There’s always a nervous unease whenever the video game I’m playing expects me to drive anything. My palms sweat and my heart rate speeds up to levels I’m convinced will send me into cardiac arrest. If people think driving in video games is the same as driving in real life, well, they haven’t witnessed me behind the steering wheel as my character. It occurred to me that no matter how many games I play, I’ll never be the one you’ll want to rely on to drive the getaway car.
Recently I finished a second playthrough of Far Cry 5 on co-op with my usual online gaming buddy. She insisted that we play the whole game again with me as the host of each session, just so I would have the chance to unlock all of the characters and New Game+.
The first time we played the game together, my friend hosted our co-op sessions to do the entire story from beginning to end. We learned that whoever hosts the gameplay session gets to unlock everything within the game, while the second player joining it doesn’t reap any of the unlockables beyond gathering items and loot.
Being the host of the game meant I controlled what we did, from selecting which missions we did to where we fast traveled on the map. Even though I was the one in control of the button presses, my friend still lead the way to where we needed to be in the story. She did, after all, beat the game more than once by herself and then with me on co-op.
When we play together, we often lay out a strategy of how we’re going to take on enemies or divide up the tasks we need to complete within the game. One of the things I always left her in charge of was the in-game driving. Whether it was helicopter, boat, motorbike, or car I gladly handed off driving duties to her.
It all went pretty well until we had a few panic inducing moments, namely when we either died during a mission or internet connections on either end kicked us out of the game. It was in those moments that I found myself in the driver’s seat during important missions with no way to pass it back to my friend.
The first time this happened was when we did a helicopter mission. I forget which one it was, as there were more than one like it, but it was a pretty straight forward one. It started like it always did with her being in control of steering the helicopter and me staying on the passenger side. Things didn’t go so well in those few moments and we found ourselves crashing and burning our helicopter to the ground. By the time we respawned back to the beginning of the mission, we were up in the air with me now driving the helicopter and her sitting on the passenger side, helpless to do anything.
We were both pretty freaked out. I was busy having a heart attack, chanting “I don’t like this” several times into the headset, while she was equally agitated and panicking. My friend knows and has experienced me at my worst with driving in games. I even wrote about it once on the since disbanded Geek Force Network website. We both agreed that I’m not to be trusted with any moving vehicle whatsoever. With no choice or say in the matter, I was forced to fly the helicopter and complete the mission, as my poor friend looked on in horror.
Like any instance where I had to drive or steer any moving vehicle, we died several times over. You can imagine how my friend was taking all this. She tried to be patient with me, but even I knew she was really itchy to take over and fly the helicopter herself. Too bad we weren’t in the same physical space as each other to do that. But what she was able to do was kind of be the backseat driver as I piloted the helicopter.
I followed her instructions as she told me to turn left or right, go up or down. Having her be my guide helped calm me down somewhat and it eventually led us to finishing the mission and landing the helicopter in the place it needed to be.
The second time I had to be in charge was the very end of the game. In this situation I had to drive a car full of people to the marker on the map, as literal hellfire rained down on us and chaos on the road was happening. The ending of the game doesn’t give you the option to let a different player assume the role of driver, as it’s something you’re stuck with by default. But even though there was no way of getting around it, I assumed I’d at least have my friend there taking on backseat driver duties. Unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be either. After dying the first time we tried to drive to the final cutscene of the game, it reloaded only without allowing my player two back in the game. I had to finish the final moments of the game alone and without any backup support. My friend was kicked off and had no way of seeing what was going on in the game to properly guide me on the road.
I would say this was way more stressful than the helicopter mission. I was sort of bungling my way through the driving and doing my best to keep it together. All my friend could do was listen to my commentary as I went through it. I lost count how many times I died here. I think it may have been more than the helicopter mission. Luckily, I seem to have a knack for eventually learning the paths and knowing when to expect what. It may have taken several tries, but I finally got to that end cutscene to finish my second run with Far Cry 5.
Driving in video games will never not be stressful for me. It’s probably why I have an affinity for fantasy video games that are filled with horses, swords, and dragons. Games that involve modern, almost true to life kind of settings can be a mixed bag if I’m tasked with something as scary as driving.
I’m a competent enough driver in real life, but I would prefer someone takes over control in its video game form.