The recent trailer for Far Cry 5’s reveal on the new setting, Hope County, Montana builds on a theme and narrative of a modern western – but that means Ubisoft is going to have to cut the ropes on some of its old tactics like hunting down animals to expand the number of grenades you can carry. This risk Ubisoft has taken has caught the attention of plenty of people on the internet, but knowing Ubisoft, they have a tough time letting go of old keepsakes.
Even in Far Cry Primal, there could have been the removal of the bait and switch tactics of taking over enemy forts, and instead have something more meaningful and story driven. As the player, we could have just had to destroy the fort or enemy village to protect our people and expand, but instead we were left with killing the same enemy types, but with spears instead of guns. Alas, Montana is not the Stone Age, nor is it the Pacific Islands or the African Savannah. Whether Ubisoft likes it or not, if they’re making this big of a play, they’ll need to alter their style to suit the story.
Montana is a vast place, with forests, hills, mountains, which gives plenty of land to traverse – but that leads to the question – who is the enemy here? Are we going to be caught in some cult or drug driven warfare on the beautiful but treacherous landscape of Montana? Or will it tie in another protagonist who needs to choose sides (yet again), to tell a story of betrayal?
There should be a place in Ubisoft’s creative team where they take a step back and look at what they must work with. The amount of western films that exist, both giving an adequate amount of reference to rethink combat, and exploration. There’s something to be said with films like No Country for Old Men, with that desperation and touch of humanity.
Of course, Far Cry is a video game, not a film, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t take some cues from other westerns, whether it’s an anti-hero, or a tale of one man against many. There’s a kicker to that -– in most western films, there might be the concept of many, but usually that involves a shootout in a town with a gang of outlaws, not a massive murderous tribe or drug ring.
Montana is a large state with a small population – this means Ubisoft really needs to pull in the reins on the story and make the action have more salt, quite literally. Getting shot should be of consequence and med kits shouldn’t be abundant. Remember Far Cry 2 and those constantly annoying shots you’d have to take because of malaria? There was desperation there – especially when your vision started to blur at the worst possible moment. It made combat hectic and your journey more realistic. There’s no reason to give the character in Montana malaria, but giving them something to strive for, something that’s tangible will make the game more grounded.
Making the main character more desperate, leaving them with less ammo and resources would force players to think on their feet. That doesn’t mean there can’t be a Molotov cocktail, or a well-placed grenade here or there, but making the player feel their surroundings, compounded with a sense of dread, whether this is their last stand, or they have run out of luck, Montana offers as much opportunity as its wilderness. Whether Ubisoft will take advantage of that will be telling in the months to come when they reveal more about the game.