Ubisoft is revealing a host of new Far Cry 5 details today, formally taking the wraps off a game that has already inspired a good deal of discussion among fans and the press. As expected, it will pit you against a militant cult in rural Montana, bringing the series from locales like Kyrat and the Rook Islands back to America's backyard. And it looks darker than before.
Ubisoft showed Far Cry 5 to the press last week, where they outlined the general premise and talked about how it will intertwine with Far Cry's signature open-world gameplay. Most of the presentation centered on the frontier militia at the center of the story, which executive producer and creative director Dan Hay said was inspired in part by the apocalyptic mood that has seized parts of America in the wake of 9/11 and the 2008 Financial Crisis.
Early commentary has been quick to draw connections to contemporary politics in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, but Hay disavowed such parallels. "We came up with this idea three years ago, and it's just been really interesting to watch as things have kind of aligned. But I think overall that when people play the game, they will realize that the cult is putting a lot of pressure on our world, and as they take America back, there will be real people. Normal people. And as they play, they will enlist those people."
Far Cry 5's "Freedom, Faith, and Firearms"
According to Hay, Far Cry 5 will cast you as a local sheriff's deputy leading the residents of Hope County against Father Joseph's doomsday cult, which has taken control of the area.
Far Cry 5's resistance consists of mercenaries that you can hire through the course of the story. It also features characters like Pastor Jerome, an African-American priest who "felt the crushing weight of the cult," and Mary May, whose "whole family has been affected by the cult."
"They took my mom. My brother. My dad was never the same. And now what? They're going to take this place too? Fuck no. This place is ours," May says in her promotional vignette.
The picture Far Cry 5 paints is of a war for the soul of rural America, with blue collar locals like Mary May—a bartender—on one side, and apocalyptic cults on the other. Hay plays up the conservative values of the townsfolk, which he characterizes as "Freedom, Faith, and Firearms."
"I just think that when we were conceiving the game and coming back to it, looking at the frontier mentality, looking at people who choose to live there... People who want to be separate, people who don't want to be tread on, who don't want to be pushed on by the government. They really are passionate about their freedom. They really are passionate about what they believe and what they think of. And in a lot of cases, at least in some of the cases we looked at, they were passionate about their right to be able to protect themselves from anyone. So those things felt very uniquely Far Cry, and it felt relevant to look at those three things as pillars," he says.
Pressed for more details, Hay argues that Mary May represents freedom; Pastor Jerome embodies faith; and Nick Rye, a pilot seen attaching a minigun to a cropduster, is all about firearms. "I think the point is that we're trying to build a world where we take a relatively normal America and bring in a cult that believes what it believes. And it's pushing the citizens and the people who live in our world to the brink. And when the player comes in, they have the ability to basically go in and take America back. They go out into the world, they meet real world, they enlist them, and they're able to effectively take America back."
Finding the Balance Between the Craziness and the Darkness
Far Cry 5's announcement trailer highlights how dark the story stands to get. Shots of the cult taking over Fall's End are intertwined with a brutal scene in which a woman is forcibly baptized (and possibly drowned) by a bloodied man waving the Bible. You see allusions to ISIS as pickup trucks drive by bearing flags and chainguns, so similar to the ones made famous by Syria and Iraq (albeit with white flags instead of black).
But Far Cry is also a series that has given rise to videos like the above, where you hunt yetis and generally muck about. It's a series with crazy stunts and drugged out vision quests.
In Far Cry 5 you'll be able to fly crop dusters and bombard enemies with a chaingun. You'll have access to semis, tractors, muscle cars, ATVs, and boats. Cows appear to be a prominent part of the game's humor, and indeed there's one point where you can see a cow giving a rather unfortunate dog the boot. You'll even be able to use specialized animals like bears and cougars through a "Fangs for Hire" mechanic.
Hay thinks such craziness can exist side by side with the darkness, "When you build a big game and you know you're talking about an experience that's hours and hours, it's possible to have the opportunity to go and drink in the story and snack on it at the rate that you want to, then choose to go into the open world and blow shit up and start trouble. The thing is that we're putting multiple stories in this world. So it's not going to be all one flavor: There's going to be things that are dark, there are things that are going to be light, there are going to be things that are clean, there are going to be things that are dirty. There's going to be an experience that's a palette of colors."
We won't know how Far Cry 5 manages to express this palette in 2017, as it won't be releasing until next year. Ubisoft's announcement trailer confirms it will be out February 27, 2018 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.