There’s no doubt about it: Far Cry 5 is hellbent on being the most insane and talked-about game of 2017, and perhaps of this generation. Not unlike those in the series that came before it, the title has already generated plenty of heat, igniting passionate political commentary that can sometimes delve into constructive discourse, but mostly (and slowly) leads towards eye-rolling madness.
Ironically, those intent on fixating on Far Cry 5‘s apparent political motives — be it to praise, ridicule or scrutinise — find themselves at the centre of the game’s distinct caricature of remote America’s religious fanaticism. That’s not to say the game’s satirical tone is immune from serious critique or criticism, but, much like a Grand Theft Auto game, I feel Far Cry 5 encourages self-reflection more than the finger-pointing outward judgement finding it’s way into modern video game criticism.
I went into my time with Far Cry 5 last week knowing that the game was going to be crazier than those before it, because it takes us closer to home than ever before. Even being a visitor in the US, the country’s influence on the Western world simply can’t be ignored, and so even as far away as remote Montana is, it’s not so foreign as to seem fantastical to me. It’s also easier to make fun of, criticise, and sometimes even celebrate your own culture and backyard, and so with that it was easy to go in expecting Far Cry 5 to go where no Far Cry game has gone before.
Spending around 30 minutes with no real goal or objective — and actively avoiding the recommendations of the Ubisoft developer sitting beside me — I decided to lift the lid off and dive straight into the deep end of Far Cry 5‘s unhinged Montana. Here’s what I did.
Run over cows in a tractor
Immature, right? Eh, I guess that’s the point. There’s no way I wasn’t going to step into and ride around farmland in a cultivator (I think that’s what it’s called), and mow down everything and anything that got in my way. And it’s not like the game world punishes you for doing this. Far Cry 5 sets you in the boots of an Any Town USA cop, and the mowing down of innocent animals is probably at odds with your battle against evil cultists (and in your role as an officer of the peace …). But do you see how this feeds into the game’s active attempt to be completely at odds with modern definitions of morality? Yeah, the main goal is to take down the baddies. But the world is your oyster … or steak. Maybe it’s your baby back ribs. Whatever your tingling, Far Cry 5 celebrates one philosophy: Do as I say, not as I do. Sound familiar? Ah, a slick critique of social media egotism. Don’t worry: spend enough time in this game world, and it will follow your lead.
Listen to Christian rock-inspired tunes while mowing down cultists wielding assault rifles
Is it possible to have a more potent critique of Bible Belt fanaticism? Probably. But going by some (read: not many) reports, riding around in a pick up truck listening to Christian rock while leeching non-believers is about as ‘Merican as you can get! Why else would I do it? It’s crazy, I know, but it’s hard to look past Far Cry 5‘s goofy first-person vehicle controls, which haven’t evolved much since Far Cry 2. It’s even tougher to ignore the obvious commentary said controls offer on the quality and current state of the American automobile industry.
Okay, I’m not being serious about any of that — it’s a sad state of affairs that I actually have to highlight that — and I think it’s an accurate reflection of just how utterly crazy Far Cry 5 can be at times. I can’t remember the last time I drove around in a game doing such a thing, and it’s not like it wasn’t provoked: the game world is so relentlessly hostile to your presence, and so if you do intend on avoiding the game’s otherwise superb stealth mechanics, you’ll need to almost always engage in some sort of aggressive tactic to avoid being shot at from every. single. direction.
Get knocked down and rampaged by a bull after disturbing its bonking session (legit happened)
Just when you thought Far Cry 5‘s philosophical potency had peaked, you get knocked down by the very symbol of American capitalism! Woah. So deep it has an echo.
In all seriousness, this actually happened in my playthrough: I found myself stranded in a field with no vehicle and bad guys shooting at me from every which way. That’s when I came across a bull absolutely going to town on a heifer. I mean, if ever you needed a more obvious metaphor for Trump’s America … okay I won’t go there. I promised I wouldn’t. But let me tell you something: do not bother a bull while he’s in the act. They will stop — no bull — and attack, head down horns out.
These three things aren’t all that happened in my time playing Far Cry 5. I also managed to:
- Go fishing
- Hunt deer
- Get my dog to take down and rob a cultist
- Explore hidden campsites
That’s really just the tip of the iceberg, first page of the bible, first nail in the cro … hey, this is a Far Cry 5 preview, and I’ve apologised enough already, so don’t expect me to again! Far Cry 5 doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should we.
Far Cry 5 launches February 18 on Xbox One, PS4 and PC