Crazy pirates, oppressive drug lords and cannibalistic tribes – Far Cry has a habit of putting you up against treacherous opposition. But the next addition to the open-world shooter looks to be even more sinister.
That’s not because the bad guys here commit more dastardly deeds than the likes of Vaas Montenegro and Pagan Min. Rather, it’s because their depiction is a little bit too close to home – they’re religious extremists taking advantage of the country's division by amassing a cult following. Sound familiar?
And that’s not the only interesting aspect of Ubisoft’s upcoming game. In fact, we’ve made a list of all the stuff that we found out during this week’s sneak preview.
1) It tackles controversial religious themes
The official Far Cry 5 artwork has more religious connotations than a Dan Brown novel. That’s no mistake. Religion takes its place on the altar as the main focus of this game. The villains are using faith to their advantage by unifying a bunch of disgruntled christians to help them claim authority over Hope County, in the US state of Montana.
The new trailer shows a woman being forced under the water – an unconventional baptism perhaps? – and if you look closely you can see the word “sinner” scribbled everywhere, which emphasises how strong religion’s influence is over the residents of this settlement.
How do you end up in this nightmare? Well, you play a deputy sheriff attempting to arrest a member of the religious cult. Things don't go as planned (do they ever?) and your colleagues end up being kidnapped, leaving you isolated in the region. Might be time to dig out that Bible...
2) The Seed family is delightfully nasty
That group of religious fundamentalists we keep banging on about? Well they’re the Seed family, and as you can imagine, they’re not the most pleasant of people. The leader of the group is Joseph Seed, who likes to be known as “The Father”. He appears to be a cool and collected character at first glance, which only makes him more sinister overall.
Joseph’s three siblings make up the remainder of the elite figures of the cult, which calls itself 'The Project at Eden’s Gate'; the siblings are collectively known as 'The Heralds'. No, that's not creepy. Not at all.
We also meet a resistance group that opposes the Seed family. They're deeply religious too, but seem to be a whole lot friendlier. Or at least not the types who'll burn you at the stake for forgetting your crucifix.
3) Your allies include a shotgun-wielding pastor
Well, we say allies but that depends on how you interact with them. As with any Far Cry game, you can’t fully trust anyone. But during our sneak peek, we were introduced to three characters who will aid you in your fight against the bad Seeds: Pastor Jerome, Mary May and Nick Rye.
The Pastor is the most interesting of the three; we saw him sitting in his empty, run-down church, angrily declaring revenge on the Seed family for stealing his “flock”. After taking a handgun from a Bible and a shotgun from under the pews, Jerome turned from a humble pastor into a bullet-spitting Rambo type, bringing to mind the likes of the superb comic-book-turned-TV-show Preacher.
Mary May, meanwhile, is the owner of the Whistling Beaver saloon (we’re not saying anything). We saw her creating Molotovs while revealing that the Seed family murdered her mother and brother. And finally we met Nick Rye, a plane enthusiast whose family has long served the air force, but is growing concerned about the Seed family's increasing influence on the area.
4) You can take to the skies in a plane
That’s right, your alliance with Nick Rye has its perks. In a series first for the Far Cry franchise you’ll be able to pilot planes. You’ve always been able to drive weaponised vehicles in the Ubisoft series, from turret-mounted jeeps to heavy armoured tanks, and you’ve also been able to take to the sky with the buzzer and the glider, but the introduction of planes means you can whizz across the map at speed, while gunning down your enemies on the ground. Sounds like fun.
We also saw cars and jeeps make an appearance again, while the expansive lakes that feature in Hope County give us a strong whiff of drivable boats. We’re sure plenty more vehicles will be revealed for Far Cry 5 over the coming months, but we’re less certain about how much of the wildlife will be rideable. We expect to be able to mount horses, of course, but it's unlikely anything will compare in scale to the likes of elephants and sabre-tooths of previous games.
5) Hope County looks absolutely stunning
Far Cry 5 is the first game of the series to be set in the western world, taking place in the US state of Montana. You might think that it'd be an uphill struggle to make that region look quite as visually stunning as the mountains of Nepal or the sun-soaked savannahs of Africa, but Ubisoft appears to have done just that.
Expansive forests sweep the land, meadows glisten like yellow oceans and small settlements burst with life; the clip we saw featured churches and stripper joints on the same street, which should make for plenty of tension. And while exotic creatures such as rhinos and crocs obviously don’t make the cut, the presence of grizzly bears and ravenous hounds will still bring plenty of threat to the surroundings.
We've not yet seen any game footage, but based on the trailer and the screenshots, this looks like the most attractive Far Cry yet - and one that'll compare favourably to graphical powerhouses such as Uncharted 4 and Horizon: Zero Dawn.
6) You can create your own character
Remember Ajay Ghale and Jason Brody? If not that's probably for the best. For all that the Far Cry series has been stuffed with vibrant characters, you've generally been lumbered with protagonists who are themselves about as interesting as ready-salted crisps.
That should change this time round, because Ubisoft has done away with set characters. Instead, the focus is on creating your own, with everything from their apperance to their personality customisable.
Of course, the backstory can’t be changed - you’re always going to play as the deputy sheriff attempting to arrest Joseph Seed. But from the point at which your colleagues are kidnapped, the method of play is up to you.
7) You can now play the whole game with a friend
Not too bothered about the story? You can now play through the entire campaign with a friend via the 'Guns for Hire' co-op mode.
Far Cry 4 allowed you to explore Kyrat and complete side-misions on co-op, but you were never able to play through the campaign with your buddy. This changes with Far Cry 5, as Ubisoft has lifted those co-op restrictions, meaning you can inflict double the damage on Hope County and take down the Seed family with your mate. Could this be the best co-op game of the year?
With the interesting themes, a beautiful setting and colourful characters, Far Cry 5 seems to have all the ingredients of a top class game. It's set to release on 27 February 2018, with more details to be revealed at next month’s E3 conference - so stay tuned to Stuff for more.