Pacing yourself in open world games (Far Cry 5)

I tuned into one of these “Show of the Week” features that gaming YouTube channels like to do, and one of the hosts was talking about Far Cry 5. He wasn’t finding it very fun. He said he felt like he had a good handle on the game as he’d been playing for 5 or 6 hours and had cleared the first area.

I’ve been playing Far Cry 5 as well, and I’m having a lot of fun. I have also cleared the first area. The difference is, I’ve put 25 hours into the game so far. Clearly this YouTuber and I approach the game in very different ways, which got me thinking.

When I play an open world game, I just kind of let events sweep me along. I tend to avoid shortcuts like fast travel and so as often as not when I’m heading from point A to point B to do a quest, I’ll get distracted four or five times along the way. To me, that’s where the fun in these games lies. This is probably also why I’m not too fussed about if the story is any good. I know the micro-stories that come with side missions have made me laugh out loud at times, and moved me at others. But the ‘big story’ is almost incidental to me.

Other times I’ll jump in a car to go somewhere and a good song will be playing on the car’s radio so I’ll just joyride around for a while, listening to the music and watching the world whiz by.

I’m not claiming to be playing these games the “right” way and accusing this YouTuber of playing them wrong. I’m just playing them my way. I almost always ‘roleplay’ to some extent when I’m gaming. I just like to imagine I’m in some real world as much as possible.

So while I was pondering all this, my mind went back to my MMO days. I remember having heated discussions about fast travel in MMOs. I was against it, most people were for it. Most people felt like fast travel was a real convenience and not having it was disrespectful of a player’s time. I thought that forcing players to travel through the world was a good way to keep them immersed in the world, as well as keeping the scale of the world large.

History has shown that my opinion was the less popular one but deep down inside I still think I was right and one of the reasons MMOs don’t seem to be as ‘sticky’ any more is that they have so many convenience features that they no longer feel like virtual worlds. That said, as I’ve more or less abandoned MMOs I no longer care very much. These big open worlds that the game press loves to hate on are my bread and butter these days and have replaced MMOs for me.

Anyway, I feel bad for this YouTube fellow who is apparently plowing through Far Cry 5 as quickly as he can. I think he is missing out. For me, all the best times I’ve had have come from side quests, exploring and random encounters and for him to have taken down the first lieutenant inside of 5 or 6 hours, he must be ignoring all that good stuff. I dunno, maybe he has a review due. Nothing can ruin a game more than playing it with a deadline looming over your head.

First day fighting Eden’s Gate: Far Cry 5

I had yesterday off and spent an inordinate amount of time playing Far Cry 5 (something like 12 hours). Not enough to do a ‘review’ but enough to debate/debunk some of the negative reviews I’ve seen, so I wanted to do that.

Far Cry 5 is, duh, part of the Far Cry series. While it may not be true of the earliest Far Cry games, the last few have been wacky. Far Cry 5 is wacky too. So when you read reviews saying the story is no good or the developers squandered an opportunity to make a meaningful political statement, just understand that reviewer doesn’t play Far Cry games. If you DO and you enjoy them, you’ll enjoy Far Cry 5. Faulting Far Cry 5 for this is like faulting a Saints Row game for not having a serious story.

Mind you, there ARE some political jabs in there. For example an audio recording of someone running for mayor on a platform of keeping out Canadians. His plan is to build a border wall and move it 1″ north every year until Canada is part of the US “again.” Same rant talks about ketchup chips in the way some other politicians talk about tortillas. It’s ridiculous, I found it funny, and it is easy to walk away from.

I just feel like some outlets are going out of their way to find fault with the game. For instance Eurogamer had a problem with the fact that both sides of the conflict are made up of a diverse group of people, saying it “feels like a careful sanitising of the subject matter.” This is why I’d never be a game developer. If you don’t include a mix of races and genders you get accused of racism or sexism, if you do include a diverse population you get accused of sanitizing.

I’ve seen some odd blowback on micro-transactions which is RIDICULOUS. In this case it’s mostly journalists saying they are no big deal and gamers getting frothed up about how evil they are. In Far Cry 5 you’ll encounter shops to buy weapons and vehicles. Everything can be purchased with in-game money that you get from fallen enemies, completing quests, cracking safes and the like. Some of the more expensive items have the OPTION of buying them with “silver bars.” You can actually find silver bars in-game, or if you prefer you can purchase them with real money. Thing is, the in-game costs aren’t crazy anyway. The most expensive thing I can recall seeing was something like $7,000 and by the end of my day of playing I think I had $12,000 in my account, and that’s with buying lots of stuff and not making any concerted attempt to earn/save. It’s also worth noting that as you play you unlock better and better tiers of gear and you have to have stuff unlocked to buy it.

In other words if for some reason you have a stick up your ass about some other gamer buying Far Cry 5 and spending real money on the best weapon in the game the minute he starts playing…he can’t. He’d have to unlock it first. And since it is primarily a single player game why do you care anyway?

Some reviews talk about the bugs and this is a legit concern. There are some glitches here and there, and the sound in particular goes wonky now and then (where everyone sounds like they are talking to you through a tin can) but this is typical launch day jank stuff and doesn’t impact gameplay much. But for example I encountered a civilian driver burning out in reverse with the car’s front wheels apparently locked up and he just did that, creeping backwards down the road, until I got bored of watching him. It was just a random NPC so it had no impact, it was just weird. And honestly kind of amusing.

Anyway, I don’t want to write a huge wall of text about this, but I want to assure you that if you’ve enjoyed Far Cry 5 games, you’re probably going to enjoy this one too. There’s that same carefree sense of madness that we’ve come to expect where shit is blowing up and on fire and suddenly a wolverine charges into a firefight and changes the dynamic and all the while regular people come flying down the road in their cars and try to thread their way through the burned out husks of cult cars and ATVs as if it’s just a typical day of Sunday traffic.

It’s fun. I played it for 12 damned hours on day 1 and can’t wait to get back at it.

(For whatever reason, the audio on this clip is out of sync, but that’s an issue with the clip, not experienced in the game itself.)