The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

That First Foray Into Hope County: A Free Weekend of Far Cry 5

“The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.” –Martina Navratilova

When one is constrained by the fact that a game is available to try for one weekend, there is a natural inclination to get as much done as possible. Far Cry is, fortunately, one of those games where one can finish things on very short order; an unnamed rookie deputy accompanies Deputy Marshal Cameron Burke and Sheriff Earl Whitehorse on an assignment to arrest Joseph Seed, leader of the cult known as Eden’s Gate – Seed has gained power in Hope’s County and amassed a sizeable following who believe that a collapse of civilisation is at hand. However, Whitehorse is uncertain of the implications arresting Seed would bring and implores the deputy not to go through with the arrest. After reaching the church where Seed is preaching, the deputy decides not to follow through, and Whitehorse notes its for the better, since walking into the hornet’s nest could spell disaster and result in unnecessary death. While this is the course of action I would’ve gone for in reality, doing so would result in no game – Far Cry 5, like its predecessors, is a first person shooter, and the first thing about these games is to shoot stuff. Hence, I loaded a new save file, proceeded with the arrest and escape the homicidal cultists on a stolen vehicle. After falling into the river, my character is rescued and tasked with helping the resistance liberate Hope County. I thus took control of Fall’s End, giving the resistance a foothold, before heading over to hope Hope County Jail to seize control of it from Eden’s Gate. On the way, I gained several allies after retrieving their possessions, rolled back the fog of war over the southern regions of Hope County and even unlocked the MBP .50 Blood Dragon before the weekend ended. In the time I spent in Far Cry 5, I was absolutely blown away by the scenery – there is no denying that Hope County is a beautiful place. In fact, being set in Montana, Hope County resembles the southern foothills of my home province, being a combination of farm fields, evergreen forests, rolling hills, pristine lakes and distant mountains. The stunning scenery, however, conceals danger in the form of Eden’s Gate, who lurk around every corner and pose a threat to Hope County’s residents.

In its portrayal of Eden’s Gate, Far Cry 5 creates a much more gripping and terrifying foe than I’d seen in most of my other games. Right out of the gates, Joseph Seed is presented as a menacing figure whose calm demeanour and choice of words belie a psychopathic individual with megalomaniac tendencies. Upon walking into Seed’s compound for the first time, the fanatical cultists surrounding him create a tangible sense of dread – even Whitehorse hesitates to act against Seed. After the player escapes from the cultists following their failed attempt at arresting Seed, propaganda spread throughout Far Cry 5 perfectly captures how cults operate; their soothing words of salvation and redemption create a feeling of ease, but stand in stark contrast with their actions. With Far Cry 5, Ubisoft sought to explore religious fanaticism and extremist beliefs; Far Cry games previously depicted despotism and toppling of authoritarian regimes in far-flung countries, and while Far Cry 5 is no different, the choice of antagonists did create no small controversy. Indeed, the portrayal fanaticism is chillingly accurate, and I found myself surprised at how calming and reassuring Eden Gate’s words were despite knowing full well the game had intended for me to blast them with an arsenal worthy of the Doom Slayer. Cults are built around unreasonable devotion to a cause whose leaders justify horrific actions in the name of some higher power, and Far Cry 5 shows how difficult it is to take on a cult head-on, especially when they’ve amassed a certain amount of followers. However, once the initial shock of Eden’s Gate wears off, aside from the occasional bit of propaganda broadcast around Hope County and the terrifying hallucinations that Faith Seed appears in, Far Cry 5 is otherwise a run-of-the-mill Far Cry experience, albeit one that is set in a place reminiscent of my own backyard, a place where I’d rather be hiking and fishing in as opposed to blowing stuff up with cool guns.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Far Cry 5‘s opening segment is quite lengthy, and it took a while to really drop players into the open world. Through it all, I was unnerved – while Joseph Seed himself is a calm individual not given to fits of violence like Pagan Min, the way he delivers his lines gives the impression that he is always in control, even when things aren’t appearing in his favour. Like Far Cry 4, Far Cry 5 opens with a pursuit. This time, it’s through the forests of Montana by nightfall, and while players are soon reunited with Burke, their escape fails when their truck flips into a river.

  • Players start on an island, where they have a chance to become familarised with Far Cry 5‘s mechanics. Initially, one can only hold onto a single primary weapon and a sidearm: players start the game with the iconic M1911, and I found that shooting in Far Cry 5 was a bit tricky, with bullets not going where I’d intended them to go at medium ranges owing to the game’s use of ballistic motion. After killing off some Eden’s Gate members, I picked up the AR-C rifle. This weapon is a mainstay in Far Cry 5 and despite being a common rifle, is a decent all-purpose weapon with a solid rate of fire, ammunition capacity and moderate damage.

  • Once players finish the last of the missions on the starting island, the morning fog rolls back, and Hope County is thrown into sharp relief. From here, the goal is to get a foothold in Hope County so the resistance can start taking it back from Eden’s Gate. I thus headed towards Fall’s End, a town in the southwestern corner of the map, and began my attempt to take it back from Eden’s Gate. At the start of my journey, I have none of the perks and accessories that increase my durability and firepower, so even a handful of weaker enemies could prove lethal.

  • On my attempt, I ended up climbing to the roof of a building after quietly taking down whatever Eden’s Gate sentries were in my path, and found myself a mounted gun. From up here, I proceeded to mow down everything that moved with relative ease, even the aircraft that came to strafe my position. With this, I retook Fall’s End and gained my first foothold into Hope County, giving me access to the shop and several vehicles. At this point in the game, I lacked the funds to buy anything, so this wasn’t particularly helpful, but as I began exploring, I would come across a weapon that was rather more suited to my play-style.

  • After storming an outpost and shooting out several snipers, I came upon the AR-CL, a modified AR-C that has a heavy barrel and long-range optic perfect for sniping. Having a scope made it far easier to pick off distant foes, and the AR-CL can kill with one headshot, making it a powerful asset to have, especially in a game where medium range combat with automatic weapons and iron sights is tricky. Picking up a semi-automatic rifle was a game-changer for me, giving me considerably more confidence in firefights.

  • However, the drawback to having a slow-firing DMR meant that I didn’t carry any weapons more suited for CQC beyond the M1911; this would leave me at a disadvantage if enemies ever closed on my position. In Far Cry 4, time meant I would be able to unlock up to two more primary weapon slots, and in the old day, I would carry an assault rifle, anti-materiel rifle and LMG for a good balance of combat versatility. Being limited to one weapon at a time was something I’d tangibly felt, and as I began amassing perk points, the first thing I did was to unlock the second slot for primary weapons.

  • Far Cry 5‘s map looks a little smaller than Kyrat did, but unlike Kyrat, there seems to be a much greater variety in terrain: there are hills and cabins, farmers’ fields and lakes, all of which come together to remind me of home: I am just north of Montana, and the southern reaches of my home province possesses very similar geography. I’ve actually been longing to go back and visit Waterton National Park, but current circumstances means that at least for now, Far Cry 5 is the best I got.

  • I ended up accepting a mission that sent me over to the Hope County Jail, which was under siege from Eden’s Gate forces. There was an RPG lying around, as well; while the attack initially could be repelled with the AR-CL, the Eden’s Gate forces will eventually bring vehicles to the table. Sharp-shooting will allow for the driver and any gunners to be dealt with, but when one is swarmed by others, there’s not much time for precision shooting. The RPG will make short work of the pickup trucks in Far Cry 5, and more than before, I wished I had a second primary weapon slot here.

  • Once the Hope County Jail is cleared, I gained access to another outpost. However, my victory was short-lived, since Far Cry 5 forcibly transported me into the Bliss, a drug-induced hallucination. Faith Seed is one of Joseph’s leftenants in Hope County and oversees the drug production that keeps Eden’s Gate in check. I was never too fond of these moments in Far Cry 4, but the religious imagery in Far Cry 5 meant that such moments were better incorporated into the game and all the more unsettling. When my character came to, I found myself in the middle of nowhere.

  • I subsequently unlocked a second weapon slot and equipped the MP5K, a submachine gun with excellent handling traits and burst fire. At close ranges, every pull of the trigger is a kill if one is aiming for the head, and having a good CQC option made firefights much more survivable now – I would use the AR-CL for picking off foes, and anyone that got too close would be dealt with by the MP5K. As players complete activities in a region, they earn Resistance Points, which makes different items accessible for purchase. The stock weapons commonly seen in Far Cry 5 are more than usable, but there is a joy to be entering firefights with more unique, or even over-the-top weapons.

  • Since Far Cry 5 decided to drop me off somewhere remote, I decided to explore and found myself on a hillside overlooking the forests below. The scenery in Far Cry 5 is fantastic, and this looks like a scene right out of a postcard of the Rocky Mountains. It’s been smoky in my area for the past month, and these past few days, the weather’s improved dramatically, more closely resembling the weather I know August best for. However, this weekend, the smoke did return, and what’s more, there’s now a ten-hectare fire burning immediately west of the city.

  • August is traditionally counted as the last month of summer, since classes resume in September, but ever since I entered the workforce, my summer ends during the Autumnal Equinox. This leaves me plenty of time to enjoy the days left in the summer, and August days are best spent outside: as it is still early in the month, assuming that the smoke is held at bay, there’ll be opportunity yet to walk under the sunlight. Of course, while the fire and smoke lingers, I’ll strive to make a dent in my still-sizeable backlog: there’s little point in going out and breathing in smoke.

  • I absolutely love the way the AR-CL looks on the screen: the optics look intimidating, and the red tint on the eyepiece is an especially nice touch: ruby lenses block out the greens and browns of foliage to make it easier to spot game during hunting. The tint, however, creates an image that isn’t true-to-life, so for everyday observation, ordinary coatings are preferred. In video games, this is purely aesthetic and have no impact on gameplay whatsoever.

  • During my time in Far Cry 4, I often tried to liberate outposts without setting alarms off, and towards the endgame, I had a suppressed rifle purpose-made for the job; I would simply locate all of the alarm boxes, sniped them from afar and then picked off enemies with the rifle before moving in with the MG42. The game thus began to feel a little too easy near the end, but in Far Cry 5, I am reminded of where I began: stealth and strategy return in a big way. I found that I could simply punch out alarm boxes and then go loud: after demolishing a heavy unit, I confiscated his M60 and blasted everything that moved.

  • In order to survive, however, I ducked inside one of the houses to recover my health. Far Cry 4 had incremented health, but in Far Cry 5, this goes away: players have one full bar of health and can recharge fully when out of combat. Perks will increase the player’s maximum health. As I waited for my health to return, I admired the design of this Montana house: the architecture and designs here are very authentic, and were it not for Eden’s Gate, Hope County feels like a very nice place to live. I suppose the same could be said of Far Cry 4‘s Kyrat, whose Nepalese/Bhutan aesthetic looked inviting and friendly in the absence of Pagan Min’s dictatorship.

  • In the end, I ended up clearing the outpost by going loud, unlocking myself yet another place to fast travel from and replenish my gear. During my run of Far Cry 5, however, I never felt the need to top up on ammunition, since the Eden’s Gate patrols roaming the map always dropped plenty of ammunition. I imagine this could change as I increase my ammunition capacity and take on increasingly challenging fights, but for now, I was able to get by without resupplying. The feeling after clearing an outpost is always satisfying, and Far Cry always had a way of making these achievements feel special. Here, I had the added bonus of finishing to a gorgeous sunset.

  • My next mission was to help recover an aircraft for Nick Rye, a pilot and mechanic who resists Eden’s Gate. Armed with the AR-CL, I picked off all enemies striking the farm and ended up unlocking the mission. Because the mission entailed attacking John Seed’s ranch, I imagined the site would be heavily defended and therefore sought out an aircraft to help with the fight. Helicopters can be found around Hope County, and while they’re excellent for getting around, the versions I ran into didn’t have any weapons on board.

  • En route to the ranch where Nick’s plane is kept, I had another random encounter: Far Cry 5 depends on players going around Hope County and speaking with people in order to unlock missions from them. Here, for instance, I came across a member of the resistance named Grace, and after reviving her, I helped her to defend wave after wave of Eden’s Gate members from desecrating the graves beside the church. Grace is a sniper, and I took a leaf from her page, since I was rocking a marksman rifle. The assignment proved straightforward enough, and upon completion, I knew I’d be able to call upon Grace for fire support if needed.

  • I haven’t had any need to call in the hired guns yet simply because the missions are simple enough early on, but I imagine that, were I to go further, having the extra firepower would be helpful. One thing I avoided doing during my run at Far Cry 5 was attacking the Eden’s Gate silos: they take an inordinate amount of ammunition to destroy. However, since Eden’s Gate patrols the map with trucks armed with machine guns, seizing one of those would be my best bet. Players can later purchase armed vehicles for their own use, making these missions easier to complete, and as one gains more resistance points, the M79 can also be unlocked. Back in Far Cry 4, the M79 made all anti-vehicle missions trivially easy.

  • One aspect of Far Cry 5 that I wasn’t familiar with were the random story events; besides Faith’s terrifying Bliss visions, John Seed himself will order his goons to capture the deputy. I was quite unprepared for that firefight and was captured, but since it was a part of the story, I made it out and was able to shoot my way to victory. At this point in time, I’d also picked up the M133 pump-action shotgun, although my lack of durability in Far Cry 5 meant I preferred to fight at longer ranges: I ended up using the AR-CL and MP5K for this fight and managed to survive long enough for an extraction, after which I decided to take a shot at Nick’s mission.

  • Nick’s mission entails recapture his custom plane, which fell into Eden’s Gate hands, and after some initial recon of John Seed’s ranch, I realised that the place was too heavily fortified for any sort of ground attack. I thus commandeered a WWII-era AdjudiCor FBW airplane and flew it over to the ranch, hoping to use the rockets and bombs to soften up the ground targets before capturing the place on foot. Once my ordnance was exhausted, I bailed and parachuted out over the compound. With my presence no secret, I switched over to my small arms and ran a one-man wrecking crew on the ranch.

  • To help with my stealth out, I ended up kitting my AR-C with a suppressor and red dot sight: being able to aim with more confidence and silently kill foes made a huge difference, and within moments, I had the ranch cleared out. Without Eden’s Gate firing at me, I was free to explore the place, and in moments, found the aircraft that had been the aim of my mission. I hopped in and carefully taxied onto the runway before taking to the skies. The mission had started out quite stressful: flying in a given game is always a challenge for me, and I tend to crash if the controls aren’t sufficiently simple.

  • While I did have a bit of trouble with the AdjudiCor FBW, once I boarded Nick’s plane, the mission carefully guided me through and gave me a chance to even blow a few things up. This mission was especially thrilling, showing what Far Cry 5 is like at its best; the flight path Nick suggests takes players over the rivers and lakes of Hope County, and it is a thrilling flight. Towards the end, Nick will ask the player to carefully land at his airstrip. Landing is usually the trickiest part of any flight, and there are precious few places in Hope County where one can land, but with Nick’s guidance, the first bit of the mission draws to a close.

  • The second half of the mission is to defend the airstrip from wave after wave of Eden’s Gate attackers. Here, I’m rocking a highly customised MBP .50 called the Blood & Dragon. I’m not sure what the story behind it is, but this weapon was made available to all players, and I was able to equip it simply by checking my store out. The base MBP .50 is a powerful weapon firing fifty-cal rounds, capable of downing almost anything in one shot. I haven’t gotten quite that far into Far Cry 5 to know if there’s an equivalent of the AMR in the game: this weapon is a modified Z93 capable of blowing up vehicles and killing large game in a single shot, making it obscenely powerful. With the Blood & Dragon, however, I still had a great time blowing enemies away: the weapon itself also looks awesome.

  • It suddenly hits me that today is a day after the ten-year mark to the day that Tango-Victor-Tango’s One Week War drew to a close. I’ve not been back for quite some time now, but I do remember that a friend and I had made the (in retrospect, unwise) decision of participating; we had hoped to put an end to a segment of the community that did not respect expertise and idealised instant gratification. There had been a significant portion of the userbase who believed that no one could be more knowledgeable than anyone else on certain topics, and that they alone were competent creators and critics despite lacking the requisite backgrounds, insisting on using certain terminology without understanding what they mean (such as believing that “deconstruction” means “realism” when it clearly does not).

  • The end result of this were that a large section of the site’s users words and remarks were completely contrary to what someone with legitimate experience in a field would suggest: these individuals gave the impression of having lived a majority their lives on the internet without actually making an effort to cultivate any useful, marketable skills, but still believed that their opinions were more valid than those of an expert’s. My friend and I had hoped that by pruning a part of the site, these users would see the errors of their ways and move on. While that part of Tango-Victor-Tango was removed, their community’s general disrespect for expertise endured, and in the aftermath, we had wished that instead of participating, we’d spent that time outdoors: August is one of the nicest months where I am, and it is no joke when I say that the mountains an hour to the west are every bit as nice as the scenery from this screenshot.

  • Our disagreements with these sentiments ended up leading me to write a post about Tango-Victor-Tango and their shortcomings with my friend. When the site’s moderators caught wind of this post, it led to my getting permanently banned. While I did ban-evade successfully, there’s been no value in sticking around, and I’ve since decided to focus on things that bring me joy. Today, the beliefs from Tango-Victor-Tango have propagated to social media, and any discussion on politics and current events is inevitably infested with those who act as though they were the singular authority on the topic. The belief that upvotes, karma, retweets and follower count hold merit have their origins from the sort of thinking that dominated Tango-Victor-Tango, and is the reason why misinformation is so widespread. This explains how outspoken individuals of dubious value (usually characterised by their “soccer mom” bios or duck-faced profile pictures) command followings that are cult-like.

  • In giving players a chance to take the fight to a cult with firearms, Far Cry 5 gives players a very satisfying experience that is also sobering; while players can massacre cultists in Far Cry 5, I’ve heard that reaching Joseph Seed in the end doesn’t actually have any meaningful choice, since the outcomes end up being similarly enough. This has parallels in reality, where dealing with social media addicts who blindly follow pretty faces individually is trivially easy, but they are numerous enough so that taking one down only results in five taking their place. I’ve previously gotten several outspoken individuals (whose profile pictures look like they were intended for Tinder) suspended, but new accounts always keep cropping up to replace them. The wiser choice, then, is not to allow social media to bother oneself and focus on the meaningful things in life.

  • I’ll wrap this post up with a moment of me returning to Fall’s End prior to the free weekend’s conclusion. Far Cry 5 proved immensely enjoyable owing to its setting, and a glance at the game’s features show that this is a title I would’ve had a great deal of fun playing. However, at this point in time, I have hit a bit of saturation when it comes to gaming: I am now three quarters of the way into DOOM Eternal, and have begun exploring Northrend in World of Warcraft. I imagine that The Ancient Gods will take me a bit of September and potentially early October, which means I’ll be done just in time for Battlefield 2042‘s release. Consequently, at this time, I don’t think it is in my best interest to pick up any more games, lest they join my already-sizeable backlog.

Altogether, while Far Cry 5‘s greatest strength is the setting, after the free weekend ended, I have concluded that Far Cry 5 is unlikely a game I will be picking up – the game is familiar and inviting, offering incremental improvements over its predecessor, Far Cry 4, but otherwise remains very similar in terms of mechanics, requiring that players destroy and capture assets that Eden’s Gate have taken ahold of to eventually force leaders of a region into the open for a confrontation. This means there’s no learning curve, and I could get back into things very easily. While doubtlessly an enjoyable experience that demands forward thinking and adaptiveness, the open world design of Far Cry 5 also means that I will need a considerable amount of time to make headway into liberating Hope County. A glance at what’s available in Far Cry 5 indicates that there’s quite a bit to do. Besides missions, I could go perfect my flying, spend time fishing or hunting, and even train a pet to accompany me on my assignments. Far Cry 5 was evidently designed to provide staying power, and moreover, the game offers expansion materials that sends players to Vietnam and Mars; as enjoyable as this sounds, there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to really enjoy games that have this level of possibility. Far Cry 4 had taken me a while to beat for this reason, and while it proved an enjoyable experience, it also took me eleven months to finish. I might’ve had that sort of time on my hands four years earlier, but these days, things are a bit different; Far Cry is a series that does require a bit of a time investment to fully enjoy, and so for the present, I do not plan on advancing further into Far Cry 5. Having said this, Far Cry 5 has proven to be a solid experience, and I am curious to see how Far Cry 6 turns out – the E3 trailer suggests Far Cry 6 is even bigger and bolder than its predecessor, returning to the tropical world that defined earlier Far Cry titles and introducing more custom options. Cautious optimism characterises my response to Far Cry 6: the E3 trailer was impressive, but my aging rig might not be able to handle the game, and Far Cry 6 releases in the same timeframe as Battlefield: 2042 and Halo: Infinite, so for the present, I am going to wait before making any decision. In the meantime, should I feel the inclination to return to rural Montana, I have the comfort of knowing that all of my progress in Far Cry 5 is saved, so I’ll be able to resume my journey precisely where I’d left off.

3 responses to “That First Foray Into Hope County: A Free Weekend of Far Cry 5

  1. iniksbane August 15, 2021 at 11:48

    I have to say that the one thing Ubisoft does really well is setting. They do a great job with making it feel like rural America.

    Like

    • infinitezenith August 17, 2021 at 21:55

      The aesthetic in Far Cry 5 is definitely eye-popping, to the point where I had to remind myself I was playing a game, rather than walking through Southern Alberta. This is why I was hoping that The Division 3 might be set in a Canadian city like Toronto or Vancouver!

      Like

  2. Pingback: The Otakusphere: So many controversies and Eva – In Search of Number Nine — An anime blog

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