After Three Hours With 'Far Cry 5,' Its Politics Are Far From Clear


#1

Last year, during its initial reveal, we learned that Far Cry 5’s fictional Hope County, Montana has come under control of the Project at Eden’s Gate an aggressive, militia-like cult that believes the end of the world is around the corner. It turned out to be a controversial premise, and one that was setting a high bar.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/evm7ve/far-cry-5-hands-on-politics-progression

#2

Everything I’m seeing about FC5 is just so disappointing. I’m actually shocked by how disappointed I am? Like, oof, every person writing about this, at Waypoint and beyond, is just crushing.

I’m a weirdo in that I really liked FC4? A lot of that game felt like the studio trying to tell a big nuanced story and they stumbled in some places, but to me personally it landed enough big moments that I have played it three times (mostly on the power of how much I really love the main cast, especially Ajay Ghale). And there was enough good in FC4 that I really genuinely feel there was enough of a skeleton for Ubisoft to land this one.

I’m just so disappointed. Like, the “let’s fuck up some white supremcists” demographic is throwing money these days. It’s easy money! And they softballed it! In 2018, the age of Trump!

Maaaaan. Can I teleport to the alternate universe where this game put the foot down and ramped into the sun amid a bunch of rainbow fireworks?

/ENORMOUS SIGH


#3

I’m not a fan of the “just turn off your brain” mindset for entertainment, but I don’t get why people look at the slick marketing, and the huge budgets, the big publishers, and just the sheer number of chefs in the kitchen, and still get hyped up to expect a coherent political message from the video game equivalents of Transformers and Marvel flicks.

Games like this trying to have their cake and eat it too is always brought up like it’s a flaw or like the developers made a mistake and failed. The ganes are like that by design.


#4

Because you have hope in stuff. I think it’s easier to be jaded than to root for the best, especially in this situation where I think we could all see the potential here. There’s worth in being vocally disappointed. I want Ubisoft to look at the commercial and critical success of Wolfenstein 2, look at the coverage of this game going into launch, and know they missed out on a passionate demographic.


#5

Remember prior to Wolfenstein II’s launch when Pete Hines said that “Bethesda doesn’t develop games to make specific statements or incite political discussions”? Then the game dropped and I think it’s safe to say it had more than a few statements to make.

I’m still holding out hope that the devs and marketing people have been coached to be a bit hush-hush about some of this game’s content/themes, because I honestly can’t see any way this thing avoids including touchy political subject matter and taking some sort of stance whether it meant to or not.


#6

TO BE FAIR, Hines’ statement is factually accurate. They may not develop games like that, but they sure publish them. :wink:


#7

“But Mr. Hines aren’t the Stormcloaks just a thinly veiled analogue for actual white supremacists advocating for a white ethno-sta-“
“Alright press conference over thanks for coming everyone”


#8

From reading Austin’s thoughts on the game and everything that has already been shown in trailers, demos, etc. I think it seems like a pretty clear case of “just another Far Cry game”. They are big loud action games that aren’t even close to capable of handling the difficult material they sometimes engage with, responding with carpet bombings where a surgical scalpel would probably be preferable.

I do find it encouraging to hear that they are shaking up the formula a fair bit as I personally found 4 to be a pretty sterile and uninteresting experience all things considered. It sounds like they at the very least are aware of the issues they had with the gameplay loop and pacing. The narrative problems, however, I’m starting to wonder if there’s even a way for them to fix.

Far Cry games try to deal with absurd spectacle and heavier narrative them and they have been notoriously bad at that balancing act for years. The spectacle is such a big part of the games appeal, that the only way I see them fixing the narrative issues is to just try and aim lower, because I simply don’t know that I trust them to perform that balancing act in a satisfactory manner.


#9

Far Cry 5 and Detroit: Become Human are quickly occupying similar spaces in my brain. I have a feeling I’m going to have some really big problems with the way they tackle many topics they try to discuss (not to mention the whole problem of Quantic Dream’s studio culture), but I still have a morbid curiosity to see just how badly they fumble their stories. At the same time, I also feel like there are so many more positive things I could do with my time than play games that more than likely will frustrate me.


#10

I think the difference between them is that while Far Cry 5 can try to compensate for it’s bad story with it’s supposedly revitalized gameplay, Detroit: Become Human has nothing of the sort to fall back on. It is 100% committed to whatever shitty takes it may have and nothing else.


#11

In my head, I’m just going to assume that every Dutch in the game is a variation on the question “What if Vinny Caravella lived in Montana?”


#12

Exactly. Good things do sometimes escape the maws of the AAA industry, and while indie games are usually a lot more interesting, we shouldn’t be cynical when stuff like Wolf II is around. Hell, Ubisoft themselves made Valiant Hearts, and Watch Dogs II, for all its flaws, had very positive examples of PoC and trans characters.


#13

I largely tend to agree in regards to Ubisoft, but the thing we have to avoid (and what we have a million systemic incentives to always do) is dehumanizing the very real people that work on these games, and the fact that at the end of the day most games are hierarchically structured productions and can (and do) end up being dense with coherent intent all the time, much of which is beholden to creative leads. This goes for progressive games as much as it does regressive, deliberately ignorant ones (i.e, Kingdom Come).

Ubi and others have a bad habit of passing around projects to a shitload of different studios, and Western devs are pretty new to paying attention to their theming, so yes it gets muddled, but there’s a unifying philosophy for each project that’s coming from somewhere on-high and/or through the culture of studios that’s further influenced by the cultural space of games they inhabit and so-on. Despite their unfortunate constructive homogeneity, there ought to be a reason the same company that produced Watch Dogs 2 also makes heinous-ass Clance games.

WD2 actually has coherent aesthetic & written messaging throughout most of its runtime, but as most of us know, it erases its strongest character dynamic so harshly that one couldn’t be blamed for having the whole game ruined for them by that. However, it still remains the most relatable open-world action game to people of many marginalized groups, it proved in many ways that coherent messaging can exist in Ubi’s space, there’s just either mandates or an atmosphere (or both) that leads them stumbling into fucking it up.

This should never be truly expected, though. Making it expected is the quick road to complacency, and hell, progressive folks of all varieties still suggest Ubi games to this day, so it’s extra important to be openly skeptical and interrogative of their games’ attempts at politicism. Even when their games are trapped within the explicitly violent expectations of their genre(s), they can do (and have done, in spurts) much better than this.

You know Skyrim was some prime settler trash when the literal only response the player can have to the white-supremacists-you-can-roleplay-to-have-fun (that are literally relatable to The fucking Golden One) is full-faced Imperialism.

Also, hate to burst this bubble: Wolfenstein 2 was already winking-n-nudging about actually being politically considerate while Hines did the vapid market-hedging stuff. That one incidental guard convo with Nazis wondering why people won’t just “reasonably debate” them was in a short gameplay preview months before launch. FC5 has a whole tapestry of dialogue open to the public through previews now, and most of it is pisstrash.


#14

Part of me was hoping that Far Cry 5 would be the video game version of Justified that I always wanted, but it seems like the game is too toothless for even that. I think this will end up being a discount pickup that I co-op with a friend while ignoring the story.


#15

That was in a preview trailer? I missed that. I was howling when I an encountered that line.

Why do you have to get my hopes up like that? That would have been really interesting.


#16

Ugh, tell me about it. I was so disappointed when RDR2 was revealed to be a prequel rather than a modern western tale. Why does the video game industry hate Gangstagrass*?

*NOTE: This was rhetorical.


#17

It was one of the more long-winded gameplay previews where they just play a section uncut (I believe it was the Roswell demo that’s >25 minutes long), but it was out there even before Beth’s own social media marketing was contradicting Hines/the writer’s fluffy marketing talk.

Meanwhile, people with lots of time in FC5 have dug up nothin but awesome dialogue like the “Obama-loving libtards” bit, or “I don’t wanna assume gender or nothin, i just call people dude and bro regardless of vagitalia or penislessness” because haha wacky


#18

Oh that makes more sense. I usually don’t watch those extended walkthroughs before release.

Wow, I’m even less interested in FC5 now.


#19

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#20

Typically, the problem with open world sandbox games is the main story is thematically dissonant to the side content but also gated behind the player having to do enough side content to unlock the next portion of the main story. The result is a thematic mess where the pacing is ruined and the tone flips between goofy schlock to a take me seriously please main story. I wonder how much of this is because the publisher/developer fears that if the main story was accessible in succession they’d find players complaining that the game can be completed too quickly and doesn’t provide the 30+ hours of filler content so that players can feel they got their $60 worth.

This Far Cry looks as formulaic as the last. It does make me want to play Firewatch again though.