Spoiler Warning: I’m going to talk about Far Cry 5 and discuss elements of the story. This time, I totally am talking about the crappy ending. And how crappy it is. And why it’s crappy.
Disclaimer: I haven’t actually played Far Cry 5. I’ve told this story before. I’m too poor to be frivolous about purchasing games. I resent Uplay and that Ubisoft mandates it to play its games. I really liked Far Cry 2. I was really sad that Far Cry 3 was comparatively dreadful. And I’m still bitter enough to complain again (and again and again) about that stupid QTE knife fight with Buck. I want to play FC5 but I definitely don’t want to pay Ubisoft full retail for it, especially considering it is far removed from the FC2 level of quality. Consequently, all my information about FC5 is off the web.
Regarding Creative License: Use my ideas! This time I’m not focusing on the alternative Reformed Church of Eden’s Gate commune at hope county. As this piece discusses eschatological fiction, the American doomsday cult experience (or, really, doomsday cult experiences from anywhere) have been consistently contrary to doomsday. That is to say, so far, every alleged prophet has failed to predict the end of the world. And as such, neither has Joseph Seed in the RCEG version of the story. That said, the material discussed here may still be useful. As usual I’ve been lazy about attaching a Copyleft or Creative Commons licensing template. contact me if you need me to do so. As per usual, if you quote me verbatim, attribute as appropriate, but use the ideas freely.
Every Motive Escalate, Automotive Incinerate
This one is ranty.
At the end of Far Cry 5, the world ends.
More specifically FC5 ends with a nuclear strike. Several detonations rain down on Hope County and Joseph The Father Seed (who is curiously still alive at this point) proclaims it is the apocalypse, as per the futurist interpretation of Revelation. A Sheriff’s Utility Van that wouldn’t be able to start after a nuclear EMP does so anyway, and if at any time during the following wild ride the player shoots Seed to limit liabilities, the van spontaneously explodes without explanation, killing the Deputy.* Assuming Seed is unmolested, after a brief drive through fire and devastation, eventually everyone the Deputy tried to save is dead and Seed remains alive.
At which point Seed makes the Deputy his bitch. Roll credits.
Players online have been discussing what it all means, speculating the nuclear explosions could all be a hallucinogenic dream, or Seed’s few remaining followers were waiting for Joseph’s signal to detonate stolen bombs. There’s little information to go on, but occasional news from the radio broadcasts (heard through-out the game from vehicle radios) report of negotiation breakdowns between the US and the DPRK. So Montana may just be on the receiving end of a nuclear attack from North Korea.
A nuclear exchange between the US and North Korea is unlikely in real life, and wouldn’t go down the way it’s imagined in the FC5 endgame, but I’ll get to that.
Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs
I’m going to take a moment for a sub-rant (a rant within a rant): It distresses me that in this era, some people — in this case, players and developers of Far Cry 5 who have admitted as much — believe nuclear exchange is a plausible mechanism for divine apocalypse.
No. That would be the stupidest possible divine apocalypse ever. Literally stupid. A compound chain of many human beings in adversarial positions acting senselessly, contrary to their own interests.
Large asteroids steer towards the Earth only as a matter of chance. By the grace of God they hit us or don’t. So far we’ve been really lucky that space is big, that asteroids are comparatively small, and it’s really easy to miss the Earth. Sometimes small ones have hit us and killed a lot of stuff, just not everything. A big one could reset the evolutionary clock to microbes, or before.
Global pandemics are an ongoing risk held only in check by a robust network of disease control laboratories that work every single day to stay ahead of the germs. Infectious microbes keep mutating making prior treatments obsolete, yet commonly retaining all the stuff that allows them to flourish. Again, one divine supergerm that proves too robust for us to crack, and we’re fucked.
And there’s nothing for supervolcanos either. Ordinary volcanoes are a power so awesome we’ve regarded them as gods themselves, and fed them no small number of sacrifices so that they’d just take it easy. Supervolcanoes are inconceivable, except we’ve seen the damage and extinction they’ve wrought in the geological timeline. If the Yellowstone caldera blows (for example), it’s like Pompei for the planet. Wiping out civilizations by volcanic eruption is a classic God move. A Supervolcano would be entirely in character. Right in Montana, no less.
For any one of these, and countless others, one could blame it on God’s divine plans to reboot the world because we suck, or because it’s a good thing to reinstall the operating system once in a while.
But a nuclear exchange isn’t a divine apocalypse. That’s entirely on us. That’s not just someone doing a stupid thing, but many many someones doing a long chain of specific stupid things in order to set off a nuclear strike and retaliation. The stupid would have to pervade the administrations and military commands of several antagonistic countries. The human species would really have to work at it to start a nuclear war, and these days — with some rare exceptions — everyone is sure that we really don’t want one of those. Ever. No matter how much we hate the other guys.
As of 2015 we’ve had seventy years without a nuclear war. The human race appears to be rather adept at circumventing this kind of stupid. It helps that nuclear weapons require a fine-tuned chain of events to detonate properly, and it takes a determined country to develop them (and develop effective delivery systems). Still, the Soviet Union and NATO were on decidedly unfriendly terms. There were some alleged close calls and delicate negotiations between the US and USSR but despite doubt and public panic the Cold War’s years were spent a great many steps away from nuclear exchange. Both nations were committed not to initiate a first strike. Eventually the Soviet Union’s Politburo decided against retaliation for sake of the species.
The only scenario we could imagine, ironically, was a religious fanatic looking to kickstart doomsday so that Jesus could return and collect the souls languishing in Hell. Reagan wanted to be that guy, but he just didn’t have the heart to first strike. It was too shitty a thing to do. As such nuclear madmen only get into power in fiction. And in that same fiction, when Presidents authorize first strikes, we still have to ponder why a national security advisor might fail to shank the President first for the good of the entire world. (I’m very sorry I had to do that, Mr. President.)
The cold war is over, and a nuclear exchange would still be stupidity.
Kissinger’s Realpolitik was a confrontation of the reality that in negotiations between nuclear powers, ideological principles might have to be set aside in order to preserve peace. India’s and Pakistan’s enmity for each other has been fanatic and pertinacious. And they’ve both had nuclear weapons pointed at each other for about forty years now, often in the hands of extremists. Yet to this day, thankfully, not a one has been launched in hostility. I can only speculate on how they managed not to blow each other to nuclear kingdom come, but forty years is a solid record for cool heads.
Granted, the chances of nuclear war remain nonzero. And if Trump gets too kooky, hopefully Mattis will be there, steak-knife in hand. Our peerless President seems eager to drop one. But it’s still on us, not on a divine need to flush the system.
The Ladder Starts To Clatter With Fear Of Height, Down, Height
I speculate the attractiveness of a nuclear apocalypse for divine purposes is for the same reason we favor recounting the Titanic disaster despite the countless other times people have died by the hundreds at sea as a vessel sank from under them. The Titanic sank over about two hours, which is about the right amount of time for watching drama unfold. Nuclear holocaust fits into a similar time window. Maybe our doomsday predictors want doomsday to fit into a two-hour movie.
I say this because the apocalypse we’re actually watching unfold has yet to be associated with the second advent. And yes, alleged prophets continue to promise the second coming is imminent. Granted, the looming disasters from climate change feel distant and less certain from twenty-plus years away, and they may only be cataclysmic and disastrous, affecting a large fraction of our population, rather than bringing humanity right to extinction. And yet, with each day as we continue to do very little to mitigate its effects, the threat grows worse and more certain. And it may become an extinction-level crisis yet. I digress.
To be fair there’s also commonly an ideological barrier. Most Christian denominations are allied with climate change denialist political groups, and doomsday cults don’t work when you’re predicting the end of the world somewhere between twenty and eighty years from now. Doomsday cultists want EOTWAWKI this month.
But the doomsday cult story is not an eschatological story. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: The leaders and followers of doomsday cults have had to repeatedly confront what happens when the apocalypse is disappointingly tame, and everyone is still around and still expected to continue doing their arduous commune chores. It usually leads to a lot of pissed off followers, which is about when matters within the cult get exciting. Books have been written on this stuff, and it will be the basis of what happens when I get back to the Reformed Church of Eden’s Gate when Joseph Seed’s prediction for doomsday fails, and large numbers of the RCEG Commune’s 3000-ish followers start having doubts and getting restless. Because restless doubting followers is also a part of the American Doomsday Cult story.
Obviously, I should also discuss doomsday stories, and how a Far Cry-like open-world shooter might do one justice. Well done apocalypses can be very satisfying.
Wire In a Fire, Represent The Seven Games and a Government For Hire and a Combat Site
So what happened at the end of Far Cry 5? (View it here. It’s the middle one.) Let’s assume it’s not a druggy halucination and let’s assume Eden’s Gate did not acquire its own nukes found left in the corner of a decommissioned silo. (Though crazier things have been known to happen.)
If we supposed for a moment there was a nuclear exchange with North Korea, and we assumed that North Korea’s nuclear capabilities were at the high end of realistic estimates, it means the DPRK might have a handful of Taepodong-3 ICBMs (heh… dong. That may never get old.) This is the launch vehicle that could actually reach the contiguous United States. If we assumed they had a dozen of them and guidance systems to hit a city-sized target, they’d prioritize according to a retalitory strike, that is, they’d air-burst nukes over population targets, none of which would be in Montana, even if they had a dozen launch vehicles and payloads.
More likely, North Korea had a handful of payloads and launch vehicles, but without guidance systems, and had readied them to deter a US shock and awe campaign set on regime change. The US at behest of the hawks in the administration called the bluff, and the DPRK launched their ready ICBMs without guidance, hoping to get lucky enough to hit the continent of North America, and in proof that the cosmos-according-to-game-developers has a sense of humor some of them (perhaps all of them) dropped on Hope, Montana, providing for Joseph Seed a rather localized apocalypse.
This means there’s hope for the Deputy yet, that FEMA may come to their rescue, and in due time Seed’s rap sheet and FBI person-of-interest statuses may arise, and they may separate the two. Dunno if they’ll ever deprogram the Deputy from all the magic drugs and behavior conditioning and whatever Joseph does to mindfuck people though. For the Deputy, it may mean life in a psych ward. Only you can make this world seem bright
* Whenever Joseph Seed is in custody in FC5 (typically at the beginning or end of the game), the Deputy can, when piloting a vehicle, turn around and shoot him. But doing so causes the vehicle to spontaneously explode, resulting in a game over. Since Half-Life 2 (if not earlier) it’s been an acceptable convention to define certain people as mission-critical personnel and present a non-standard game over, which would have been somewhat appropriate considering that shooting a man in custody has moral ramifications. But the car spontaneously exploding suggests that a supernatural power is intervening in the most petty way possible. Note this is the only ending in which Joseph Seed can actually be killed (even though he can — and will — be shot multiple times during his boss fight and still emerge unscathed one cutscene later.) Seed says multiple times God won’t let you take me and in this case — where God is the Far Cry 5 development team, he’s absolutely right.
Perhaps the point was to imply God doesn’t care if his prophet is Psycho-murder Jesus, and when God’s plans interfere with your civilization’s sense of law and order and protecting its members, well, it just sucks to be you.
In that case Gravity Bone did it way better.