Far Cry 5 was a beautiful game when it launched back in 2018. The game portrayed a sprawling open-world set in the American countryside, with impressive foliage rendering, vast draw distances, and detailed texture work. It was a big step up from prior games, packing excellent support for the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. Five years on, Ubisoft has released an update that unlocks the full potential of the old code on current-gen consoles by unlocking the frame-rate and allowing the game to reach 60 frames per second - so is this a smooth experience? Or are gamers in for a bumpy ride?
As with all backwards-compatible patching efforts, it's important to set expectations right off the bat. Far Cry 5 on current-gen machines isn't a full port of the game to current-gen consoles - it's just a patch, with limited impact on the game experience beyond the performance enhancement. This isn't a bad thing necessarily, but this is more in line with prior Ubisoft game updates - like the Assassin's Creed Origins 60fps patch - than it would be with a rebuilt current-gen version.
But that's not really a bad thing, because Far Cry 5 is still a visually impressive title. Dense foliage blankets the game's forested areas,with detailed greenery and excellent shading. Materials and texture work are both top-notch, and hold up perfectly well even at close range. Lighting in general remains attractive, especially outdoors, and interiors even hold up passably well, packing evocative, if slightly crude, GI coverage. Despite its five year old vintage - a detail Ubisoft is eager to emphasize - Far Cry 5 continues to stand strong from a graphical perspective. It's not all perfect of course, and there are some inconsistencies that do betray its last-generation heritage, but it's hardly an unattractive game.
With current-gen software still largely built on cross-gen technology, it's a hard game to fault from a visual perspective. We've seen some really rough game launches recently, but even the more technically accomplished efforts are often constrained by 10-year-old console hardware, constraining the new consoles to lower-key upgrades to visual settings, alongside frame-rate boosts.
That's essentially what Far Cry 5 delivers here as well. Looking at the Series X release, it's hard to pull the game down from its 60fps target. Big firefights, screen-filling explosions, fast traversal - Far Cry 5 handles all of this without any frame-rate issues. It's a perfectly fluid experience, with just a few exceptions. Firstly, during firefights it does seem possible to induce a frame-rate dip, though it does seem quite rare. I encountered some very minor dips in a couple of moments for some reason or another. It's not totally clear why these occur - there's no indication that the game is under particularly heavy load in those instances - but it is worth noting.
Secondly, there is an early mission where you drive an armoured truck, which for some reason does induce frame-rate drops. These are relatively minor dips, though they are accompanied by screen-tearing, essentially trading ugly-looking tearing artifacts for smoother moment-to-moment gameplay. It's very noticeable but it doesn't seem to affect the game outside of this particular mission from what I can tell, though it's possible it could pop up in other vehicle-centric missions.
Thirdly, I did notice a bizarre bug on Series X at one point. For about a minute, the game's frame-rate completely collapsed, diving into the 20s and 30s with wildly inconsistent frame-times and constant tearing. This popped up without any clear trigger, but it did resolve without the need for any sort of restart after a short period.
Finally, Far Cry 5's pre-rendered cinematics, which are a mix of game engine and CG footage, seem to run at 30fps. Most of the cutscenes are real-time and have no issue whatsoever hitting 60fps, but some of the more complex and narrative-heavy sequences play back at 30.
Meanwhile, Series S is essentially a perfect mirror of the X. The minor dips in combat return, as do the frame-rate and tearing issues with the armoured truck sequence. I wasn't able to replicate the performance collapse on the S, but outside of that it is much the same - a very good 60fps lock with some minor issues at times. Finally, PS5 fares better than either Microsoft machine, with a perfect lock to 60fps during gameplay. The cutscenes still run at 30fps but everything else - including the demanding truck mission - hits 60fps without issue. There were no performance issues whatsoever throughout my testing.
Gameplay is much improved thanks to the doubling of performance, but the visuals have actually been altered in some unexpected ways as well. Series X does seem more or less identical to the One X release. We're still looking at a full 4K resolution with the same visual settings as its last-gen counterpart. This is to be expected - the Series X version is essentially running tweaked One X code, so it follows that everything outside of frame-rate should be unchanged.
PS5 also looks basically identical to PS4 Pro. It runs at roughly 1620p, just like the Pro, with little to distinguish the two platforms. But they don't look like 1620p - they have the sharp resolve characteristic of a native 4K image. And when we bring in the Series X version, the two current-gen machines make for a surprisingly close match, with very similar image quality. I suspect that a form of temporal upsampling has been added to the game since release, which would explain this discrepancy. The launch code as we reviewed it some five years ago did exhibit some large differences in image quality between PS4 Pro and One X, but the game as it stands today looks very similar between the two, despite sporting the same 1620p vs 2160p resolution split as it did originally.
Series S is a bit stranger still. Relative to the Xbox One code, the Series S looks substantially sharper, more detailed, and more coherent in motion. Pixel counts reveal that Series S comes in at something around 1080p, which is quite a bit higher than the 1440x1080 resolution featured on Xbox One. So essentially, both Series X and PS5 hew closely to their last-gen counterparts, although the actual difference in resolved detail between the two machines is minimal, while Series S sports a real resolution increase over the One S. It's hard to get truly precise figures here or to rule out dynamic resolution as the game's always-enabled motion blur and depth of field strictly limit the circumstances in which you can pull out a decent resolution count, but that's how it appears. Both PS5 and Series X look sharp and clean, while Series S is a step down but still looks perfectly reasonable considering the hardware.
Of course, this isn't the first time we've played Far Cry 5 at 60fps on consoles. Both Series X and S was updated in 2021 with Microsoft's FPS Boost backwards compatibility enhancement. This offered the key visual enhancement from the current-gen release - a doubled frame-rate - but ran at 1440x1080 on both consoles. Series X users would have to choose between a low-res FPS Boost version, and the high-res One X code, which was a tough choice. The updated version essentially offers the best of both worlds on Series X, and even offers a substantial boost in clarity for Series S as well. Plus, the occasional frame-rate drops observed on Series S are mostly gone in the updated release. Ubisoft's patch is essentially a win on all counts here.
Far Cry 5 is in the running for my favourite Far Cry title. It might not have the most distinctive setting or the best villain or the largest map, but it is a very polished and well-executed open-world romp. All of the outposts feel distinctive, the firefights have a very free-form quality, and the game itself has a more open-ended structure than the other Far Crys. The excellent visuals help as well of course. While the American backwoods don't have the same broad scope or variety as a game like Far Cry 6, Ubisoft Montreal really nailed every aspect of the visual presentation. Foliage in particular looks quite realistic, a byproduct of careful artistry combined with then-new techniques like screen-space shadows.
It helps that this update puts the game roughly on par with most recent cross-gen games, delivering the high resolutions and 60fps updates that typify cross-gen efforts at the moment. And the game arrives in perfectly polished form, without any glaring visual or technical issues, unlike a bunch of current-gen games we've taken a look at recently. Far Cry 5 may not be pushing technical boundaries anymore, but its level of polish and consistency shouldn't be taken for granted. So while Far Cry 5's ninth-gen update has limited scope, the improvements are obvious and give the game a much-appreciated boost to fluidity. This is an excellent time to explore one of the most true-to-life open worlds in video games.