Concluding a video game can come with an array of emotions. There’s a sense of completion and satisfaction when you finally get to the point of seeing how the journey ends. You can be filled with a pang of longing and a bit of sorrow that there’s nothing more to do, except say goodbye. Or you can feel shock and anger over a conclusion you did not expect, a pay off that can feel like a colossal waste of time. Endings, especially in video games, can provoke a strong reaction from players. Far Cry 5’s two endings have made such an impression that I’m still unsure how I’m supposed to feel.
Far Cry 5’s story about a rookie deputy sheriff who is suddenly shouldering the responsibility to take down a doomsday cult known as Eden’s Gate, led by the psychopathic Joseph Seed and his family, appears to be your rudimentary “hero saves the day” type of game. But when you play it through to the end, it becomes something no one really expects. A word of warning, the following will have spoilers about the endings to Far Cry 5. Read at your own discretion.
The game has two possible endings, the good and bad, and one hidden Easter Egg ending at the very beginning of the game, which I did not know about until I read further impressions about the conclusions to Far Cry 5. Since I was playing the game as a co-op campaign with my friend, she wanted to do the “bad ending” she didn’t take originally when she first played it solo.
At the end of the game, our deputy sheriff comes face-to-face with Joseph Seed after having taken down his equally psychotic family members and liberating all the regions under the cult’s control in Hope County. When you meet him in “the place where it all began,” which is the church from the start of the game, you discover that all the important NPCs you have helped and befriended throughout the game are under Seed’s control, courtesy of a trippy drug known as Bliss, and have re-captured all of your law enforcement friends, who you have also painstakingly spent a majority of the game looking for and freeing from the clutches of Eden’s Gate. You are given two options by Joseph Seed—leave Hope County with only the people you came with or continue resisting and fighting against him. Naturally, my friend chose the option that’s considered the “bad choice,” which is to walk away from Joseph Seed, doing as he requested but leaving your other friends to a doomed and Blissed out fate.
As you and your colleagues drive away from a pretty traumatizing and torturous time in Hope County, Sheriff Earl Whitehorse, behind the wheel of the car, begins to hatch out a plan to call in reinforcements to go back and take down Joseph Seed and his remaining followers. The ending doesn’t seem all that bad, other than retreating, until Sheriff Whitehorse flips on the radio and the song “Only You” starts playing. If you played the game, “Only You” becomes the song Jacob Seed uses to brainwash and condition your deputy sheriff to kill on command every time they hear the song. Sheriff Whitehorse looks over to your deputy sheriff asking you what’s wrong, as the screen begins to go red and your character starts to act a little funny before the screen fades to black and the credits roll with “Only You” continuing to eerily play in the background.
After the credits have finished rolling, and because my friend is the one hosting the campaign, we are given the option to go back to the final moments of the game to pick the other ending we didn’t do, which is the “good ending.” Unlike the surrender ending, the resist ending gives you the much expected final boss fight against Joseph Seed. What’s unusual about this final fight is you have to first snap the main NPCs from their Bliss ridden state by shooting them and then reviving the fallen character before they completely die off. I’m not exactly sure if the NPC characters you’re liberating will actually die if you don’t revive them in time, but I’m guessing they might based on how the entirety of the game plays. Once you free everyone from Seed’s mind control and they have joined you to fight by your side, then defeating him is ridiculously easy.
With Seed beaten and in handcuffs where he belongs, you’d think you would be celebrating, right? Think again. Just when you’re about ready to take Seed in for booking, a huge nuclear explosion happens in the distance and complete panic ensues. Seed may have had a hand in this explosion, it’s never really explained how he’s able to do that, but your character along with all your law enforcement buddies and a detained Joseph Seed pile into vehicles to get away from the growing fire and destruction the blast has caused. You presume the game will end where everyone gets out of Hope County and Seed is brought to justice, but another twist occurs. The vehicle you’re in crashes and kills everyone in the car, except your deputy sheriff and Joseph Seed. Your character is fading in and out of consciousness and you watch as Joseph Seed picks you up and carries you someplace. When your deputy sheriff finally regains full consciousness, you discover you’re in Dutch’s underground bunker, one of many characters who helps you in the game, with Joseph Seed and a presumably murdered Dutch lying on the ground next to you. Your character is sitting in a chair fully tied up with no escape from the man who orchestrated the end of days he has been preaching and obsessing over. Your deputy sheriff is forced to listen to Seed’s crazy babble of laying low until it becomes safe enough to emerge from the bunker. Seed proclaims the two of you are family now, after you have taken out all of his, and you will both bring about the new world and walk into Eden’s Gate together, his creepy and frightening smile being the last thing you see before the credits roll.
The two endings are a lot to process after having witnessed both. In hindsight, neither ending is particularly good. Your deputy sheriff and the other characters are screwed no matter what. In the “bad ending,” I half expected it to be a trap. Is Joseph Seed really going to just let your playable character and your colleagues walk away without them attacking you? I was pretty much ready for a fight, but it is exactly as he said. You get to leave and he doesn’t stop you. Hope County and all the residents in it are, and pardon my language, seriously fucked but you get to leave that crazy hell hole with your people. It’ll all be okay, right? No, absolutely not. After Joseph Seed’s brother Jacob Seed does quite the number on your psyche before you put a bullet in the lunatic, enough damage has been done where it’s impossible not to do what you’re conditioned to do, which is “kill, kill, sacrifice.” The implications of the “bad ending” is pretty obvious—your deputy sheriff murders everyone in the car with you after you get triggered by the “Only You” song. I will never look at that song the same way ever again and I always liked that tune too.
The “good ending” is the biggest doozy of them all and the most disturbing. You think everything with the Seed clan is all over, the head of Eden’s Gate completely beaten and brought down once and for all. Instead, Seed has always been steps ahead of everyone and manages to pull a nuclear bomb someplace out of his ass. It bothers me that it’s never really explained, although, plenty of articles, like this one from Polygon, have reported that if you pay attention to the radio talking heads as you go through the game, it hints at what’s coming from the very start. Then there’s the whole bunker scene with Joseph Seed. What bothered me the most is how this ending has its own messed up interpretation, if you play as a female character which me and my friend have.
Listening to Joseph Seed wax twisted poetic about the world being born anew, stepping into the light and deeming you his family now, knowing what this murdering, sinister psycho is capable of, the insinuations are pretty huge if you’re a female character in this game. Not only will you be broken and brainwashed to eventual submission to be one of Joseph Seed’s Eden’s Gate followers, but you’ll be unwillingly Seed’s Eve to his Adam. The way I interpreted his line, “And when this world is ready to be borne anew, we will step into the light,” I couldn’t help but think he means to force your female deputy sheriff into helping him repopulate the world and raising children brainwashed off of his Eden’s Gate ideology. Months or years of torture with sexual abuse thrown into the mix with a madman? Not the fate or ending I had in mind for my poor female deputy sheriff. If it were up to me, she would have escaped, found the nearest gun or weapon available, and put herself out of her own misery. Death is better than being stuck in a room with that wacko. Obviously, if you played the deputy as a male you get none of that. At most the fate of a male deputy sheriff with Joseph Seed is he’ll be brainwashed and an obedient follower as Seed’s child to his Father. For a female character, it’s just completely devastating and gets under your skin in the worst way possible.
Having finished Far Cry 5, I have mixed feelings. It’s difficult for me to say if I really enjoyed playing this game. The gameplay is fun, but the story is underwhelming. It does start off as if this narrative will have something meaningful to say about politics, religious fanaticism, and cults, only for those topics to remain firmly surface level, never diving deeper into any of these themes. I will say that the endings took me completely by surprise and the developers and writers for Far Cry 5 succeeded in pulling the rug right out from under unsuspecting players. Not since Spec Ops: The Line has a video game ended in ways I never imagined it would. Far Cry 5 leans heavily into the idea of there being no happy resolutions, only grim realities where the hero doesn’t always save the day. Sometimes, even villains are the ones who emerge victorious with a chance to die another day. And with the announcement of Far Cry New Dawn coming out later this year, a sequel that picks up years after the events in Far Cry 5, it seems the nuclear holocaust ending is canon in Far Cry 5. There’s also speculation that you’ll find out the fate of your deputy sheriff in New Dawn based on a mission in that game.
My time with Far Cry 5 has been memorable to say the least. Has this game made me interested in picking up the other titles in the Far Cry series. Not really. I will say Far Cry 5 will go down as a game that has endings you’ll never soon forget.
Have you played Far Cry 5? What are your thoughts on the endings?