When it comes to video game villains, the Far Cry franchise knows how to put on a show. The problem, however, is the shows do not last very long. Every new game introduces intriguing, unique characters that never truly step into the spotlight they deserve. Sadly, the latest entry in the franchise is no exception.
Far Cry New Dawn introduces the twins, Mickey and Lou. When first introduced, they greet players with a typically violent display and engaging dialogue that fans of the franchise are familiar with. However, they are different from other Far Cry villains in that they have each other, creating an intriguing on-screen dynamic. What makes the dynamic so fascinating is that Mickey is not as evil as Lou. With the exception of the final battle, Mickey is never once violent on screen.
Players are given a brief insight into the twins’ past through a flashback to better understand them in the present. Their father was a violent man and, in this flashback, players see Mickey promise their mother that they will not end up like him. This promise has clearly impacted her behaviour as, at the game’s conclusion, Mickey references the conversation with her mother, both demonstrating regret and offering an explanation regarding her passive nature.
The biggest disappointment with Far Cry New Dawn is the developer did not expand upon this idea further. If the game had been longer, the twins could have had more screen time to better explore their relationship and the issues their conflicting values might present in a position of power. Instead, New Dawn chooses to invest play time in revisiting Far Cry 5 villain Joseph Seed, also known as The Father.
As with all Far Cry games, Joseph was given minimal opportunity on screen in his own adventure. New Dawn initially appeared to offer the series, and Joseph, a chance at redemption by continuing The Father’s narrative to an even deeper conclusion; New Dawn is a direct sequel to Far Cry 5 and including Joseph seems quite natural. Nevertheless, his role in the critical path seems strange at first, as he appears to be the guardian of the post-apocalypse version of the forbidden fruit. What Ubisoft has done well with his character is convey the idea of a man who is troubled by his past but accepting of his future. He understands the pain he has caused the world and delivers some excellent lines that demonstrate his remorse.
The theme that underpins both the twins and Joseph’s stories in New Dawn is that people are not black and white. They are human with pasts that have shaped them, beliefs that drive them, and actions that have defined them. New Dawn does an excellent job of scraping the surface of this idea but, like its predecessors, fails to give these well thought out characters enough time to develop.
Many readers would likely argue that Vaas was the greatest Far Cry villain and no game after Far Cry 3 had a villain that compares. What many forget, is Vaas suffered the same fate. His character is undeniably brilliant and the definition of insanity speech is one of the most iconic in video game history. Even so, not long after this scene, Vaas dies and is succeeded by his boss Hoyt, a villain often forgotten—for good reason. The untimely death of Vaas well before the game’s conclusion leads to a confusing and dull second half that prevents Vaas from cementing his place as gaming’s most iconic villain.
Pagan Min of Far Cry 4 also gets far less screen time than deserved. Many of his best witty quips are reduced to environmental audio monologues that are only triggered if the player spends enough time exploring. Pagan Min is also one of few bad guys who is not necessarily a bad guy, and the developer could have done much more to showcase his uniquely fabulous brand of evil.
After Far Cry 3, players were optimistic to assume Ubisoft would correct its mistakes, but every game leads to the same disappointment. Hopefully the next Far Cry installment will learn from its past errors and smother the player with the witty dialogue and abundant violence they deserve. All of these villains are twisted and clever in unique ways—is it too much to ask that we get the chance to appreciate them?