We're armed with a rocket launcher as a bear mauls our enemy on a stretch of road, only for a truck to plough into both the bear and our enemy. Above is the thudding sounds of a helicopter that's just about to beat down on us with its machine guns. We take aim and squeeze the trigger, and then watch as the chopper spins down to earth with a fiery crash.
When everything comes together in perfect harmony, there's nothing quite like Far Cry.
The Collapse is upon the good people of Hope County, Montana. A cult called the Project at Eden's Gate led by the charismatic Joseph Seed, or "The Father" as he is known, has taken over the area and cut off all communications to the outside world. At the start of the game you're meant to arrest him, but a crashed helicopter and truck later the tables are turned, and it's you who is being hunted and it's your colleagues that need rescuing.
After having seen paradise islands, the African savannah, and Himalayan mountains the Far Cry franchise ventures into territory that will feel more at home for folks living in the Northern parts of Europe and America. Pine trees, lakes, and farmland make up most of what you'll see in Far Cry 5, and while the setting may not be as exotic to ourselves as previous locations in the franchise, it's still a great fit. It's a game steeped in Americana, and while the main narrative is very serious and immensely dark, much of the side content and the characters you'll meet in the resistance are tongue-in-cheek, checking off every cliché or preconceived notion you may have about rural America.
There has been a bit of a song and dance about the completely open structure of Far Cry 5 that lets you play missions in almost any order you want after clearing the first small tutorial island. And while this is true, you'll also find that it's remarkably similar to how missions work in any open world game. The big difference here is that most activities and missions reward you with resistance points that trigger progression in the main narrative (Far Cry 5 is rather generous with what it refers to as story missions) in the three regions you've got to conquer before confronting Joseph Seed in the game's finale.
Speaking of those three regions, they're led by Joseph's siblings or heralds: John, Jacob, and Faith. Each region has its own flavour and there is a slightly different theme to each. Jacob is all about survival of the strong, and deals with conditioning and being a soldier. Faith is heavy into the Bliss drug that turns its heavy users into mindless zombies called Angels. And John is all about sins, and well, marking victims. As you progress each region your wanted level rises and things get hairier until you're being hunted from up high by "The Chosen" in planes. Jacob's region sees blissed up wolves join the enemy ranks, and in Faith's region there are the Angels to contend with. John's region is more vanilla and we thought it a great place to start out.
It's not a massive difference between regions, and you'll find that much of what you'll do in each region is similar, from taking out Outposts to blowing up cult property and rescuing prisoners, but it does mix the second to second combat up somewhat.
Speaking of the combat, as you'd expect you've got plenty of choice here, from the bow (with explosive and incendiary arrows) to rocket launchers, remote explosives, shotguns, LMGs, sniper rifles, and just about everything you can ask for. There's nothing really novel here, yet we're not missing a thing. The gunplay itself is as you'd expect from Far Cry, not entirely tight, but satisfying and there's a tendency for some enemies to be bullet sponges (though, it should be said that is what forces you to play tactically, so it's not a terrible thing). Putting half a magazine worth of .50 calibre rounds into the head of a helmet-wearing heavy is a bit silly, but it does force you to mix things up. Maybe look to the environment for help (blow up a car), maybe use stealth, maybe flank, or perhaps have your friendly Grizzly Cheeseburger run at him.
That takes us to one of the new things in Far Cry 5, your AI companions, or guns for hire (or fangs as is the case of Cheeseburger). All in all, there are nine companions you'll run into in Hope County, each offering a different style of support from the tank ways of Cheeseburger to the helicopter support of the somewhat sexually obsessed Adelaide, the stealthy ways of actual cougar Peaches, or the range of an archer like Jess. They also offer comic relief and some of them, in particular Hurk and Adelaide, are constantly delivering one-liners outside of the action. You can command them to a certain degree, but we also found that left to their own devices sometimes they act in what's not exactly your or their best interests. We had one companion run off and attract helicopters and reinforcements as we were trying to figure out a prepper stash (more on those later), and once there was a puzzle where we had to electrify a water covered floor jumping on boxes, and lets just say our friend didn't get that memo and sizzled like bacon as a result.