Gaming

Far Cry 5 review: Immersive playground in the heart of cultist America

Featuring a lovely weekend with the Seed Family

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Since Grand Theft Auto III’s explosive arrival more than a decade ago, open-world games established themselves as part and parcel of the video game industry. For years, game developers have tried to replicate and improve on Rockstar Games’ formula.

Following Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft pioneered a more inventive take on the open-world system — an expansive map driven by waypoints. However, after years of sequels, their unique formula has grown tired and weary.


That is, until Far Cry 5 came along.

Reinventing the wheel

Only behind Assassin’s Creed, the Far Cry series enjoys its spot as one of Ubisoft’s most trusted properties. Besides the five main games, the franchise already has a plethora of spin-offs, expansions, and downloadable content.

At its heart, the Far Cry series is a Rambo simulator that drops you into an exotic location to fight off a militant force. From the start, you face a completely red map that you slowly carve to your favor. You do this by completing missions, liberating outposts, and unlocking the map. Throughout the game, you are pestered by the game’s — sometimes psychotic, sometimes manipulative — villains.

Far Cry 5 keeps the essentials but infuses a breath of fresh air into the tired formula. The game isn’t just a minefield of spoon-fed objectives anymore. Now, it’s a fully immersive map that you tackle in your own way.

Absolute freedom

In Far Cry 5, you, a sheriff’s deputy, are dropped into the hostile Hope County in Montana. A doomsday cult has taken roots in the county, coercing innocent people through torture and mind control. Your job is simple: rescue the populace and kill the cult’s leader, Joseph Seed.

Unlike previous Far Cry games, the fifth entry presents a completely explorable map right off the bat. In Far Cry 5, you decide which region you want to liberate first. It doesn’t lock out anything.

Also, the game doesn’t immediately reveal which points on the map have things for you to do. It’s a blank map that you explore by yourself. You unlock waypoints by either encountering them physically, reading about them in notes, or talking to NPCs in the surrounding area. The map isn’t a tedious checklist; it’s an experience you craft.

Additionally, Far Cry 5 doesn’t hide its skills or weapons behind grinding progression trees. Just from the first region, you can unlock all perks and weapons — if you have enough money or points, that is. Regardless, Far Cry 5’s skills costs are fair. A few hours into my playthrough, I already carried a .50 caliber sniper rifle, a shotgun, and a whole load of explosives.

Friends are forever

Another refreshing addition to Far Cry 5’s mechanics is the offline co-op.

A few years ago, Assassin’s Creed Unity had the not-so-brilliant idea of locking some of its content behind a co-op requirement, meaning you couldn’t play some missions unless you had a friend with you. If you didn’t have a friend with the game, the console, and a good internet connection, you were out of luck.

Far Cry 5 finally solves the riddle of co-op by introducing a host of NPCs that you can bring along on missions. Ubisoft has realized that even just a digital dog is enough to lift the monotony of killing tons of cultists. Throughout the game, you unlock and recruit new characters by rescuing them or doing missions for them.

Thankfully, Far Cry 5’s Guns for Hire aren’t cardboard cutouts. They have their own stories, characters, and abilities. Because of their diversity, their effectiveness depends on your own preferred play styles.

Do you prefer the stealthy approach? The huntress Jess Black wields a silent, deadly bow for your covert operations. Are you more of a demolitions guy? Hurk Drubman, Jr. touts a meaty grenade launcher that can cut down a helicopter in a few shots.

Besides this gaggle of oddities, Far Cry 5 also has a trio of strangely adorable furry friends (or Fangs for Hire) you can take with you. Boomer is a cute, scouting dog. Peaches is a ruthless mountain lion assassin. Cheeseburger is a towering bear. (Yes, you can pet them all.)

Joseph who?

Far Cry 5 features one of the most enjoyable first-person experiences this year. Until it drags you back into its story.

To liberate a region, you fill a meter of influence. Every third of the way through, the region’s lieutenant (or boss) issues a search warrant for you. Immediately, every enemy gets one-hit-kill ammo. One hit, you’re out. When you wake up, the lieutenant confronts you in his/her headquarters which you eventually escape from through stealth or gunfire.

These required story missions are still par for the course. However, while they do offer enjoyable gameplay, they are a massive pain. Their inevitability takes away from your pristine immersion into the game. Even if you’re busy liberating an outpost, once you hit that point in the game, you’re yanked mercilessly into one of the story missions.

Regardless, every lieutenant offers a unique flavor to their region. John Seed is a merciless evangelical who prefers torture to bend his adherents into shape. Faith Seed uses an airborne hallucinogenic to control her soldiers. Jacob Seed trains canines into dangerous killing machines.

Despite how charismatic they are, there’s not much to care about in Far Cry 5. The big baddie, Joseph Seed, offers nothing but a backdrop with which his lieutenants operate. Ubisoft tried to market a commentary on today’s political climate in the US. However, all they managed was a version of WWE’s The Wyatt Family.

Much of the story’s lack of empathy derives from the game’s curse of a nameless protagonist. Far Cry 3 had Jason, the fish out of water. Far Cry 4 had the recruited Ajay Ghale. Sadly, Far Cry 5 lacked that character anchor to hook gamers into its story. In fact, characters simply call you “Rook” or “Deputy.” You, as an in-game character, don’t have a story.

You never really care about any of the game’s more important characters including yourself. You engage in rescue missions for people whom you’ve never built any rapport with prior. Far Cry 5 just isn’t a convincing story.

Then again, Far Cry 5 harmonizes to the music of nature or of gunshots, but not to the Seed Family’s evangelization. The game shines brighter when you’re free to traverse the picturesque landscapes of Hope County. It’s still an all-around enjoyable game.

Gaming

We’ve been calling PlayStation’s X button wrong all this time

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Regardless of which gaming console you have, the X button unites us all. Every console available today — the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch — has some form of the same button. That said, what do you call it? Both the Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch use other letters — Y, A, and B — for their other buttons. Naturally, majority vote calls for pronouncing it as the “ex” button.

However, Sony doesn’t use the same letter scheme. Instead of letters, the PlayStation’s DualShock controller uses shapes: Triangle, Circle, Square… and X? Do we still call it the “ex” button? According to the official PlayStation Twitter accounts, absolutely not.


In a now-infamous series of tweets, Sony has laid down the verdict in an argument we’ve probably never even thought about. Apparently, PlayStation users should pronounce each button according to their respective shapes. According to that logic, the X button should be called the Cross button.

As you might expect, the revelation didn’t go well with the gaming community. Twitter users have outrageously and creatively expressed their dismay.

In response to the outrage, the PlayStation account posted a three-option poll asking what gamers call the controversial button. The more traditional X button won by a landslide: 81 percent. Meanwhile, a joke answer — “+ rotated 45°” — got 11 percent of the votes. The “correct” answer — “Cross” — got only 8 percent.

That didn’t stop the memes. Twitter user @TheDrencom posted a more hilarious compromise. PlayStation even retweeted and allowed the weird alternative. Should we call it the “no pizza” button?

The Cross button’s supporters also had a few things to say in their defense. Based on the actual geometry of the icon, it’s more accurate to say “Cross,” rather than X.

Of course, Sony owns the PlayStation. They can call it whatever they want. Still, the console already has a massive following calling it by a more ubiquitous name. Are you going to call it the Cross button now?

SEE ALSO: Sony PlayStation 5: Everything we know so far

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Gaming

Apple Arcade aims to make your iPhone a gaming phone

100+ exclusive gaming titles

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Apple is known for its hardware lineup, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. The iPhone accounts for a huge chunk of the company’s revenue and has been the sole product to propel the brand towards a trillion-dollar valuation.

But with changing times, it’s essential for every business to slowly evolve. And, we’re witnessing this change with technology companies around the world. Instead of relying on first-hand hardware sales, brands are now monetizing virtual data.


Arcade, which was demonstrated during the unveiling of Apple’s latest iPhones on Tuesday, is an attempt to turn the mobile gaming industry on its head and add an extensive new revenue stream to the company’s books.

It boasts over 100 unique titles, including Beyond a Steel Sky, a sequel to the classic adventure game Beneath a Steel Sky, with art by Watchman comic book legend Neil Gibbons.

Apple said games will be exclusive to Arcade and not available on other services. The subscription service will be available across Apple devices, and Arcade will work with Microsoft Xbox One S and PlayStation DualShock 4 controllers, which should make for more varied gameplay.

The gaming subscription service will release on September 19 and costs just $4.99 / £4.99 / INR 99 a month. This is automatically a Family Sharing plan, allowing for up to six family members to share the same subscription for just one monthly fee.

For iOS devices, Apple Arcade will arrive Sept. 19 with iOS 13. Apple Arcade will be available Sept. 30 on iPadOS and TVOS 13 devices and in October on MacOS Catalina.

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Gaming

From Jedi to Avenger, Lenovo announces AR game Marvel: Dimension of Heroes

Your turn to save the world

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dLenovo made us live our Jedi dreams in 2017, now they want us to be an Avenger. Announced at IFA 2019 is the company’s follow-up to fan favorite AR game Star Wars: Jedi Challenges — they’re taking us to another universe with Marvel: Dimension of Heroes.

The hardware you’ll need

Much like Jedi Challenges, you’ll need nearly the same hardware to make Dimension of Heroes work. There’s the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, the Tracking Beacon, and instead of a Light Saber replica, you get a pair of Universal Controllers.


Of course you’ll also need a compatible smartphone to run the game. Basic requirements are as follows: Has to be larger than 4.3 inches to align with phone tray display cutout. For iOS devices, it has to have at least a 1.4 GHz Dual Core chip along with 1GB RAM. For Android phones, it needs at least a 2.0 GHz Quad Core chip with 2GB RAM. You can check the full list of compatible devices at lenovo.com/miragear.

Play as your favorite Marvel Superhero

There aren’t a lot of details available as to how the game will play out. The only clue so far is that you have to “defend your reality” as any of the six superheroes headlining the game. The six are original Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Avengers Captain America and Thor, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Fans of the MCU should easily recognize the mentioned superheroes as they prominently feature in the last two Avengers films — Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

In early 2018, I had the chance to speak with some Lenovo Executives and they did mention working on a Marvel AR game. More popular characters like Iron Man and Spider-Man were mentioned but they’re noticeably missing in this lineup.

While Spider-Man’s future in the MCU is looking bleak, I personally am still hoping we get an AR game featuring the wall-crawler.

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