We go from Montana to Vietnam in the first expansion for Far Cry 5.

Hours_of_Darkness

Hours of Darkness is the first of three planned expansions for the latest game in the Far Cry universe. DLCs are somewhat controversial, but I will take them over microtransactions any day. However, there is always a question of cost versus benefit. This DLC is $12 (or $10 if you fork over for the season pass). What is $10 worth in a game? Was your answer “about 4 hours?” If so, you might be pleased with this one.

There is no story in this DLC. For a series known for creating interesting characters it seems a little odd they totally blew off storytelling. We are a random soldier who is in a random helicopter crash and we must make it to a random escape point. There is nothing deeper in the story—you’re just trucking it about a mile across Vietnam. There might be little bits of lore here and there, but I found nothing that made the experience interesting from a narrative perspective.

The entire mission is you hauling ass across the landscape. You can stop and rescue POWs (American and South Vietnamese), as well as break some propaganda speakers (you will do this because they are annoying), and clear out enemy encampments. It is the same rinse and repeat formula of just about every Ubisoft game of the last few years. The mission rewards range from useless to obnoxious. Okay, that is a little unfair. Knocking out enemy artillery gets you more airstrikes, which are finicky about targeting, but can provide a good offensive boost. Otherwise you get collectibles or useless followers. I liked a lot of the followers in the main game, but here they are worthless.

I played the game co-op, and we were doing well with the stealth until we rescued Joker. Upon release, Joker would not stop yelling, running ahead, and shooting at nothing. The hardest firefight of the entire experience was due to the NPC AI being completely inept. We quickly got rid of him and avoided using any in the future. The faulty AI here broke the experience for me. We had not fired a bullet up to that point, and the whole thing seemed a little less interesting from that point on.

Vietnam simply isn’t scary. While the NPC AI is terrible, so is the enemy AI. The Vietnamese soldiers have no peripheral vision—at all. I wish I had been recording our stealth attacks where we come at them from the side. There is no way a human would not see someone coming. They will also fall for the ol’ throw a rock and break their neck trick no matter how many enemies you do it to in a row. I never worried we would not win the experience (even on the supposedly hard Survivor difficulty). The enemies are too stupid to pose much of a threat. Sure, you get the whole stand-your-ground shootout at the end, but with unlimited airstrikes there isn’t much threat. Further, we decided to go into the bunker for the standoff, and the enemies would not come after us. One at a time they would walk to the ladder, and we would shoot them, and then about thirty seconds later the next would walk to the ladder. I don’t know if something is wrong with the pathfinding, but the entire experience is laughably easy.

The guns are cool. You start without a weapon and must scrounge for whatever you can find. There are a healthy enough variety to satisfy most game types, and for people willing to search around there are several silenced options. The shootouts can be fun. One in particular across a river proved to be an enjoyable experience, but these instances seem too far between. Idiotic AI that begs to be stealth killed mixed with a surprisingly open air Vietnam landscape made for a relatively boring mix.

The brief campaign will take about three hours to do everything, and subsequent playthroughs will take about forty minutes or so. There is no incentive to redo side missions after they have been done once, and the completely pointless award system makes even doing them for a trophy or achievement a pain.

The world looks okay, but too open, and too many repeated huts to make it feel dangerous. We stumbled across a napalm attack aftermath with burned trees and chemicals in the air—that was cool. Everything else? How many same-ish hut structures can you care about?

I hope the next two are better, but it seems to me they are trying to do the bare minimum and still get their money. Let this one go—you’re not missing much. 4/10

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