Video games are political. This is an inescapable truth that everyone will have to accept at some point. An industry that features stories about heroes triumphing over challenges, shooting their way through hordes of zombies, and going through emotional trauma has always struggled to accept that their stories are political in nature. While yes, Final Fantasy VII is a story about a group of unexpected heroes coming together to save the world from an evil force that wants to destroy it, ignoring the obvious commentaries on capitalism and corporations effect on the environment would be a disservice to the game and developers.
Video games may rarely be overtly political, but they are political in nature, and that’s part of what makes the upcoming Far Cry 6 so interesting. Far Cry and Ubisoft are no strangers to politics in games, but that is a company that has always struggled with what side it wants to stand on when it comes to making political statements in their games. Their Assassins Creed franchise frequently makes use of a female protagonist, but their marketing focuses on the male protagonist instead as he dominates box arts. They also had to apologize when one of their games in development implied that Black Lives Matter was a terrorist plot. Then there’s Far Cry.
Far Cry 5 marketed itself as a game with something to say and one that would push the edge. It fell well short of that as most messages were pretty tame, and the game itself still fell more into the wacky absurd realm that most Far Cry games exist in. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but because they marketed it as something overtly political while focusing so hard on making sure no one was offended, it ended up falling very flat. A game can be both silly and political. Satire is a thing after all, but it has to be handled with a level of care that Ubisoft has struggled to prove it possesses.
So far, trailers of Far Cry 6 indicate a game that is once again going to challenge politics. This time with a story around modern revolution that very inspired by countries such as Cuba. Still unsure if this will be political? The developers themselves stated as such in an essay to fans. This is going to be a game about politics.
What players will find is a story that’s point-of-view attempts to capture the political complexity of a modern, present-day revolution within a fictional context. We have attempted to tell a story with action, adventure, and heart, but that also isn’t afraid to ask hard questions. Far Cry is a brand that in its DNA seeks to have mature, complex themes balanced with levity and humor. One doesn’t exist without the other, and we have attempted to achieve this balance with care. My only hope is that we are willing to let the story speak for itself first before forming hard opinions on its political reflections.
We’ve always known politics are in video games, but we don’t have as many examples of video games attempting to tell a story about politics very well. Far Cry has already failed at this once before, but Far Cry 6 is a chance to make up for the failures of Far Cry 5. If Ubisoft allows the developers to tell their own stories, then this could be the game that does what Ubisoft has been trying to accomplish for a long time. Narrative director Navid Khavari has stated that the game will ask hard questions. Let’s hope that Ubisoft allows him to also give some tough answers.