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Hope County for Ubisoft

I have never been shy with my negative opinions and comments about Ubisoft in the past few years. After all, Ubisoft was never shy about its hellish and frankly insulting attitude of how to run a game company either. They redefined the term “asset recycling” by making franchises with games that literally copied the previous ones in every way possible. Changes were always cosmetic and if not, they were usually for the worse. Instead of spending more time, money and effort for the development, Ubisoft chose to boost sales by putting as much of everything as possible to marketing. Just think about how annoyingly frequent it is that Ubisoft appears out of every corner two-or-so months prior to each new release.

I knew, of course, that I wasn’t alone. Uproar against Ubisoft among the gaming community grew louder and louder. What made it all much worse was knowing how Ubisoft is more than capable of making good games when they try.

However, it seems like Ubisoft has heard us.

First, there was Watch_Dogs 2. It was an amazing game, innovative in so many ways. Considering Ubisoft, however, it made me think perhaps that it was only a fluke. Then came Assassin’s Creed Origins. Clearly wiser now, Ubisoft waited two years before releasing AC:O after the last installation in the series and the success of this decision was crystal clear. This second great achievement had me wondering: Is Ubisoft really changing? Finally, with Far Cry 5, I find myself unable to deny it. Ubisoft might just be a completely new company.

Far Cry 5 is the new breath that this series needed since a long, long time ago. After the fiasco of Far Cry Primal, I had actually given up on the franchise a bit. However, FC5 does not only make the good things about the game even better but more importantly, it removes so much of the bad while putting in more good.

The action angle of Far Cry 5 doesn’t need much praise because the franchise has always been successful with that- no matter what. It may be not as fast and furious as the Wolfenstein games but there is a stability to it in the sense that over-the-top action never seems ridiculously unbalanced and yet the adrenaline always remains high. However, action in FC5 seemed just a bit better to me than previous games for several reasons. First of all, I felt like the AI was a bit smarter. The enemies group better, take cover better, react faster, shoot with better accuracy. Moreover, they are harder to kill whereas it is easier for the player to die. Don’t worry though as this implemented in a very well-balanced style. Without making the game unfairly and illogically difficult, the action aspect succeeds in creating a full bullet-storm, edge-of-the-seat, adrenaline-rush combat frenzy. That is, unless, you choose the sneaky path of course which is just as good.

However, the real reasons for why Far Cry 5 is good are hidden in the smaller details. For example, no more tower-climbing. That nightmare is over. It. Is. Over. Ubisoft actually makes fun of this themselves early in the game. The UI is much neater and efficient. In other words, UI/UX design is always rewarding. It is unintrusive when not needed and always available completely when necessary. The world feels simply much more alive and real, much more interesting. Towns, forests, landmarks, bunkers and all locations overall have an unidentifiable “charm” that simply pulls the player even without the promise of a reward but more often than not, there will be a substantial reward for exploration anyway. Listing all such reasons here would be a waste of space but trust me: You feel it when you play it.

One of these reasons clearly stands out: Side missions. I really don’t remember when was the last time I enjoyed side missions this much in a Ubisoft game. Often embedded with some nice humour, often crazy, always handcrafted. Side missions in Far Cry 5 will be the things you’ll spend the most time on during your gameplay. I am happy to say that you will do so not because you are 100% required but, instead, because you will actually enjoy them. As a side note, it should be also stated that the way you get these quests is actually quite great too. By creating a natural and organic flow throughout the game, Ubisoft cleverly eliminates the boring task-list discipline most other games have. As a matter of fact, I believe this particular detail might turn out to be Ubisoft’s next most recycled asset and for a good reason too. No complaints here about that.

The main story, on the other hand, is alright. While not great, it achieves the high standards of psychological violence and terror that gamers are used to in Far Cry games with well scripted dialogues/monologues and well crafted, insane villains. I personally would have preferred a little more intrigue and a little more thrill but it is not bad at all.

I didn’t pay much attention to the Far Cry Arcade or co-op gameplay because I am not a fan of the multiplayer very much but the game certainly is receiving praises in that aspect too. So if that’s your cup of tea, I believe you won’t be disappointed.

Finally, something has to be said about the visuals because they are simply gorgeous. Yes, the Dunia Engine is getting a bit out-of-date but this doesn’t stop it at all from creating beautiful sceneries with high fidelity. Even more impressive, the game is unbelievably optimised. I was able to play it in 4K and maxed out settings with about 50 FPS on a GTX1080. This optimisation sometimes shows through LOD but it never really bothered me.

The only negative opinion I have about the game worth mentioning would definitely fall under the “spoilers” category so for now, I will keep it to myself. However this small part is completely subjective and it doesn’t define the game’s quality in a great sense anyway. Apart from that, I guess the main quest could have been better interwoven into the general scheme of gameplay because running around with side quests sometimes takes the weight of what is really happening out from focus but this doesn’t lead to much negativity at the end.

In conclusion, Far Cry 5 delivers at least 40-50 hours of very fun gameplay with interesting side quests, main quest and locations while perfectly balancing everything from action to simple interactions. The game never loses its speed and ends before getting boring without defaulting to repetition like some of the previous titles. It is definitely not an instant classic but it is a great improvement and a fairly good, very enjoyable game which is on its own cause for hope regarding the future games we can expect from Ubisoft.

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