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’Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars’ turns fighting aliens into a yawn-worthy slog

Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars is a case study in everything that’s wrong with paid expansion packs, especially those that come with season passes. The Far Cry series has a history of zany expansions, from Far Cry 4’s Valley of the Yetis to the standalone Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Lost on Mars, on the (red) surface, appears to add to this whimsical tradition. Sadly, it does so only at a glance. Lost on Mars is a bland and barren experience that practically begs you not to see it through to the end.

In Lost on Mars, two supporting characters from Far Cry 5, Nick Rye and Hurk Drubman Jr., find themselves in an improbable, high stakes situation — the stuff that wacky Far Cry DLC is made for. Hurk somehow winds up on Mars. His body parts have been scattered across the planet, which happens to be infested with vicious alien insects. Naturally, he calls his buddy Nick to come put him back together. An animated cutscene shows Nick transported up to Mars, where he meets Hurk’s head and an AI named ANNE, who claims that Earth will be destroyed if they don’t help turn back on Mars’ servers.

While the expansion’s setting is cool, the DLC is ultimately among the most generic and boring depictions of the Red Planet around.

If the severed head companion sounds familiar — hello, God of War — it’s not the only riff on another game here. Hurk’s consciousness is transferred into a tiny robot called Brobot, reminiscent of Ghost in Destiny. And even the overarching story, where you’re guided by a supposedly benevolent AI, takes cues from the original BioShock. Don’t worry — that isn’t really a spoiler. It’s clear ANNE is evil from the get-go.

Lost on Mars’ setup has potential, but once you’ve played ten minutes of it, you’ve experienced everything it has to offer. The spacious yet empty map is mostly filled with stretches of red and brown wasteland. Interspersed throughout are facilities and towers to power on. There aren’t any defined missions; instead, you simply look at your map, mark the next facility, and get on your way.

Each of these objectives has a familiar loop. You either scale a tower using your gravity belt (basically a jetpack), protect a robot while it repairs the power button, or defeat a Queen arachnid, a powerful and durable insect mother, to power on the station.

After you’ve scaled one tower, you’ve scaled them all. After you defeat one Queen, the rest feel tedious. And after you’ve defended a bot against an army of giant insects, you’ll never want to do it again. It certainly doesn’t help that there’s very little enemy variety. There’s only a few ground arachnid variants, each of which vault from under the dusty terrain to claw at you. The only other enemy, a flying pterodactyl-like bug, spews fire while you scale towers.

You fight using flashy new sci-fi weapons, but they’re almost universally disappointing. The space pistols, rifles, shotguns, and laser guns all pack a measly punch, but they also feel the same. Besides the Nut Hugger (seriously), a weapon that fires homing lasers, the intergalactic arsenal will have you wishing for a more traditional set of guns. Worse, the space insects don’t really react to getting shot. Combat feels like an elaborate game of laser tag.

Lost on Mars’ lone bright spot is Hurk’s commentary. Far Cry players have come to know Hurk over the years, as he appeared in Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4, and Far Cry 5. He’s just as lovably unintelligent here, spewing a near non-stop barrage of inappropriate jokes and nonsensical banter — a lot of which is genuinely funny.

Hurk isn’t nearly enough to save this expansion from becoming busywork, though. While the expansion’s setting is cool, the DLC is ultimately among the most generic and boring depictions of the Red Planet around.

As the second of three Far Cry 5 expansions offered in the season pass, Lost on Mars makes a strong case for why buying season passes ahead of time is a bad idea. Even if you own the season pass, you’re better off saving yourself the five hours you need to beat Lost on Mars.

Go knit a sweater instead. It’ll prove a bit less repetitive, and hey — you’ll have a sweater when you’re done.

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