by Preston Dozsa
previewed on PC
Fishing is as far from normal Far Cry gameplay as one would expect, but it’s not an unwelcome addition in Far Cry 5, Ubisoft’s latest entry in the long running series. Set in a fictional region of Montana called Hope County, I got the chance to play 30 minutes of Far Cry 5 during Ubisoft’s press event at PAX West 2017, much of which I spent fishing. As someone who is not from rural Montana but was raised in what is the Canadian equivalent, I can say with conviction that fishing is one of the most common hobbies one can do to pass time in the middle of nowhere. That said, we didn’t have a massive doomsday cult terrorizing the local populace while we tried to catch rainbow trout.
Before I began my journey to catch the biggest fish possible I tangled with an entirely different kind of challenge. The start of my demo kicked off with a mission to retake a small town from Eden’s Gate, with the option to choose from one of three guns for hire to assist. These characters are unlockable and are switchable over the course of the game, each having their own unique abilities. Nick Rye is a pilot who will drop bombs over enemies using his plane, Grace Armstrong is a sniper, and Boomer is a dog who can scout out areas and fetch weapons and ammo for you if need be. My advice? Pick Boomer, because you can pet him while saying he’s a good boy to the TV.
If you’ve played any of the more recent Far Cry games you know the drill in retaking a town: shoot every enemy either in stealth or guns blazing, and hopefully no reinforcements will show up. The addition of allies made it feel a bit too easy for me as they can clearly handle themselves without much help, but aside from that the experience is identical to taking outposts in previous games.
THERE’S ALWAYS A BIGGER FISH
After killing the last of the cultists and listening to a satisfying guitar riff signalling that peace had returned to the quiet little town, I hopped in one of the most obnoxious semi-trucks I’ve ever seen and travelled the backroads of Montana to find a fishing hole. That truck had a lot of weight behind it, and certainly feels like the most powerful vehicle I’ve driven in any Far Cry game.
Fishing in Far Cry 5 is a simple affair that is pretty easy to pick up and learn. You can find fishing rods scattered around the world, usually near a pier or another fisherman, and when picked up will fill one of your inventory slots. After equipping it you merely have to throw out a line, wiggle it around to attract nearby fish, then carefully reel it in before it breaks, resisting the fish’s attempts to escape by moving the rod in the opposite direction when necessary. There’s also no bait system in place, meaning all that separates you from fishing glory is your own personal skill. The result was a very satisfying mini-game that made me want to stay and fish for as long as possible. As far as I’m aware this is the first time we’ve seen a peaceful activity in the Far Cry series, and it provides great contrast to the action and violence that is found in the rest of the game. It makes the world itself, fictional in both design and plot, feel more grounded.
One complaint regarding fishing however: the NPC I fished next to said the same three lines over and over again for minutes on end. More variety in the dialogue would be greatly appreciated in the final release.
FREE AS A BIRD
As interesting as it was, my demo did not end with me catching a 50 pound sturgeon. Instead I put away my fishing rod and travelled to a nearby airstrip where I was properly introduced to Nick Rye, the pilot who can serve as a gun for hire. After dealing with some cultists threatening his property, he asks you to pilot his plane to bomb some local grain silos that Eden’s Gate are using as storage facilities. While we’ve flown gyrocopters before, this is the first time Far Cry has introduced winged aircraft to the series.
Surprisingly, despite my doubts, it mostly worked. The controls are simple and there’s plenty of room for error as you push back off the runway and begin to fly towards your targets. You have access to three different weapons while flying - machine guns, rockets and bombs - and the plane can smoothly transition between a bombing view to a more traditional first-person perspective of the cockpit. At the end of the mission there was also a brief dogfight which was actually rather tense, as the perspective forced you to look behind to try and glimpse the enemy plane, but ultimately it was rather easy to win if you were patient. All in all, the inclusion of a plane livened things up, and provided another dose of the variety that the Far Cry series has been missing for some time. Though my time with Far Cry 5 was brief, I came away encouraged by the new gameplay mechanics and the direction that Ubisoft is taking with the series.
You’ll have the chance to explore Hope County and go fishing yourself when the game launches in February, 2018.