Far Cry 5 Could Use Some Harder Difficulty Options

Far Cry 5 Could Use Some Harder Difficulty Options

The more I play Far Cry 5, the less interesting and challenging it becomes. That’s a common problem for a Far Cry game, but I hope it doesn’t remain the status quo.

When I started Far Cry 5, Hope County was a war zone. Armed members of the Eden’s Gate cult patrolled every roadway and trail, and their stronghold outposts stretched to the horizon. My un-upgraded character had a wimpy arsenal and was so physically weak that, on hard difficulty, a couple bullets could be fatal.

If I jogged in one direction, I’d be spotted by a random patrol, a watchful helicopter, or an enemy convoy, and gunned down. Death awaited over every hilltop. I had to be careful.

I spent the next 40-odd hours making Hope County less and less interesting, just by playing the game. I began to liberate regions of the map, which removed cult patrols. I conquered enemy outposts, converting them into friendly depots where I could buy gear and get sidequests.

I upgraded my character so that I could carry better weapons, more health kits, and take a lot more damage without going down. I also assembled a collection of computer-controlled followers to fight alongside me. They help me kill enemies and, on the off chance that I do get “killed,” they can revive me an unlimited number of times.

Many games allow you to become more powerful as you play, but few of those change their game-world to the extent that Far Cry 5 does. In Ubisoft Montreal’s Assassin’s Creed Origins, enemy encampments gradually repopulate, and enemy forces never really leave the map.

You can turn on level scaling – a feature added in a post-release patch – so that even the low-level grunts in the opening areas put up a fight against a level 40 main character. The open-world role-playing game The Witcher 3 works similarly. In GTA V, cops don’t stop responding to your crimes no matter how far you’ve made it in the story, and emergent chaos is always a possibility.

Souls games and similar action-RPGs repopulate their worlds every time you load in, and if you finally get so high-level that the game is too easy, there’s always New Game+.

Techland’s terrific open-world zombie game Dying Light takes a lot of cues from the Far Cry series, but after 56 hours, the world remains as engaging and zombie-ridden as it was when I started.

Far Cry 5 Could Use Some Harder Difficulty OptionsThe slums of Dying Light are still as full of zombies as they were when I started the game.

The slums of Dying Light are still as full of zombies as they were when I started the game.

Far Cry 5 works differently. It starts out plenty tough, but it becomes easier and easier as it goes. There are fewer obstacles and enemies in the world than there were when I started. As a result, I’ve found myself going to greater and greater lengths to give myself a challenge.

The opening hours of Far Cry 5 gave me what I come to this series for: the sense that I’m alone and outnumbered, deep in enemy territory with only my wits to help me survive. (Maybe it’s a yearning for the appealing, pervasive entropy that caused so many of us to fall in love with Far Cry 2.) As I made progress and grew more powerful, I felt that initial danger and excitement slipping away.

I began to impose limitations on myself: no silencers on my guns, no LMG, no grenade launcher, no using explosives. Now, with the story complete and all enemy outposts cleared, those self-imposed limitations just aren’t enough.

In Far Cry 2, enemy outposts regularly respawned, so the map constantly felt dangerous. Far Cry 3 was the first game in the series with outposts that would stay empty after you cleared them, and while those who’d grumbled about Far Cry 2‘s respawning outposts were happy with the change, Ubisoft added an outpost toggle in a post-release patch after PC players started modding the game to reset outposts.

Since then, Far Cry games (including Far Cry 5) come with an “Outpost Master” switch that you can flip after beating the story and clearing all outposts. Flipping it repopulates the outposts with enemies and lets you clear them again. I’ve always liked this feature.

After finishing a Far Cry game, I tend to do some sort of “Outpost Challenge,” where I reset the outposts and then see if I can clear them all with a set of self-imposed restrictions.

Given how much I like Far Cry 5‘s core gameplay, I was excited to come up with a new custom Outpost Challenge. Here are the rules I started with:

  • Hardest difficulty.
  • Only use bow, throwables, and one unsilenced pistol.
  • Turn off all HUD assists, compass, tags, most other HUD elements.
  • No fast travel.
  • No companion characters.
  • No first aid kits.

I reset the outposts and began the challenge, but it quickly became clear that something wasn’t right. For starters, the game did put bad guys back in the outposts, but the world around the outposts was still friendly. That’s a significant difference compared with how the game starts out, when enemy patrols are everywhere and the world feels so much more hostile.

Far Cry 5 Could Use Some Harder Difficulty OptionsIn Far Cry 4 (top) as in most games in the series, health is broken into segments that limit how much you can automatically regenerate. In Far Cry 5 (bottom), health is a single bar that will automatically regenerate in full over time.

In Far Cry 4 (top) as in most games in the series, health is broken into segments that limit how much you can automatically regenerate. In Far Cry 5 (bottom), health is a single bar that will automatically regenerate in full over time.

My character was also too elite. Her health was still triple its original strength, which meant that I could take a hell of a lot of damage before I needed to retreat for cover. The health thing is part of why clearing outposts in Far Cry 5 is less engaging than it was in Far Cry 4. Health works differently in Far Cry 5 than in past games in the series.

They have cut out the gnarly field surgery that your character used to do, as well as the segmented health bar, which restricted your automatic health regeneration to the current segment.

If you take cover after taking damage in Far Cry 5, your health bar will eventually fill all the way back up with no further action required on your part. No longer will I cower in a hidden corner and frantically attempt to patch myself back up to full health. Now I just wait a bit, and my health bar refills on its own.

That’s a big difference, and one for which I can’t really come up with a clever way to compensate.

After starting my Outpost Master run, I cleared three outposts without breaking a sweat. I got spotted on the third one, but was able to brute force my way through using only my bow, thanks mostly to my character’s ability to take five machine gun rounds and keep on fighting while passively regenerating health.

Near the end of the fight, a carload of good guys arrived to back me up, helping suppress the remaining cultists in the base. Piece of cake.

I started thinking of some new rules I could impose to get the difficulty I wanted. No bow, only throwables and a pistol? Maybe go shovel-only? Or permadeath?

I soon realised that unless I started an entirely new game and did a no-upgrade run, there was no way for me to undo the powers my character upgrades had bequeathed on me, nor to return the map’s enemy density to where it was at the beginning. Far Cry 5 currently only has three difficulty settings, and scant further options for modifying gameplay.

If ever there was a game that deserved custom game modes and hardcore difficulties, it’s this one. Ubisoft has done a fine job of post-release support with recent games like Watch Dogs 2, Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Assassin’s Creed Origins, and Far Cry 5 seems ripe for all sorts of post-release support and tweaks.

I asked Ubisoft PR if we could expect them to add new game modes and difficulties to Far Cry 5, but didn’t hear back in time for publication.

Far Cry 5 Could Use Some Harder Difficulty OptionsThis is nice and everything, but it’s not really what I’m here for.

This is nice and everything, but it’s not really what I’m here for.

Far Cry 5 has the raw materials to provide hours of good times well after the credits have rolled. It just needs to give players more options. Those kinds of options exist in the game’s customisable Arcade mode, but I’d love to see more of them spilling out into the core game.

It could be in the form of a survival mode, where you have to hunt animals and rest in between battles. It could be in the form of a new hardcore difficulty setting, or a new set of enemies, or a tweaked health system, or all of the above.

Whatever form it takes, I hope Ubisoft gives me a reason to return to Hope County and blow up more stuff. I don’t want to cruise around and peacefully see the sights. I want danger, baby!


  • Ubisoft really need to add in the ability to increase enemy spawns on the map once you’ve completed the story.
    Me personally, id love a mode that give max resistance bar while also giving max cultist spawn, and giving the cultists the ability to take back outposts and maybe even have a massive assault on the each region’s main base (falls end, the prison and the lumber yard)

  • My main issue with the difficulty in the game was the progression pacing.

    1- Silencers were available waaaay too early in the game, which allowed you to still run stealth with powerful weapons. It’s fine with the pistol being available a little into the game, but being able to get silencers on assault weapons right near the start is far too overpowered…

    2 – Access to the 50 cal rifle on the sale page breaks the game. You can obtain the best weapon in the game within the first hour. And then for a little extra, you can put a silencer on it. This ruins the difficulty of the game as it kills everything in 1 or 2 hits. In previous games the custom weapons like this one weren’t an issue, as you couldn’t customise them until you unlocked its base weapon. But in 5 they allow you to modify it (i.e. attaching a silencer) right off the bat. If you couldn’t add a silencer to it right at the start of the game, it would have been more balanced at least.

    Aside from the pacing, there are only a handful of enemy types, with no real escalation over the duration of the game (except for adding a couple of vehicles). Even when they add the air support enemies, they still die in one shot from the 50 cal.

    Arguably, I could self-impose restrictions on my loadout to increase the difficulty, but… I shouldn’t have to? There are several options that they could have employed to escalate the difficulty throughout the story, but none of them were really used. Just look at the likes of MGS5, where as you employed the same strategy repeatedly, the enemies would start using counter measures for it. That system would have been fantastic in FC5, as the game has plenty of options, but you start getting set into doing things a certain way and things start to become stale.

    • i agree with point one, but on point 2 i kinda disagree as human enemy aside from heavies die with 1 shot to the head from just the starting 1911 and AC-R. Hell the first bow is also able to take out heavies with one shot to the head/gas tank. the Bow also pentrates the windscreens of choppers and planes as well.

      So far ive found the only point to any of the sniper weapons is to complete 5 150m+ kills and 10 sniper kill challenges. everything else in the game, i just stick to AC-R, 1911 and Bow. dont even have to worry about refilling ammo that way either

  • Agreed.

    I’ve nearly finished and have been doing stealth outpost completions, and it’s been getting more boring every outpost.

    Clearly the outposts are the worst they’ve been. Lots of line of sight gaps/exploits and stupid AI that makes most outposts an easy bore. There doesn’t seem to be an increasing difficulty level with them.

    I really like FC 3 and 4. but This game’s gameplay is a big underdeveloped step backwards.

    • I’m finding the same. Stealthing an outpost is easy.

      I’m not that far in to it but even
      the mission where you have to save 3 hostages with out being seen or they get killed took like 2 minutes, got all the guys with my bow from outside the just walked in and rescured them all at once.

  • The only way I could make the game even slightly hard was to set my loadout options to one handgun, one shotguns and one smg; no silencers.

    Even then you just end up carving through enemies thanks to them not really using cover correctly and standing still making for ridiculously easy headshots.

    I finished most of the game with the second revolver.

  • I find taking bases way less satisfying than FC3 or 4. Especially in FC3, I loved sneaking around. Planting trip mines and just having fun.

    In this, it seems I can’t sneak around with out getting spotted. I hate the red outline of everyone. Enemies are either too obvious and you can’t tell if covers in front of them. Or you’re being shot and can’t tell where from.

    It may be me, but I seem to take every base the same way. Creep around, take out the alarms from a distance. Silence snipe some people until it’s done. Maybe get in and climb up on a roof.

    I remember in FC3 I would play around more. Even sometimes I manage to set up mines and even take a whole base without even firing a shot.

  • Games are getting easy though. I noticed this with evil within 2. The first was pretty difficult and the second? I think hard more on the sequel is as difficult as easy in the first.

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