Far Cry 5’s biggest obstacle isn’t its theme, but rather its gameplay
In an industry often criticised for being plagued with annual franchises, a reliance on quantity over quality, and flooded market place, I for one am all for video games that innovate. While some to it to a higher degree than others, I’m a firm believer that in order to justify itself games like the upcoming Far Cry 5 needs to make a case as being different enough to warrant having a sequel.
Much has already been discussed about Far Cry 5’s new setting and villains, but it’s really the themes and social commentaries both of these factors evoke that have certain audiences very stirred up and I for one am flabbergasted. Flabbergasted that when the game shows the slightest bit of creativity or meaningful message, the key art of that game alone is enough to unearth vast amounts of controversy.
I personally don’t see a problem with Far Cry 5 placing you in the role of a fresh-faced small town sheriff pitted against a family that seems to resemble more of a radical religious cult. More so than that, it’s really where Far Cry 5’s gameplay is concerned that it seems more likely to fail.
This is a problem Ubisoft’s animal-skinning FPS franchise has been suffering from for a while now. The repetitive beast most recently reared its head during the release of Far Cry 4, which despite being widely regarded as a fun and well-rounded experience, couldn’t hide from the fact that its world, but most importantly gameplay felt very reminiscent of the last mainline instalment. Despite a two year development cycle, Far Cry 4 for most felt more like a story expansion.
I’m sad to say that from everything we’ve seen from Far Cry 5 meanwhile, this issue shows no sign of being resolved, even with the far more interesting and subversive idea of taking down a doomsday cult in Western America. This rather unexpected and mildly intriguing new coat of paint seems to be more of a sleight of hand gesture, drawing in people’s focus to the new aesthetic in the hope of having them overlook that little to nothing has been adapted in the gameplay.
Just like in every Far Cry game in this fourth sequel you’ll be required to make your way across an unnecessarily big open world map, upgrading weapons and gear and skinning wild beats in order to progress. But perhaps the most criminal returning element of all are the Ubisoft towers. While this act of climbing your way atop a high structure in order to reveal more areas of interest on the map made sense in games past, the fictional town of Hope County in Far Cry 5 is surely more well-travelled.
It simply seems like another excuse for Ubisoft to prolong the length of the title, and yet another example of a frequent fever that so often plagues modern day open world games. My only hope is that this lack of innovation with the gameplay has given the developers to place a greater emphasis on the game’s story, setting, and characters, being the only real way to make up for such a lack of experimentation in other aspects.