Far Cry 5 has a great dog

Far Cry 5 [official site] is a Far Cry game. It’s impossible for me to say whether it’ll be a great Far Cry game, an adequate Far Cry game or a poor Far Cry game, but after playing it at E3, I can definitively state that it is a Far Cry game. Clearing out a town of angry cult members, I sniped, shotgunned, stealthed and ‘sploded my way through a bunch of buildings, and had a jolly good time.

You know about this though. You’ve played a Far Cry game, right? So let’s assume all of the vehicles and guns and missions are working fine, and if not we’ll figure that out when we have review code and can take a proper look. For now, it seems best to talk about the dog.

Boomer is the dog’s name and that is a fine name for a dog. He’s a wiry mongrel, the kind of dog I’d happily describe as a tyke or a ragamuffin, and he is one of your ‘guns for hire’ even though he doesn’t actually have a gun. Here are the important things I learned about him, with occasional thoughts on the other guns for hire I used.

Boomer likes to play fetch. With guns.

Giving Boomer commands is simple. You hold down a button, then click a target. That target can be an area, an object or a person. If it’s a person and that person is bad, Boomer is going to sic ’em. If it’s an area, he’ll scout it for you, acting as a second pair of eyes, and marking points of interest (including enemy locations) on the minimap.

At one point I was pinned down behind a scrapped car, running low on ammo. Boomer snarled somewhere in the distance and I picked him out in the thick of the action, savaging a rifle-toting baddie. When he’d finished the guy off, Boomer collected the rifle in his mouth and trotted back to me, bullets whistling past his wonky little ears, and dropped it at my feet. Fresh clip, new gun, good boy.

I was delighted to find sticks of dynamite in my inventory, attached to a hotkey. Lobbing them around is fun but I have to admit to mild disappointment that Boomer doesn’t chase after them, bring them back and drop them at my feet. Sure, it’d be potentially horrific but it’d be hilarious. And…

if Boomer cannot drink by my side in this bar, Ubisoft will rue the day

He cannot die

…even if he did carry a lit stick of dynamite for just a little longer than he should, Boomer would be fine. If you’ve ever listened to Marc Maron’s interview podcast, WTF, you may have heard him saying “Boomer lives” in reference to his lost cat. This Boomer also lives. Possibly forever.

He can get taken out of the action if the baddies damage him enough, but you can call him back in once the fight is over. This is true of all the companions and while it’s lovely that I don’t have to worry about digging a hole in the Montana dirt for my good buddy Boomer, in a world that is so full of violence and its consequences, it feels odd to have immortals walking among us. That feeds into my biggest concern about the guns for hire…

nothing will convince me that Boomer is not flying this plane

A little too much help from my friends?

The three Far Cry companions I’ve seen might do too much of my job for me. The two human chums available in the demo provide such powerful assistance that I completed the takeover during one playthrough while I was hiding next to a toilet. I’d told Grace Armstrong, my snipey companion, to take up a position on a guard tower, and as soon as the fight started, she picked off enemies one after another. I didn’t even see the last one fall.

Nick, the cropduster turned air support, flies above whatever battlefield you’ve found yourself in and rains down death from above. It’s spectacular and chaotic in a way that suits Far Cry to a tee, but it does feel a little to much like using a magical power. That’s probably not going to be an issue later in the game, when the enemies are more numerous and tougher, and I could always choose to leave Nick behind, but I’d rather have useful companions who are fragile than invincible powers in the form of men, women and dogs.

It’s worth repeating that they will be taken down if their health gets too low, so they’re not strictly unstoppable; they will be back in action when you next need them though. I can’t help but think this might relate to their position in the narrative (I hope that Boomer, in particular, has a big role to play in the story) – gotta keep them alive so they can deliver their lines… and possibly die in a cutscene much later on.

Boomer makes enemies twitchy

It’s often the little details that stand out rather than the big, explosive setpieces. I had no idea if Boomer’s fuzzy little face appeared on any Wanted posters across Hope County, or if the baddies saw him as just one more mutt hunting for kibble and a scratch behind the ear. Turns out, they have no idea he’s a freedom fighting Fido and won’t shoot on sight when he comes sniffing around their enclosures (a traditional dog greeting), but they will react.

This is important and goes some way toward countering my previous point. If Boomer passed completely unnoticed, he’d feel invisible and that’d exacerbate my worry that he’s essentially a shortcut, doing bits of the Far Cry job for me. Instead, the subtle animations as he passes through a camp make him seem like a part of the world. People shoo him away, point their guns at him, and are startled to see him trotting along with such purpose. They won’t open fire and ruin your stealthy approach, but they don’t act like he’s non-existent, and that makes him feel like more than a cheat code or extension of an existing skill.

You can pet him

Did you know that you can pet dogs in Watch Dogs 2? You can watch them too, of course, but how lovely that you can befriend them briefly. It’s the same in Far Cry 5.

Anyone who doesn’t reward Boomer with a quick stroke and a scratch when he brings them a gun is a terrible person. Please be sure to let the dog know how much you appreciate his assistance, and his existence.

42 Comments

  1. demicanadian says:

    Maybe I just hate dogs (I don’t) but every time a game has “cute” dog it make me angry. It’s as if I tried to counter the “let’s add a cute dog that they’ll love” devs trick, with hate towards that damn fleacatcher

    • NetharSpinos says:

      I agree. I couldn’t care less for the dog in Fallout 4-indeed, I was disappointed to find the devs had been lazy enough to make it (and the rest of the companions) immortal- and I even went to far as to kill the dog companion in Skyrim, albeit out of mercy rather than malice.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Agree with dog companions. F4-Dogmeat was super-cute but barking, standing in the was all the time, messing up stealth approach by aggroing the enemy. And dying.
      If the dog is useful and can’t die he’s too powerful and the game’s too easy.

  2. bit.bat says:

    The early trailers for this game implied to me a slower pace than the previous games with long stretches of quiet broken up by sudden and quick (maybe more meaningful?) moments of violence but I was perhaps projecting my hopes onto a piece of marketing.

    Having done more of the same with Far Cry 4 its also surprising to me how little of this sounds like a new direction, a dog is cool I guess but I dunno… this just looks so unimaginative. The previous games were quite successful so you can hardly blame them for treading old ground. If they indeed are, lets see how it turns out!

  3. AYZON says:

    Goddammit, they found my only weakness. Damn you Ubisoft!

  4. vast_anusse103 says:

    We need a mod to replace the dog with a young child, then maybe people will wake up and see how ridiculously sick and pathetic this current trend is.

    • demicanadian says:

      But can the doggy get hurt? If it can, I’m not buying.

      • AYZON says:

        Usually they can´t really, like they get hit and once their “health” is down they get stunned but stand up right after the encounter and act as if nothing happend.

        I´ll just assume it works the same here.

      • aircool says:

        I’m the same. Love dogs, hate seeing any animals in games dying. Monsters and humanoids, fair enough. Monsters are supposed to be nasty and humanoids are capable of terrible evil.

        But animals? Even in Minecraft I won’t kill them, which makes crafting a bed really difficult to begin with.

        It’s also the reason why I won’t replay Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition as the story with the dog is just heartbreaking, especially as you can’t adopt him.

        Makes TV and movies quite tough as well. I remember renting John Wick and within a few minutes I’d turned it off as my gf went online to see if anything happened to the puppy. Sky were quite forgiving and refunded the cost.

        • TimePointFive says:

          It will never cease to amaze me how soft and twee the RPS userbase can be…

    • Scraphound says:

      Seriously?

      It’s a game. Fantasy. I love my dog. He’s the best. Even looks a bit like the one in this game (Australian Cattle Dog Mix?). I got him because he reminds me of the dog from Mad Max II.

      I don’t actually think dogs should be running around battlefields, dodging bullets and taking down mercenaries or fetching assault rifles. But I’m also able to distinguish fantasy from reality.

      • defunct says:

        Seriously? Tell that to the US Army, and their kennel of working dogs. And the working dogs of the police forces of the US, and the amount of times that they’ve actually saved people’s lives.
        It sickens me that the RPS fan base is so out of touch with reality that they don’t even realize that this is based on a reality!

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      Nauallis says:

      See, I for one think this is a great idea, and hilarious if the kid is one of the snarky buggers from Little Lamplight in FO3. Invincible, and will make fun of the player’s poor decisions and questionable aim. I’m not sure how well it would go over if they were fetching firearms with their teeth though.

    • Turkey says:

      Don’t worry, guys. I’m already working on a mod that replaces the dog with an immortal, dog-sized tarantula that randomly attacks you as well. This should solve all your issues with the game.

  5. Ghostwise says:

    At least the sniper lady doesn’t run around in a bikini because she breathes through her skin or somesuch. So there’s progress here.

    • AYZON says:

      They went even further and made the Dog naked so he could breath better, smart of them.

    • dauw says:

      Pretty sure Quiet exists as a piss-take on that sort of excessively titillating character, complete with the ridiculous breathing-through-her-skin explanation.

      • CartonofMilk says:

        yeah well the problem is 99% of gamers didn’t take her as a pisstake but as masturbation material. I mean she doesn’t even talk for fuck sake which is just so gross…ah yes, a badass hot semi nude woman that doesn’t talk, how ideal for the socially challenged nerds. Either Kojima is a hack or all his games are enormous pisstakes. I always lean for the former myself.

  6. thekelvingreen says:

    So the fourth companion is going to be a robot that turns into a weird motorbike/segway thing, then.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Is that a MASK reference? Explain, if you will.

      • Mouse_of_Dunwall says:

        I believe that’s a reference to Metal Gear Solid V. One of the companion characters in that is a robot vehicle.

  7. colw00t says:

    my actual dog is named Boomer and she has never once fetched me a firearm.

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      Nauallis says:

      That’s only because you haven’t taught her how to activate the safety.

  8. LexW1 says:

    I kind of wonder if the name Boomer is a very meta joke, due to there being fairly famous furry who goes by the name “Boomer the dog”, and who is certainly known to computer game writers (not least Chet “L4D” Faliszek).

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      MajorLag says:

      Possibly, but I bet you could throw a rock and hit 10 dogs and 3 cats named Boomer in Montana.

  9. mejoff says:

    Wuzzing the animal companions is one of the great joys of Primal, and I’m glad to see the tradition continue.

  10. lglethal says:

    It’s a good thing they went with a dog. You could never have a cat as the companion. The cat would think that it was the star and that YOU were the companion and should be fetching IT things…

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      phuzz says:

      You push slowly through the undergrowth, nearing the enemy encampment. Once you have a clear view, you make a hand gesture to your furry companion, indicating they should scout the area.
      They slowly pad down from your location, walking straight past the cult members, before climbing the watch tower in the centre of the outpost.
      Once they’ve found a sunny spot on the top, you cat curls up for a nap, only waking briefly when you start shooting, resigned to clearing the entire outpost on your own.

  11. brucethemoose says:

    I like it when AI companions do the heavy lifting.

    In fact, last time I played Skyrim, I paraded around as a healer with a posse of followers, and it was the most fun I ever had in the game’s combat. ME2 was also more fun with modded squadmates who’s guns weren’t pea-shooters, it made them feel more alive.

  12. Doc Revelator says:

    The companions do seem a bit ‘Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit’.

    ANGELIC HORDES COME FORTH

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    Earl-Grey says:

    Ubisoft have to be the current reigning champion of the bullshot.
    The Far Cry series has had some of the most egregious examples ever since Far Cry 2 came out.

  14. Strangeblades says:

    The top pic needs an Alice O’Connor touch.

  15. racccoon says:

    I hate hype but the game looks nuts, in a very good way. :)

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    MajorLag says:

    It’d be really terrible if someone ruined our good time in a game where we had clear moral justification to kill hundreds of other human beings by making the cute companion animal mortal. I mean that seriously, it’d be a bummer. No really, I’m being serious, I just can’t think of a way to phrase that that doesn’t sound sarcastic.

    On the other hand, FarCry 2 was the last one I played and I do remember the moment my frequent murder-companion bit it. I knew nothing about the game really, and wasn’t paying much attention to the plot, so he was just a guy who always showed up and helped me out of a jam. And then I had to watch him die in my arms because this time no amount of morphine would be enough. I never did finish FC2, but I did play for a while after that and it just wasn’t as fun anymore somehow. So, you know, there can be value to that kind of experience.

    On the gripping hand, the trope of a lovable dog existing solely to be killed off for the emotional impact is pretty tired.

    • Tekrunner says:

      You should probably have played FC2 to completion. You might not have thought of your companions the same way anymore.

      • Crusoe says:

        This. It’s the least ‘crazy’ Far Cry, but ultimately the best of them.

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      phuzz says:

      IIRC there was an option in FC2 to give your dying companion more morphine, to put them out of their misery.

      One of the (various) downsides of FC2 is that the main part of the plot, the part that really worked well, was necessarily right at the end.
      After you’d shot, and exploded, and occasionally stabbed your way across two massive maps, full of people who all seemed to hate you, you’d finally be confronted with the truth that by now you’d become as bad, or worse, than the man you’d originally gone there to kill, and that you had a choice, but only one of you could sacrifice yourself for a shot at redemption.
      Not many games end with the choice to kill either yourself OR the main baddie, and leave you feeling like sacrificing your own character would probably be for the best.

      (yes, I do love this game, for all it’s many flaws)

  17. Skandranon says:

    So…we’re just taking all the things from MGSV, then?

    • KenTWOu says:

      Yeah, after MGSV took all the things from Far Cries.

      • CartonofMilk says:

        i dont think thats true but in trying to explain to people why i think MGSV is not a very good game i found myself bringing up FC4 and boy did that not go over well… I’m still not sure either series are attempting to do the same thing but i still can’t think of anything that MGSV does gameplay wise that FC doesn’t do better. But one is made by can-do-no-wrong cult favorite Kojima and the other is a ubisoft game so…