More games are being made today than ever before. Many, in fact, feel that too many high-quality games are being made to keep up with. As gamers, we often find ourselves feeling downtrodden at our inability to keep pace with what are often some densely-packed release schedules.
It’s not just about us ‘hardcore gamers’ anymore, though. Our beloved hobby has expanded its horizons drastically since its inception, reaching markets previously inconceivable. The notion that your grandmother would one day be playing Candy Crush on her phone would be deemed preposterous not long ago.
And so, games of near-boundless variety are routinely being developed to meet the demand of these new, wildly different markets. Gaming is often cited as the single industry with the most growth today, and it’s not difficult to see why. The huge titles make a lot of money, but so too do some of the niches that have been carved in recent years.
Particularly in the indie scene, this has spawned some experiences that those of us who grew up playing games would never have imagined. Achingly beautiful adventures like Journey provide strong, emphatic arguments for gaming’s consideration as an art form. Brand-new genres, such as the recently-popularised Battle Royale, are still emerging even now.
Creativity truly is flourishing in many places throughout the industry, even including some massive publishers. Just look at Nintendo, for instance, a company which in 2017 had something of a creative renaissance. We received not only one of the most inventive Mario titles in years, but also a completely revolutionised Zelda.
However, it also cannot be denied that a number of big-name publishers have been guilty of a degree of unoriginality in recent years. One of these culprits is Ubisoft, which last October released the tenth iteration in it’s Assassin’s Creed series.
Down to Business
Now, I appreciate that there are plenty of perfectly reasonable justifications for this. Setting, for instance, is something which has varied vastly between each of the games. The series has also seen a definite evolution in gameplay, and told some interesting narratives.
The necessity of sequels is also an unavoidable truth in the realm of triple-A development. The games industry is, after all, a business. Companies such as Ubisoft are hardly wanting for money at this point, but putting out what could viably be considered ‘safe bets’ is essential; it allows more out-there and risky projects (such as the upcoming and thoroughly intriguing Beyond Good and Evil 2) to exist.
Also, there’s the simple question that if the demand is there, why not satisfy it? Despite its constant sequelisation in a relatively short time span, Assassin’s Creed is a franchise which a great many people clearly still love.
The issue for me, then, comes when a series finds itself unable to take any more steps, unable to progress. Such, I fear, may be the case with Ubisoft’s other major money-maker, Far Cry, and its own upcoming sixth installment (including Primal, for those ready to attempt to correct me).
When I think about Far Cry 5 in a vacuum, I simply cannot bring myself towards any noteworthy excitement. Call me cynical, but this time around the charm and allure isn’t quite there.
I think a major part of this is what I would call ‘open-world fatigue’. It feels like almost every game I play these days takes place in such a format. While this is not a problem in and of itself, engaging with such a large volume of structurally similar titles does serve to highlight the issues surrounding open-worlds.
For instance, there is an omnipresent sense that you should feel free to do whatever you desire. But in that itself there is an inherent sense of obligation. There is a degree of guilt every time I choose to partake in a main story mission, because part of me feels that I’m missing out on what the game wants me to do, which is whatever I want.
Equally, any time I take some time away from my pressing, high-stakes mission in order to help out a civilian, I’m procrastinating. The world needs my help. Yet here I am popping out to get milk for an old lady for a small amount of XP.
In most open world games, you are presented with an often dauntingly-sized map littered with side activities. These are intended to lengthen the life of the game but oftentimes, they feel like filler. That’s because they are. There is no challenge in going to a marker and collecting something, yet many open worlds champion this as one of their biggest draws, Far Cry included.
These are all things that we’ve come to tolerate as features of the genre, though. And I appreciate that some people enjoy hoovering up collectibles and finishing every last side activity. I think my main concern is that Far Cry 5 just looks far too similar to what we’ve come to expect from the series.
Action-Adventure FPS #3098563820
I’m sure that Ubisoft will do some very interesting things with the setting. Bringing the story much closer to home in a series that’s often felt distant and remote is a fascinating concept. There’s also plenty of room for interesting political commentary, providing its deftly handled, of course.
But in terms of gameplay, nothing that the company have shown thus far has surprised me. By and large, it seems to very much be business as usual. When we’re talking about a series which is already very formulaic, that’s a real problem. In an industry saturated with action-adventure titles, what will Far Cry 5 do to stand out?
The Far Cry games are essentially the gaming equivalent of the Transformers series of films. They’re loud, daft, explosion-filled blockbuster romps designed for pure entertainment value. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, at least to a point. But if that’s all there is to proceedings, chances are you’ll be quite bored by the time the next installment comes out.