Far Cry 5 has set itself apart from its previous installments because it takes place on American soil. Of course, it was announced during a very heated time of uncertainty in the U.S.A. and the idea that it’s based on a group of religious fanatics didn’t sit well within some corners of the gaming community. Good thing the vast majority of us didn’t really care that much. We were getting a game where we had to destroy a cult and nothing brings this country together more than dismantling dangerous factions.
The cult in Far Cry 5, known as Eden’s Gate, draws inspiration from historic compounds like the Branch Davidians. Joseph Seed, called The Father, believes he is chosen by God to interpret the Seven Seals from Revelation and the end of the world (very similar to David Koresh). Eden’s Gate stockpiles assault weapons to prepare for the end of days and they take control of an entire county in Montana. Joseph’s siblings, Jacob, John, and Faith Seed all control Hope County and force people to join the cult or kill them.
Your character, a rookie sheriff, is tasked with the mission to create a resistance of sorts against Eden’s Gate. By freeing Hope County civilians who are being forced to join or die, you gain allies towards your cause of stopping Joseph and you learn how the cult acclimated to where it is now. The common response from civilians that you are freeing is that they never saw this coming. Most of them assumed this was a small gathering and chose not to investigate any further. By doing nothing, the problem festered into a takeover of Hope County – leaving many to flee for their lives.
As you get closer to Joseph’s territory, you learn more about his past. He claims the Voice told him about a nuclear fallout that would end mankind and he details his search for his brothers while he grew as an orphan. Joseph is so committed to this Voice that he is willing to do anything to show his devotion – including killing his own daughter. Basically, you find out that the Seed family is so rooted in their cause that they are beyond talking to. Even as you are trying to arrest Joseph, the lingering question that sits in the back of your mind is, “how did this get so far?”
While Far Cry 5 does have it’s fantastical elements – using a bear to kill on your behalf, a drug that manipulates the majority of Hope County into following Joseph’s ideal, and having an entire county be cut off from the outside world – there’s a familiar lesson that presents itself through the rise of Eden’s Gate. The followers of Eden’s Gate, called peggies by the locals, have amassed a large collection of firearms and attack aircraft to subvert nonbelievers. This didn’t happen overnight. The lack of action from Hope County allowed Joseph’s followers to accumulate this in secret.
Most of the locals had knowledge of this cult but decided not to intrench on their territory. Only when Joseph had an arrest warrant, the U.S. Marshall and the local sheriffs were able to go in and apprehend them (by helicopter). By the locals being complicit, Eden’s Gate was able to get away with hoarding weapons, putting Bliss into the water supply, and murdering innocents.
Complacency isn’t something that’s new. There’s a long history of complacency allowing terrible people to do terrible things. We can see the damage it did during the Nazi regime and the Holocaust. We see it today with Scientology and how they are benefiting from complacency. There’s a long list of people who suffered because others decided not to worry about it. Although Far Cry 5 fantasizes a lot of elements in this game, it does a good job of showing how easy it was for Joseph to rise to power in Hope County and the consequences the locals had to face as a result.
The ending of Far Cry 5 throws the idea that Joseph Seed is lying on its head when nuclear bombs are dropped over Hope County. You end up in a bunker with the very man you are trying to kill. It’s an interesting thing that Ubisoft does with this game, as well as the series, that makes you think about your actions in the game. As it stands, there are three endings to Far Cry 5 that all have different results. The idea that Joseph was actually right about the end times is definitely far-fetched compared to reality. Most cult leaders who think this is very wrong and their interpretations are very unrealistic. Luckily, games don’t have to rely on what goes on in our reality.
Eden’s Gate mirrors many cults that were left unchecked (Jonestown, Branch Davidians, and Charles Manson’s’ cult to name a few) and plays out an over-exaggerated idea of what can happen if groups like these are allowed to grow. Of course, with religious freedom in America, it makes it difficult to shut down these dangerous cults. But, to be on the safe side, maybe steer clear of anyone claiming they are prophets who have predicted the end of the world.