Ubisoft revealed Far Cry 5’s cover art today, introducing us to some of the upcoming game’s characters.
Echoing Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper,’ the imagery heavily suggests that religion, religious extremism and cultism will play a prominent role.
If the Jesus figure in the centre of the image is the antagonist, it will mark the first time since 2008’s Far Cry 2 that a Caucasian has been the main enemy. Far Cry has drawn criticism in the past — particularly of Far Cry 3 — of perpetuating stereotypes and casting the white man as the saviour.
When Far Cry 4’s cover art was revealed, Pagan Min (that game’s antagonist) was incorrectly assumed to be white. His pose on the cover was one of subjugating a Tibetan peasant. It caused a fair outcry at the time, even drawing lengthy criticism.
Despite the incorrect assumption of Pagan Min’s race, the controversy showed how sensitive the gaming community has become to the issue. Videogames have an even worse history of whitewashing than Hollywood does. Heroes are predominantly white, while people of colour are relegated to minor supporting roles or worse, the villains.
In Far Cry 3, players stepped into the affluent shoes of Jason Brody. A ‘dude bro’ partying it up in the South Pacific. The enemy in that game was Vaas Montenegro a pirate and decidedly not white dude.
Far Cry 3 was also criticised for its apparent cultural appropriation, racist overtones and use of outdated and offensive tropes. Early in the game, Brody is granted that Tatau, tattoos of the island warriors. As Brody unlocks new skills, his sick tribal tat extends.
Some tribes believe that tattoos hold magical qualities and even use tattoos to note a member’s rank or accomplishments. Brody’s use of the Tatau is about as culturally sensitive as a ‘Fuck off we’re full’ sticker on the back of a ute.
Thankfully, Ubisoft is a developer that listens to and responds to its fans and critics. Far Cry 4 cast players as Ajay Ghale, a Tibetan-American. Rather than rely on the tired idea of the white messiah, Far Cry 4 focuses on the return of a prodigal son. It was a much more personal story that Far Cry 3 and was thus more successful.
Who’s Gonna Save Us
Setting Far Cry 5 in Montana and casting the villains as white, religious zealots creates the potential for a compelling protagonist. Montana is home to approximately 66,000 Native Americans, forming as many as 275 tribes.
The cover art doesn’t give away any clues to the inclusion of any Native American characters, locations or themes, though being set in Montana does. The Sioux and Assiniboine nations have a reservation in Montana; Fort Peck. The reservation has its own court, laws and jail system and its own government. All of which are things not likely to be looked fondly on by white, christian extremists.
Every character shown on the cover art is white, which is a important to note, given how sensitive an issue the one of race and representation is. If both the protagonists and antagonists are white, Far Cry 5 will not only be a bit offensive, it’ll be boring. There are so many different types of people and cultures to draw on and use for inspiration.
Only ever showing white guys fighting white guys is redundant.
Far Cry 5 is set for release this fiscal year for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
The first official trailer is set for release tomorrow, May 26, 2017.