Far Cry 5 Done

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I still appear to be having screenshot issues.  Likely a reboot will take care of it, but right now thing seems to be saving an image in games…  so as a result you are going to get some recycled images with this mornings post.  Last night I finished Far Cry 5…  and I have words about it.  The game as a whole is still something I consider to be really awesome.  The story and the forced nature of it however is not awesome.  After playing through it… I have this feeling that whoever designed the narrative wanted it to be some shocking and moving work of art that would make us feel something.  However it is hard to actually feel things about an interactive narrative that you have no control over.  This is a game that told me a story, and made my character do things that I would not have done…  and the payoff is more shit happening that I was not invested in.  The shocking reveal didn’t feel that shocking when the game kept forcibly pushing our noses in it as we played along.

I think this is the challenge with telling a traditional story…  in an open world game.  The open world nature means that the majority of the time we have complete freedom over our actions and can do whatever the hell suits us.  However when the narrative path is one that would better suit an on rails corridor shooter…  there is a cognitive disconnect between the freedom you normally experience and the super linear nature of the cutscenes.  By contrast if you take something like a Skyrim or a Fallout…  you arrive at a conclusion that was driven by your actions and your interactions in the freeroam world and as a result even if that conclusion isn’t exactly what you expected it still feels like yours.  For a game that has put so much emphasis on building big open world games…  you would think that by now they were a bit better at telling stories in them.

I am still curious to see what happens in Far Cry New Dawn…  but I have also lowered my expectations significantly.

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There was more game to be played in Far Cry 5 with the DLC… but quite honestly I needed a break from that world for a bit.  Originally it was my intend to pop into God of War, but I was too lazy to go upstairs and figure out why PS4 Remote Play was not working.  As a result instead I poked my head into Assassin’s Creed…  which admittedly is yet another Ubisoft open world game.  This one feels considerably different however, and I never actually left Siwa in my initial playing of it.  I have this problem when a game gives me a big open world to explore…  yet tells me that I should leave it to move on with the story.  I want to go out and explore everything, and as a result I spent way the hell too long roaming around the desert tracking down question mark icons on the horizon.  I had this same problem with Dragon Age Inquisition and the Hinterlands.

Last night I moved the story ahead a bit and probably will be playing this for the next few nights to see if I can get re-engaged.  I like the gameplay a lot, which is shocking considering that I never really clicked with Assassin’s Creed before this game.  However considering the number of series Stalwarts that didn’t really like this title…  I am guessing maybe there is a reason?  This feels more like an action combat MMO-lite sort of feel, and I am largely on board with that.  The bow gameplay could be better, but it is passable and serves its purpose.  I know I have a ton of game play ahead of me as I have only managed to track down two of the targets I am after.  I am sorta feeling like when I kill those targets… it is going to give me a world two sort of thing and I realize that my revenge plot is only the beginning.

Another Seed Down

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This mornings post will probably have some minor plot point spoilers for Far Cry 5… so be warned.

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I am going to have a pretty short post this morning as I need to get into work earlier than normal… and I apparently did not have the foresight to pre-stage something last night.  I am finding myself still very much enthralled with Far Cry 5, and quite honestly this is a bit of a rare occasion with me.  I am not normally one of those players that has to finish something they have started.  My super power has for years been being able to wander away like a bored toddler from literally any game and pick up another shiny object in my field of view.  This is why I have not finished God of War for example, in spite of everything up to the moment I sat it down for a bit…  being a truly great experience.  Maybe 2019 will be the year that I actually start being games instead of just playing them for a really long time and never quite finishing them.

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At this point I have finished another chapter of the game, this one involving Faith Seed…  the “temptress” of the Seed family.  This played out so much differently than I was expecting based on the media I had ingested about this game.  I was sort of expecting her to seduce the player… and in some ways that is exactly what happened…  but not in the manner that games normally try and seduce players.  Instead of sexual gratification…  Faith trades in Bliss…  a drug induced state where everything is peaceful and joyous.  In this state of ecstasy you become the unwitting puppet for whatever she wills her followers called “Angels” to do.  The truth is… I thought the section of the game surrounding John Seed was disturbing…  but Faith cranked that sense of everything being fucked up and wrong to eleven.

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From there I have moved on to Jacob Seed…  the hunter that views that the only way to progress as a society is to constantly cull the weak.  While Faith was able to invoke a sense of Bliss…  Jacob seems to be able to pervert this into a sense of animistic rage.  So far however this appears to be the weakest of the chapters… because while I prefer playing games in Murder Hobo mode…  that doesn’t exactly make for a compelling character.  There are disturbing things about this chapter, but they seem to be largely centered around the stories that the survivors tell and not the actual actions you are having to go through.  You end up working a lot for a character that is essentially the living embodiment of Darryl from Walking Dead which is always cool.

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This chapter also seems to have my favorite companion…  Jess Black who looks like a jacked up Robin Hood.  I like her however because she stays the fuck out of the way…  as she focuses entirely on far ranged attacks with the bow.  Right now my party of choice is her and Boomer…  though as always Hurk is pretty entertaining and also arrives during this chapter.  For those who have played any other Far Cry games…  Hurk is a repeat character that links the worlds together.  He shows up in Far Cry 3 and 4…  and you find out he actually comes from Hope County as you meet his very cantankerous and very conservative nut of a father.

All in all I am still enjoying the hell out of this game, but the complaint made in the comments the other day still holds true…  the cut scenes that involve the various members of the Seed family always feel like they are interrupting the actual enjoyable part of the game.  The fun for me is running around and blowing stuff up.

Far Cry 5 Thoughts so Far

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Today is a bit of a struggle as it is the first day in a week that I am actually having to get up and around on a schedule.  Traditionally I take the full two weeks off surrounding Christmas and New Years, but this year since I am now the low manager in seniority…  I wound up having to work the weird and horrible partial week following Christmas.  However that meant I was going to take all of my time off for the holidays in the first week of the year.  I allowed myself to get way out of practice in the whole getting up at 5:30 in the morning thing…  most of those days I wound up rolling out of between somewhere closer to 7 or 8.  So as a result I am paying for it this morning.

Note I am going to be talking about Far Cry 5 this morning and there might be some minor spoilers.  Going to try and stay away from a lot of the specifics, but I have to say some things to explain the shape of the narrative.

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The Video Game Awards produced a shocking number of announcements that made me greatly interested in some of the games coming out.  One of those was Far Cry: New Dawn which is a post apocalyptic game set in the same setting as Far Cry 5.  This intrigued me greatly given that as far as I am aware…  the Far Cry series has never actually made a direct sequel to any of their games.  They’ve had several cases of the same game using the engine from the previous title…  aka Far Cry 3 and Far Cry Blood Dragon and Far Cry 4 and Far Cry Primal.  Far Cry 5 had been on the list of games that I wanted to play since I saw the initial trailers, but I never picked it up because I always had other things to play.  Over the break I caught a sale and wound up grabbing it and have been playing a silly amount of the game.  It’s weird that the thought of a sequel was what ultimately pushed me into gear to get going with playing it.

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The elevator pitch for Far Cry 5 is that it is set in Hope County Montana, and draws heavily on the history of various religious cults that we have had here in the United States.  The game centers around one such Cult that has a home base of operations in the Montana country side called Project Edens Gate.  Instead of worshiping the Bible, they worship something they call the Book of Joseph…  which was written by Joseph Seed the man the cultists refer to as The Father.  He has predicted a collapse of society, and when you are called upon to serve a warrant to arrest him on Kidnapping charges that signals the opening events of his prophecy.  You barely escape the compound and are now a hunted man…  as the Project Edens Gate…  or Peggies as the locals call them…  swarm out capturing everything in the Valley.

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You have the set up for a game that works pretty much like so many other games where you are the opposition to a larger force…  your job is now to destroy the foothold the cult has on the area and save as many locals as you can in the process.  The game is divided up into a bunch of sections, as each one of the “children” of Joseph Seed act as lieutenants over a different region of the valley.  I wound up going after John Seed, in part because it felt like the game was directing me there… and the person he was holding was the one I was most interested in saving.  As you take actions against the regional “boss” you raise a resistance meter, and every third of that bar there is a stopping point that triggers a specific event that plays out.  By the time I reached the conclusion of this “zone” of the game I had successfully worked up quite the hatred for John Seed, and wanted to see him die.

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Which admittedly plays in really nicely to the narrative of the game.  My sin is that of Wrath, and as you tear through wave after wave of brain washed cultists…  you start to think about that specifically.  I love killing baddies in games, but in truth…  I am the embodiment of Wrath each time that occurs.  The final fight unfortunately is one of the most frustrating I have ever encountered in a game, largely because it centers around a dog fight.  While I enjoy flying planes in Far Cry 5…  the controls themselves do not lend themselves to aerial combat.  There are a couple of options here…  you can hire one of the townsfolk to be your wing man and let them get the killing shot.  If you are far enough in the game you can buy a heat seeking rocket launcher and take him out that way…  or you can go the route I did and purchase the attack helicopter which is way the hell more maneuverable in the air for fighting.  Thankfully at that point in the game I had a lot of cash and had unlocked the Helicopter shop.

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The best part about the game however is that you get to run around…  if you choose…  with Boomer that dog.  He is so much better than any of the human options when it comes to your partners…  because firstly he alerts you to any trouble that might be ahead.  Secondly he retrieves stuff from the bodies that you kill along the way, meaning that other than cash you don’t have to be quite so concerned about making sure you loot every single body that drops.  You are going to be killing a lot of people in this game and as a result producing copious amounts of bodies that you have to painstakingly loot.  The dog short cuts a lot of that, and unlike some of the other companions he rarely gets in the way of what you are actually trying to accomplish.  The game has a photo mode and I used it in the above shot to focus in on the good boy that I am regularly running around with.

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I think the most interesting thing about the game so far is how familiar it feels to me.  I grew up in very humble and very rural roots.  I came from a town of 2000 and graduated in a class of 60…  while that was Oklahoma and this is Montana…  there is a shocking bit of detail that stays exactly the same no matter what rural environment you are traversing.  The people remind me so much of people that I knew growing up, so I have to give massive credit to Ubisoft for getting that feel completely dead on.  Even the cultist thing feels a little familiar as we had a local Want-To-Be-Megachurch Preacher that paid kids to attend church service in the form of scholarships.  The amount you got was a formula based upon how many services you attended and how many other kids you recruited to the fold.  So sure it wasn’t a dooms day cult, but it felt no less creepy.  Essentially I relate to this game and setting way more than I ever have in the Far Cry settings, and I am looking forward to getting home tonight and starting another area.

Great game so far, but unfortunately given the release window for Anthem of February 22nd…  I doubt I will be playing New Dawn the sequel when it releases on February 15th.  Tomorrow I am probably going to talk some about the games that are coming out in 2019 that I am looking forward to… but if you want a preview we talked about it at length during the podcast this weekend.