I’m not a good buddy. Or boss. Whichever relationship best describes your Far Cry 5 companion — either AI or co-op partner — I’m not a great representative of it. In two hours with the game I’ve driven (and flown) away as they bravely charge through enemy fire towards an open vehicle door, bailed them out from capture at the hands of cult fanatics only to abandon them on the side of the road to rabid wolverines moments later, and decided that the best way to deal with an enemy camp is to blow up the petrol tanker they are standing on top of without even a moments consideration for how they would feel about that.
Far Cry 5 feels instantly familiar, with its sprawling open world, an omnipresent, charismatic ne’er-do-well constantly in your ear while his minions hunt you mercilessly and, most importantly, the freedom to tackle the liberation of Hope County any which way you so choose. This often leads to wacky hijinks, with vehicular shenanigans particularly on a level previously unseen in Far Cry games. Eighteen-wheelers, armoured 4WDs, slightly less armoured dune buggies, planes, helicopters and boats are featured prominently and capable AI driving is available when you just want to mount a turret or hang out a car window with a crossbow. On top of this all, fun (if basic) dog-fighting mechanics are at your disposal for air to air combat along with aerial bombing raids.
Our demo featured plenty of vehicle-based missions, usually in the format of ‘liberate a vehicle then use its firepower to get vengeance’, whether that be taking to the skies and dropping bombs on silos to seeking out every roadblock in the Valley to test how well they stop a truck at top speed. This usually required careful planning to infiltrate an enemy encampment, then throwing all that planning out the window as you miss your first shot and the alarm starts blaring. Luckily Far Cry 5 remains as adept at all out action as its predecessors, and if your aforementioned guns for hire have survived this long, they make for capable companions in any attack, able to be directed to certain targets but also more than useful if just left to their own devices.
My experience of the co-op multiplayer was seamless, with the greatest compliment I can give it being that it felt just like single-player but with a partner in crime. Some missions are friendlier to a passenger than others; it’s more fun to man a turret on the back of a 4WD than it is to sit in the backseat of a biplane, but planning out and executing an attack on fortified positions was particularly satisfying.
Two hours wasn’t a lot of time to delve too deep into the plot of Far Cry 5. Much like Battlefield: Hardline had lofty expectations to be a poignant commentary on the nature of police violence when all it wanted to be was a cheesy police procedural, I get the feeling that placing hopes on Far Cry 5 to be that for white supremacy will lead to similar disappointment. The action here is not taking itself too seriously; there were plenty of wacky characters and some solid chuckles, and while there are some horrific scenes around the world that do a lot more than just hint about how bad the situation is, my time with Far Cry 5 was much closer to an action movie.
The open world also provides plenty of opportunities for laughs, from my ill-informed decision to run over a wild boar leading to a flipped buggy, a downed buddy and my running circles avoiding boars until one conveniently headbutted my buggy back onto four wheels to aid my escape, to shooting a cultist out of his ute mounted gun turret, only for his foot to catch as he flipped out of the tray resulting in a rhythmic thud of his body on the side of the car as I stole the vehicle to aid my escape.
Far Cry 5 is shaping up pretty well. I had a lot of fun, a few good laughs and learned a bit about myself and how I would react in a wolverine attack (the answer is poorly). With a bit of spit and polish it should deliver to the high standards of its predecessors, plus there were plenty of hints of Far Cry 2 with fire propagation, the buddy system but thankfully, no malaria. I’m keen to see more.