I am sick and would really like to be unconscious in bed right now. However, Far Cry 5 is a major release that you lot seem to be really looking forward to, so instead I am here typing words about it. I don’t say this to elicit sympathy, but to warn you that I may drift off into hurglbeublelwa words and sentences at some point.
(I’ll also note that Nvidia released their Game Ready drivers for this after the article was written. I’d expect some minor improvements in framerate as a result. Amusingly, the GeForce Experience’s only real suggestion for optimising the game is actually to raise the Resolution Scale up to 1.2, but I’m not too keen on that plan.)
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Far Cry 5, if only because Ubisoft are a little inconsistent with their PC releases. Watch Dogs 2? Utterly glorious. Assassin’s Creed: Origins? Ignored the GPU and consumed the CPU. Ghost Recon: Wildlands? Er. It had some issues.
I’m running Far Cry 5 on an i7-3820 with 16 GB of RAM and a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. For once, I’m going to point out that the game’s recommended specs are an i7-4770, 8 GB RAM, and a GeForce GTX 970. The reason for this is that the game’s suggestion is that, if you have the recommended specs, you should be able to run it fine on High presets at 1920×1080. I’ve fiddled around with it on both Ultra and Low presets, and the interesting thing is that the CPU may or may not be my bottleneck.
We’ll get to that when we start talking about performance, but first, let’s look at the oh-so-glorious visual tweakables.
So yes, there are a whole bunch of visual settings alone, and bonus points are awarded for actually explaining what most of them do as well as showing a visual indication on the right of how it’s likely to impact things. Also, Motion Blur. No settings for Bloom, but apparently we can’t have everything. Still, FOV scaling is in, offering a range between 60 up to a massive 125, and there’s a Resolution Scale in just in case you want to make things look lovelier at a lower resolution, or play at a high resolution which will look a bit… blurrier. Not an option I’m keen to touch, but more options are rarely a bad thing.
In the above shots, everything that can be set to Ultra is on Ultra; these options support Low, Medium, High, and Ultra. The others – Water, Terrain, and Volumetric Fog – only offer up Low, Medium, and High.
Part of me think it’s also a little odd that Anti-Aliasing only offers Off, SMAA, and TAA (especially as there are still complaints about TAA floating around); I’d have almost expected to see FXAA appear, but I’ve been out of the technical loop for a little while and it’s possible that FXAA has been completely superseded by SMAA at this point.
There’s also an in-built benchmark. Let’s test this out.
There’s not a great deal of difference between Borderless Ultra and Fullscreen Ultra. Fullscreen offers a very minor performance gain and is “smoother”, with less sudden drops and rises, but in terms of raw numbers it’s practically identical. Borderless Low, on the other hand, offers up a bit more in terms of numbers: around a 10 FPS gain in everything, equating to an extra 600 frames rendered over the course of the benchmark. Once again, it’s also got smoother curves: the trough about a third of the way through that benchmark graph is a sudden dip below the average on Ultra, but it’s significantly lessened on Low.
I’ll point out that this is all at 2560×1440 resolution, rather than 1920×1080. That resolution upgrade is a fair bit more intensive, so the framerate occasionally dropping to the mid-50s range is hardly surprising.
However, this doesn’t appear to have the Assassin’s Creed: Origins problem of devouring CPU cycles like a starving man at a buffet. Going by Windows Task Manager (which, I know, is not the best metric for this stuff), the CPU usage for Far Cry 5 rarely rose above 50-60%. GPU, on the other hand, was occasionally maxing out at 99%.
I will note that the benchmark isn’t necessarily the best way of testing this out, though: Far Cry 5‘s actual gameplay was a lot more sporadic in terms of framerate, judging by Nvidia’s in-built framerate measuring tools. It averaged out at about 60, but it would drop as low as the low 40s at times. On the other hand, it wasn’t vastly improved by dropping the settings to low, and the bits where these drops happened were not exactly where I thought they’d be.
I’m not sure why it did this. Scenes I’d expect to have lower framerates (sweeping vistas with a massive line of sight) were perfectly content to idle at 80 FPS, while some close-up segments – especially the opening sequence of the game, in which the player takes part in an ill-fated expedition into the cultists’ camp – rarely ever rose above 40.
Before we get too bogged down in this, though, let’s take a look at some comparison shots.
Noticeable differences, but damn, Far Cry 5 looks good no matter the settings. Shadows, reflections, and texture details at a distance are the biggest and most noticeable changes, but I think I’d be relatively awe-struck by the visuals regardless of the settings. I’d be perfectly happy to drop settings to get a decent framerate – but honestly, I’m pretty content with Far Cry 5 averaging out in the 50-60 FPS range. That said, go look at the Low and Ultra versions of the first screenshot, and check out the text of the vegetable shop in the distance. I’m not quite sure why that devolves into random letters at Low, but hey.
(This is also one of those games that’s got lots of AMD stuff surrounding it, so it may function better on AMD cards. As an Nvidia user, though, I can’t comment there.)
I’m not going to waffle on about framerates and the like much more, though, so I’ll finish by saying this: after I turned off my framerate tracking and just played the game, I didn’t visibly notice any real drops. That’s not to say they weren’t there, and G-Sync may have been taking care of some of this, but the framerate felt absolutely fine. I noticed no real stuttering or Now: let’s take a look at the other options, of which there are many.
If there’s one thing I’m mildly disappointed by, it’s the audio settings. There’s only a Master Volume control – no separate adjustments for audio, sound effects, character voices etc. On the other hand, there’s plenty I’m impressed by: basically every single part of the HUD can be toggled on or off, there are a bunch of separate mouse sensitivity settings for everything from basic look sensitivity to the sensitivity for four different types of zoom, and there’s even a really lovely “reticle position” option. This essentially determines whether your weapon takes up a large part of the screen or not. You can opt to have it centred, as in most games, or you can have the weapon and the reticle a little bit lower down on the screen so that you can see more of the environs.
One other lovely PC-specific option is the “Grid” weapon selection type. Fear not: you can choose your weapons by tapping the number keys at the top of the keyboard, and cycle through your different types of throwables by tapping the same key multiple times. But rather than having to have the traditional console “wheel” appear when you press Q, the PC version offers you the option of having a grid instead. This gives you some more granular detail in terms of what you want to select and how, allowing for cursor selection and the like. A minor touch, but a nice one.
I’m not going to go in-depth into the controls, simply because it’s a first-person shooter on the PC, and it takes quite a lot to horribly fuck that up. Ubisoft have a decent track record with this stuff with Far Cry, and Far Cry 5 isn’t any different. It’s quick, responsive, and satisfying. In an hour or two of play, I haven’t really hit any snags with this.
In terms of some final miscellaneous technical stuff, loading times are also nippy, and the game clocks in at about 30GB – which is a damn sight smaller than I’d expected.
And the game itself? I’m undecided. There’s plenty to do (and no radio towers, barring one little bit near the start which brilliantly mocks the Ubisoft radio tower obsession) and it’s very easy to get sidetracked into doing four or five sidequests and outposts when I was trying to make a beeline for whichever story quest I’d pinpointed.
There’s a definite Ghost Recon: Wildlands vibe about the whole thing, for better or worse: rather than a linear series of story missions, it looks like it gives you a choice of what order you want to tackle each region in, and how you want to build up the resistance in each place. I’m not 100% sure on how the progression works, yet – there are definite story missions that must be done, but I think they unlock as you do other bits and bobs throughout. Blowing up refineries, capturing outposts, and rescuing civilians all contribute to your resistance points, and I think these will add up to unlock missions in that zone.
It’s also a little unorthodox in that you create your own character (tying into the game’s co-op possibilities), level up your skills by completing challenges ranging from kills with certain types of weapons to hunting certain animals, and can assemble a squad of assistants to help you out. The latter, at least, reminds me a bit of Far Cry 2. It remains to be seen if these guns (and fangs) for hire will have the same level of character as Far Cry 2‘s, but it’s a good start.
For now, at least, I want to dive back into it. It’s beautiful, and I’m looking forward to expanding my weapon catalogue and delving back into the series’ traditional merging of brutal stealth and explosive action.
As for the PC version of Far Cry 5? Tentative thumbs up. It is indeed a version that’s been carefully designed for the PC rather than ported across, and that’s great. My only real concern is with regards to the framerate and its stability, particularly on PCs less powerful than my own. For now, I’d say that Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Assassin’s Creed: Origins are your best benchmarks: if you had serious issues with the framerates in those, this might be a little taxing – especially if you’re planning on going above 1920×1080 resolution. But if you can handle a slightly uneven framerate or are okay with 1080p, I think this gorgeous depiction of rural Montana should work just fine; for me, at least, it certainly runs and feels better than the raw framerate numbers would indicate.