Far Cry 5 is a complicated game that has a lot of information to convey at once. Good that it has a great user interface.
God knows I'm complaining about games with half-finished user interface design. With this in mind, I also try to highlight good UI when I see it, and definitely qualify Far Cry 5 . (For reference only: UI stands for User Interface.) If you are playing a game and not in the menus, the UI is in the form of the HUD, which stands for Heads-Up Display.UI is closely related to UX, which refers to the broader user experience of interacting with the game as software.)
Here are a few interfaces things Far Cry 5 right, based on about 15 hours with the PC version.
The compass is a great mini-map alternative.
Avid Kotaku Readers probably already know that I do not really like mini maps. I was glad to see studios like Ubisoft (and Guerrilla and Bethesda, and hopefully others) out there, experimenting with alternatives and moving away from such a long-held interface.
Assassin's Creed last fall Origins also designed by Ubisoft Montreal, has abandoned the long tradition of traditional mini-maps in favor of a Skyrim compass at the top of the screen. Far Cry 5 takes the same approach and drops the mini-maps that have been included in the series since Far Cry 3 . The new compass works well and may even work a little better than in Origins since I am not so insecure about the boundaries of a restricted area or study area.
For the first ten hours of the game, most of my navigation was accomplished through "world symbols" hovering over lenses that would lift my eyes out of the corner of the screen and into the center , I recently started playing with disabled world icons, which means I navigate by finding out where I'm going on the map and then using my compass to get my bearings. Both options work well, as you prefer, and I never miss the extra information a mini-map could deliver.
There are many interface options.
It's always a good sign when I fire up a new game and see the "UI" tab in the options menu. Far Cry 5 's interface menu offers a lot of single toggle buttons, for everything from your ammunition and squat indicators to your Reticle and Health Bar.
You can turn off enemy tags, which I like to do, as it makes the game harder and more exciting. Luckily, you can rely on friendly tags, teammate tags, and co-op tags. This was something that disturbed me in Ghost Recon: Wildlands another Ubisoft game, which generally included good UI options. If you have disabled opposing tags in this game, it means your teammates have not been tagged either. This could be annoying if they hurt themselves and you need to find and revive them quickly. I was also a little bit frustrated with the limited possibilities in Assassin's Creed Origins that could only disable opposing tagging through a global preset that also turned off many other HUD elements. Far Cry 5 improves both of these games by giving me more options.
At the bottom of the interface menu are the screen text options, which are so granular that I'm not sure what they're all doing. (One thing that would improve Far Cry 5 's interface menu would be a reference screenshot on the page that displays what you turn on or off. [Thisfeaturewasaddedin Wildlands but you did not make the cut here.)
You can turn off messages about your goals, challenges, tutorial updates, networks, and alerts, no matter what that is. The more familiar I get with this game, the more of it I'll probably switch off.
The map is fantastic.
Ubisoft's Open World maps have been far from the bland Assassin's Creed games. Far Cry 5 has my favorite Ubisoft card, a miniaturized 3D version of Hope County that looks like a little game of Civilization VI .
The map is smooth and well-designed, and scales, among other things, through smart little touches, the amount of information displayed, depending on how far you zoomed out. Here's how it works: At the highest level of zoom, you'll only see fast travel points, story missions, side quests, and ongoing mission goals:
Zoom in Level and you will start to see those little white squares that show extra places and information:
Zoom to another level, and these white squares are resolved into placemarks, targets and vendors. There will also be a new layer of white squares that will tell you that a more detailed level of information waits as you zoom in closer.
Zoom in and this second white squares layer will be converted into symbols for vehicles, collectibles and hunting grounds:
It's so fluid that you may not even notice. The card subtly conveys to you that there is more information when you want to zoom in and see.
Assassin's Creed Origins and Ghost Recon: Wildlands both had good cards, but none of these games has any equivalent to this type of "icon premonition" or what you always want to call it. It feels like one of those little ideas someone had, fine tuned, and that's probably going to be built into future games. Another (small) example of the many ways in which Ubisoft's interface designers constantly evolve their approach and try new things.
The PC interface is great, too.
In addition to an overall unusually good PC port Far Cry 5 has one of the best PC interfaces I've used for some time. It's not quite up to the level of Prey 's custom mouse and keyboard interface, but it works better than many other PC games that are also on the console, and is a huge improvement opposite Far Cry 4 .
Here's one thing I appreciate: PC users can choose between the usual circular weapon wheel …
… and a mouse-friendly grid:
Even better, the game makes it possible seamlessly switching to a controller, which means I can use a mouse and keyboard in firefights, but control vehicles with controllers, which I find much more intuitive. Just get the controller and it starts to work. Go back to the mouse and keyboard and the game will revert. No break, no delay. I love that the game makes it so easy to switch between the two, with separate option menus (and separate look-in settings!) For everyone.
Another small, insightful cut: mouse and keyboard players do not have to press a button to loot down dead opponents, but controller players do. To plunder a dead guy with a controller, hold down X until the ring around the command prompt is full.
You do not have to hold a key with a keyboard; You simply type E. This input method "Hold to activate" works well on a controller – it appears in games from Assassin's Creed to Destiny – but it feels more uncomfortable to a keyboard. It's a small, but notable difference between the two control methods, as it suggests that the people who put together the PC and Controller Interfaces Far Cry 5 have given much thought to the best experience for both ,
One last little PC thing I appreciate: In the Mouse & Keyboard menu, you can re-assign keys as you like. When you do this, you will see a keyboard next to the menu that indicates which keys you have already assigned and which ones are free.
This is very helpful, considering how many things are needed, and it saved me a lot of time dialing in the game.
I'm impressed with Far Cry 5 UI and UX in general and wider with the advances Ubisoft's studios have made over the past five years. Ubisoft games have caught a lot of flak for their overloaded interface, and I still remember it when I installed incomplete workaround mods for Far Cry 3 to limit the garbage on my screen.
My Far Cry 5 game generally looks like this with all the interface elements turned on, thanks to its smooth user interface and well-designed HUD:
I did not experiment with every single toggle in the game, nor did I play around with the Arcade Creation Tool. I imagine the arcade is a UI challenge that goes well beyond anything in the main game, especially consoles with a controller. In terms of the overall experience of playing the base game, Far Cry 5 is in good shape.
I've talked to many game developers over the years about user interfaces, and everyone agrees. Designing a good UI is one of the toughest games building tasks. Support the people who worked on this game to get that much right.