Far Cry 5 seemed to be a polarizing game — not about the semi-political setting, so much as where it stands in reference to the series at large. Sure, I loved all the changes that shook up the series’ formula: a non-reliance on mini-maps, dedicated companion use, and a US-based location. But many gamers were longing for something more iconically Ubisoft, perhaps even more Ubisoft Towers (despite the constant criticism). In steps Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars, the latest Sci-Fi flavor of the game’s eclectic DLC pack and one that will surely keep you entertained.
Unlike the main, Earth-faring game, Lost on Mars is predictably interstellar. Taking place from the very intro on the Red Planet, players will take on the mantle of Nick Rye — Far Cry 5‘s aviator-clad aviator — as he is teleported from Hope County. Instead of the overgrown fields of Montana, players are greeted to cold space stations, barren dustbowls, and (arguably) the person responsible: the series idiot with a heart of gold, Hurk.
The mile-high view of the story is that a sentient AI on Mars has abducted both Hurk and (through his suggestion) Nick to try and power on the full AI system. With a prospective invasion of Mars-based arachnid monsters about to invade earth, the computer claims that the AI is the only thing able to save humanity. To switch on these computers, Nick and Hurk will track down Arachnid queens, kill them, and use their resources to power nearby stations.
While Hurk has made an appearance in every mainline Far Cry game (not including Primal) since Far Cry 3, Lost on Mars presents him in a new light: decapitated. Sure, he isn’t dead and is still wise-cracking about collectible “alien jizz” and how he needs to find his missing pecker, but Hurk is always a constant delight. Specifically, his rant about why he is so responsible had me in tears. When asked why he thinks he is competent enough to be a Godparent to Rye’s child he goes on this rant:
Who’s more responsible than me? WHO’S more responsible than me? With great power comes great responsibility. You have seen my calves. They look like god damn Christmas hams. I am a very powerful man, which in turn makes me very responsible, Nicholas.
Hurk’s redneck idiocy is always well-written and never dull, and he plays off Nick excellently. At no point did I miss my avatar (not that Ubisoft ever gave us a reason to). If only the actual story itself was written as well as the dialogue.
That last point is one of the heftier issues I had with Lost on Mars. Sure, I wasn’t expecting a SOMA-quality story on the Far Cry 5 DLC episode, but Ubisoft Shanghai took an odd middle ground stance that felt uncomfortable. On one end, there is enough story points to keep you progressing through the six-hour adventure. On the other hand, they miss the mark on a tongue-in-cheek “it’s so bad it’s good” storyline. If you go in with a low expectation, you won’t be disappointed — despite the more grandiose feel it seems to be setting up.
Outside of the narrative, there are distinct changes (or reversions) that the DLC makes to the Far Cry 5 formula. First and foremost, Ubisoft Towers are back. Whether you are a fan of that gameplay mechanic or not, the inclusion of jetpacks helps spice it up, creating a set of platforming puzzles that feel less clunky than what’s found in standard Far Cry mechanics.
Beyond towers, there are a few more new components that round out the “Mars” based experience. Like we mentioned before, jetpacks are a massive boon to gameplay. Adding both a way to hover above enemies and a tactical exit, I almost wish they found a way to bring it back to the main game. Meanwhile, your arsenal has been entirely revamped to include space-themed weapons. Besides everything being chrome, there is no reloading needed, and there is a new class of space lasers that quickly became a favorite among different options.
That’s not to say that every new design choice in this game is smart. The companion system feels like a significant downgrade, with Hurk in robot form — dubbed Brobot — is a less-than-interesting replacement to the nuanced companion system of Far Cry 5. While there are obviously going to be fewer people on Mars, it would have been cool to have an Arachnid companion or maybe a way to customize Brobot and choose their loadout.
Aside from the companion system, there is a new mechanic that stepping on brown dirt (found all along Mars) will trigger an onslaught of Arachnids. While Ubisoft hoped to make the entire world feel platformy, more often than not I felt overwhelmed in combat — especially in places where I had no other option than stand directly in brown dust. There is some interesting “the ground is lava” scenarios that this could have set up, but more often than not I was just running away.
Last but not least, there is a reasonably vast gap when it comes to overall quality of missions. There are some that are outstanding, perhaps offering some of the coolest scenarios from the series overall. More often than not, the game falls into checklist territory with very few things differentiating one task from another. The game doesn’t outstay its welcome (clocking in around five hours long), but by the end I was just trying to see the ending more than enjoying my time.
So much of Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars is a unique take on the Far Cry 5 layout. While it may be a shallow five-hour romp, fans of the original will get their kicks while turning some aliens into exploding cows. And isn’t that all anyone is really asking for?