Welcome to Bad Video Game Endings where we’ll give you an in-depth analysis as to why certain video game endings are bad. Today, we are here to discuss what was perhaps the game with the worst ending of 2018: Far Cry 5.
Warning: there are major spoilers ahead so please proceed with caution.
Far Cry 5 wasn’t one of 2018’s best games but it was the most tailor-made to invite political discussion. Given the plot’s subject matter, its release right in the middle of Trump’s administration, and the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States; Far Cry 5 seemed like the perfect breeding ground for discussions regarding its content. As it turned out, however, Far Cry 5 was a rather apolitical game and didn’t really have anything to say about gun violence, drug addiction, or the darker aspects of rural America. I was perfectly okay with this. Just because a game has the chance to dig into deeper themes, that doesn’t always mean that it has to. Sometimes, a game is better off simply being a fun experience and the writers and developers may not be up to the task of diving into deeper themes thus wisely leaving such aspirations for more invested people. For the most part, Far Cry 5 does just this. That is, up until its unfortunate endings.
The actual endings of Far Cry 5 are by no means even objectively good as they don’t make a whole lot of narrative sense. One of the endings literally comes out of nowhere for no apparent reason and none of the others provide anything resembling a satisfying conclusion. However, there is something else going on underneath the surface of these endings and it’s clear that the writers and developers were trying to make a few bigger points. Unfortunately, these points don’t really work either.
At the end of Far Cry 5, you have seemingly won. All of the regions are liberated and Joseph’s lieutenants are all dead while only Joseph himself remains in his compound. You then go to confront him in the church where all of this started and this is where the story goes off the rails. Out of nowhere, your allies throughout Hope County have been hypnotized by Bliss and have taken the sheriff and your fellow deputies hostage. Joseph then gives you 2 options: you can leave peacefully with your fellow officers or you can fight. Meanwhile, Joseph gives an impassioned speech about how all of the death and carnage is your fault and how all of it could have been avoided if you simply walked away at the start of the game. This is where Far Cry 5 gets a little too clever for its own good.
If you choose the resist option, you get a more traditional final boss ending as a big gunfight ensues that ends with you capturing Joseph. Then, a nuke goes off in the distance and you’re forced to flee the area while trying to make it to a bunker with your fellow law enforcement officers as well as a captive Joseph as Hope County literally burns around you. You ultimately crash the truck you were driving which results in the deaths of everyone in the car save for you and Joseph. He then takes you to a nearby bunker, kills a supporting character who was inside of it, handcuffs you to a bed and the two of you begin to wait out the war.
If you choose to walk away, things go a little differently. You leave with the sheriff and your fellow deputies but your other allies are still under Joseph’s influence. The sheriff then vows to call in the National Guard to help clean up the mess then turns on the radio which plays the song “Only You”. Earlier in the game, you were conditioned to go into an uncontrollable rampage whenever you hear that song but ultimately, it’s left ambiguous as to whether or not you killed everyone in the car after hearing it.
Once again, this doesn’t entirely work. There are a lot of plot holes as nothing is explained regarding how the allies were infected with Bliss and how they managed to capture the sheriff and the deputies. That being said, it is pretty clear that there is something else going on. The developers are obviously trying to say something about player choice and the decisions we are expected to make within video games. One choice early on resulted in hundreds of people being killed and threw all of Hope County into absolute chaos. You are given a decision where your character can either walk away and leave well enough alone or try and solve everything with bullets yet again resulting in more death, chaos, and destruction. Even if you choose to walk away from Joseph, the consequences of your actions stick with you in an unexpected way. The whole thing is fairly clever and a lot smarter than most gamers give it credit for.
The problem is; it doesn’t really work as the issues with these endings are threefold. As I said, it doesn’t provide anything that even remotely resembles a satisfying narrative conclusion and the other 2 issues have to deal with the game’s style, tone, and gameplay. The first issue with the ending appears in Joseph’s impassioned speech. He shouts at the deputy about how not everything can be solved with bullets and shooting and actually pleads with you not to fight. You then seem to be rewarded for going the pacifist route and are punished for fighting. The issue is that this all comes after 20+ hours of constantly fighting within gun battles and mass destruction that Far Cry 5 revels in all the while rewarding you with new gear to more effectively destroy your enemies with. Then suddenly, it wants you to be a pacifist and leave well enough alone, ultimately resulting in a message that comes off as utterly hypocritical.
The other issue is the choice factor. Joseph says that you caused all of this by actually choosing to arrest him and thus triggering the events of the rest of the game. The issue with this is that he is constantly going on about your choices in a game that doesn’t really give you any. Sure, you get an option every now and then but for the most part, the narrative is very linear. Certain characters have to die in order for the plot to progress and there aren’t any branching options based on your decisions. There is also no way to actually come up with a peaceful solution with any of the supporting villains. In other words, it’s an ending that literally brow beats you for your decisions while only giving you maybe 3 meaningful choices along the way that affect very little. Something about this just feels wrong.
In the end, this is just my personal take on the endings. Undoubtedly, there are differing opinions on the matter so please, tell me your thoughts in the comments below. Either way, I hope this is the last time that Far Cry tries to pull off something this poorly while trying to be clever as it causes the discussion to go back and forth but in my mind, Far Cry 5 definitely contains some of the worst endings ever.