Far Cry 5 Smartly Prunes The Far Cry Skill Tree

Far Cry 5 Smartly Prunes The Far Cry Skill Tree

Compared with its most recent predecessors, Far Cry 5 makes some big changes to how you upgrade your character. Almost all of those changes are for the better.

If the Far Cry 5 skill tree were an actual tree, it would look like this.

After spending 40-some hours finishing Far Cry 5, I thought I’d go back to its 2014 Himalayan predecessor Far Cry 4 and compare the two. (2016’s Far Cry Primal came out between the two mainline entries, but it’s different enough that there’s less of a clear comparison.)

There are plenty of similarities between Far Cry 4 and 5. Despite their different geographic settings and narrative sensibilities, they look, feel and sound about the same, and feature similar arsenals and enemy-types. However, character upgrades work very differently.

Far Cry 4's skill page

Far Cry 4’s skill page

As you play Far Cry 4, you earn points that you can use to unlock new abilities. Abilities branch out along a bunch of four-tier paths, and you can only unlock a second-tier ability if you’ve unlocked a first-tier ability.

Far Cry 5's skill page. There are actually around the same number of individual nodes, but several of the skills are carried over from Far Cry 4's crafting system, and others are for the game's new follower characters.

Far Cry 5’s skill page. There are actually around the same number of individual nodes, but several of the skills are carried over from Far Cry 4’s crafting system, and others are for the game’s new follower characters.

In Far Cry 5, you also earn points that you can use to unlock new abilities. At first glance, the skill page appears to contain a similar number of nodes (50 to Far Cry 4‘s 48), but that’s mostly because the earlier game’s crafting system has been entirely removed, and some of the things you used to have to craft for (holsters, ammo capacity) are now on the skill page. Ten of Far Cry 5‘s skills are follower-specific skills, as well.

You can unlock most of Far Cry 5‘s upgrades in any order, which is a nice change from the previous game. A few require you to have unlocked a preceding ability (usually because they modify or enhance the first ability), and a few others require you to have done something in the world – defeat one lieutenant, get your resistance meter to a certain level, and so on. In general though, the upgrade tree isn’t a tree at all. It’s more of a field.

The differences between the games get more stark when you take a closer look at each individual skill. A bunch of Far Cry 4‘s unlockable skills were basic moves that your character starts out with in Far Cry 5. Those include:

  • Auto Loot on Stealth Takedown
  • Heavy Takedown (You can now sneak up on heavies and take them out quietly.)
  • Running Reload (You can reload your weapon without breaking your sprint.)
  • Reload a Sniper Rifle While Scoped In
  • Fire While Moving A Body
  • Be Able To Carry A Downed Heavy Enemy
  • Death From Below (Perform stealth takedowns from underwater/below)
  • Death from Above (Perform stealth takedowns while leaping from above)

What all of those abilities have in common is that they aren’t really “abilities” at all. They don’t feel like upgrades. It feels more like your character starts out with a bunch of debuffs that you gradually remove in order to get to a reasonable base level.

Some of those skills, such as firing while moving a body, are things you can do in just about any first-person shooter. Others, such as auto-looting on a stealth takedown, are basically convenience upgrades, where you’re spending points just to remove busywork. All of them shouldn’t really be skills you need to save up and buy.

2016's prehistoric Far Cry Primal is an oddball when compared with the mainline entries in the series, but its upgrade tree is more in line with Far Cry 4 than 5. In fact, in some ways it's the most convoluted character upgrade system in the series.

2016’s prehistoric Far Cry Primal is an oddball when compared with the mainline entries in the series, but its upgrade tree is more in line with Far Cry 4 than 5. In fact, in some ways it’s the most convoluted character upgrade system in the series.

Of the remaining Far Cry 4 abilities that have carried over to Far Cry 5, some have been lumped together or otherwise streamlined: Several of FC4‘s special takedowns (chain takedowns, sidearm takedowns) have been combined into a single takedown skill, health kits replenish all your health and don’t need to be upgraded, that kind of thing. Others have been removed: There’s no takedown-drag in Far Cry 5, nor are there vehicle takedowns. They also cut the “Elephant Rider” perk, for obvious reasons. The overall effect is that your character starts out with a reasonable skill-set and most upgrades actually feel like upgrades.

In Far Cry 2, you're basically just a dude with a couple guns and a map (and malaria).

In Far Cry 2, you’re basically just a dude with a couple of guns and a map (and malaria).

This whole Far Cry upgrade-a-palooza began with 2012’s Far Cry 3, which introduced the notion of unlockable character skills to the series. 2008’s Far Cry 2 had no character abilities or skill-trees at all, and the few permanent upgrades you’d unlock were tied to equipment and storage crates you’d buy at weapon dealers.

By filtering out so many of those abilities, Far Cry 5 actually brings the series closer to Far Cry 2 than I would have expected, though it’s still a hell of a lot busier than the 2008 game. I played a bit of Far Cry 2 after finishing Far Cry 5, and was impressed by how stripped down and basic the older game feels in comparison. Along with all the other things I like about Far Cry 2, it was nice to play a Far Cry game without having to think about my progress along a dozen different upgrade paths.

Taken together, the Far Cry games illustrate how Ubisoft’s developers have changed their approach to character upgrades over time. For years, they steadily added more and more crafting, skills and perks to these games. It appears they have finally begun to pare things back. I hope they keep going in this direction, since Far Cry games have become awfully bloated over the years. Who knows? Maybe Far Cry 6 will bring back the in-game map.

Hey, a guy can dream.

Hey, a guy can dream.


  • it should be noted that sidearm and throw take downs use your currently equipped sidearm and melee weapon, not the enemies. which means that yes, if you have the grenade launcher equipped as a sidearm, you will use it as part of the take down. If you do not have a melee weapon equipped, you can not do the throw weapon takedown

    • Always fun to do a sidearm takedown on a nearby enemy while forgetting you had the grenade launcher in your sidearm slot.

  • I actually hated the skill tree in Farcry 5, most of them were so boring and i felt like the devs put very little effort in to them at all.

    1/5 of the skills are for certain followers respawning fast and another 1/5 are for more ammo for certain weapons. pretty uninspired imo.

    • I completely agree. I recently played through Horizon: Zero Dawn, which was one of the first games I’d played in a long time where almost every skill felt valuable. Farcry 5 has about 5 valuable skills and the rest are just boring number tweaks.

  • I think the skilltree in 5 is lazy to be honest. I love the game so far, but the skill system is ill thought out. I need a skill to carry a third and fourth weapon as opposed to the other games where I need to literally hunt down the components to create the bags to create these things. While I get you’d be less likely to ‘create’ a bag in this sort of backwoods American environment, perhaps you’d simply buy one? Perhaps they could’ve implemented a better system, maybe you could’ve retrieved the ingredients and took them back to someone, a man or woman who crafted them for you, a leatherworker or something, to still give that feeling of crafting. But Far Cry 5 gets a bit lazy and insinuates that carrying more weaponry is simply a learnt skill? Come on. That’s just ridiculous.

    It just feels like they skipped over implementing a full crafting system beyond ammo in place of a ‘skill tree unlock system’. Like I said, loving the map, loving the game so far, but I feel this is where they didn’t just stumble but ended up faceplanting themselves.

    • i will say this, im glad that XP is gone as it means i no longer have to worry about making sure i do a much stealth work as possible to get the most xp. getting detected or an alarm goes means nothing now

      • Far cry 4 gave xp for pretty much everything.

        I am kinda annoyed that I now have to do specifix perk challenges to earn points to be able to unlock the skills. 🙁

        • yeah but you got so much more for being undetected when taking out an outpost and fortress and takedowns gave 3 times a much xp as shooting an enemy. where in 5 you get 1k cash for taking out an outpost undetected which is nothing when get so much from hunting wildlife

          • This is definitely true. Plus, when you get the skill that doubles your gathering rate, killing one single bear can often nab you FOUR pelts (almost over a grand alone). Often I go out hunting for 15 minutes in a farmland where there are cows. I’ll throw bait, shoot animal, collect fur, throw bait, shoot animal, collect fur, throw bait, shoot animal, collect fur, shoot cow, get bait x 3 and rinse and repeat til my inventory is full.

            Then I come out of the shop with around 7k or so.

    • I like that it’s not an obscene list of things I don’t really need. But I don’t like that almost all of them are useless or so situational that I forget that they’re there.

      • Bingo. And that’s the issue, that most of them are essentially useless isn’t it? There’s a few that are awesome, but most are so incidental they make little to no impact.

  • Whilst it was novel not feeling underpowered at the start of the game, on reflection I also kind of liked that about the earlier titles. There’s not really anything that you need in the skill tree so it just kind of sits there, not providing any meaningful sense of progression beyond the first hour or two. Same with the weapons – you don’t really need anything beyond the starter guns, and most of the unlocks are just reskins anyway. I still really enjoyed it overall, but it certainly has a more arcadey feel this time around.

    • Totally agree. At first I appreciated that the weapons and skills you begin with were enough to jump straight in, but now after having put hours in and having loads of money and perk points I feel a bit disappointed that there’s nothing cool to get. Especially in terms of weapons. I couldn’t care less about fancy skins, so there’s not much there to get excited about.

  • I saw this video a few days ago that compares Far Cry 5 to Far Cry 2:


    It seems as though for every step forward, they’ve taken one step back.

    I know this article was focusing on the aspect of skill trees, but it still goes to show how other areas of this series has seen a pretty clear ‘de-evolution’.

    • Is that the crowbcat video? It was interesting and at first I was a bit shocked, but on further thought many of those details, while cool, didn’t add much. Also, the environment of the current game is far more detailed. It would be a massive load on the system in forest fires started and spread over kilometres every time you fired a rocket.

      Still. It was a interesting and eye-opening video in some ways.

      • Yeah, it’s been a long time since I played Far Cry 2, but it’s clear in that video how the developers paid a lot of attention to detail. I understand there are other aspects of the series that have advanced, but it’s a shame some of the finer aspects of Far Cry 2 didn’t carry over.

      • FC2 is detailed but it’s also awful for progression and gameplay – the game is loaded with roadblocks that respawn as soon as you turn your back, enemies that never seem to stop pursuing you, and an obscene amount of repetitive content. The video just takes the best incidental features out of context, because the rest of the game is boring as batshit.

        • yep, FC2 was all style, little substence. it had lots of cool details to make the world more immersive, but it was let down in the gameplay department. It was one of the reasons why Farcry 3 was so popular, it changed up the gameplay so much by adding the take down system, the perk system and having actual dangerous wild life along with herbivors.

          However it should also be pointed out that 2 days after Crowbcat’s video came out someone started working on a rebuttal, It should also be said that Crowbcat even stated in his video description that FarCry 5 has good stuff that wasnt in farcry 2

  • Couldn’t disagree more with this article.

    I mean, it wasn’t even a skill tree. Might as well just auto unlock things for me as I level up.

    It’s a great game still. But the skill unlocks for drab at.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!