Not long ago — maybe a week or so — I toyed with the idea of writing something about the ups and downs of being a chronic video game completionist, about the trials and tribulations of being compelled to go after that oh-so-satisfying 100% no matter how frustrating the effort proves to be, or how many hours it takes. As is often the case, however, I didn’t get around to it. My mind found something new to dwell on, and the idea sunk — as though struck by an unfortunately-placed iceberg — to the depths of my memory… until, as you might’ve guessed from this one’s title, Far Cry 5 came along and dragged it right back to the surface. Well, part of it, at least…
When last I wrote about my exploits in Hope County, I was just about approaching the end of my time in John Seed’s region, but I wasn’t having a particularly great time — I wasn’t ‘feeling it’, as is sometimes said. I closed my thoughts with the hope that the rest of the game would surprise me, that things would fall into place and Far Cry 5 would ‘finally win me over’.
Lo and behold, it did.
I’m still frustrated by a fair few things — the animation for administering certain ‘performance enhancers’ has since joined those for skinning animals and collecting plants on the missing list — but I’ve found my flow. I’ve grown used to most of the game’s differences from previous entries and settled into the familiar, comfortable rhythm of running from outpost to outpost, mission to mission, and dealing with the often hair-raising situations that crop up along the way. (Wolverines and cougars and bears, oh my!) And, of course, dispensing a healthy dose of righteous justice to the cult remains as satisfying as ever.
All well and good, but what’s it all have to do with completion?
Well, the way Far Cry 5 works is that its expansive map is split up into various regions — three main ones and two others that, being no more than relatively tiny islands, are barely worthy of the name. The trio of main regions are presided over by members of the Seed family — John, Jacob, and Faith, the ‘Heralds’ of the cult’s Father. As you work your way through their respective territories — dishing out liberal amounts of the aforementioned righteous justice — you earn Resistance Points, which, at predetermined intervals, force unavoidable confrontations with the applicable Herald, the fourth of which requires you to, finally, take them down.
It’s totally arbitrary — you earn Resistance Points for pretty much every action taken against the cult, whether story-based or not. Conceivably, you could eliminate a region’s Herald without having completed a single related story mission. Probably not a big deal to most, but the issue, however, arises when you approach things like I did. Driven by that chronic completionism of mine, I made it my business to liberate every outpost and embark on every available side mission before tending to the game’s story — a strategy that served me so well in John Seed’s region that I had no reason to abandon it when I ventured into Jacob’s.
It wasn’t until it was too late, until Jacob was as dead as dead can be, that I realised my mistake.
… DIE TRYIN’
You see, in Jacob’s region (the Whitetail Mountains), you encounter a gentleman called Eli, the leader of a resistance group known (conveniently enough…) as the Whitetails. Like most central characters you meet along the way, Eli dispenses various story missions for you to complete. Unlike most central characters, however, he’s come down with an unfortunate case of rigor mortis by the time you’ve finished with Jacob.
Prematurely forced into the confrontation with Mr. Seed by my obsessive need to see and do everything as I was, this meant Eli was dead before I’d tended to his one remaining mission, a pleasant enough-sounding affair known as Get Free, which, now, no longer exists within my game. Seriously… once Eli’s gone, the mission is too — meaning I’ve made it impossible for myself to achieve 100% completion.
My map of the Whitetail Mountains shows 40/41 missions complete, and it’s doomed to stay that way. I am, well and truly, several miles up a certain creek without a propulsion device. And the really frustrating thing? I was given the damn mission before Eli bit the dust. I remember it. It was in my journal… until it wasn’t. Desperate, I even tried heading to where it was supposed to take place — just in case… — and was promptly mauled by a bear. Le sigh. (Although, I suppose, that particular piece of misfortune did provide this one with a decent title.)
So… the part of my thoughts on completion that Far Cry dragged back to the surface? Frustration. Sheer, ugly frustration — the fun-sucking feeling of being crippled by the knowledge that, no matter what you do, the game will never quite be finished. After my well-documented rough start, I was thoroughly enjoying my time in Hope County — now (mental though it may seem to those free of the compulsive need to do every little thing), that enjoyment has taken a serious blow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’ll get the same satisfaction from Faith’s region as I eventually got from the others, but it’ll always be tinged by that frustration… always be overshadowed by that 40/41…
There may, however, be some light at the end of the tunnel. A trip to Google revealed that mine is far from an isolated case. Quite a few folks have encountered the exact same issue, so many, in fact, that I’m hopeful it could be patched if the right people notice.
And as of today (at the time of writing, of course), there’s also New Game +. If Ubisoft doesn’t see Get Free-gate as an issue — if the mission is, indeed, simply missable — then I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to rectify it there. It’s far from the most desirable solution, though, given that replaying the whole game won’t be to everyone’s taste. In fact, I’d be thoroughly disinterested in doing so myself… if there wasn’t a Trophy to be had for the trouble.
I just can’t help myself.