Far Cry is one of those series that is all about the controversy and this year’s entry, Far Cry 5, is no different. 2017 will see the series tackling a religious cult known as The Project at Eden’s Gate. And from what we’ve seen so far in our Far Cry 5 preview at E3, it could be the most antagonistic, and beautiful, Far Cry yet.
When Far Cry as a series is in full flow, you’re fighting against some of the most deranged and downright violent enemies, from the dictator Pagan Min in Far Cry 4 to the drug-fueled pirate that was Vaas in Far Cry 3. They’re the kind of villain that you remember, because of their deep characterization and the excellently brutal storylines told in Far Cry titles.
Some might say that the most recent entry, Far Cry Primal, lacked the drive to defeat evil that the other games have all possessed. But in our Far Cry 5 preview mission, the folks running The Project at Eden’s Gate are already proving to be a worthy foe.
In Far Cry 5 you're taken to Hope County, a fictional locale in the US state of Montana. You're arriving at a time where it should strike serious political resonance in the country, particularly when it comes to the leader of The Project at Eden's Gate, Joseph Seed. He brings new followers to his congregation not by faith but by force; baptisms become drownings; Sunday mass becomes a prison.
You play as a Deputy Sheriff whose sole task is to take down the Seed family and put a stop to The Project. You will have two deputies to assist you, which can be played by your real-world buddies in co-op, but for our E3 Far Cry 5 preview we were flying solo.
Well, apart from our Guns for Hire of course. The mission we were playing through started out with overthrowing a town, armed at first with a stars and stripes-themed baseball bat. We had to choose one of three support characters as part of the Guns for Hire feature of the game: Nick Rye, a pilot capable of reigning down hellfire from the sky; Grace, a sniper capable of picking off enemies from afar; and Boomer, an adorable (immortal) dog who can sneak into town unnoticed, steals guns, and can rip out throats on command.
And yes, you can pet him (10/10, would pet, GOTY).
Of course, we chose Boomer, as we physically can't say no to a cute doggo demanding our attention. He'll follow you around until you give him a command, otherwise just helpfully attack anyone who gets too close to your location. It's an adorable feature to have, especially as he's so helpful.
Using your buddies is actually incredibly handy in Far Cry 5 as it's so reliant on stealth. Sending Boomer in to pick off a few was our initial tactic, before dishing out a few headshots ourselves and snapping the neck of a guy lurking on the edge by a huge monster truck. But the AI is smart, noticing the subtle changes in the small town and clocking your presence within a minute or so. And then it's time for bloody carnage.
We were lobbing dynamite, shooting explosive gas tankers, peaking out from behind iron fences and hoping Boomer had our back, because it all got brilliantly messy very quickly. You've got to be quick thinking in Far Cry 5 if you've got any chance of surviving. The developer guide we had during our Far Cry 5 preview said the Project guards won't take any notice of you at first, but the more you start causing trouble, the more trouble you'll get.
The world is totally yours to explore, with the mini-map removed in favour of a guidance compass at the top of the screen. You'll be pleased to hear that the infamous radio station is gone too, with the map opening up through talking to the Hope County residents, reading flyers and posters, or just taking a drive. The world is full of missions, side quests, people to meet and get to know, outposts to conquer, and vehicles to drive.
There are plenty of pass-times to take part in too, with a good slab of our Far Cry 5 preview spent fly fishing on the river, whilst Boomer doggy paddled in the shallows. It's a game that can quickly switch from chaotic to idyllic, but that is all part of the Hope County charm – and another reason that makes you want to fight for its residents.
After we liberated the town and indulged in some fishing, it was off to help Nick Rye lie to his wife. We took control of his plane, which is armed with bombs, missiles and guns, tasked with taking out some of The Project's silos and a convoy. Plane controls are a little on the tricky side, especially when we had to shoot down on of the missionaries also flying a small by-plane, which managed to loop expertly around us, sending us constantly chasing our tails.
But there's no doubt that this is a glorious, unflinchingly brutal game that's not afraid to go to the dark places of storytelling. From what we've seen so far of The Project at Eden's Gate, their regime is a violent one and you're the only one stopping them from taking over.
Is Far Cry 5 going to be any good?
Our Far Cry 5 preview only showed us a tiny slice of Hope County and the antics we'll be getting involved with in the game. But what a slice it was. With just half an hour spent with the game, we've already experienced monster trucks, fighter planes, attack dogs, dynamite and more, not to mention a good portion spent discovering what fish we could haul in from the river for our dinner.
Hope County is easily the most authentic and beautiful Far Cry locale yet and thanks to the methods used by The Project at Eden's Prime, it should be the most brutal and bloodthirsty too.
Far Cry 5 is coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC on February 27, 2018.