Far Cry 5 has been revealed by Ubisoft, with new trailers and artwork offering the first look at what appears to be a new direction for the open-world FPS series. However, with the game’s first batch of information unveiling the villainous Christian, right-wing extremists that players will be fighting against, it’s already been the subject of controversy.
Far Cry 5 will be the first entry in the series to take place in the US, with it set in the fictional Hope County, Montana. The game will see the player assume the role of a junior deputy, tasked with aiding a resistance against the zealot militia that has assumed control of the region. Led by the Bible-thumping Joseph Seed, known to his followers as “The Father,” the militia uses violent means to maintain control over Hope County, with religious extremism being their driving force.
The game’s debut artwork became a talking point for a number of reasons. Firstly, Far Cry has mostly been set on tropical, faraway islands up until this point, with the enemy typically being a foreign menace hellbent on ruining the lives of the region’s indigenous people. This is the only Far Cry game that takes place in the US, and that it features a white, religious and armed enemy initially seemed as though this was a conscious choice on Ubisoft’s behalf given the current intense political climate.
It wasn’t long before the idea was bandied about that Far Cry 5 is going to be a political commentary on the US in a post-Trump world; it was suggested the game could focus upon red state politics, and the increasing racial tension in the US in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and subsequent election. It was rumored that the game could provide social commentary on the darker sects of Trump’s supporters; the far-right Republican voters who believed that ticking the box for Trump was also ticking the box for white supremacy.
But looking past the hyperbole reveals that while Far Cry 5‘s story is rooted in US politics, or rather the civilian reaction to them, the game won’t be a direct response to Trump’s presidency, as had been suggested, and is instead more closely based upon the fallout from the 2008 recession. As creative director Dan Hay told Venture Beat: “I started looking at things that happened after 2008 and 2009, looking at the subprime mortgage collapse. And the feeling of people in the world, and specifically in America, looking at the government and wondering where the fuck is the government? How are you protecting our legacy? How are you protecting our homes? Who is driving this? Who has their hands on the wheel?”
This feeling of hopelessness and the increasingly prominent “us vs. them” mentality in the US was exemplified by the increase in militia movements, with Ubisoft also being inspired by the standoff in Oregon back in 2016, in which an armed militia occupied a federal wildlife refuge for 41 days. “Ubisoft took it upon themselves to physically meet with one or more militia, in their compounds,” our sister site PlayStation Lifestyle wrote in their preview of the game. “This involved late-night meetings, the details of which we are barred from describing, indefinitely, as a matter of security.”
While this growing fear of the perceived establishment is certainly prevalent in current society, with the far-right frequently expressing their fear of the supposed “global elite” who they believe to be in control of the world’s politicians from behind the curtain, Trump’s impact upon US politics won’t drive Far Cry 5‘s plot. As pointed out by industry insider Liam Robertson, the game has been in development since before the US president was even running for office:
Far Cry 5 is not intentionally about killing Trump supporters. It has been in development since before he was even running.
— Liam Robertson (@Doctor_Cupcakes) May 25, 2017
There’s no telling whether or not racism will be touched upon in Far Cry 5, though it remains a possibility. In one of the game’s trailers, a black preacher sits among the ruins of his bombed church, before arming himself and setting off to join the Resistance in their battle against the violent cult. There’s no indication that this act was racially motivated, but given that the cult has been depicted as consisting entirely of white people in the game’s promotional material, it’s a possibility.
While Far Cry 5‘s American setting and cast of villains will still make it a contentious release, it likely won’t be for the reasons currently being discussed. With the game having been in development before Trump’s presidential campaign, and with its story focusing more upon its antagonists enforcing their extreme religious beliefs upon the people of Montana than racial division, it’s certainly still political but not in the way that many expect.
We’ll find out more about the game at E3 2017 next month, with it set to be released on PS4, Xbox One and PC on February 27, 2018.