Far Cry 5’s villain is ‘really f***** up’.
That’s the view from cult specialist Rick Ross, who advised Ubisoft throughout the creation of the game’s main antagonist Joseph Seed.
He’s not lying, either.
Preacher Seed believes he’s been called on by higher forces to ‘save’ as many of the residents from fictional Hope County, Montana as possible – whether they want saving or not.
Within minutes of the stunning introductory section, which is easily the strongest opening in the series, you’ll experience his twisted sadistic tendencies first hand.
Thousands of armed militia now occupy most of the land and your job, as an inexperienced sheriff’s deputy, is to fight back.
Thankfully, you’re not alone. You’ll have guns for hire, pilots, an enormous armoury of weapons… and a bear called ‘Cheese Burger’ who suffers from diabetes.
Here’s why Far Cry 5 could well be the shooter of the year.
Fish out of water
Far Cry has always sought to create a ‘fish-out-of-water’ experience for the gamer.
Ubisoft plonk you in a world, often with just the most basic skills to survive, and send you on a revenge mission.
It’s a formula that works and, although it feels familiar, still hasn’t lost any of its charm.
At the start of the game, you meet Dutch, an old man who realises you’ve got a bit of fight in you.
He acts as a voice in your ear throughout – providing just the right amount of hints and tips to ensure you continue to progress.
Still, how you play the game is up to you. Fancy just exploring the map on a quad-bike or a spot of fishing? Go right ahead.
Just pack a machine gun for good measure.
Seed is almost certain to go down as one of the most evil and twisted villains in video game history.
What did we expect from the team who brought us Far Cry 3’s Vaas and Far Cry 4’s Pagan Min?
While those two clearly had overtly psychopathic tendencies, what makes Seed so evil is just how calm he is.
He genuinely believes he’s a force for good and sees anyone who stands in his way as evil. What’s even more shocking is the way his followers view him – not as a person, but as a beacon of hope.
In the recent brilliant trailer, which I strongly recommend you watch here, you watch Seed ‘baptise’ a follower by dipping her head underwater – only for Seed to drown her.
Instead of shock, the followers, watching from the river bank, don’t bat an eyelid.
It’s this unflinching loyalty and tunnel vision that creates an incredibly uneasy and tense atmosphere from the start – making for a gloriously stark contrast with the vibrant world of Hope County.
Thanks to an incredible score from Dan Romer – who also penned the stirring Beasts of No Nation soundtrack – you’ll have to stop yourself from being brainwashed, too.
Americana ‘feel-good’ tunes blast from the radio wherever you go.
One track, dubbed ‘Let the water wash away your sins’, quickly burrows into your mind and you’ll have some job trying to block it out.
Cheese Burger the bear
Far Cry 5’s gun-for-hire system is one of the game’s big talking points – and it’s not hard to see why.
Here, you can ‘hire’ NPCs you meet during your quest to fight with you.
These range from pilots who provide support from the skies, to a cute dog called Boomer – who’ll attack enemies on the ground and retrieve their weapons.
But they all pale in comparison to Cheese Burger – a diabetic former zoo bear – who developed the condition after its keepers encouraged tourists to feed it cheese burgers.
Just like in Far Cry Primal, you can set the beast on anyone – and providing you have enough fish to keep it happy (Cheese Burger is cleaning up its diet), then it’ll prove a loyal companion.
Online co-op is also fully supported, with a friend able to jump in and act as a ‘gun for hire’.
They won’t level up in the same way as the main character – or have their progress saved – but it’ll be fun to dip in and out of.
Far Cry 5 is once again powered by the Dunia engine.
It’s not a huge step up visually from Far Cry 4, which remains an attractive game, but it certainly looks better.
Textures, so often the first casualty in games of this scale, are pin sharp – backed up with a seriously impressive draw distance.
Despite not having the lush jungles of Far Cry 3, or the mountains of Kyrat, there’s still plenty of variation in the landscape.
Ubisoft revealed they ‘fell in love’ with Montana while they were scouting for locations – and this love has transferred to the game.
Lakes, teeming with fish, are dotted around the map – broken up with settlements, hills and fields of corn that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Obviously, the game will look its best at 4K – but 1080p gamers will still have plenty of eye candy.
One of the developers was overheard saying that PC owners will need hugely powerful ‘rigs’ to run Far Cry 5 at max settings – no surprise there, then.
Still, the PS4 Pro version we tested looked really stunning.
Armed and dangerous
As per the last game, you’re able to explore the massive map at will – but tread with caution. It’s teeming with baddies of all shapes and sizes.
Thankfully, you’ll have a range of weapons including such as shotguns, pistols, rocket launchers, bows, and explosives to help you survive.
The assault rifle you’re given at the start of the game sets the tone nicely – packing bags of feel and some seriously impressive punch.
Not long after, you’ll find a shotgun that sends foes flying back with a satisfying thud.
By far the most fun can be had with the bow – with a well-placed head-shot stopping an enemy in their tracks.
Add to the mix brutal takedowns and a range of melee weapons – from pitch forks, sledgehammers and baseball bats – and you’ve got everything you need to start a revolution.
Be warned, the more chaos you cause, the more the cultists will seek to take you down.
Far Cry games have always featured vehicles but they’ve always played second fiddle to the on-foot action.
Ubisoft has changed things this year and put a lot more effort into the vehicles – so they serve as much more than just a means of travelling from A-B as quickly as possible.
Muscle cars, all-terrain vehicles, boats and planes are just some of the transport options available.
A huge Optimus Prime-style truck is also a delight.
Armed with two machine guns on the bonnet and a huge amount of horsepower, you’re able to smash through enemy blockades like a knife through butter.
You’re also able to lean out and shoot from the passenger seat – making for some really impressive car chases.
It’s not too fiddly, either. An ‘auto drive’ function alleviates any annoyances by sticking the vehicle on the road so you can concentrate on taking out baddies.
They really have thought of everything.
Far Cry 5 is released on March 27, 2018.