Freedom. Faith. Firearms. Ubisoft's newest entry to the Far Cry series holds a cynical mirror to the world as we know it, in a state of unrest, on the verge of society's biggest change.
Hope County doesn't exist, but the problems it faces could be a booze-soaked breath away in the eyes of Ubisoft. There is still very much a humorous undertone to proceedings in Far Cry 5, but it's closer to the bone than the exotic adventures of Jason Brody or Ajay Ghale. And that's another thing different from the kick off; instead of stepping into the shoes of pre-made, wise-cracking protagonists, the guy you play in Far Cry 5 is, well, you. A character creation and editing mode allows you to look the way you want to, or as close as you can get.
Your role, however, is set. As a Deputy Sheriff tasked with the takedown of a vicious gang, you ride into Hope County to arrest its leader, a crackpot named Joseph Seed. Bizarrely, Joseph hands himself straight over without fuss. The trick is, none of his followers allow you to leave. You get ambushed, kidnapped and locked away. Somehow you manage to escape. Ubisoft was light on details, but point is, taking Seed now needs to be done the hard way.
The personality of the game is now shifted onto the townspeople of Hope, their loyalty split between Seed's so-called, hate-fuelled 'Project at Eden's Gate' and what passes as the law. This isn't about you, it's about them. Ubisoft's intention is for this living, breathing world to engross players, asking us to discern friend from foe. Over time you will recruit a resistance to lead a revolt against a cult whose motto 'You Must Be Prepared to be Tested' has many terrifying connotations. As expected from the Far Cry series until now, an overarching sense of threat rarely leaves the frame. Tension is tighter than a piano string. The town's Spread Eagle strip club strikes a sinful discord with the idyllic Montana-inspired pastoral backdrop.
"I am your father and you are my children," we hear Joseph Seed say in the trailer, released today. His campaign against the people of Hope County is described as The Reaping, with clear religious, more specifically Christian, motivations albeit diabolically twisted. Seed and his four siblings - Jacob (oldest), John (youngest) and Faith (half-sister) - invade homes to hold a gun to people's heads while they repent, or throw them into a truck to be baptised, okay drowned, in the river. Joseph refers to his family as the Heralds. They're just bastards.
We have three great examples of the kind of people working on your side to defeat Seed. Pastor Jerome is a preacher that can no longer stand by and watch his flock be led astray, his words are not enough, he now requires a shotgun and pistol. And a bulletproof vest. Mary May owns The Whistling Beaver, a bar turned base-of-operations for her revenge-fuelled quest. The Seeds took her mother and brother, leaving dad distraught. Finally, Nick Rye is Hope County's good guy, expectant father, who is putting crop-dusting on hold while he attaches a Chaingun to his light aircraft, the likes of which you can pilot in dogfights.
Cooperation with the Hope County resistance will shape how missions are structured and accomplished. This design decision also led to the possibility of completing all Campaign missions in two-player co-op for the first time. Although this starts to seem as though the free-form nature of Far Cry is becoming tied up in too much narrative, Ubisoft promises that there is still a major focus on inventiveness, with "any or all" weapons at your disposal to include pitchforks and hoes alongside guns and grenades. The vehicular combat has been revamped, with special effort to make aerial battles thrilling. In the trailer, we see a blue muscle car burning rubber but there are big rigs, ATVs and boats to look forward to also.
One last thing we are especially looking forward to is the new Fangs for Hire feature, that lets wild animals loose on the enemy. The trailer shows a grizzly bear going hard after one panicked individual. You can see what they mean about the sense of humour...
Far Cry 5 is coming to PlayStation 4 Pro, PlayStation 4, Xbox Scorpio, Xbox One and Windows PC on 27 February, 2018. Expect more at E3 (13-15 June). Meanwhile, here's that trailer: