A game called Far Cry 5 (opens in new tab) came out a little while ago. You may have heard of it. I only bring it up because Ubisoft has launched the first of three expansion packs for the game today, Hours of Darkness, which can either be purchased separately for £9.95/$14.99 (so long as you own Far Cry 5) or downloaded by Season Pass owners for free.
Hours of Darkness is set during the Vietnam War, and completely indulges in the cinematic “‘Nam” aesthetic defined by Apocalypse Now: Huey choppers, 70’s rock music, the whole shebang. There’s an entire new map to explore, albeit one that’s about a fifth of the size of Hope County, along with a barebones story and handful of gameplay tweaks that adapt the Far Cry formula to its new napalm-caked setting.
You can 100% the thing in about five hours tops and, having finished it myself, I was fairly satisfied which what was essentially the best bits of Far Cry crammed into a purified experience. The focus on stealth gameplay is welcome, given how Far Cry 5 implicitly deviated from that tradition, and it shows that the core Far Cry gameplay loop of moving from A to B, liberating every inch along the way, can pretty much work in whatever setting Ubisoft comes up with, narrative justification be damned.
Don’t ask me, though, have a look at what everyone else has been saying about Far Cry 5: Hours of Darkness so far, and see whether you think it’s something worth picking up to ease you in to the oncoming storm of E3 2018 games (opens in new tab).
Hours of Darkness’ enveloping atmosphere – PCGamesN (opens in new tab)
“The hills that loom over Vietnam’s scorched fields are shrouded in smog. The weight of the humid air mixed with the smoke of bloody execution is hauntingly heavy. Your trudge will feel increasingly poignant as you see lush green fields give way to lifeless hellscapes saturated with bright orange gas that will make you cough like a hag. As the desperate tenants of this newly spoiled land, the Viet Cong will use the environment against you. Crouching amid the tall reeds, ready to strike at the slightest note of movement, they feel as if they are everywhere despite the impression that spontaneous events feel reduced in their regularity compared to the main game.”
Hours of Darkness’ rogue-lite inspirations – IGN (opens in new tab)
“One big difference between Hours of Darkness and Far Cry 5 proper is that your buddies aren’t invincible – even after you’ve rescued them they can be permanently killed in combat. So in order to leave no man behind, you’ll need to keep an eye on their health and be ready to revive them if they go down. They can also revive you – even more incentive to keep them in mind. I like that extra level of team management because it gives you a little more to think about, keeping firefights from being completely mindless.”
Hours of Darkness’ disappointing brevity – USGamer (opens in new tab)
“Hours of Darkness is a snack, not a meal. Hunting is even more non-existent than the base game, crafting is mostly gone, vehicles aren’t around, and the rest you’ve seen before. It’s not bad considering it’s just one part of the $29.99 Season Pass, but it’s not really great either. Hours of Darkness leans towards a quieter, more atmospheric experience, but doesn’t hit the mark there and you’re lacking some of the things that make Far Cry as a series more enjoyable. I want Ubisoft to continue using DLC to explore new ideas and mechanics in Far Cry, but wrapping up my time with Hours of Darkness didn’t really leave me with the desire to jump right back in.”
Hours of Darkness’ tempered difficulty – PC Gamer (opens in new tab)
“Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: the Vietnam War doesn’t feel quite as dangerous as Montana. After a few hours of play in the DLC, I’ve only been attacked twice by wild animals. Maybe part of it is due to keeping a low profile, but it’s possible to run through the map for extended periods without attracting either enemies or fangs. In Hours of Darkness it feels more like you can go looking for trouble rather than in Far Cry 5 proper, where trouble constantly falls in your lap (and explodes).”
Hours of Darkness’ pointless plot – Push Square (opens in new tab)
“The premise isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, and it’s clear that the plot wasn’t a focal point for this piece of DLC. Every meaningful story beat takes place within the first 10 minutes of the experience, to the point where the teaser trailer for the expansion shows a piece of every single cut-scene present in its 39 second duration. You can only expect so much out of a separate plot for something released just two months after the base game, but this is just completely throwaway.”
If you’re a Season Pass owner, it’s also worth mentioning that you can download and play Far Cry 3: Classic Edition (a ported version of the original 2012 game) right now, in advance of its universal release date later this month.
Alternatively, those still enjoying the liberation efforts in Hope County can discover how to up their game with our Far Cry 5 tips (opens in new tab).