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Far Cry 5’s love of unpredictable violence is too damn exhausting

by Brandon Russell | April 3, 2018April 3, 2018 1:00 pm PST

Loosely defined, Murphy’s Law states anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. It is an acceptance of the world’s twisted humor, a concept that reminds us we truly have no control, no matter how much we plan.

Which basically encapsulates the world in which Far Cry exists. The game worships the very basis of Murphy’s Law and takes it to its caricatural extreme. It’s a carnival of missions, side quests, and murderous mayhem; Ubisoft gives players a vibrant playground to do whatever, whenever—and that makes the game fun!

But as charming as Far Cry’s unpredictability was in previous iterations, the maelstrom of violence in Far Cry 5 is downright exhausting. In the six or so hours I’ve sunk into the game, I find my enthusiasm waning by the minute. Which is super disappointing, because I’ve been looking forward to Far Cry 5 for months.

It’s a weird conundrum. As much as I enjoy clearing outposts—stealthily, which is the only way to do it—much of the game feels far too distracting. Whenever I start tracking a mission or side quest, a million other things get in the way. It took me hours just to retrieve a plane for Rye & Sons Aviation, which is a stone’s throw from Fall’s End, an early and important hub in the game.

And it’s not for a lack of trying. The game simply throws too much at the player too often, with very little reward. It means I can’t enjoy the beautiful world of Hope County unless I escape to a secluded part of the woods, and even then there’s a high probability I’ll be mauled to death by a bear. Instead, I’m constantly near death and running for cover.

You can be standing at a peaceful roadside stop, enjoying small town life, but the quiet is almost always interrupted by Peggies, the colloquial term locals use for the game’s cultists. Peggies will inevitably drive by, forcing you to engage in a gunfight. It’s tough to go 30 seconds without being shot at, chased, or attacked.

After a while, the novelty of Far Cry’s unpredictability becomes obnoxious and, well, predictable. If I stop to save a random civilian on the side of the road, there’s a pretty good chance an animal will appear, followed by a convey, followed by more reinforcements, followed by…

Don’t get me wrong, I love these aspects of Far Cry, but only in moderation. The problem is the game doesn’t give players the opportunity to escape the chaos. I’d love it if there was a mode where I could walk around and actually enjoy the beauty of Hope County. The pumpkin patches, the roadside stands, the quiet shops, the game’s scenery is downright gorgeous.

Instead, the normally enjoyable Far Cry formula feels like an endless and irritating loop, only turned up to 11. Blowing things up is fun, but the moments of tranquility are so infrequent that the violence becomes unbearable, almost sickening.

An open world game that did this really well was Red Dead Redemption. Even among the wild west, among the random events and dangerous animals, you could enjoy the map’s spoils. Watching a storm roll in was as enjoyable as clearing an outpost of enemies.

I still plan to clear outposts, complete side quests, and upgrade my perks. But I’m finding much more enjoyment from the beauty of Hope County, which is frustratingly overshadowed in favor of… HEY THERE’S AN EXPLOSION!


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.