Talking Cults and Culture with the Developers of 'Far Cry 5'


#1

When I sat down to play a few hours of Far Cry 5 earlier this month, I couldn’t shake the initial pitch Ubisoft made for the game last year.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/d3wjyv/far-cry-5-interview-talking-cults-and-culture-with-the-developers

#2

Wow…what a brave stance…

Seriously, even when you disregard current events this still sounds milquetoast as all hell. I mean, is this game actually about anything?


#3

I mean, at least we can applaud Ubisoft for finally matching their narrative tone to their existing open-world formula. :wink:


#4

I feel like I’m starring at a hole that Ubisoft dug up, let it fill with water, and then came to me and say “Hey, isn’t this pond cool?”.


#5

Short answer: No.

Long answer: This company still owns and produces Clancy games that out-Clancy Clancy on the reg. Like, Watch Dogs 2 is the closest Ubi’s ever gotten to not being dogshit in some way politically, and even then it lives so much in the shadow of modern nihilistic drama expectations that the best it did got erased by the worst it did.

Also AC: Origins only managed a PoC majority “cast” because most of them were actually just digital blackface outside the protag.

I remember Austin bringing up the well-worn idea of corporations repacking and selling dissent back to us (coincidentally in a talk that included FC2 years ago), and Ubisoft’s embodied that for ages now. We all knew this was coming the moment FC5 actually had anything beyond a provocative poster, and the first gameplay featured the protag murdering non-white cultists just so you’d know you can’t handle their fuckin awesome nuance. Not to mention the masturbatory presentations where white-ass creative leads waffled at journalists about how scary the world is ooooo, before making sure to say the enemies are ultranationalist cultists not just Americans and look at this wow it’s fucking nothing.

Something tells me this multi-million dollar corporation whose games are already more identifiably homogenized than most others isn’t going to be making very affecting social commentary for anyone but Woke Straight White Dude any time soon. Remember, this version of this series kicked off with an “”"""""""""“ironic”""""""""" white savior porn fic with a writer that thought he was crafting a modern Apocalypse Now, and it’s been so bad at hedging since then that even its edgy sequences have always been dull as shit. God help us if it tries to fancy itself an era-of-Trump ~classical liberal~ Joining The Conversation now.


#6

The answer to Austin’s question on race is very unsatisfying. “Oh, old people don’t really associate cults with racism”. Like, what? Manson tried to start a freaking race war.


#7

We’ll have points where you’ll meet characters that are absolutely tough to deal with. They have their beliefs. They’re zealots. But then you’ll also be able to go out and play with Cheeseburger [the bear.] You’re gonna be able to do that.

man come on, this sounds like if disneyland had a Deliverance-themed roller coaster. what a crock of shit. i cant believe ubisoft managed to make me wish that they had instead expanded on whatever the hell Far Cry Primal was instead of this


#8

I’m glad Austin is asking the developers these questions because I think the answers are helpful in giving us an idea of what the process of using subject matter (loaded with baggage) for a blockbuster shooty-shooty open-world blockbuster game looks like. I’m honestly curious about how the subject-matter will be digested broadly when it comes in this form. I feel like the hardcore gamer only has enough bandwidth to make jokes about “drinking the Kool-Aid” and potentially conflating a poster of The Shining for Charles Manson within a warped sense of edgy coolness that occurs when a lack of interest in an examination of real-world events meets media imagery from them. So given that folks aren’t going to be interested in taking the time to understand the difference between Waco, the Bundy stand-off, and the Unite the Right rally (btw The Unite the Right rally being relevant to this game seems like an awkward reach imo *edit at bottom), what will the effect of this game be on cultural concepts that are signaled in the game? I’m kinda looking forward to finding out if it will have even a subtle impact once it is in the wild.
All that said, I’m looking forward to shooting AIs in this world. I skipped Far Cry 4 and I’m looking forward to two versions worth of development. I’m really curious about how the PvP will turn out on PC. I had a blast playing PvP Far Cry 2 on the 360. The custom-map community was fascinating and temporary.

Edit: Thinking about this a little bit more, I think Black Panther is a good comparison. BP didn’t really go into any depth about the oppression of black people, but it seems to have been well received just by making some jokes referencing “colonizers” and reframing fantasy to make it for an audience that is under-represented in the super-hero movie genre. I guess that may be what we were hoping for from Far Cry 5? No depth in the actual issues, just signaling wokeness and clearly choosing a leftist side?

*looks like I was wrong again. 17% turn out seems significant to me


and these three percenters are both Sovereign Citizen-esque and racist based off their actions.


#9

The first time I’ve ever been dissappointed by the ability to play with a big fuzzy bear


#10

All of the coverage of this game turned it from a “I want to play this ASAP” to “I’ll pick it up when it’s under ten bucks.” Ubisoft, we could’ve had it all.


#11

I am personally tired of companies claiming or striving either to be politically neutral or that their product is politically neutral. Even if they 100% believe it.

(Claiming to be politically neutral is not inherently fascist, but I am going to use fascism as an example because I believe it will be a good example and because Far Cry 5 flirts with it as a theme.)

The goal of fascism is not to make everyone a fascist, it is to have enough people let fascists do fascist things. Being politically neutral means letting fascists do fascist things or, at least, not challenging the things fascists do. So being politically neutral does not help to create nor maintain neutrality in a political space.

Waypoint has already talked about the “…Obama-loving libtards…” line; this line is specifically designed to not challenge anyone. In not challenging anyone, it is condoning and normalizing saying those kinds of things. That’s not neutral, that’s definitely picking a side.


#12

I’m looking forward to seeing a continued dialog about this game, and dissecting what it does wrong from a narrative standpoint. But I’m also excited to play this game, because it sounds like a more refined gameplay experience from a series I enjoy.

While not trying to forgive their narrative failure, I did not expect Ubisoft to tell a nuanced story about the issues they have invoked in their marketing. I have seen this series fail before. It failed to deal with sexual assault, colonialism and the white savior motif in the third iteration. It white washed its antagonist, and over simplified the narco state and religious traditionalism in Far Cry 4. In spite of the previous titles missing the mark in several scenarios, I still enjoyed the combat, hunting, skill grind and beautiful vistas.

I’m glad Austin and Waypoint evaluated the political emptiness of the game. I don’t think it’s wrong to want more from a story than “the truth is somewhere in the middle” avoidance of stance. I want to play the Far Cry 5 with something salient to say about this political moment. But I still want to play this game and enjoy the sandbox Ubisoft created, even if it crumbles under the most surface evaluation. I hope the pleasure of escape endears the experience during the collapse.