The Far Cry series likes to switch settings and scenarios dramatically between installments, from the Himalayas to the Stone Age and now to rural Montana and Hope County. The common thread is simply that each setting and scenario is different, although the subject matter of Far Cry 5 is far more controversial and interesting than what a setting in a quiet mountain state such as Montana would suggest.
"It had everything that Far Cry is," lead writer Drew Holmes told us. "It's mountains, it's exploration, it's a little bit dangerous, the people who live there are very self-reliant, right, and don't like people sort of infringing on what they believe or what they want to do: that's Far Cry for us."
But it's not just Montana. There's the cult. There's its leader Joseph Seed. And this is where Far Cry 5 steps into the realms of controversy as the cult, the Project at Eden's Gate, seems largely based on Christianity, at least from what we've been able to tell in trailers and artwork. It's clearly fictional, and Eden's Gate is a doomsday cult that picks and chooses what passages and truths fit with the whims of its leader, but to some it could be seen as an attack on Christianity. To us it simply brings a fresh angle, and we're more intrigued by this scenario and story than what's been the case with previous Far Cry titles.
"It became: 'what's a bad guy, what's a villain that would feel natural in this space?'", explains Holmes of the choice of villain and setting. "And that's when we started to do some research on cults and militias, and that's where we built The Project at Eden's Gate, which is this doomsday prepper cult that believes that the end of the world is coming. "
The demo we got to play during E3 saw us clear out cult members in a small town, thus liberating it and allowing us to talk to the locals, then we went on to a mission to clear Nick Rye's airfield, do some fishing and fly a plane. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. The first, most important thing to mention was our choice of companion. At the start you get to pick a companion for the mission. These companions are locals you'll meet during your adventures in Hope County and you can choose to have them come along as support. There's the dog Boomer who will help you tag enemies and drag them to the ground. There's Nick who's a duster pilot capable of dropping bombs on enemy targets. And there's sharpshooter Grace who'll be able to provide sniper support. These are three of your companions, and the ones that were available in the demo we played. We sampled both Boomer and Nick, and their support is very empowering. Add to that the ability to play through the entire campaign with a friend online, and this Far Cry takes a big step away from its lone wolf origins.
"Far Cry at its best is what we call 'the anecdote factory'," lead writer Holmes told us, "where I'm just exploring the world, and maybe I'm going hunting, and then the bad guys roll up, so I get in and shoot one out with the bad guys and then animals show up. And from a little tiny choice, a huge emergent gameplay starts to happen."