Far Cry 5 – trailer, gameplay, villainous cult-leaders, and a 2018 release date: everything you need to know

Fast facts 

  • Far Cry 5 release date: February 27, 2018
  • Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • Price: TBC

Far Cry 5 is making a bolt step for the globe-trotting, open-world FPS series. A bold one, but a much shorter one than usual. This time, Ubisoft's anarchic, emergent carnage simulator is eschewing the usual far-off tropical islands and safely distant, safely made-up Asian states. This time, Far Cry is coming to the very real, right-here-right-now of modern day Montana, USA. 

We'll see a much bigger slice of the game at E3 2017, but we already know rather a lot from early presentations. We know that this time you play a cop. We know that you'll be trapped deep (deep) behind enemy lines, amid miles of picturesque, rolling countryside controlled by a local militia / survivalist cult. We know that your goal is to stay alive, build a resistance, and get out.  We know that this is a game potentially packed with socio-political implications, driven by a look at the darker side of modern American patriotism and religious conviction. Though of course, it remains to be seen how the game will tackle and handle such touchy, contemporary subject matter.  

And we know plenty more besides, Looking for a full breakdown? Of course you are. So here it is. 

You're at war with the Project at Eden's Gate, a cult led by the charismatic Father Joseph 

Ever since the explosive popularity of Far Cry 3's infamous villain Vaas, the Far Cry games have been as much - if not more - about the magnetic, extremely dangerous antagonists than the so-so protagonists. Far Cry 5 has you facing off against Joseph, the bearded, glasses-wearing figure posing like Jesus during The Last Supper on the Far Cry 5 key art. As the spiritual leader of the doomsday cult Project at Eden's Gate, Joseph holds sway as the 'Father' leading zealots who would die for his cause. "He's somebody who believes in one thing: a mandate," says Hay. "They hear a voice, and that voice tells them that the collapse [of society] is coming, that we are on the brink."

Any villain worth their salt has underlings to help carry out their work, and Joseph has established his family members as the other cult leaders. There's Jacob, an army veteran who served for 20 years before becoming disenfranchised with the US government. John is the cult's fixer, buying up real estate to expand the Eden's Gate compound slowly but surely. Finally, Faith is there to pacify the cultists - "to keep everybody rowing in the right direction," says Hay. All four leaders are obsessed with the idea of 'harvesting souls' for Eden's Gate, and will take anyone and everyone to bolster their numbers and strengthen their cause.

Not everyone's a cultist – many Hope County locals will fight by your side

Fortunately for you, Eden's Gate hasn't claimed everyone in Montana, and key members of Hope County's community will aid you in the battle against the cult's bid for power. Three of your key allies include Pastor Jerome Jeffries, a clergyman willing to take up firearms (and don body armor) to fight for what's right, Mary May, a tavern owner who stashes molotov cocktails under the bar in case anyone tries to take her family-owned Spread Eagle Saloon, and Nick Rye, a pilot who's rigged out his plane with a massive gatling gun. You'll no doubt have to earn their trust (probably via a series of missions), but you need all the friends you can get in Hope County.

AI-controlled allies (and, more importantly, pets) are back

Far Cry 5 also brings back the idea of Guns for Hire: AI-controlled allies who'll roam the countryside with you and join in on any of the wild shootouts that inevitably break out. A player-controlled partner is also an option in the two-player co-op mode, which encompasses the entire game. FC5 also takes a page from Far Cry Primal with the new 'Fangs for Hire': animals like dogs, cougars, and even bears can be trained to follow your commands and attack cultists on sight, steal their guns, or mark out distant enemies. As in Primal, some animal companions will excel at stealth takedowns, while others are better at head-on engagements.  

They may not be as exotic as giant elephants or uber-aggressive honey badgers, but there also appears to be some untameable wildlife that could potentially trip up or trample the cultists. During an environment trailer, I spotted docile cows grazing on emerald green grass and elk pacing through the forest; in another clip, a raging bull stampeded towards some panicked-looking people. No word yet on whether you'll be hunting and skinning these animals for crafting materials, if you'll be able to sic them on outposts like the caged tigers of previous Far Cry games, or if they'll simply add to the realistic ambiance of Hope County.

Savage new melee weapons round out Far Cry 5's arsenal 

It wouldn't be a Far Cry game without a wide selection of weaponry to choose from, and all the usual suspects are here: assault rifles, shotguns, pistols, rocket launchers, bows, grenades, flamethrowers, and so forth. But some of Far Cry 5's new additions to your melee weapon repertoire really stand out, mainly for how brutal they can be when you're executing a cultist in close-quarters combat. For instance, get used to the idea of stabbing through an Eden's Gate devotee with a giant pitch fork, pinning them to the haybale behind them. You should also be prepared to smash in skulls with a sledgehammer, or fracture bones with a baseball bat. Those will definitely leave a mark. 

A huge assortment of vehicles let you haul ass across land, air, and water 

Along with varied weaponry, the many vehicles you can commandeer are a key component in Far Cry's magic formula for creating open-world chaos - the "anecdote factory", as Hay calls it. When it comes to wheels, Far Cry 5's got options: you can tear up the asphalt in a classic muscle car, go off-roading in an ATV, or turn an eighteen-wheeler truck into a makeshift battering ram. Hell, you can even perform drive-bys in a sluggish tractor trailer if you so choose.

But Far Cry 5's main vehicular attraction is the addition of pilotable planes and full-on aerial dogfights. Whether you're in a biplane, seaplane, or helicopter, you'll be able to rain bullets down from the sky or take on other airborne enemies in plane-versus-plane skirmishes. You'll also be able to call in some of your flyboy Guns for Hire to do bombing runs on unsuspecting cultists who made the mistake of fighting out in the open. Oh, and when you need to use an aquatic approach (or just want to simulate a peaceful afternoon spent fishing), boats are also an option.

You'll be able to customize the main character this time around 

Here's a huge departure from previous Far Cry games, yet it seems like it's being downplayed thus far. You play as a junior deputy sheriff who's new in town, but beyond that, it seems like this new protagonist is a far cry (pun intended) from clearly defined characters like Jason Brody or Ajay Ghale. "When we think about what we've done in the past, in terms of the player character, and being able to play a very specific character... in this version of Far Cry, what we want to be able to do is make it: if you want to play as you, you play as you," says Hay. "You're going to be able to choose your skin color; you're going to be able to choose who you are. So that right off the bat, we make it your experience."

Being able to choose your race (and possibly your gender) could have a huge impact on the way Far Cry 5 tells its story. Previous Far Cry games put major emphasis on the unlikely hero's 'fish out of water' arc, and their reactions to the tumultuous world around them drove the story forward - but time will tell how a customizable main character will fit into Far Cry 5.