The Far Cry series is a long-standing mainstay of gaming. Through its open-world environments, powerful storytelling, and unique blending of survival mechanics, the Ubisoft-published series has carved its own path into the hearts of gamers!
One of the most beloved titles has been Far Cry 4. Considered one of the most polished games in the series, it has some of the best sound direction as well as the most memorable characters in an FC game to date. This means that its follow-up, Far Cry 5, had some big shoes to fill!
Now, after a few years of being out on the market, coupled with an impending Far Cry 6 release, how does the Far Cry 5 vs. Far Cry 4 comparison play out to help set expectations for the next title in the series? Below, we’re looking at all the ways FC5 differs from its predecessor.
Up until Far Cry 5, the series has always placed us in the boots of a named character. Typically a male character, they always had a pre-inscribed backstory and personality. Despite having dialogue and gameplay choices, the main protagonists of past Far Cry games had their stories set in stone by the developers. This was pretty much the case with Far Cry 4’s Ajay Ghale.
FC5 drastically changes this formula by allowing us to not only create our own character but also give us the option of making a female protagonist, a first for the series. The main advantage this approach has over Far Cry 4 is that you can make the character your own. Every decision you make and every path you take gives the feeling of a character who’s completely governed by your choices, effectively carving your own story.
The trade-off is quite big, however. What that takes away from Far Cry 5 is the ability to connect with a character’s internal conflicts and the way they’re perceived by the world around them. Prescribed characters in Far Cry games are usually driven by powerful motivations that go beyond the main objective of the game. Far Cry 4 had us follow a rebel group’s young leader who has to develop himself as a leader while also battling his own demons and seeking out retribution for his own reasons. Far Cry 5 lacks this element in favor of allowing us to write our own story.
It’s not that either approach is wrong or invalid. In terms of comparing Far Cry 5 vs. Far Cry 4 in this area, it depends on your preference. For us, having a nameless protagonist of our creation blends well with FC5’s approach to landscape design and mission structure.
No More Radio Towers
A long-standing tradition of the Far Cry series has been the unlocking of radio towers. This mechanic gives you access to new areas and their missions. Far Cry 4, naturally, had this as well but Far Cry 5 does away with this entirely in favor of a completely different approach to open-world exploration.
Instead of needing to hop from one predetermined pathway from one radio tower to the next, Far Cry 5 opens up activities, missions, and stories through a variety of methods. Finding the game’s main fisherman unlocks a variety of fishing-based missions and angling spots on the entire map. By speaking to certain NPCs to complete their objectives or just hear their story, you can open up new locations and amenities that will direct you towards previously unexplored regions of Hope County.
By comparison, Far Cry 4 feels more prescribed and rigid. You have specific areas you need to be focusing on before moving onto unlocking the next radio tower. While side missions still give you multiple ways to engage with the world, you still need to follow a somewhat linear path of progression. As with the previous point, this allows for a well-fleshed out story with a beginning, middle, and end.
This doesn’t mean, though, that Far Cry 5’s more fluid and organic approach doesn’t have powerful storytelling. On the contrary, it provides a more rounded and holistic view of the world and its turmoil. For this round of Far Cry 5 vs. Far Cry 4, we’re going to have to hand it to the former.
Bye Bye Minimap
On a more surprising note, a big difference between Far Cry 5 and its predecessor is in the minimap department. Far Cry games have typically had a minimap to help guide you from one objective to the next. This breadcrumb style method of pushing game progress forward was also used in Far Cry 4. Ubisoft, however, decided to do away with the minimap entirely in FC5. If that sounds like a drastic change, then we don’t blame you. Plenty of fans were taken aback by the staple UI element’s absence.
It’s hard to blame them. Minimaps are typically great for orientating players towards their next objectives. In a game like Far Cry 4, with all of its activities and side missions, this is a particularly welcome piece of design to keep things organized. Given that so many open-world games these days have minimaps, it’s almost expected. But in Far Cry 5, oddly enough, it works extremely well!
Instead of leading you by the nose, dragging you from one objective to the next, FC5 introduces a more clear and easily recognizable set of landscapes to help players find their way. There are still markers in the main map you have access to through the game’s menus. At the same time, you can find your way with markers that show objectives and other points of interest in the game world. But the key design goal here is to encourage you to explore and find new places and people to engage with. Thanks to Hope County’s distinct landmarks, it’s rare that a player won’t recognize where they are once they get the lay of the land.
Of course, Far Cry 5’s way of navigating the world may not be for everyone. However, we have to hand it to the game once more. The TLC and design of the world are staggeringly detailed. It’s hard not to recognize the various regions of the fictional Montana county. Even players who believe they depend on minimaps to get around can eventually get used to this paradigm and allow themselves the extra freedom of exploration.
Proper Fishing Finally!
Far Cry has typically given you access to a variety of ways to interact with the world. This includes some survival elements, such as catching fish. The way past games like Far Cry 4 allowed you to do so was through the use of dynamite and other unconventional means. Essentially, the franchise was devoid of any proper fishing mechanics. That is until Far Cry 5 came along!
As you trek along and progress through the turmoiled stories in Hope County, you’ll come across a fisherman. Once you’ve spent some time with them, you’ll gain access to a fishing rod that can be used to catch tasty fish. The fishing mechanics of FC5 are pretty straightforward.
First, you need to find a spot by a river or lake where fish are jumping about. Then, you can let loose your line and reel some catches in by use of the thumbstick. Far Cry 5 even has perks that are specific to fishing to help you be more efficient. If this is sounding too boring to you, then fear not. You’re not forced to engage with fishing in the game if it’s not your thing.
Either way, it’s a welcome optional distraction that adds a cool layer of immersion to Far Cry 5 when compared to Far Cry 4 and other past series’ entries.
Guns for Hire
Another brand new mechanic that was introduced with Far Cry 5 is the Guns For Hire system. Up until Far Cry 4, the series has always emphasized the idea that you’re pretty much on your own, battling against all odds. Sure, there have been implied alliances and helpers within the story of each game. Gameplay-wise, however, it’s been you versus whatever the game world threw at you.
Far Cry 5’s companion system changes all of that. Guns For Hire allows you to recruit and take NPCs with you on your journey to liberate Hope County. But it’s not as simple as saying “do you want in?” You’ve got to earn each companion’s loyalty through side missions and other activities. Once you’ve gotten their trust, they’ll be joining up with you, following you around, and helping you fight the good fight. For a first implementation, the Guns For Hire system is quite robust as it gives you a wide range of NPC followers to amass and use to build your own liberation army.
This is a system that has always felt like it would fit in a game like Far Cry 4 and its freedom fighter-style story. Even though it was only just introduced in FC5, it’s a welcome addition we hope to see in future games like the upcoming Far Cry 6.
Tying into the aforementioned Guns For Hire system, Far Cry 5 also has another mechanic that affects your influence on the game world. The Resistance Meter is a brand-new mechanic that encourages you to do good deeds in order to open up a multitude of options.
Each region of Hope County has its own Resistance Meter which you can fill up in a variety of ways. The most common way is by completing missions within each region to add to your Meter progress for that region. You can also fill it up by helping the locals out, such as by rescuing NPCs and liberating camps. Once the Resistance Meter of an area is filled up, you draw the attention of Hope County’s cult leader, meaning more progress through the story can be unlocked. Naturally, having plenty of influence in each region means more Guns For Hire become available.
Compared to Far Cry 4’s more traditional story progression, the Resistance Meter is a welcome mechanic. It effectively removes the linearity of past games in the series, giving your more options for how you progress Far Cry 5’s narrative. The good thing about it is that you’re not obligated to take the road less traveled to make progress. Far Cry 5 can still be approached more linearly if you so desire. You won’t be gimping yourself as the game dishes out Guns For Hire and gear quite naturally. If you do, however, want to get the full FC5 experience, taking a few detours is a must.
Far Cry 5 vs. Far Cry 4 – Is There a Clear Winner?
On paper, Far Cry 5 has added a lot of cool new features, mechanics, and improvements to the already successful series formula. However, Far Cry 4 still has a lot that makes it a better game in certain respects. As we mentioned, the story’s narrative is quite heavily character-driven because of a set protagonist with his own motivations and background. FC4 also has a better sound design when compared to Far Cry 5. Everything from the ambient sounds to the guns and music of Far Cry 4 feel more natural and believable. It can also be argued that FC4’s main antagonist, Pagan Min, is a far more menacing and intriguing character than Hope County’s cult leader, Joseph Seed.
The bottom line is that both Far Cry 5 and Far Cry 4 are two sides of the same coin. The former elevates the series’s open-world elements to new heights while the latter carries on its storytelling legacy perfectly. It’s, therefore, not possible to recommend one over the other, especially if you’re looking to prepare yourself for Far Cry 6. If you’d like to get a good glimpse of what might be in store for the upcoming release, then you owe it to yourself to play both games!
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