Ubisoft is taking a different approach with Far Cry 5 than we're used to seeing from the franchise. Typically a series that's been about exploring locales many people can only dream of traveling to, it's a bit strange to see one coming home to roost in the United States. That's not a bad thing, as even the US is country that has a number of states and cities that are often ignored when it comes to games. With its rural setting in the Big Sky Country of Montana, Far Cry 5 already had our attention. It's the new spins on gameplay and narrative that'll keep it.

Part of what made the initial teases for Far Cry 5 so intriguing for us were how different it was to set a game in the US far away from any major metropolitan areas. With the sprawling plains and farms, the thick forests and mountainous horizons, and the mid-western drawl of the characters, Far Cry 5 felt like returning a home we hadn't visited to in a long time. But there were some other things about Ubisoft's sequel that felt rather familiar. The fact that we played as local law enforcement, were challenged with taking down the charismatic and clever leader of a religious cult, and had to do it all basically on our own with a local populace that typically frowned on the law had us feeling a bit like Raylan Givens in Harlan County.

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Now that's not to say Far Cry 5 will be anywhere near as great as the FX television series Justified, which in turn was based on the Elmore Leonard novels staring US Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens. Our brief hands-on time with the game didn't clue us in to much of the overarching narrative, but the fictional Hope County in Montana certainly shares some similarities with Harlan County in Kentucky. Project Eden's Gate is also a lot more of a bona fide cult than Boyd Crowder's Christian militia, but that doesn't mean PEG leader Joseph Seed doesn't arm his fellow believers just as heavily.

As we saw in our time with Far Cry 5, there are plenty of little burgs throughout Hope County that need a bit of rescuing from Eden's Gate. These elements should feel familiar to anyone that's dipped their toes into the tropical waters of a Far Cry game before, as clearing enemy encampments in order to progress through a new location is old hat for the franchise at this point. What's different now is having a competent AI partner along for the mission. Though you'll play as a fully customizable sheriff's deputy, there are a number of friends that have no love for Peggies and are willing to assist you in liberating Hope County.

We tagged up with Grace Armstrong, an excellent sniper, to clear out Fall's End of the hapless Peggies. With her skills and the terrain being perfect for elevated shooting, Grace seemed like the perfect partner. Now we wanted Grace because obviously a sniper is the best kind of back-up you can have in the open plains. It didn't hurt that she was of the same cloth as Tim Gutterson to help continue the Justified illusion. You can also team up with Boomer, the dog that loves to play fetch with enemy armaments, or Nick Rye, the pilot with a payload more explosive than any insecticide you an legally purchase. We didn't have Nick rightly available though yet as our mission was to free his airfield from Eden's Gate control first.

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Setting Grace up on a nearby water tower, we crept up on the blockade the Peggies placed on the main road through the town. You can tell it was a town rather than a development or family estate because all the homes were built around a bar. That's one distinction you can make between little hamlets and more important spots throughout Hope County. As we approached, we tagged some gunmen and pointed out one major target for Grace to light up from afar. Once she fired, all the attention in the town was placed on her at the tower, giving us the ability to flank our enemies from behind. With both ends of the street covered in attacking fire, the Peggies were eliminated in short order. Then all we had to do was stop by the watering hole for a drink and a tip on where we could find Nick Rye.

The gunplay and driving haven't changed all that much, and neither have the bones of what makes Far Cry 5 another seemingly solid entry in the popular franchise. Even though we didn't get to see a whole lot of Hope County and the denizens we'll be protecting from Project: Eden's Gate, Far Cry 5 still managed to feel like a solid change from the formula established in the last few entries in the series. Maybe we're just blinded by the mere idea we can live out our Raylan Givens fantasies, but Far Cry 5 has established it's got enough new ideas to make it more than just another sequel.

Far Cry 5 will be out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on February 27, 2018.