You’re stranded behind enemy lines in cult-occupied Hope County, Montana, and nobody’s coming to help you. Eden’s Gate, a veritable army of fanatics, has finally made its move and locked down the area, leaving you and every Hope County resident in cult territory. Now you’re standing alone against deadly odds in Big Sky Country, with no bars on your phone and only one way to stop the madness: take down Joseph Seed, the self-styled prophet of Eden’s Gate, and free Hope County from his campaign to save souls by force. And if you’re going to survive long enough to do that, you’re going to need to make some friends. Welcome to Far Cry 5, coming February 27 to PlayStation 4.
To hear Executive Producer and Creative Director Dan Hay tell it, Far Cry 5 is equal parts isolation and community, adventure and resistance. It’s a game that’s as much about finding common cause with like-minded people on a dangerous frontier as it is about exploration and explosions.
“You go out into the world and you meet people for the first time, you don’t know them, maybe they don’t trust you,” says Hay. “But if you can strike a deal with them, if you can have a conversation with them and make them part of what it is you’re building, they can join your resistance.
“It’s definitely about chaos, and there’s a lot of that in this,” says Hay. “But it’s also about building a beautiful world, and that’s a thing we want to introduce you to. We went to Montana, and we fell in love with it. It’s stunning.”
Hay and his team spent around 14 days in Montana during development, meeting locals and seeing firsthand what the state has to offer. They found beautiful countryside with diverse biomes and wildlife, all of which create tons of opportunities for outdoor activity. They also found people who impressed the developers with their sense of self-reliance.
“We met a lot of people who didn’t want to be messed with,” says Hay. “They want to be left alone. And there was this feeling of being able to take care of themselves. And it created this sense of a frontier, and a remoteness, that really resonated with us. But what happens when somebody else shows up and says, ‘yeah, I agree with you, don’t trust the government, we can do it ourselves, and I will provide’?” All of a sudden you create this petri dish, this magnet for crazy, which is where Eden’s Gate goes.”
At the top of Eden’s Gate sits The Father, Joseph Seed, who believes that societal collapse is imminent, and that a voice has commanded him to save as many souls as possible before that happens, whether they like it or not. While meeting with cult experts, however, the developers discovered that cults aren’t generally kept together by a single, charismatic leader, but by a hierarchy of people working together to accomplish specific goals.
In Eden’s Gate’s case, those people are Jacob, a 20-year Army veteran in charge of security; John, a lawyer who acts as the cult’s public face while aggressively buying up property for it; and Faith, who keeps the cult’s members pacified and “rowing in the same direction,” according to Hay.
“We look back at some of the characters that we’ve created before, and we’ve had those key moments where you sit down with them, and you look at them eye to eye,” says Hay. “But we kind of did it with one character at a time, and each game was a face-off. This time, we thought it’d be really interesting if we created a cast of characters [like that]. They each have their own personalities, and each even have their own agenda.”
It won’t just be the antagonists that get that kind of attention, either. Remember those friends we mentioned at the beginning? Potential allies are all over Far Cry 5’s Montana, and if you can convince them to stand up against the cult, you’ll be able to recruit them to follow you into battle. And unlike the interchangeable rebels of Far Cry 3 and 4, these Guns for Hire are unique characters with special skills, unique backstories, and distinct personalities.
Our first look at three of these characters in Far Cry 5 included Pastor Jerome Jeffries, a former parish priest who was driven out of his church, beaten, and left for dead by Eden’s Gate – and who now takes up arms to defend those the cult wants to oppress. We also met Mary May Fairgrave, a second-generation saloon owner who’s lost her family business to the cult’s predatory real-estate schemes, and Nick Rye, a cropduster pilot who’s ready to start raining down bullets to defend his family.
“When we see those characters come to life, when we see that they’re not just AI waiting around to give you a mission, they have real personalities, they have opinions about stuff – the world feels real,” says Hay. All of these elements – the world, the cult, the resistance you build – work together to create a world that feels believable while still giving you free rein to wreak havoc across an open countryside with a huge array of weaponry and armed vehicles. It’s a balancing act, but one that Far Cry is uniquely suited to pull off.
“The nice thing about games maturing is, we’re getting closer and closer to films and television in terms of the stories we can tell,” says Hay. “And I think it means we can start to tackle situations and characters that are a little more complex. It’s still ours – it’s our Montana, it’s our county, it’s our cult – but it means that we’ve grown up enough to be able to tackle that. Even though it’s a tough subject, it works in the game, and we feel like we can own it.”
Far Cry 5 launches February 27 for PlayStation 4, and you’ll be able to see a lot more of it on June 12, when Ubisoft’s E3 press conference kicks off at 1:00pm Pacific Time.