Far Cry 5 Co-op hands-on: A drug-fuelled Redneck Wonderland
A series of cult hits.
Cultists are an odd bunch at the best of times, but I find the Project At Eden's Gate group to be particularly hard work. Their incessant need to kidnap local farmers and indoctrinate them against “liberal sinners” and The Man doesn't really bug me; it's their Hollywood-sized sign. You can see it out there, on the side of a mountain, in the middle of Hope County (read: Ubisoft's version of Montana). It just says: YES. I've no idea why.
That epic affirmative starts to bother me, like a splinter in my mind, once I begin this two-player co-op session with a mate of mine, Nathan. I'm sure the sign gets quantified in the campaign missions, but for now it's just an enigmatic eyesore. Are they buying their letters on an instalment plan, I wonder aloud, with the intention of one day spelling out yeshiva? “Probably not,” Nate responds, “given the Christian leaning of their religious extremism.” He's spot on, of course, but I still find myself wondering at the bone-headed stupidity of this thing, as a I do my very best to wingsuit through the letter 'E', without a helmet on, at 160km/h.
Pondering YES is about as close as I come to having a rational thought during my time in the world of Far Cry 5. The rest of my co-op demo is free-wheeling chaos. Weaponised idiocy (literally, there are gun stores everywhere). It's the exact same approach taken by my compatriot, Nate. The only thing currently on his mind is a two-parter question: how much will he need to lead his throw in order to nail me with a molotov cocktail as I pass him by overhead? And, more importantly, will a successful hit turn me into a human comet?
That'll have to remain a mystery, folks. He misses his shot. But I don't miss the sign. It's the first hilarious shenanigan of many.
One quick respawn later and we're both down in the valley, doing what two red-blooded Aussies excel at: being dangerous idiots in a ute. He's at the wheel, doing his level best to plough through the fleshier sections of any cultist roadblock we find (while throwing beer cans at the survivors through his broken windshield). I'm rattling about loose in the tray with an AR-C assault rifle, garishly painted to be the most 'Murican thing ever. When my canine companion, a blue heeler named Boomer, runs off to catch the final retreating hillbilly, I spray his pick-up truck until it explodes. A black bear wanders in, presumably to partake of some well-done cultist grits, only to catch himself alight also. Bawling, Yogi goes sprinting off into a nearby cornfield which goes up in flames, too. It's madness. A symphony of complex systems interacting in wonderfully emergent ways. I'm hooked.
You'll be happy to hear that the entire game can be played in co-op, and I definitely recommend you plan to approach Far Cry 5 this way. As per the usual Far Cry formula, the Hope County cultists are big on heavily-armed outposts that control large regions of land. If observation and prep-work isn't your idea of fun, clearing them on your lonesome can be a pain thanks to alarms, caged wildlife that can indiscriminately slaughter everybody if set loose and random predators. The latter become worrying, third-party belligerents, like the aforementioned fire-bear or a wolverine that'll appear and want to latch onto your genitals for breakfast. (And that, dear reader, is an actual canned attack animation.)
What you really want is a dependable buddy who's covering your outpost infiltration by popping heads from up on the ridge with a .50 cal sniper rifle. That said, my partner-in-crime's idea of on-high support involved repeated bombing runs with his Cessna plane, before kamikazing it into a nondescript grain silo that he was sure was a high-value target.
His scorched-earth policy nearly got me killed a bunch of times, to be honest. It's hard to complain, though, because my idea of on-high support for him involved getting baked out of my head (thanks to a nearby poppy plantation) before offering him mortar support as my view was going technicolor and woozily shifting like I was at sea. Not ideal conditions for aiming danger-close ordnance, but hilarity ensued nonetheless.
Mind you, for all the fun I had, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention some technical issues. Before the co-op demoing started, I played a good hour-and-a-half of bug-free solo gaming (which you can check out in the video above). When my buddy dropped in, we started seeing a bunch of odd phenomenon, which I'll just loosely list here. There were instances of guns not readying up in his hand, or there were some weapons he could pick up which I inexplicably couldn't. He got locked in place once or twice over the course of half an hour, and this required a quit and reconnect solution. Minor things, really. And you're always going to see peccadilloes in preview code. But something to keep tabs on come review time.
Beyond those moments of weirdness, Far Cry 5 is shaping up to be buckets of fun. The gunplay is as solid as ever, Ubisoft Montreal has done its homework on cults and the unrest-in-America tale which was penned 3 years ago (in the pre-Trump times) is looking pretty damned prescient right about now. Forget about Advanced-Warfare this, and alternate-reality that: for the first time in gaming, we might be able to buy the ultimate companion experience for a bonafide, crap-has-hit-the-fan moment in American history. I, for one, can't wait. For the game, I mean. Not the End Times.
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