Far Cry 5 is one of the most anticipated games at E3 2017, even if it won't be out until 2018 -- like so many other titles previewed this week. That distant launch might be why I felt surprised that the early demo on show at Ubisoft's booth was already so polished. In typical Far Cry style, the environments are lush and detailed (and delightfully colorful too). Cultist fighters also swarm on your location and chase you through the forest, just as you'd expect. The most notable change, then, isn't the series' relocation to Montana, but the company you keep as you battle the cult. Yep, while you are still pretty much a one-man army, at least one person (or canine) has your back this time around, which not only makes things slightly easier but also affects how you play through the game.
The demo offered three allies for the same church-based flashpoint you might have seen in the gameplay trailer earlier this week. That teaser showcased all three characters in action at once, but I only got to choose one. My Fallout 4 sensibilities kicked in and went immediately for Boomer the dog, who mauls and distracts enemies, retrieves weapons and is such a good boy, yes you are. (You can pet Boomer anytime you want. It's the gameplay feature we always needed.)
I'm not the stealthiest of players, so my play-through consisted of a lot of botched sneaking attempts, some sticks of dynamite, and some lucky breaks: One dynamite explosion set off a chain reaction of fiery vehicles and killed off most of the peripheral enemies around the church. I also noticed that this iteration of Far Cry ditches the mini-map (thanks, Zelda!), opting for a compass-like halo that more subtly points you toward objects and enemies.
Without the sniper character or pilot to act as support, teaming up with Boomer creates a more direct approach as you flank enemies, revive the dog when needed and just generally get up in the face of gun-toting troublemakers. I completely forgot to actually go into the church (I probably should have) and was soon on my way to the next mission, which involved smashing an 18-wheeler into other cars, hopping into a tiny prop plane to blow up some silos and then even a quick dogfight with a rival pilot. (He lost.)
I didn't have time to play the demo with the other backup characters, but a sniper would have definitely assisted in my gung-ho play style, and while I got to meet the pilot during the demo's missions, I ended up flying his plane myself. Far Cry 5's early trailers hint that both allies and other non-playable characters will have stories to tell and motives for their actions -- it's something I'm looking forward to hearing more about. Oh, and the idea of your online buddies getting in on the action through a cooperative mode? That sounds even more intriguing.