Clip your pigs’ wings and check the thermostat in Hell, because Ubisoft seems to have done the impossible; it’s actually listened to criticism. It was recently announced there’ll be no mini-map in Far Cry 5; that, and it looks like series’ staple the radio tower is out to boot.
The news came just over a week ago during an interview with gamingbolt.com; an interview recently conducted by the same site with the game’s lead writer, Drew Holmes, likely has something to do with that. In it he describes the rationale behind the decision, as well as acknowledging the complaints fans have had with Ubisoft’s map system in the past.
“I think it’s because it helps increase exploration…I think in Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 you got into a rhythm of, ‘the only way that I can find out what to do in this area is to go climb a tower, hit a button and all of these things pop up.’ We really wanted to focus on exploration with a sense of, ‘I’m not sure what to do or where to go’.”
(The full interview is available at http://gamingbolt.com/far-cry-5-ubisoft-explains-why-they-removed-towers-and-min-map)
It’s a bold move, but one that’s likely to pay off if handled well. Breath of the Wild’s success provided a solid argument that true exploration is one way to snag a devoted player-base; it should surprise no-one if Nintendo’s hit goes on to inspire the next generation of open-world game design philosophy.
Ubisoft’s other open-world franchise also stands to benefit from such a line of thinking. While what gameplay we’ve seen for Assassin’s Creed: Origins has been rightfully criticised for appearing still bogged down with janky free-running and questionable NPC a.i, refocusing the series on exploring, finding the best route to a target, and planning attacks with freedom rather than the tight constraints of previous instalments’ mission structure would be an excellent and refreshing way to refocus the series on actual assassinations as a core gameplay element.
It’s not a move entirely without risk, of course. While creating the illusion at least of greater freedom deals with some of the series’ more recurring complaints, filling the world with trite ‘collectibles’ is still a very possible danger and could well lead to apathy. There’s also the possibility of simply making the world too open. In the same interview Holmes cites the American audiences likely being familiar with the geography of the game’s setting, Montana, as another inspiration for the decision to drop a map; being British, it’s hard not to worry about feeling stranded, and I imagine I’m not the only one.
Given their various past missteps with open world games it’s hard to give Ubisoft the benefit of the doubt. In this instance, however, maybe they’re earned it. If nothing else, Assassin’s Creed’s year off seems to have helped both it and Far Cry take stock of themselves. It’s rare that supposedly yearly franchises show any indication of wanting to innovate or abandon core gameplay features. Only time will tell if Ubisoft’s gamble will pay off.
At age seven, Jordan wanted to be a paleontologist. That went well. He now fills the void by writing on all manner of mildly-interesting topics - when he finds time in between complaining how everything was better in the 'good old days', that is.