Ubisoft has experienced an encouraging resurgence of late. They fell into a habit of “Reskinned Outpost Liberator” releases with “Far Cry” and “Assassin’s Creed,” games that often suffered from too many bugs and too little imagination. Their ambitious multiplayers like “Rainbow Six Siege,” “For Honor,” and “The Division” frustrated initially as well. But the French publisher has recently staged an admirable comeback.
They’ve committed to supporting their single- and multiplayer games, even ones that stumbled out of the gate like “The Division.” Their new “games as service” push might irritate some gamers sick of the nickel-and-diming that now dominates the industry. But “Far Cry 5” offers an encouraging preview of Ubisoft’s new mission.
“Far Cry 5” won’t stray too far from the series’ traditional formula, save one major difference. Players will liberate an open, gorgeous world while enjoying emergent gameplay and facing some crazy Big Bad. Refreshingly, “Far Cry 5” shifts from the staid “exotic foreign land” to Montana. It’s an encouraging move on its face to a more “real” location, one that will feature fishing, bear fights, ATVs, and less tower-climbing.
What separates “Far Cry 5” from its predecessors is a variety and post-launch support that should interest even the most jaded open-world gamer. Besides the fresh setting, the game will offer a co-operative option that gives players the chance to advance in the story with a friend. The series has offered co-op in previous iterations, but the feature remains a welcome addition for a console generation too often lacking it.
The game’s season pass looks like a worthwhile investment, as well. The three DLCs task players with fighting zombies, Martian arachnids, and the Viet Cong in the same self-serious manner that Ubisoft parodied so well with 2013’s “Blood Dragon” expansion. This season pass benefits from existing outside of the main game, so players won’t feel like they’re missing out on the Montana experience if they forgo the purchase. Ubisoft will also throw in “Far Cry 3” with a season pass purchase, providing even more content.
Perhaps the game’s most exciting feature is its recently-announced map editor. Called “Far Cry Arcade,” the map editor will “enable players to create their own solo, co-op, and PvP levels.” Ubisoft presents a truly unique experience here by giving creators assets from past “Far Cry” games in addition to objects from “Assassin’s Creed” and “Watch Dogs.” They also plan to update “Far Cry Arcade” with Martian, Viet Cong, and zombie elements from the season pass (the dream of fighting zombies near Martian pyramids draws nigh).
Where Ubisoft might lose some is in its choice of antagonist. Anti-government cult Eden’s Gate serve as the villains this time, something sure to chafe many on the Right. Ubisoft has tried distance the game from Donald Trump and his ilk. The connection, however unintentional, is simply unavoidable. A deluge of thinkpieces from the more-aggrieved on the Right seems inevitable following the game’s release later this month, regardless of whether the game actually “bashes” Republicans or Christians. Hopefully, the game leans more towards “David Koresh with a Cliven Bundy property fetish” instead of just a kook who hates gay marriage. And maybe the lighthearted DLC and map editor-induced mania will help defuse any political angst caused by the main game.
Overall, the game is shaping up to be a Day 1 purchase, assuming it avoids overtly bashing Trump voters and any “Assassin’s Creed Unity”-style launch issues. Ubisoft has a clear plan to support the game post-launch while avoiding tacked-on filler or nebulous money-grabs. “Far Cry 5” looks like it will offer plenty for gamers and the chance for Ubisoft to complete its rehabilitation.