Far Cry is one of those games where you don’t need to necessarily focus on the story in order to enjoy it. In a sense it’s like Grand Theft Auto, you can find the perfect weapon, steal a car, and go on your merry way causing mischief and mayhem. Where some might see that as a flaw, the Far Cry games have always proven fun and engaging. As a way of spicing things up, appears to be adopting a new tactic to make the game more compelling. In addition to some new mechanics and acting talent Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad fame, the game will be giving its new lead, Dani Rojas, an in-depth backstory.
Why Is This A Big Deal And Why Now?
Right now, you might be wondering why this decision is so important for the Far Cry series. As an article from Game Rant points out, the series’ mains are for the most part presented as blank slates, “having very little in the way of backstory or character depth.” Take Jason Brody from Far Cry 3 for example. In that game, his entire reason for being on Rook Island is because his vacation took a wrong turn. It isn’t the worst backstory, but it certainly isn’t the best either. For the main character of the game, one would expect something deeper in the way of a story. On the other hand, Far Cry 3 wasn’t terrible either. For one, the game had a breakout star in the villain, Vaas, who by and large was more intriguing than Brody as you got to know why he is the way he is. There’s a reason why this perceived disparity exists, and it’s thought that for all the work that is put into the gameplay of a Far Cry game, “[not] a lot of room is left for the narrative and the characters to shine” (Game Rant, 2021).
That’s why the new main character, Dani Rojas, is revolutionary in more ways than one. One of the things that makes this character special is that players can choose whether or not Dani will be male or female. Already, players are given more agency than prior games (with the exception of Far Cry 5 which also gave players this option), serving to strengthen the storytelling of the new game. On top of that, Dani Rojas backstory isn’t nearly as superficial as being a tourist who took a wrong turn. The main character of Far Cry 6 will be a native resident of the island nation Yara, which is where the story takes place. It’s a simple detail, but it changes a lot as the themes of revolt and revolution supplant the series’ traditional one of survival which gives the story a new, compelling element.
The best part about having a compelling main protagonist, is that you now have someone for the main antagonist to bounce off of. Giancarlo Esposito’s Anton Castillo already had the internet in an uproar when Far Cry 6 was first announced. It would have been criminal to have such great talent pitted against yet another blank slate protagonist the series is infamous for. With Dani being as fleshed out as she appears to be, the story is sure to have more soul and richness to it. Each represents the polar end of a binary, Castillo, who represents the “pros” authoritarianism brings on a structural level, and on the other end Dani, who will (likely) come to embody the “cons” of a revolutionary upheaval. The binary is being framed here like this because, as far as the trailer is concerned, both sides make it clear they’re willing to do anything to achieve what each perceives as “paradise”. Meaning, according to both, the ends will justify the means, which could lead to darker roads regardless of intention. Already, you have the makings of an interesting story, but it only works because both the antagonist and the protagonist can both effectively and meaningfully push back against one another. A storyteller wouldn’t be able to achieve this if one of the characters, protagonist or antagonist, were blank slates.
The Moral Of The Story?
Deeper main characters beget deeper, better stories, plain and simple. When crafting the story you want to tell, all aspects of the characters, especially the main character, should be considered. How your main protagonist relates to the other characters they meet and interact with is part of what will make your story a page turner so to speak. It’s why details are key when it comes to character depth. The only way Jason Brody of Far Cry 3 could relate to Vaas meaningfully was that he murdered his brother. It was instrumental in that it was Brody’s driving force, but beyond that, it was an arguably superficial relationship that they had. In effect, Vaas did all the “legwork” while Brody simply reacted to whatever he did, bringing nothing else to the table in terms of depth. Thus, since Brody’s backstory wasn’t fleshed out enough to make him interesting, the story ultimately suffered for it.
On the other side of the aisle, one can make the case that by making the main character a blank slate, it can be more immersive for the viewer/player/reader experience. It is true in some cases too when planned and executed well. For instance, Skyrim is an open world game like Far Cry, but it is a role playing game (RPG) at its core. The blank slate main works better because the character is well and truly an open canvas. They have no solid backstory save for whatever the player decides or even imagines. The reason why it doesn’t quite work for Far Cry is because the groundwork for the character is already set, so the only agency players really have is the choices they make. Essentially, their main character exhibits traits reminiscent of RPG games, meanwhile the game doesn’t inherently revolve around the RPG experience. It creates an oddly disparate experience that doesn’t do the game justice. That’s not to say these games aren’t enjoyable, but this is why their storytelling can feel flat at times. Luckily for fans of Far Cry, this is all going to be turned around with this newest installment in the series. Far Cry 6 will be available on multiple platforms including Playstation, Xbox, PC, and more, and releases on October 7th, 2021.