“We’ve really pushed hard this time to make it a much more integral part of the Far Cry experience, and to really give it its own identity,” says Clark Davies, lead game designer on Far Cry Arcade. “We’re going to make sure it’s more visible than ever. Not just in our menus, but in the campaign itself. We’re going to put arcade booths all around our campaign world in places where it makes sense. And then on top of that, there will be posters all over the game world, which will be simple portals to quick-launch you into our best featured maps.”
Walk up to an arcade machine in a bar, for example, and you can jump straight into Far Cry Arcade, check out the latest user-created levels (which will be curated by the developers), and start playing. You’ll visit these worlds as the same custom deputy you play in the campaign, and any experience points, perks, or money you earn while playing will cross over into the campaign when you’re done. (And no, that doesn’t mean you can just create a “level” filled with cash and make yourself rich.)
“The critical thing for us is to make sure that the time players spend in Far Cry Arcade is equally as valued to them as the time that would be spent in the campaign,” says Davies. “So we have a shared progression system to do that. All the rewards that you would normally earn in the campaign – money, items, weapons, vehicles, and so on – all of these are equally available to you in Far Cry Arcade, and vice versa. It’s one profile; you take it back and forth between the game modes exactly as you’d like, whenever you like. Your time is equally valued wherever you spend it.”
Another part of what sets Far Cry Arcade apart is the sheer volume of available items and options for players to experiment with while building levels, says Davies. “It’s a huge range of stuff, much more than we ever had in Far Cry 4. In total, it’s about 7,000 objects,” he says. Your creations won’t be limited to the buildings, vehicles, and weaponry you’d find in Hope County, either; Far Cry Arcade will include assets from Far Cry 4 (including yetis) and Far Cry Primal, as well as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Assassin’s Creed Unity, and Watch Dogs. And as post-launch content for Far Cry 5 is released, those assets will be added to Far Cry Arcade as well, letting you get creative with Vietnamese jungles, Martian arachnids, and zombies.
Far Cry Arcade introduces new ways to play as well, with new modes like Bounty Hunt, which challenges you to track down and neutralize a specific target; and Journey, in which you’ll need to find your way to the exit. So far, we’ve played two levels built with the new modes; in Upside Down, a Journey level, we navigated a strange dreamscape where wall clocks pointed the way through upturned houses, grotesque cult displays, and tunnels of clocks and furniture suspended in midair.
Upside Down is completely nonviolent, so long as you don’t harpoon its harmless resident goats with your unlimited supply of throwable shovels. That wasn’t the case in Terminal Station, a Bounty Hunt level set in a shipping yard. Offering us a choice of two loadouts at the beginning – “Triple-0 Seven,” with a silenced pistol, MP5, and Molotov cocktails, or “Screwed,” with a single throwing knife – it then challenged us to sneak through the yard, using crates and shipping containers as cover while we silently took down guards and made our way to the target, who was creeping around on a nearby rooftop. We could have gotten past the guards nonlethally if we’d chosen; the only one that needs to be taken down in a Bounty Hunt level is the target, after which you’ll need to beat a quick path to the exit for a successful exfiltration.
Far Cry Arcade is also at the heart of Far Cry 5’s PvP multiplayer, which we sampled in Beach Brawl, a 12-player team deathmatch map set on a surreal beach filled with shacks and ruins to hide in, and dominated by huge rusting cannons and gigantic Buddhist statues straight out of Kyrat. Like other maps, this one offered a creator-set selection of loadouts geared for stealth, sniping, or assault, and the ATVs and technical trucks at either end were a chance to pile in and rush the enemy team slightly more effectively than if we’d been on foot. Climbing up to sniper perches or hiding underwater to surprise enemies was immensely fun, and deadly wolves, bears, and wolverines kept us on our toes by occasionally charging onto the battlefield and attacking the nearest player.
After Far Cry 5’s launch, Far Cry Arcade will be continually supported by the developers, who will pick new maps to be featured each week, as well as oversee mapjams, contests, tutorial live streams, and other activities for map builders. You’ll also be able to preview new maps on the web, add them to a list, and see them waiting for you the next time you boot up Far Cry Arcade. Far Cry 5 is already a huge game, and with a push from Far Cry Arcade, it’s poised to get a lot bigger.
Far Cry 5 launches on the 27th of March for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. For more on the game, check out our previous Far Cry 5 coverage.