fun, the levels are haphazardly designed, and the controls could use some work. Despite being positioned as a "good guy" (unlike GTA or Mafia, where you are straight up a crook, or Saints Row, where the whole thing is utterly ridiculous and unreal) it's very easy to kill citizens. The tone is all wrong, and streetside interactions don't make a lot of sense.

Last night my mans was in the drinking district taking selfies and two douchebros were "helping" a very drunk woman, but the looping dialogue leads you to suspect that you ought to be socially responsible and help her into a cab or give her a ride home or something, so I hacked the guy's phones to send them on their way and the woman instantly sobered up and wandered off, only for me to accidentally (honestly) run her over at a zebra crossing when I went to go and do something else.

Elsewhere, later, a guy tried to mug a woman for her phone, so I went over and punched him in the face and immediately the mugger and muggee attacked me, and then a bunch of passersby got involved.

I've found myself in many situations where I've tagged a guard - "Joseph Spinoza, earns $48,000 a year, recently had a baby girl, can call for backup" - just to be able to track his movement around the level, only to end up in a firefight where I've needed to blow his head off to escape (because there were five other guards there, all crack shots, and the Taser is too slow to reload).

So you get a "Mission Successful!" and a bunch of social media followers, because you've just shot a new father on minimum wage, in order to download a screenplay.

Actually, having typed this out...I don't enjoy it, and have just been desperate for something to play.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:07 PM on March 26 [7 favorites]


Yep - while I love killing bad guys as much as the next person, it’d be awesome if photographer or scientist or reporter were also available options, armed only with cameras or sensors or notebooks.

On that note, I've recently been thinking that a game about investigative journalism could work really well. So for something like Far Cry 5, instead of being the good dude with guns killing the bad dudes with guns, you could play as an undercover reporter trying to expose a cult of white supremacists. Since the cult presumably doesn't want random reporters asking questions, you would have to infiltrate it by pretending to be interested in joining their ranks. This would lead to some pretty harrowing moral decisions for the player: to what extent are you willing to play along with their horrendous ideology in order to expose what they're doing? Also, if/when your cover is blown there would be potential for some intense stealth/chase sequences. So you get story and gameplay in one package, all without relying on the tired "kill all the bad guys" trope that most games overuse.

If anything like this already exists, I'd love to hear about it.
posted by jv776 at 3:12 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


I’m sure everyone here knows it, but Outlast is a game in which you play an investigative reporter armed only with a camera who never wields a single weapon, and winning means publishing an expose on a malevolent corporation. However, it’s a horror game, and a darn scary one at that.
posted by ejs at 4:18 PM on March 26 [9 favorites]


Huh. Points for actually having a character creator so you don't have to be Whiteboy McDudeface like you usually do in these sorts of thing. Still probably won't make it past my general disinterest in, and utter lack of skill at, first-person manshoots. Maybe when it shows up free for PS+ members.
posted by egypturnash at 5:09 PM on March 26


And Far Cry 2 continues to be the most morally poignant installment of the series!
posted by Apocryphon at 5:35 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


only to end up in a firefight where I've needed to blow his head off to escape (because there were five other guards there, all crack shots, and the Taser is too slow to reload).

It's no less violent, because you're still killing dudes, but from what I remember, it is exceedingly rare that you need to get into an actual firefight in that game once you have ability to drop bombs from the drone (there's also a stun bomb option, but dudes don't stay down and fuck that).
posted by juv3nal at 5:39 PM on March 26


I'm on my fourth? post-platinum play-through of Horizon Zero Dawn, now with the difficulty up to Ultra Hard with no NG+ gear, because the story is deep, intriguing and relevant (techbros!), the characters, writing and acting are excellent, the gameplay is tight and fun even at the 200th hour, the scenery is gorgeous, and it's just ... delightful. Also I will never get tired of hearing the heavy attack sound on the subwoofer. Games like this are so few and far between.

I had hoped that maybe FC5 might be a possibility, but given that I even put down Witcher 3 after a few hours for just being so obnoxiously male I have no idea what I'll play next. I love me a AAA action-RPG title with great story, gender balance, diversity, and rock-solid gameplay. Mass Effect Andromeda was not what I was hoping for. (If anyone cares, I also got the platinum trophies for Dragon Age: Inquisition and Dark Souls.)

Now I'm off to smash robot dinosaurs again because there's just nothing else I want to play.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:56 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I just found out that you heal your dog in this game by giving him belly rubs, so I'm in. Taking out white supremacists will be a bonus, although I'm disappointed to hear that Ubi apparently didn't take advantage of the game's setting in the way that Wolfenstein did.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:09 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I found the Wolfenstein reboots fun but a little short. But also I really prefer an on-rails type game to an open world one, especially if almost all the gameplay outside the main mission in an open world game is grinding dumb mini games and collecting items. Making a game take longer doesn't actually make it more fun.

Healing your dog by belly rubs is a nice touch.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:33 PM on March 26


As others and I called it in the previous thread, the whole cult thing was a way that Ubisoft brings up themes and ideas without actually engaging them, and while reaping in the benefits of controversy. All of their games are moral cop-outs. They are EA except with a better reputation.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:49 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


I've been playing Borderlands 2 quite a lot lately. The game is unashamedly all about GUNS! GUNS! GUNS! Go interesting places, meet new people and shoot them! It's not too different from Far Cry, apparently.

Thing is, I've come to appreciate the rough-hewn cell-shaded art style of Borderlands. To be honest, if it had the photo realism of Far Cry, I don't think I could stomach the game.
posted by SPrintF at 7:52 PM on March 26


“Far Cry 5 Game Review”—Electric Playground, 26 March 2018
posted by ob1quixote at 8:25 PM on March 26


And Far Cry 2 continues to be the most morally poignant installment of the series!

Yes, this. After playing Far Cry 2, I bought and tried to play Far Cry 3. I couldn't stand the dudebro morality, cartoon colors, and flashing status bars. I lasted about 15 minutes, and haven't been tempted to try another Far Cry game since then.

Far Cry 2 was so dark, minimalist, and nihilistic. It was a perfect piece of sour perfection. Even the things people hated about it-- respawning checkpoints, constant gun breakdowns, and frequent malaria all made sense when you thought about them. All tied together with the stunning geography and architecture of two distinct regions, one clearly based on Mali and one inspired by the Congo. The game is ten years old, and still looks beautiful. And no one that I know of has done anything as remotely interesting with companions as the "first buddy/second buddy" mechanic where they would come to save you, but only a limited number of times before your friendship with them ended up causing the companion's death.

It was also the only game to force the player to admit-- or at least force the character to admit-- that you can't do these types of continual murders, even for the best reasons, without it staining your soul. (Upcoming 2008 spoilers) If you survive all the gunplay and missions, the literal only way to end the game is for you to kill yourself from grief and despair. That is the only ending, other than being killed during the game in a pointless, evil and brutal African civil war. Suicide is the "good ending" in Far Cry 2.

I am also not aware of any of the later games inspiring fan art as awesome as "Permanent Death", the novel-length playthrough report that was so popular the author had to release it as a pdf.

So yeah, Far Cry 2 and my memories of it pretty much guarantee I won't be playing Far Cry 3, 4, or 5. They just can't compare, and I'm not interested in the new, dumbed-down gameplay experiences that Ubisoft is pushing.
posted by seasparrow at 10:26 PM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Pupper belly rubs! I was in before, but now I'M IN.

As a Far Cry fan since 3 (except Blood Dragon - WTH?) (I started gaming late - never played 2).

1. Yes, you should play Horizon Zero Dawn
B. Montana is not in the Midwest
III. I've already purchased 5 but may not start playing until I'm out of the Frozen Wilds
1a. See 1

Sure, I'm not wild about the tonal shifts and Quicktime segments in 4, but that won't stop me from playing 5.
posted by achrise at 9:09 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


Far Cry 2 was so dark, minimalist, and nihilistic. It was a perfect piece of sour perfection. Even the things people hated about it-- respawning checkpoints, constant gun breakdowns, and frequent malaria all made sense when you thought about them. All tied together with the stunning geography and architecture of two distinct regions, one clearly based on Mali and one inspired by the Congo. The game is ten years old, and still looks beautiful. And no one that I know of has done anything as remotely interesting with companions as the "first buddy/second buddy" mechanic where they would come to save you, but only a limited number of times before your friendship with them ended up causing the companion's death.

I spent an embarrassingly long time in Far Cry 2 getting irritated that so many missions ended in a confrontation with an unarmed minor government functionary with no way to progress other than murdering them and that my buddy was kind of terrible and kept asking me to do stuff that sounded pretty bad before I realized that was all kind of the point. The game is kind of a testament to how hard you have to work to get a player out of the protagonist mindset or break down the assumptions that the PC is a decent person who progresses through the story by doing things that are, at worst, morally neutral.
posted by Copronymus at 11:07 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]


Played the first couple of hours, through the tutorial / demo zone. Seems good. Seems like Generic Ubisoft Open World game too, reskinned to Montana and an American gun nut cult. One thing Far Cry does well though is deliver extremes of human emotion and I think that will serve this story well. The opening cinematic (spoilers for start of game) gives a good taste of this kind of thing; it's sort of silly but sort of compelling too. A common theme in the reviews is the writing doesn't hold up and ends up disappointing. So my expectations are appropriately lowered.

Man they could have avoided a lot of trouble if they just set the game in "Colotanaho" or something fictional instead of the actual state of Montana. I wonder why they didn't.
posted by Nelson at 3:43 PM on March 27


Man they could have avoided a lot of trouble if they just set the game in "Colotanaho" or something fictional instead of the actual state of Montana. I wonder why they didn't.

Because they were "trying" to deal with issues in the US, and creating a new state would have broken verisimilitude. That's what I'd imagine the argument was, anyway.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:20 PM on March 27


They could've just said it was set in Hope County and didn't bother to mention the state.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:50 PM on March 27


They could've just said it was set in Hope County and didn't bother to mention the state.

Very true. Of the 1,889 distinctly-named counties in the united states, none of them are named "Hope", which is kind of surprising.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:27 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


I would imagine that the use of Montana was to play off the state's low population density and the perception of it being a "red state" with strong anti-government sentiment, thanks to things like the whole Unabomber mess. Of course, the reality is much more complex.

Also, apparently in FC5Montana, turkeys are an apex species. I would have gone with deer - those fuckers are everywhere in town (once drove up to my girlfriend's (now wife) place, and saw four bucks lounging out back), and they have killed large breed dogs.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:57 AM on March 28


Still would love to play a game like this where the interaction verbs aren't "kill people".

What do you mean by "a game like this"? Open world in the wilderness? Check out Firewatch.
posted by ymgve at 6:42 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games emphasized exploration and often involve killing monstrous mutants instead of people, though there's a fair bit of that, too.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:33 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]


Far Cry 5 Pulls All Its Punches
my dismay stems from the fact that during my 23-plus hour stint in Hope County, I never saw, not once, something that could be described as an earnest attempt on the part of Far Cry 5 to engage with its dark subject matter at all. Not once.
posted by Nelson at 2:15 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


I'm enjoying the game. There's a lot of fun stuff to do. The production values are fantastic. Some fun set pieces. I haven't seen anything to make me dispute the main criticism of the game, which is that the writing is shallow and doesn't treat the subject matter in any depth or seriousness. But then the same is true of every Far Cry game so, meh, that's just a limitation of the series. And almost all video games.

There's a 30 minute short film out there called Inside Eden's Gate that doubles down on the shallowness of the story. They do a great job creating the atmosphere of the game and the creepiness of the cult leaders. But then they show a forced conversion and it is literally "we drug them and make them suggestible, then recruit them". (Same story in the game.) That's really weak and avoids the whole interesting question of how people actually get recruited into abusive cults. The film's a bit of a strange product. It's really just a well produced long form ad for the game, but right now it's an Amazon Prime exclusive and I think they hope to charge people to watch it? It is definitely not that good.
posted by Nelson at 3:33 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


So I've been playing this all weekend, pretty much.

Story has never been a strong suit of the Far Cry games, and this is no exception. The writing is objectively awful, the sort of writing you'd find on a packet of knock-off Skittles in a dollar store.

The bad guys are meaningless and insincere. The mechanism for interacting with them, so they can give you their "story" beats, is you being rendered magically unconscious, whisked away to one torture chamber or another, and then...let go?

The protagonist - that is, you - is an utter imbecile (another constant from Far Cry games).

The HUD is useless, that map is garbage, the bugs are numerous and off-putting (though, only one outright crash in maybe 20 hours, so that's good).

The rah-rah Americana - existing in some dim neutral territory between lulz and sincerity, resulting in little more than a landscape texture - is irritating.

The same Asian guy in a baseball cap wandering every mountain path in every region, dispensing bon mots and objective locations, is off-putting. In fact there are only two NPC character models for good guys, as far as I can tell (Asian baseball cap guy, Linda Hamilton baseball cap woman).

Bad guys are generic bearded folk (a lot of them black - there are more black bad guys in this small region of Montana than I suspect there are black people in general in Montana actual).

There is a lot of cruelty to animals played off for laughs, which I guess most people won't see as a problem since the conceit of the game is killing all living things, but I find it kinda gross. Animals actually limp away in pain if they get hurt, but humans can be shot three times in the leg and are fine.

But...it's the most fun I've had in a Far Cry game, and that's because I feel comfortable doing what I'm doing. Previously you've been an imperialist dog in foreign countries, blowing up fishing huts and having gunfights in small, poverty-stricken villages, with the innocent, non-white-skinned locals dropping around you like flies (so, like real life). And while that hasn't stopped me from playing them, it never felt fun exactly. But this is fun. Not because it's anti-American (because it isn't - this game isn't anything, and is absolutely chickenshit on every subject, as noted above), but because I just feel more comfortable doing what I'm tasked with doing, because it's essentially in my (extended) Western backyard. It's like, I may be fucking up a bunch of shit, but at least it is, loosely, my own world of shit, not somebody else's.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:34 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


I played a fair amount over the long weekend and my feelings are along the same limes as turbid dahlia's. Its kind of fun enough to keep me entertained but there is a lack of depth to the pretty much all the characters. The writing does not suggest any sort of personal motivation for anything.

It also seems pretty glitchy in parts. The defeat of my first boss happened off-camera due to issues with respawning and after a nonsensical dogfight with a bare minimum of instructions for how to fly a plane. The long and sometimes unskippable video sections when unavoidably caught by a boss are very dull and after going through huge fight scenes it is pretty annoying that a magic bullet from an invisible kidnapper can knock you out and deliver you from a resistance base to an enemy bunker. From which I always somehow escape but never knowing how since the cut scene is so interminable that I have been hitting the skip button hard as soon as it appears.

Basically, fun, pretty environment but shallow overall experience. The landscape actually makes me want to visit Montana. The people seem OK but the wildlife puts me right off.
posted by biffa at 3:37 AM on April 4


My takeaway from all of this is that the best part of the game is an NPC bear-for-hire named Cheeseburger that you can skritch, and since I've seen the GIF of that for free on Tumblr I am $80CAD the richer for not having purchased the game. Thanks, blue.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:13 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Errant Signal has a video up on Youtube that kind of goes over a lot of what video game critics had to say about using 'fun' as a metric for video game quality, at least up to the point that I was following that particular conversation

I mean, I think it's one thing to say that nobody should read James Patterson because his books are trash and they reinforce existing cultural norms that are oppressive; it's another to say that all books are like this, they're just there for entertainment, and that's all that matters to me

at the end of the day, you can pretty much blame capitalism for the low quality writing in games - a real race to the bottom in banality that really wouldn't have taken much effort to make somewhat better. I think it's fine to bemoan the pervasiveness of this in video games. Black Panther, Moonlight, the Underground Railroad, even goddamn Piketty all were massive, successful, top-selling texts and films; video games can do better than having Pokemon, GTA, and CoD as its top-selling annals
posted by runt at 11:39 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


...since the cut scene is so interminable that I have been hitting the skip button hard as soon as it appears.

Same, I skipped over every single one. They were insufferable, the bad guys so thinly-sketched, superficial and cliched that I was genuinely surprised Ubisoft couldn't do a better job (as per my previous comment about Watch Dogs 2, which, for all its faults, at least had some interesting writing in the first quarter).

There are hundreds of talented and inventive video game writers out there - or, really, any decent writer can plot out a basic video game narrative - and it seems like they hired a couple of guys whose only previous experience was DM'ing a Saturday night d20 Modern campaign that players gradually stopped going to after a month.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:57 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


I just got to the the end today, and the finale pretty special. I'm a weirdo, but it's maybe my favorite ending to any video game I've played.

(Actually, youtube confirms that like Far Cry 4, there's also an alternate ending where you just refuse the call to adventure in the first scene of the game.)
posted by paper chromatographologist at 4:47 PM on April 15


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