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The best way to play Far Cry 5 involves a very, very good dog

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Get ready for Beast Master Mode

A dog runs a gun back to the player Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft

The entire world of Far Cry 5 is open to you from the start, allowing you to tackle the game however you see fit. Having played most of the adventure already, I have a piece of advice on the best way to play — a single tip I would have greatly appreciated in hindsight.

The first thing you’ll want to do is unlock all three animal companions (the locations of each one can be found on the roster menu) and then spend perk points on the ability to travel with a second hired gun. You’re now ready to play the game in what I call Beast Master Mode.

I personally like to keep Peaches the cougar and Boomer the dog with me at all times, but Cheeseburger the bear is a valid choice. If you are attempting to liberate a base with stealth, they’ll skulk about, but once the fertilizer hits the fan, they’ll go into full-on attack. And if you’re ever attacked by another animal in the wild, they’ll go toe-to-toe on your behalf. They are all my beautiful children, and every time an enemy hurts one of them I begin to understand John Wick a little bit more.

The other folks around Hope County will talk about your animals as you help them with various chores. Keeping two furry companions with you at all times just makes everything much more friendly ... even if they’re ripping the throats of your enemies.

During one mission I had to burn down what amounts to Far Cry 5’s version of poppy fields but my cougar kept running into it to frolic and, I suppose, trip balls. It was the most adorable annoyance I’ve seen in an open-world game in recent memory.

I confess I’ve irresponsible with my shotgun on occasion, causing a red barrel to blow up when my furry friends were a bit too close. I have been able to revive them, and I can’t apologize enough. I feel burning guilt whenever anything bad happens to either of my charges. They are very good beast kids.

Your animal buddies will also run over and lick and nuzzle you back to life if you need to be revived. They are your friends forever.

There are other human guns for hire that give you air support or a watch your back with a sniper rifle, and I guess they’re OK, but you’ll never go back once you try Beast Master Mode. It makes the entire game more pleasant.

Plus you get to imagine, as you finish the game, a headlines saying “Deputy Sheriff ends [however long] standoff in Hope County with help from a dog and a bear.”