Preview: Far Cry 5's crackling combat gives you options (and a dog)

You might have already heard the most important thing to know about Far Cry, and that is that you can get a dog in it, and he is a good, good dog. Having learnt the lesson that you shouldn’t put a dog in your game unless the player can pet it, Ubisoft gives you Boomer, a scrappy, patch-faced, lop-eared, wire-haired, dribbly mongrel, who’ll diligently follow you anywhere (and tag enemies on your HUD without raising suspicion as he goes).

In case you’re a monster not interested in the dog status of a game, I am pleased to report that the dog feeds into the combat system, which aims to support different player approaches to tearing your enemies a new one.

Boomer is one of the Guns for Hire in Far Cry 5, a returning mechanic from Far Cry 4 but slightly updated for the new game. In the fight against the Project at Eden’s Gate (who the locals refer to as ‘peggies’) it’s preferable to have some help. In the demo you could choose from three options: 12/10 heckin’ good stealth boy Boomer, Grace the support sniper, and dive-bombing pilot Nick Frye. Boomer is a good choice for players who, like the SAS, want to leave no trace, while Nick is the more pedal-to-the-metal, ‘I love the smell of exploded religious cults in the morning’ kind of choice.

Far Cry 5 has the same kind of crackling firefights that the rest of the series does, with options to e.g. use a silenced M11 machine pistol, but also to throw sticks of dynamite. A lot of it will feel familiar, but Far Cry 5 being more Far Cry isn’t necessarily a bad thing (though some will say that depends on which previous Far Cry we’re talking about). So, you’ll run into patrols of bad guys every so often, in pickup trucks painted with the Project at Eden’s Gate insignia. You’ll explore the open world, which, obviously, is the biggest one in any Far Cry game. There are animals to make that world feel alive, herds of deer flashing their white tails as they bound away from your car. 

Montana is actually really nice, lots of waving grass and gentle hills, that kind of thing. It’d be a nice place for a holiday. One of the weapons available is a compound bow, so you could do a bit of trad-style hunting, probably chewing on a blade of grass as you do. You can even go fishing next to, hilariously, a couple of old dudes who have clearly seen too much shit to let a hostile takeover by religious zealots prevent them enjoying their hobby, because one of them says ‘Fish is the only animal that don’t look sad when you kill it.’ What have you done in your life, old man?

Far Cry 5

This relative peace is shattered by the aforementioned Peggies (all of whom tune their radio to Weird Choir Singing FM), or by you flying a plane and get into a dog fight. It was a lot of fun, and wasn’t really trying to be anything else.

What wasn’t on show was any of the character customisation, or any of the story. The hands on was clearly from very early in the game. While I played a mission from start to finish, it was a fairly standard set up wherein you kill all the bad guys and meet some new friends for the first time. So far the promo materials have hinted at the themes that could come up (a militaristic Christian doomsday cult lead by one family, you say?), and it’ll be interesting to see how far they’re pushed, and how they’ll interact with the wider understanding that sometimes it’s just fun to do a barrel roll in a single prop plane that has machine guns attached to it.

Whatever the case, Ubisoft is clearly keeping the storyline under wraps for now. It is, despite how tasty the slice we saw was, the thing that could really make Far Cry 5 stand out. 

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