In March, the fifth entry to Ubisoft’s Far Cry series will arrive, dealing with themes that are eerily relevant to real-world America. Set in the modern day, Far Cry 5 will tell the story of Hope County, Montana, a fictional county that has been overtaken by a preacher named Joseph Seed. The preacher had once promised salvation from an ‘inevitable collapse’, but instead developed a doomsday cult, backed by military. Cut off from the outside world by fear and intimidation, the people of Hope County must rise up against Seed and his congregation Eden’s Gate to escape his violence and return to a normal life. And by ‘rise up’, of course, we mean rely on the player to single-handedly take down Seed’s entire organization in increasingly violent ways.
Far Cry 5 will take a different approach to more recent entries in the series, placing a more prominent focus on the outposts from previous games and less of a focus on objective markers and specific goals. The director Dan Hay claims he would like the game to become an ‘anecdote factory’, where two players might start at a similar point and head in the same direction, but come back to each other an hour later with different stories about what happened to them.
The emphasis on outpost design means we are likely to see a world in Far Cry 5 where players can approach the story and objectives from a variety of different angles. Far Cry has been moving in the direction of open-world adventure for some time — perhaps this is the game that will bring it closer to Fallout 4 and Breath of the Wild in terms of player freedom.
In addition to the shift in design, Hay and his team have also added a recruitment system, where players can recruit county locals to fight alongside them, plus they recalled a similar system from Far Cry Primal for recruiting wild animals. Far Cry 5 will also allow players to customise their player for the first time, marking a move away from the story-driven character leads of the previous games.
Whether intentional or not, Far Cry 5 is a somewhat fitting and potentially cathartic game for the current climate. It will be interesting to see if it can ‘make the series great’ again.
Breath of the Wild made Zelda great again, but the greatest Zelda game is actually in a completely different series – Okami.
For those who haven’t played it, a remastered version of Okami has just landed on the PlayStation 4. It tells the story of Amaterasu, an ancient Japanese wolf-spirit who must travel through a mythical Japan to explore, battle demons of folklore and generally kick arse.
One of the most interesting features of this huge, colourful and totally unique game is the ‘celestial brush’, which is used for puzzle solving and battles. When you are in a fight, you briefly send the game into bullet time and can ‘draw’ shapes with the controller. A ‘slash’ will do a special attack, drawing a round shape with a fuse with fire a bomb, and so forth. The celestial brush is also used to bring the world ‘back to life’ by drawing circles around trees and flowers to make them bloom.
Okami has one of the most vibrant, funny and musically brilliant worlds in gaming. The first 30 minutes are a slow slog of text and story, but the remaining 50 hours are some of gaming’s best.
Meanwhile, the first year of Nintendo’s Switch has been anything but a slog. The console has become the fastest selling of all time. In North America alone, the hardware sold 4.8m copies in its first ten months.
PlayStation 2 previously held the record. The reasons for the Switch’s success are obvious – it’s the first successful hybrid of a handheld and portable home console in an era of mobility, plus it was home to 2017’s best games in Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey. While Nintendo expect the console to sell 17m units by April, it still has a long way to go to catch the PlayStation 2 at a whopping 155m units.