In video games, the Vietnam War isn’t really a popular topic to cover. There were a few awkward attempts to portray the war (did you know some madmen actually made a Platoon video game?), but most have been forgotten to time. Perhaps it’s because it’s an unpopular war that America lost, or perhaps it just wasn’t far away enough from the World War II video game craze. Despite all this, Far Cry 5: Hours of Darkness throws its hat into the ring to attempt another go at this time period. So is it worth enlisting, or should you dodge this draft?
You play as Wendell “Cowboy” Redler, a U.S. Soldier that is stranded behind enemy lines after his helicopter goes down. Luckily he manages to get out of imprisonment and needs to make his way back to base so he can get back home. That’s actually all there is to the story. One guy’s attempt to get out of Vietnam. There’s really not much to say about it, as there’s basically nothing else to the story. If you’re wondering, it only vaguely ties into the main game as well. Wendell is a side quest giver, one that’s rather easy to miss considering the massive size of Far Cry 5‘s map.
The basic idea behind Hours of Darkness is actually kind of interesting. You only have a single mission: walk the 3000+m required to get from your PoW camp to the extraction point. If you want, you can finish this in 30 minutes. Of course, that’s sort of missing the point. Along the way, there’s plenty of side content for you to partake in. You’ll be capturing NVA bases, freeing prisoners, and assassinating commanders. The problem is that, even with all this side content, the DLC only clocked in at about two and a half hours. There’s simply not a lot of content here.
Worse, the lack of story missions makes the whole outing feel kind of weird. It makes Hours of Darkness feel more like a chain of very loosely connected side quests rather than actual DLC. I quickly fell into a pattern of moving from each important looking location to another, checking to see if there was a generic side quest there, finishing it if there was, then moving on. Without any of the unique side missions or story missions, there doesn’t feel like much of a point to the whole adventure.
The big new feature in Hours of Darkness is the survival instinct. Every time you perform a stealth kill you’ll earn a perk. These perks grant you abilities like tagging enemies through walls or being harder to detect. So long as you remain stealthy, you’ll keep these perks. However, you automatically lose them when caught. This is mostly to really beat home the stealth-heavy game style of Hours of Darkness. While I like the idea behind the system, it’s a little too easy to abuse. As soon as you get access to a sniper rifle with a silencer on it, you’re basically set for easily building up and keeping those tokens.
The other new ability is airstrike tokens. As you complete side missions you earn these tokens, which allow you to call for air support. They’ll drop a bomb about where you ask them to, meaning it’s a super useful ability that can take out large swaths of enemies. However, you can only use them if there are no AA turrets nearby, so taking those out quickly becomes a top priority. Taking out these turrets has another use in that every time you do a recon plane can fly over and mark all the nearby locations of importance.
Once you finish the campaign you can replay it on one of two new difficulties. Survivor mode lowers your max health and reduces your inventory to only being able to hold a single weapon, while action movie mode lets you hold four weapons and call down airstrikes without destroying AA guns first. The ideas are nice but it’s not quite the replay value that Hours of Darkness could use.
If the DLC has one thing going for it, it’s damn pretty. Vietnam looks amazing, and there’s not a single place that reminded me of the original game at all. The amount of detail that went into making the world is especially impressive. This even circles back into the gameplay. The much heavier vegetation means that fire is way more effective in taking out enemies. On the other hand, I found myself quite disappointed in the soundtrack. Lacking any of the famous Vietnam War songs like Fortunate Son, Sympathy for the Devil, or even Ride of the Valkyries, the whole thing screams like a missed opportunity. The surprising lack of an original soundtrack is especially disappointing when you consider the fantastic OST of the main campaign.
As a whole, Far Cry 5: Hours of Darkness feels like one big misstep. The lack of any real story, unique quests, or new gameplay ideas drags the whole experience down. The only real new feature is way too easy to exploit and isn’t even hugely interesting in the first place. Also, the whole thing is over in less than three hours. There are indeed some dark hours, and most of them were spent playing this game.
Far Cry 5: Hours of Darkness was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a season pass provided by the publisher. The DLC is also available on PC and Xbox One.
Far Cry 5: Hours of Darkness lacks a story, unique missions, or really much point. After completing the same generic side quests for two and a half hours, it's over.
- Dropping Bombs on People is Always Fun
- Survival Instincts is a Good Idea
- No Story
- Mostly Just Repeating Generic Side Content
- Survival Instincts Too Easy to Abuse
- Very Short
- Soundtrack is Boring