Far Cry 4: Just Leave(tm)

In a previous post I talked about how Far Cry 4 is two really good games combined into a single just okay game. Here I’m going to elaborate a bit on how it could’ve been really good at just the one thing by editing the story a bit.

The game opens the same way and can retain the “wait for Pagan Min to get back” ending. If you don’t take that, you flee the palace with the Golden Path and end up in southern Kyrat. Your goals now are to inter the ashes of your mother at the shrine with Lakshmana, honoring her last wish, to kill Pagan Min and his lieutenants, honoring the last wish of your father as relayed to you by the Golden Path, and to get out of Kyrat alive. You can get intel on Pagan Min’s three lieutenants (Noore, de Pleur, and Yuma, all good enough characters to retain even if none of them are particularly spectacular) by completing side quests: Outpost raids, assassinations (including for the one CIA guy), destroying propaganda, hunting, you can even do the drug thing if you can find some excuse why Yogi and Reggie have dirt on Pagan’s lieutenants (and they do have some kind of connection to Noore). Some side quests are general purpose, adding small amounts of intel for all three, some side quests are for a specific lieutenant.

We’re putting all three of these lieutenants in southern Kyrat (in the game as it is, Yuma is in the north, so we’re moving her). The Kyrat International Airport is also down there, and at any point after the tutorial you can go there, steal a plane, and Just Leave(tm), fulfilling your goal to escape Kyrat alive but failing to honor the dying wish of either of your dead parents.

The revelation that your father killed your toddler sister and your mother killed him for it is being moved way up to the halfway point of the game, when you open up the bridge to northern Kyrat. The Lakshmana shrine is also going somewhere in this area (Pagan Min’s palace might get relocated here entirely, or maybe there’s a shrine near the bridge that the protagonist’s mother had some personal connection to, whatever). Pagan Min’s forces are running scared, the Golden Path are ascendant, and Amita and Sabal’s vicious sides really start to show.

In the game as it is, if you side with Sabal, he kills a bunch of people for vague sins against the gods to usher in his new oppressive theocracy, and if you side with Amita, she pressgangs a bunch of people into the Golden Path against their will, in both cases in an epilogue scene that is hinted at in a drug-induced hallucination/prophecy. Outside of this drug trip, there’s no strong indication that Amita and Sabal aren’t perfectly heroic freedom fighters (despite some differing values about the importance of Kyrati religion and whether or not drugs are cool). The game definitely isn’t devoid of hints that these two are budding dictators of their own, but it’s easy to reach the end of the game and feel like you chose the wrong leader, which obscures the game’s strongest point: The theme that you can’t wring a free and prosperous nation out of every war just by identifying the bad team and killing all of their doods. Sometimes there’s a side fighting for democracy, but sometimes there isn’t and in the latter case there is nothing you can do. You can’t impose liberty on people by force.

So in the revised version of the game, you go into northern Kyrat having already interred your mother’s ashes and knowing that your father is a child murderer, while Sabal and Amita are splitting off to fight one another and the Royal Army remnant still led by Pagan Min. You now have the option to Just Leave(tm) having fulfilled your mother’s dying wish, leaving your father’s unfulfilled, or you can fulfill your father’s dying wish by hoovering up more intel from both Amita and Sabal (further spotlighting just how evil both of them are in the process) to locate Pagan Min and kill him.

Key to the general vibe here is that you aren’t a major factor in the war. The Golden Path was already ascendant when you got here and continues to be throughout the first half of the game. Your connection to founder Mohan Ghale and handiness with a knife means you get assigned to kill some of Pagan Min’s lieutenants, and you can sack Royal Army outposts as a side quest, but the Royal Army can recapture sacked outposts and the Golden Path regularly captures enemy outposts without your involvement. Outposts stay captured long enough that you don’t get the Far Cry 2 problem where they respawn after thirty fucking seconds, but you are not repainting the map by attacking outposts, you are just shoving the front line around in a way that doesn’t leave a permanent mark.

Particularly in northern Kyrat, it’s now a three-way war in which (assuming you don’t Just Leave(tm)) you have to help both Amita and Sabal against each other for the intel on Pagan Min’s final hideout to track him down and kill him. You’ve got some targets to hit and a shrine to locate and if you’re following the objectives the interface nudges you towards, you can’t have any long term loyalties.

Once Pagan Min is dead, you have another chance to Just Leave(tm), or you can stay behind, pick a side between Amita and Sabal, and see the war through. You can also give up on finding and killing Pagan Min to side with one or the other of them by completing all of their missions in northern Kyrat and none of the other’s, and then choosing to give up on killing Pagan Min to side with one of them. This is a bad idea. Amita is a ruthless power-monger who doesn’t need the son of the founder of the Golden Path hanging around as a threat to her legitimacy, especially not one who’s a capable enough warrior to have won the respect of the troops (you might not be winning the war single-handedly, but you’re still a very deadly fighter). Sabal is a murderous traditionalist who thinks you’ve been corrupted by having been raised in the West and are on the list of people to be killed to purge Kyrat of its sins. If you help one of them win, the map is covered by their faction, they’re all hostile, and now you need to get to the airport anyway to flee the country. It doesn’t really count as Just Leaving(tm) anymore because you got chased out of the country rather than deciding you’d done what you came to do and departing.

The level of personal involvement of your family in the Golden Path is probably still too much to carry the theme properly, so this might be better off if, like in Far Cry 2, you’re a mercenary who’s being paid to kill Pagan Min/his lieutenants, or if you have some personal grievance with Pagan Min and are coming to Kyrat for revenge. A total revamp of the plot, without making use of much of the pieces of the existing game, would dramatically expand the length of this project and no one is particularly salivating to see the result, but doing this properly would probably require a major overhaul to the protagonist. Ultimately, “returning to your roots” is more of a vacation-y tourist-y kind of arc, more suitable to the Murder Vacation version of Far Cry 4 than the Murder Can’t Help version I’m laying out here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s