One of the reasons Far Cry is such a beloved franchise is that it isn’t afraid to take risks and rib itself.
Lost on Mars quintessentially represents that line of thinking, serving as a real continuation of the quirkiness Ubisoft uncovered in Blood Dragon.
And while Hours of Darkness was a decent enough opening DLC for the Far Cry 5 Season Pass, Lost On Mars is, unquestionably, the main event.
AI got your back man
Nick Rye’s sort of best buddy, Hurk, is in trouble. And not the usual kind where he’s downed one too many moonshines and started a fight with a local boxer. Nope, somehow he’s managed to get stuck on Mars.
And not only has Hurk gone intergalactic, he’s lost all of his body parts and is helping an all-powerful AI, ANNE, try to save the world from spider crabs. Because who wouldn’t want this guy being humanity’s last hope.
As Nick, you must travel the surface of the planet activating broken down terminals using energy cores which, in turn, help to grow ANNE’s influence. The arachnid force, millions of years in the making, have been gradually breaking down her network, so you must help her rebuild her robot army to fight back the spider crabs and save the day.
ANNE assists you by supplying teleporters to fast travel around Mars and 3D printers to create weapons and helpful items in exchange for the planetary currency, Hemoleum. This is harvested from green barrels, spider crab corpses and broken down from energy cores once you have enough of them.
Unlike Hours of Darkness which often treads familiar ground, Lost On Mars feels completely separate from Far Cry 5 in many ways. There’s a ton of new weapons for starters, including the Blaster of Disaster Sniper Rifle, the Hellfire pulse rifle, and the infamous Power Glove which lets you punch Spider Crabs into hyperspace.
You’ll also get a bunch of suit upgrades and helpful powerups, like Crabmones which can be thrown at spidercrabs, covering them in a stench which attracts little bitty spider crab pests to distract them, and a Queen’s Heart which actually makes the arachnids fight one another.
But the best piece of kit has to be the Space Jets. The zero gravity impulse sees you leap up high to grab onto seemingly out of reach platforms and soar over the sands using Space Wings. I got real Batman Arkham City and Just Cause vibes out of this every time, it was wonderful.
There’s particular platforming sections in Lost on Mars tailor-made for this, though they can be a tad frustrating as you only have a limited amount of energy to draw from. Once that drains, you’ll plummet back down to the surface, whether you want to or not. Timing is everything.
Eventually, you’ll pick up an upgrade that lets you hover above ground for a period of time while also reducing your fall by breaking it up into stages so you don’t die on impact. But this also relies on the energy bar so conservation really needs to be taken into consideration.
The great part of the Space Jets is that it also affects your combat strategy. Because the final major difference between Lost on Mars and Far Cry 5 as a whole is that you can’t walk on the sand. Well, you can, but every time you do a Spider Crab will feel the tremors and surface to attack you.
As such, it’s always safest to stand on random crates, platforms, or, in the case of the Space Jets, gain some height and shoot from above. Sure, the Spider Crabs can fight back by spitting at you, but this content ensures you’re rarely ever stood still during battles.
Sometimes, however, that does let the DLC down a little bit.
Up All Night to Get Crabby
It reaches a point in Lost on Mars where the floor may as well be lava. You’ll feel like you’re on a permanent pogo stick moving from place to place because the longer you stay on the ground, the more enemies you’ll have to fight. And with the draining energy I mentioned, more often than not, you’re often relying on a combination of skill, luck and patience to get the job done.
The difficulty curve gets rough and it doesn’t help that you have to keep switching your weapons out time after time because the ammo depletes almost faster than you can fire and you can’t reload. Everything has to recharge. To make matters worse, you only have a limited amount of slots to use which means you can only use half your guns at any one time, which doesn’t help in clutch situations.
And it doesn’t help as the fights are often more than a little unfair. Yes, Bro Bot Hurk is your companion throughout and will pepper enemies with some shots, but you constantly have to manually guide him and then goes down very quickly and easily anyway, so actually turns out to be fairly useless.
Your health is also on a very low recharge rate and you’ll often go through your supply of space bandages in one fight, then desperately trying to pick up scraps until you can you reach the next 3D Printer point to make more. Which feeds into my next point.
Another issue with Lost on Mars is you’re quite often ‘priced out’ from buying the big weapons because you’re not earning enough Hemoleum or you’re having to spend it on smaller items to stay alive. Part of the problem is that the Spider Crabs regularly die on the sand and trying to loot them often brings more arachnids into the fight. If you’re half-dead already, that’s not an advisable tactic, and there’s just not enough barrels to sustain the amount needed to beef up your arsenal until you unlock all the terminals.
But I like Lost on Mars. It’s ambitious, creative and generally a lot of fun. The mission structure does become quite repetitive between trying to find Hurk’s body parts and activating the terminals, but the witty dialogue throughout makes it easy to look past. The two protagonists are complete ducks out of water and it suits the off-hand, off-the-wall humour that really made Blood Dragon such a cult hit. You can tell that the shackles came off for this DLC where the restraints were in place for Hours of Darkness.
While the overall plot and ending is a little weak, this is a neat DLC while it lasts. There’s hours of content here and it’s such a refreshing change of pace, it may as well be a completely different game in how it plays. It’s obvious where the development time has gone on these two DLCs and it shows.
Lost on Mars is a substantial improvement over Hours of Darkness in almost every conceivable way. It’s not Blood Dragon brilliant and it does have its flaws and weakness, but I certainly enjoyed my time in space more than I didn’t. This helps scratch that Blood Dragon sequel itch, at least for a little while longer.
+ Space Jets and Wings are exhilarating and so much fun
+ Refreshing change of pace.
+ Almost like playing a completely different game
+ Witty dialogue and humour
– Difficulty curve gets rough and weapons recharge, not reload
– Bigger weapons difficult to obtain as you don’t earn enough
– Bro Bot companion can be more trouble than he’s worth
– Ending and plot quite weak
Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars DLC Review
7.5 out of 10
Tested on Xbox One
Code provided by the publisher