Far Cry 5's Ending Answers The Game's Biggest Questions

Illustration for article titled Far Cry 5's Ending Answers The Game's Biggest Questions

While on vacation last week, I finally finished Far Cry 5. Though I’d already spoiled myself on the ending (occupational hazard), I was surprised by how moving I found it when I finally got there. The end wraps up the game’s biggest questions in a satisfying way.

Illustration for article titled Far Cry 5's Ending Answers The Game's Biggest Questions

The characters in Far Cry 5 are deeply concerned with endings. Central to Hope County’s cult, The Project at Eden’s Gate, is what they see as the imminent end of the world, which they call The Great Collapse. To protect people from this impending apocalypse, cult leader Joseph Seed and his followers recruit as many people as they can, whether those people are willing to join or not. It’s the player’s job to stop the cult, mostly through killing its members.

Far Cry 5 has several possible endings, but the only one that actually ends the game involves the sudden detonation of a nuclear bomb. It felt like a curveball to many players, a bit of a deus ex machina, or like it made your actions in the rest of the game moot. The bomb is foreshadowed a little throughout the game, but it’s still a shocking moment. Then, after the explosion, the game sets its sights on a more grounded theme: family.

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You flee Joseph’s compound and make a chaotic drive to resistance member Dutch’s bunker. Your comrades are dead, and your vision fades to black. When you wake up, you find yourself alone in the bunker with Joseph. He talks about God and politics. He gloats briefly that the explosion “means I was right,” but then the topic changes. He sits down across from you and says:

“I prepared my family for this moment, and you took them from me. I should kill you for what you’ve done, but you’re all I have left now. You’re my family...I am your father, and you are my child.”

Joseph has a strange relationship to family. He was in foster care when he was younger, according to Ubisoft’s live-action film. In a cutscene after the second time you’re captured by Jacob, he tells you he had a wife who was pregnant, which scared him. She died in an accident, but the baby survived, which led Joseph, believing he was being tested by God, to suffocate the child. While Jacob and John appear to be Joseph’s biological siblings, his sister Faith is adopted, in a loose sense. He conscripts different women into the role, seeming to want a sister so badly that he tries to create one. Joseph mourns his siblings passionately when you defeat them. He mourns his lost followers, whom he calls his family. However ambivalent he might have felt about family in the past, he clearly doesn’t feel that way during the events of the game.


There’s something Biblical about this conflict. In Luke 14:26, Jesus says his followers must “hate” their parents, and in Matthew 10:37 he says believers should love him more than their parents or children. At the same time, the Bible advocates for having a family and children, such as in Psalm 127:5, the foundation of the family-obsessed Quiverfull movement. In Mark, Jesus rejects his biological family in favor of a family of believers. There are threads of all of this in Joseph Seed, from separation from his parents to rejecting his child to his desperation to create a new family related by faith rather than blood.

If we believe Joseph’s story about the loss of his wife and child, the Joseph we meet in the game is a changed man. He is frantic for a family, desperate to bring everyone to him and keep them there. He will make himself a family even if it means kidnapping, drugging, or torturing people. It’s easy to see the cult as a response to his own damaged family life, or as a way for him to feel loved and powerful. But I also saw family as an antidote to the loss that’s plagued Joseph both personally and in the form of his apocalyptic visions. He seems to believe family will keep people safe from tragedy, from loneliness, from endings.

Illustration for article titled Far Cry 5's Ending Answers The Game's Biggest Questions

He’s not wrong. At the end of Far Cry 5, you and Joseph outlive everyone. Neither of you loses or fails. You get what you wanted: The cult has lost its stranglehold on Hope County. And Joseph not only gets his family—you—but he keeps that family safe from The Great Collapse. Because of you, he doesn’t have to face the end. In the bunker, he tells you, “When this world is ready to be born anew, we will step into the light. I am your father, and you are my child. Together, we will march to Eden’s Gate.”


This is meant to be threatening, maybe—you’re stuck in a bunker with a seeming madman who plans to repopulate the Earth with you—but I found it creepily touching. Far Cry 5’s ending delivers what everyone in its world has longed for through the game’s music and theology, through its political rhetoric and doomsday preppers, through the player’s quest to reunite their friends. Togetherness. Safety. Persistence in the face of tragedy. Joseph’s confidence in his mission wasn’t unfounded. The Project at Eden’s Gate makes good on its promises.

It’s grim and disturbing, sure. The inevitability of it feels nihilistic. But the particulars of Far Cry 5’s ending are what the game has been arcing to all along. Joseph gets his family, and the world doesn’t really end. The ending might be jarring, but the pieces of it were there all along. 



Eh. I’m going to respectfully disagree in that although the bombs are hinted at if the player listens to the correct radio stations at the correct times (which is about as minimalist an approach to such a major plot point as I’ve ever seen), the detonations do wind up feeling like a deus ex machina device designed to let Joseph “win” in the end.

Hear me out on this: Given the number of bunkers the player has to clear during the course of the game (at least three of them containing silos)—and the fact that Montana is known to contain a number of nuclear silos to begin with—it would’ve been tolerable (if not still a little amateurish) for the narrative to have said, “The cult gained control of a few nuclear devices, and Joseph had them set to a dead-switch in the event of his capture or the collapse of the cult; so significant was his need to be right that he was willing to invite nuclear holocaust upon untold thousands simply to satisfy his own messianic delusions.”

I could’ve bought that. It still would’ve felt like an exercise in the sort of nihilistic garbage that suffuses the sort of people who think they’re brilliant for laughing at Rick and Morty (and I love R&M, don’t get me wrong—but an audience member really doesn’t need much above a room-temperature IQ to grab most of the jokes, and the whole “you’re miserable because you’re smart” routine follows the same lines as fortune tellers who promise love, wit, and long life—it’s designed to make the viewer feel special), but it would’ve made some form of sense.

To have a nuclear exchange with North Korea (who, sure, has nuclear weapons, but no reliable delivery vehicles that could hit the US mainland beyond the extreme west coast) happen at the exact moment that Joseph is about to be brought down is an absolutely textbook example of how the deus ex machina device functions.

It felt cheap, it felt like it came from so far out in left field that it had to jump the bleachers to get there, and in the end, it wound up feeling a bit like Mass Effect 3's “nothing you did matters, you were always going to lose in the end, get fucked” ending—an incredibly sour note on which to end an otherwise fun, engaging, and generally well-presented experience (though I could’ve dealt without being kidnapped twice in every region).

Also, on a related note (insert rimshot here): Joseph must really have an odd concept of family (removed of the fact that he murdered his daughter because he thought he was being called by a god), because it is heavily implied that he’s having a sexual relationship with Faith.

...talk about keeping it in the family.