Far Cry 5 asks you to liberate a chunk of rural Montana from a neo-Branch Davidian cult that wants to bring spiritual enlightenment to the United States by way of bad WWE promos. It's a big job, which is why Ubisoft lets you travel with two companions at one time.
It's hard to narrow down the best choices, since there are so many options. Should you take Cheeseburger the bear and Peaches the cougar? Or maybe Boomer the dog pairs up best with Peaches. Mind you, it's hard to say "No" to a Cheeseburger- and- Boomer team-up, too. There's something about a dog-bear duo that's charmingly Narnian—
Pardon? "Nick Rye?" "Jess Black?" "Grace Armstrong?" Why in the blasphemous name of Father Joseph Seed would I take humans on my journey into Far Cry 5 when I can take wild animals?
For as long as I can remember, animals sparked my imagination and admiration more readily than people. As a kid, the most mundane dog was invariably more interesting than the strongest superhero. I had no prejudice against "boy" toys and "girl" toys; I didn't care about Barbie, but I didn't care about He-Man, either. I just wanted to play with Barbie's magic pony or He-Man's mount, Battlecat.
My eyes still glaze over when a video game tries to hook me up with a human follower. When I play Skyrim, I recruit a dog as quickly as possible and leave Lydia to eat cheese in the attic of my house in Whiterun.
When people learn of my quirk, they point out using an animal companion in lieu of a qualified human being offers no guarantee of success. They're right. Animal companions have limitations, even when they're programmed to be as smart as their human counterparts. Beast-friends usually wield fistfuls of weapons (getting into a fight with Peaches is effectively like getting into a fight with a maniac on Adderall equipped with ten knives), but as a trade-off, they often can't be outfitted with armor or stat-bolstering accessories. They're glass cannons, in other words. Not all the time, but some of the time.
For me, though, animals' weaknesses on the battlefield don't take away from the sheer coolness of going into a fight with a bear by your side. Just look at how Warcraft dwarves carry themselves when they're near an ursine friend. They know what's up.
Besides, Far Cry 5's animal pals wield individual strengths and weaknesses, which make them that much more interesting to travel with. As someone who favours a stealthy approach and a bow-and-arrow combo regardless of which game I play, Peaches is the kitty for me. She even pairs well with Boomer the dog. Take that, cartoon stereotypes.
Another nice thing about Far Cry 5's animal companions, and video games' animal companions in general: They don't talk. One-sided conversations with human companions make me nervous. That goes double for the dialogue in Far Cry 5, where you're a stranger in a tight community, so they converse like cousins who are thrice-removed and have no idea what you're into ("Have I told you I bagged my first deer around here?" Yes, Andrew Madison, but only five times, Andrew Madison, please tell me again).
I think Ubisoft and I are on the same page with regards to the superior value of animal companions. That's why Far Cry 5 gives us three different beasts to choose from, which with their own unique way of getting things done. And just look at what you can do with the Animus in Assassin's Creed Origins: With a bit of tinkering, you can recruit history's deadliest animals to your cause and become the High Lord of the Nile's most notorious slaughterers. Hey Ubisoft, if you want to do your own take on Tokyo Jungle's savage animal free-for-all, you won't hear any complaints from my corner. I'll just be over here freeing Montana with the help of a good dog, a good cat, and a nice bear.
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