Ubisoft’s next Far Cry game is already surrounded by controversy, and it hasn’t even been released yet. The modern rural Montana setting maybe hits a little bit too close to home for some, but the game was still on display and playable for a short demo, specifically focusing on the companion recruitment system with NPC support characters.

The system lets you select between three support characters in the demo, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. A dog, Boomer, is a stealthy pal, identifying enemies for you and also picking them off – provided he can get them alone and take them down without any witnesses. Grace, a long-range sniper, is a blend of deadliness and discretion, while Nick, a pilot, can rain down destruction with bombs from his biplane, in a decidedly open assault on your mutual enemies.

I watched someone ahead of me use Boomer to painstakingly awesome effect, directing him to lure and then take down enemies embedded in a small town gameplay area one by one. My colleague Jordan also chose Boomer, but defeated the baddies mostly by more direct means. I, on the other hand, chose Nick, and mostly ran around throwing dynamite and blowing up as much as I could.

All three gameplay styles seemed to produce satisfying results. I definitely enjoyed my few minutes with the game, but I was a huge fan of both Far Cry 4 and Far Cry Primal, too. Jordan was new to the serious but had fun, also. There was an unsettling moment where I considered that I was looking down a sniper scope from a water tower in modern-day America, but it’s hard to fault Ubisoft for that when I’ve enjoyed hours of glee doing pretty much the same thing in environs in Far Cry 4 that are no less realistic, if a bit more removed from my immediate surroundings in daily life.

The companion selection system also seems very cool, and like something that can significantly add to the value of repeated play. Along with online co-op available throughout the game, this should add a lot to the basic Far Cry formula. Ubisoft wouldn’t spell out how the system will work in the final game, which doesn’t arrive until February 27, anyway, but they did say that your pals will only “die” temporarily in game, triggering a cool down period if they do run into too much trouble from enemies.

Basically, I had a great time with my brief Far Cry experience, but that’s pretty typical for me for the franchise. I still feel like this one offers more gameplay variety through its new mechanics, even though I didn’t spend too much time with it, so I’m excited for the full game once it arrives.