Far Cry 5 introduced itself to the gaming press nearly a month ago, and shortly thereafter to the rest of the world, through a series of moving monologues. After hands-on with the game here at E3, it feels like these characters are missing something.
The most jarring example came in my conversations with Nick Rye. The man I met in the video below, released on May 26, was a much more sophisticated character than the dude I met in-game last night.
The Nick Rye in this video is afraid, not just for himself but for his family. Deep down, he may even be afraid for his family’s legacy. At times he seems filled with doubt, and others with rage. At the core of his performance is a vulnerability that provoked an emotional response in me. As a player — as another human being — I wanted to rush to his aide, to fight by his side and to help him protect all that he holds dear.
The Nick Rye I met in-game last night, at a private Ubisoft hands-on event, isn’t nearly as nuanced. He’s a brash, cocky, disrespectful lout. His chief complaint is that his wife won’t let him go out and fight and he was happy that I could do the work for him. Later, when I chose him as a companion character, he whooped and hollered fearlessly, revelling in causing others pain.
I know that the demo I played, on a postage-stamp sized map in the middle of an anonymous chunk of Montana, is contrived. It’s a purpose-built demo for E3: not an entire amusement park but a single ride with all the corners carefully rounded off. But you would hope that, at the very least, Ubisoft would put its character’s best foot forward in the same way that it did in its series of moving videos.
I met all three last night — Nick Rye, Mary May and even Pastor Jerome. But while their handshakes were firm, their eyes were vacant.
The gameplay in Far Cry 5 feels fantastic. The guns were hefty, and the aiming felt just like the classics in the series. The terrain was beautiful, with rolling hills and long cool rivers. There were plenty of places to be stealthy. Moving over cover or sliding behind it felt natural and effective. Piloting the planes in the game was a surprise and a delight. The speed was just right, and being able to fly in one direction while turning my in-game head to look in another made dogfighting and ground attacks a pleasure.
My only hope is that these characters evolve as the game goes on. I hope that their stories unfold, much the same way that characters blossomed in Far Cry 2 over time. Because I want to fly with the Nick Rye that I met in May, not the loud, cavalier guy that I met last night.