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

TNC Predator, Afreeca Freecs Fatal win Predator League APAC 2019

For Dota 2 and PUBG, respectively

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After three long days of battle in Bangkok, Thailand from February 15 to 17, two champions have emerged from the two featured games of the Predator League in Asia Pacific 2019.

For Dota 2, it’s TNC Predator from the Philippines; and for PUBG, the champ is none other than Afreeca Freecs Fatal from South Korea.

Their winnings come from a prize pool worth US$ 250,000. Each champion receives US$ 75,000 for their efforts, while the runners-up split the remaining pot.

The grand event concluded after over 3,500 competing teams from 16 countries were eventually reduced to only 26 groups in Bangkok for the finals.

This was the Predator League’s second event in the APAC region. In 2018, it was held in Indonesia. Next year’s event will take place in the Philippines.

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Gaming

Nintendo reveals upcoming games for the Switch

Featuring some old favorites!

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Throughout the year, the world’s biggest tech companies host the most lavish events to promote new launches and announcements. Most of the time, these massive events have redefined their respective industries. Alternatively, some companies rely on subtler means for their launches. Regardless, the industry-defining effects remain the same.

Nintendo typifies this strategy to perfection, boasting their chops through online-only Nintendo Direct events. Today, in the first Nintendo Direct of the year, the company unveiled its slew of strong contenders going into 2019. Here’s a taste of Nintendo’s upcoming heavy-hitters:

Super Mario Maker 2

In 2015, Nintendo released its most revolutionary retooling of the Mario formula — Super Mario Maker. Exclusive to the 3DS and the Wii U, the highly customizable Mario game was a beloved hit. This June, Nintendo finally releases a follow-up featuring new tools, elements, and a lot more playability on the Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

By no means a new game, Link’s Awakening brings the Game Boy classic to the Switch. This time, Nintendo has remastered the game in a top-down, 3D engine. Further, the remastered game features similar side-scrolling segments from the old game.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

The current Marvel fever has also infected the gaming world. The Black Order brings a four-player co-op brawler experience to the Switch. Featuring a wide array of characters from the universe, the game features an original story, pitting your favorite heroes against Thanos and the Black Order.

Tetris 99

Out today, Tetris 99 is the most shocking iteration of the time-honored series. Why? It’s a battle royale. The free online block-building game pits you against 98 other players in a race to become the last man standing.

Besides these four, Nintendo will also launch a flurry of updates and ports. In the coming months, the company will release substantial updates to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. It will also launch Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

SEE ALSO: Pokémon: Let’s Go gets its own Nintendo Switch bundles

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Apps

EA is looking into making a mobile version of Apex Legends

To battle with Fortnite

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Image credit: EA

EA‘s battle royale game is a certified hit. Apex Legends, which was developed by Titanfall makers Respawn, has no fewer than 25 million registered players in just one week. The game is playable for free on multiple platforms (PC, PS4, and Xbox One), but why not make it available on mobile as well?

Early reports don’t indicate mobile plans for the game, although during the Electronic Arts Q3 2019 earnings call, EA Games CEO said that they are looking into bringing Apex Legends to mobile devices.

Fortnite‘s userbase ballooned when it became available on Android and iOS, so it’s a no brainer than EA also wants mobile gamers to join the fun.

“We are looking at how to take the game to mobile and cross-play over time, and I also expect that this game will have tremendous value in Asia, and we’re in conversations about that,” EA Games CEO Andrew Wilson said during the conference call.

There’s no definite timeline for the release of Apex Legends on mobile, but it’s certainly on the drawing board. For now, EA plans to introduce direct purchase options for players to buy items and new legends or heroes. They will also offer the so-called Apex Packs or simply loot boxes for more random items.

Apex Legends is not a pay-to-win game, so these items are purely cosmetic and can be used to customize your hero’s looks in the game.

SEE ALSO: Apex Legends hits 25 million players after one week

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