The GamesBeat crew is in Los Angeles for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, one of the biggest events on the video game calendar. Between getting stuck in traffic on the 101 and doing a wheat-grass cleanse with the other celebrities, we’ve put our hands on a few video games. One of the first we tried was Ubisoft’s latest entry in the Far Cry series, and now we want to share our thoughts with you.

Far Cry 5 is an open-world adventure that has you fighting a violent religious cult in the foothills of Montana. It is due out in 2018, but the publisher had a playable section prepared for us to demo at a private event outside of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Nearly everyone at GamesBeat got a chance to try it, so we’re going to talk about the game and share our impressions with you.

Jeffrey Grubb, GamesBeat PC gaming editor

Yo, this is more Far Cry. I think that Ubisoft knew it had a formula that was working but that it also needed something different. The company figured it could probably do something exciting with setting a lot easier than shaking up the gameplay loop. And that’s exactly what I just played.

The Montana setting is thrilling for me as an American. I recognize the place. I’ve gone camping and hiking in parts of the country that look just like it. In the demo that we all played, your first mission is to liberate a small, one-stoplight town called Fall’s End. That’s something the other Far Cry games have all had, but the effect of getting in a gun fight in spaces that feel familiar to me — with its Spread Eagle dive bar and the 100-year-old evangelical church — gave those fights a different context and more personal connotations than I’m used to.

It reminds me of levels from games like Homefront or that one Call of Duty that had you fighting through American suburbs, but in an open-world setting and in a game that will take place entirely in this environment.

At the same time, I’m not sure the cult fully convinced me. I’ll get into that in a bit, but I wanted to hear from the rest of you about your initial thoughts?

Dean Takahashi, lead writer for GamesBeat

I enjoyed trying to master the different ways to take over Falls End with my companions. At first, they were too good. I sent Grace up the ladder of a water tower and ordered her to shoot cultists from there. Then I managed to sneak to the edge of a hill and start firing. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I could change my weapon, so I fired with my inaccurate pistol. But no matter. Grace took out everyone, and I didn’t have to do much at all.

This showed how difficult it is to balance the power of the companions, known as Guns For Hire, in Far Cry 5. After Grace made it easy, I made my way over to Nick Rye’s place, helped him dispatch more cultists, and then went up in his plane. And that’s where I had some real trouble with the controls. Flying wasn’t easy, and I had trouble in my aerial dogfight. Someone told me to slow down the plane later, and that really helped.

On the second playthrough, I took Nick Rye as my companion. I had fun using him to bomb the cultists, and he took out about a half-dozen at a time. In no time, Nick had helped me clear out the town. Lastly, I used Boomer, the dog. He was a stealth dog, but only on his first kill. After that, the cultists were alerted, and I had to just shoot them all. I got into a fierce firefight. And that turned into a lot of fun.

My general observations: I hope Ubisoft speeds up the game. It looks beautiful, but it ran a little slow. They have a long time until the launch in February 27, 2018. But still, I want this game to play faster. I also want the companion recruiting to be a little more difficult. How do I know if the friend I am recruiting is for real, or might be a spy instead? I hope Ubisoft throws some interesting plot twists into the process of recruiting Guns For Hire.

Mike Minotti, GamesBeat community manager

The heck with all those fancy missions. The first thing I did was go fishing.

The hunting aspect of Far Cry has always been my favorite thing about the series. It’s fun to get lost in the woods and track animals. But this is the first time I’ve seen actual fishing in Far Cry. Now, the fishing minigame is almost a cliché these days (tons of games, like Final Fantasy XV to Nier: Automata, have one), but there was something extra relaxing about casting my line in a beautiful Montana stream.

Also, an Ubisoft PR guy told me I caught the biggest fish so far. So, yeah. I’m pretty cool.

After that, I decided to run towards that town, but I was cutting through a farm fill with cows out to pasture. I was also equipped with a baseball bat. To GamesBeat reporter Stephanie Chan’s horror, I decided to see if I could terminate the bovines with this gloriously American melee weapon. I could. I then confirmed that bullets also excel at killing cows.

So, even in my short playthrough, I was able to find way to have my own fun in Far Cry 5. And that’s great, because I usually find the main stories and campaigns to be on the forgettable side in these games. Maybe Far Cry 5 will stand out more with its cult-based tale, but at least I know I can always go fishing or cow-batting if I get bored.

Jeff

Yeah. I will say that watching you fish, Mike, was one of my favorite things. But that, fighting off animals, getting in gunfights — all of that reminded me the previous Far Cry games. I think that this game isn’t going to try to introduce too many new “verbs.” So I think that Dean’s right that it will have to rely on a twisting narrative to keep players excited.

But like I said, I think the cult seems inauthentic. The simple reason for that is because a lot of the footsoldiers I was killing were people-of-color. I get that Ubisoft doesn’t want to make this a game exclusively about killing white people, but I will never believe in a thousand year that a black American would join a weird Mountain West religious militia in the rural parts of Montana. Maybe the game will justify that in another way or those character models were just placeholder for this demo.

I’m still interested in Far Cry 5, but I want to see Ubisoft commit to this premises and maybe show off some new mechanics before I’ll consider myself fully won over.

Stephanie Chan, general assignment reporter for GamesBeat

It’s true, I was horrified when Mike killed those poor innocent cows. But then I ran over my dog Boomer with a truck, so ultimately, I became the worst villain. It was an accident! An Ubisoft PR guy told me that the dog respawns, though, so that makes it okay, right? All Dogs Go to Heaven or Respawn, right? Right?!

I haven’t played any of the other games in the Far Cry series, but this one was pretty fun. Even though I had no idea what I was doing, I had some free-wheeling adventures. I blew up a lot of stuff. I talked to some NPCs. You know, the usual video game type stuff.

I’d be interested to see how they weave a coherent story around all the individual missions and locations in the final game. Unless that’s not what Far Cry games are about and the missions are just an excuse to go fishing and stuff. That’s okay, too. I just want to see my dog respawn.

I’ll wait for you forever, Boomer. You are the best boy.

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