If you've played any recent games in the Far Cry franchise, you may be aware of Hurk. You probably also hate Hurk. The character feels like he's supposed to be a parody of all things redneck, but he usually feels out of place. Combine this with having verbal diarrhea, and he's quickly become one of the most hated characters in the franchise. Why am I bringing up Hurk in the intro to my review of Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars? Because for some reason Ubisoft decided that the Jar Jar Binks of the Far Cry series needed his own DLC. Why?
You'll play as Nick Rye, who you may remember from the main game as a resistance fighter, pilot, and new father. One night he's driving home from a grocery store run when he gets a call from Hurk. You see, Hurk is trapped on Mars and he needs Nick's help to get home. Hurk forcibly beams Nick up to Mars and explains that giant alien bugs tore him limb from limb. Sadly this victory doesn't last long as Hurk survives by stuffing his head into a robot. So the painful pair have two goals on Mars: rebuild Hurk's body, and help an obviously evil AI named Anne gain control of a robot army to "save" Earth.
Look, it's pure schlock that may or may not be canon. None of that really matters so long as it's fun, but its absolutely impossible to enjoy Lost on Mars' story simply because of Hurk. For the entire game's duration Hurk hangs out next to Nick and constantly bombards the player with "jokes". It's horrible. Hurk suffers from some of the worst writing I've ever had the displeasure to witness in a video game, and why anyone gives him the time of day is beyond me. At least in past Far Cry games, Hurk was only relegated to a small chain of side quests. Here he's everywhere at all times, and it's nothing but terrible.
The basic gameplay isn't too different from either the base game or the Hours of Darkness DLC. You step foot on Mars with a list of tasks to accomplish. This time around, you need to activate several facilities around the map and find all missing pieces of Hurk. Once you've accomplished all this, you can go home. Sadly this means Lost on Mars suffers from the same basic problem as the first DLC: it makes the game feel less like a campaign and more like a bunch of empty side quests. You'll hit up these facilities, usually have to do one of three tasks to turn it back on, then move on to the next one.
The only time I felt the game brake away from its formula is when I found weird geothermal pockets. These cause Nick to experience realistic hallucinations that serve as some trippy yet fantastic levels. One of them sees Nick return to John Seed's bunker. He fights his way out of the trap while an all-consuming dark cloud of screaming souls chases him. Another has him believe the aliens have invaded Fall's End, and requires him to save the town. However, he has no weapon, so instead, you have to set up traps and lure the aliens into them. These geothermal pockets are fantastic, and for the life of me I can't figure out why more of the DLC wasn't like this.
Since you're on Mars, some things do work a little differently than on Earth. The lower gravity means you can jump way higher than normal, and you can reach new heights using your jetpack. This is a neat way to get around the environment until you land on a weird angle. More than once I went to jump only to find myself flung in a random direction. Before long, the navigation became frustrating, and the cool jetpack simply isn't enough to salvage it.
Because this is science fiction, you can't just get away with more cult members weilding AK47s. There are way more lasers and giant bugs. The weapons aren't really different enough to be interesting. Sure they shoot lasers, but they still just assault rifles and shotguns with a different skin. The only weapon I actually thought was unique was the "Nut Hugger" (Hurk names the weapons. Of course.), which let you lock onto targets and fire homing plasma bolts. You also get "Power Gloves" which are supposed to be big electric fists to punch bugs out of orbit. In practice, they deal so little damage that they're basically worthless.
In fact, "deal so little damage" seems to be a running motif of Lost on Mars. Nearly every enemy in the game classifies as a bullet sponge. I often spend fights finding a spot they couldn't reach, and then standing there and dumping obscene amounts of lasers into enemies until they died. It's genuinely not fun at all. It doesn't help that Lost on Mars supposedly serves as a counterpoint to the stealth heavy Hours of Darkness by being totally action based. So there's no way to really avoid these fights, or sneak through and make them easier.
You do have Hurk with you at all times, taking the form of the absolutely useless Brobot. I often found Hurk staring at walls, running into enemies, getting in the way of my gun, and generally doing little other than finding new and exciting ways to end up dead. At least I enjoyed how many times Hurk died.
At some point, I came to the conclusion that Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars really wanted to be one thing: Borderlands. From the alien world setting, the forced humor, the bullet sponge enemies, and the sci-fi weaponry, every part of this game screamed like it was a Borderlands wannabe. However, all the things that actually made Borderlands fun are missing here. Instead, it manages to be little other than a Badderland.
I'm sorry. That was a Hurk-esque joke. Like Hurk, it should be dead. I'll stop now.
Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars gets so much wrong it's almost baffling. Focusing on one of the series' most annoying characters, an environment that is difficult to explore, boring combat full of bullet sponge enemies... these are just some of the problems of this DLC expansion.
- Geothermal Pocket Missions
- I Got to Kill Hurk A Lot
- Terrible Writing
- Boring Gameplay Loop
- Annoying Physics
- Bullet Sponge Enemies