Hands-on: Far Cry 5 on PC brings chaos, RGB, and an FOV slider
Far Cry 5 is coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One on March 27, and is set to be one of the biggest titles of the year, offering an action-packed open world, a compelling single-player narrative, and seamless co-op gameplay.
We recently had a chance to go hands-on with Far Cry 5 running on the PC at a preview event hosted by Ubisoft and Corsair. Our early impressions and gameplay video follow.
Serving a Warrant and Dutch's Island
For my demo session, I played Far Cry 5 starting at the very beginning of the game, and had a chance to witness the game's opening moments, in which the player (portraying a rookie sheriff's deputy) travels deep into the heart of Joseph Seed's cult compound, along with other police offers and a U.S. Marshal. Your task is to serve a warrant for the arrest of "The Father," but as soon as you see the looks on the faces of the heavily armed cult members surrounding you, it's clear it isn't going to be an easy task. The situation gets spooky in a hurry, and everything feels much scarier than what we normally see from Far Cry titles (and reminded me more than a little of Outlast 2, with the disturbing religious imagery and hostile backwoods enemies).
One thing that really stuck out to me about both the cultists and, later on in the game, the bystanders and active resistance members you recruit to your cause, was the racial diversity on display on both sides. Far Cry 5's initial reveal inspired controversy in some circles thanks to its villains being gun-toting American militia members. But the fact that both the cult and those fighting against them prominently feature African American and Asian faces might help undercut some of the more politically charged themes the game is skirting. In other words, this isn't a game in which a white nationalist gun cult is your enemy. It's a racially and culturally diverse gun cult.
The arrest of Joseph Seed doesn't go smoothly, and after a helicopter crash and a tense escape through dark woods, you find yourself in the company of a man named Dutch, who has hidden you from the cultists. Dutch wants to help you bring down the cult in the area, and you begin the real game on his fog-shrouded island, learning the basic mechanics. Far Cry 5 is a game about inspiring and organizing a resistance against the dominant cult forces, and you do that by (among other things) killing important cult figures, attacking cultist outposts, and saving hostages.
After successfully liberating Dutch's Island, the rest of Far Cry 5's world opens up to you: three large open world regions controlled by different members of Joseph Seed's twisted family, each with unique challenges and some distinct enemy types.
The remainder of my demo time was spent in the Whitetail Mountains region in the north of Far Cry 5's Montana wilderness. Among other things, this region is distinguished by the presence of specially trained and modified war wolves, known as Judges, which proved to be formidable foes even in the face of Cheeseburger, the bear companion I recruited immediately upon entering the region (see the video above for more on that).
What stood out to me most, after spending a few hours with Far Cry 5, was the rather strange contrast between quiet moments and those that were very big, loud, and chaotic. Part of the mission path to recruit Cheeseburger, for example, involves peacefully fishing for a salmon. Before and after that fishing, however, you'll be fighting for your life with guns, explosives, throwing knives, and vehicles. Hypothetically, of course, I could have approached the big action set pieces with more of a stealthy approach, but this is the kind of open world action game where things always seem ready to snowball quickly, and it's very easy to be drawn into a big, messy conflict.
At times the game felt much closer to something like Grand Theft Auto 5 than I would have expected given the backwoods setting, with car-to-car battles, enemy helicopters flying overhead, and boat-mounted weapons. It all got to be a bit much, at times, and often felt a bit too messy and unpolished for its own good, but there's still a month of tweaking left to go before the game actually releases.
The world of Far Cry 5 feels packed with different things to do and different ways in which to do it. The demo station on which I was playing came complete with six separate pages of control instructions, covering all manner of different vehicles. To the game's credit, I found it easy to fly and safely land a seaplane without looking at those instructions, and the inclusion of an "autodrive" feature for land vehicles (which gently magnetizes your vehicle to a road or path, but still requires your active control and acceleration) helps a lot when the action picks up.
Two location types on Far Cry 5's map were particularly interesting to me: shrines and prepper stashes. Shrines are dotted all over the map, and seem to be locations where some kind of hallucinogenic drug is being processed. Destroying these locations strikes a blow against the cult and bolsters your resistance in the region, but getting too close to the active refinery causes blurred vision and other distortion effects, as your character reacts to the effects of the green, drug-filled mist.
Prepper stashes are locations that offer significant rewards in the form of weapons, items, or money, but look to be locked behind puzzles or to require specific items or tactics to access. I wasn't able to figure out how to unlock any of the stashes I came across during my brief demo, but it's likely these prizes will attract a lot of attention from completionists.
Far Cry 5's PC version will include a number of features designed to appeal to the legions of PC-first gamers who are tired of seeing their platform suffering under clumsy console ports.
FOV, Optional FPS Lock, and Resolution scaling
The PC is the most flexible and diverse gaming platform out there, and PC gamers love having options. Far Cry 5 on PC will let players customize their field of view, lock the game's frame rate, and change the resolution at which the game renders. If you don't know why these particular options might be important, you really don't need to worry about them, but for die-hard PC game optimizers, having these choices built right in at launch for a AAA title is a good sign Ubisoft is taking the game's PC version seriously.
Weapon grid replaces weapon wheel (if you want)
For those playing with a controller, a quick select wheel is a popular method to switch between weapons or items on the fly, without diving into menus. That's all well and good on consoles, and at this point many keyboard and mouse gamers have probably grown used to the feature as well, but Far Cry 5 will offer players the option to use a larger and more in-depth grid, rather than a simplistic wheel. The functionality is largely the same, but the grid takes advantage of the power of the keyboard and mouse interface to provide players with more on-the-fly options.
In practice I very quickly appreciated the depth and power of the quick select grid, but the two players sitting next to me during the demo struggled with it, and asked for it to be switched to the expected "wheel" feature. So your mileage may vary here, but it's entirely optional regardless, which is always nice.
Full multi-monitor and multi-GPU support
These features should be expected in a AAA title, but sadly the execution often leaves something to be desired. We'll have to wait for release to see how Far Cry 5 performs in the wild on all those three-monitor setups out there making use of AMD CrossFire or NVIDIA SLI configurations.
Benchmark feature, 60 FPS configuration
Far Cry 5 on PC will come with a benchmark feature to give you a sense of how your system stacks up against the game's hardware requirements. Ubisoft also tells players they can expect 60 FPS using the game's recommended configuration, which is as follows:
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-4770 @ 3.4 GHz or AMD Ryzen 5 1600 @ 3.2 GHz or equivalent
VIDEO CARD: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD R9 290X (4GB VRAM with Shader Model 5.0 or better)
SYSTEM RAM: 8GB
Video Preset: High
AMD FreeSync and HDR support
AMD is Ubisoft's official partner on Far Cry 5, and as such the game will take advantage of AMD's most advanced game-enhancing features. Far Cry 5 should be able to benefit both from regular FreeSync and the more cutting-edge FreeSync 2, which allows for smooth HDR gaming with compatible hardware and monitors.
Corsair RGB integration
Last but not least, Ubisoft has partnered with the RGB lighting wizards at Corsair to extend the Far Cry 5 game experience beyond the monitor. As part of an update to Corsair's RGB software for the company's components, cases, and peripherals which will go live before the game's release, all of Corsair's RGB-enabled gear will respond to the action on screen by changing colors and brightness levels. Supposedly, players with compatible Corsair hardware won't need to do much—if any—tweaking in order to get the lighting sync to work. Just start playing Far Cry 5 on PC, and the updated Corsair software will take care of the rest.
I've tried a number of different RGB lighting game integrations before, and found the Far Cry 5/Corsair collaboration to be the flashiest and best-looking yet. It isn't trying to be functional, it's just focused on looking cool, and it goes far beyond what you might be expecting, in terms of aesthetics. In an early sequence in the game, when the player's avatar is slipping in and out of consciousness, all of the lights on the keyboard, mouse, and throughout the PC itself fade from black to white, in perfect sync with the blackouts on screen. Later on, when you accomplish objectives, full red, white, and blue firework effects burst across all of the hardware in celebration.
Even if you just have a single RGB Corsair keyboard you'll see the effects of the game integration, but for anyone lucky enough to have a fully decked out Corsair system, you'll be in for a nice bit of added value when playing Far Cry 5.
For more on Corsair's RGB ecosystem, check out their appearance on a recent episode of Newegg Now.
Visit our Far Cry 5 page for more coverage of the game.