Ubisoft Montreal released a teaser trailer and new details about its upcoming game Far Cry 5 on Friday, which puts its first-person action spotlight on a fictional county in Montana under the thumb of a violent religious cult.
Players will join a resistance group to fight against Joseph Seed, also known as The Father, leader of a doomsday cult known as the Project at Eden's Gate who have been slowly taking over and converting residents of Hope County to its cause – whether willingly or not.
"Caught off guard and drawn into a power struggle, players must disrupt the carefully laid plans of the Project at Eden's Gate and fan the fires of resistance to help liberate the Hope County community and themselves," Ubisoft said in a press release.
Key art released a day earlier features The Father sitting at a dinner table with his family and followers, heavily stylized to invoke The Last Supper. An American flag lies draped over the table, except the stars are replaced with miniature versions of the Iron Cross, a military symbol used by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Guns, knives and ammunition sit side-by-side with Thanksgiving dinner fare.
The trailer makes a clear distinction between The Father's followers and the everyday citizens he's seemingly forcing into subjugation. Armed thugs with clothing covered in Iron Crosses shove people out of their homes, or forcefully "baptize" them in a nearby river.
Accompanying vignettes featured several characters — citizens of Hope County, including a bartender and a pastor — who have joined a resistance movement fighting off the cult that have forcefully taken over their homes.
Ubisoft said little about the character players will directly control, but gaming website Kotaku reports that you will be able to play as either a man or a woman, and pick his or her appearance including skin colour.
Politically charged themes
Promotional material has so far leaned heavily on religious imagery, hinting at The Father as a fictional take on Christian white nationalist cults. But the game's executive producer Dan Hay told the games press he was just as influenced by events like the 2016 armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
"It's not a Christian cult. The Father snacks and steals and borrows and hijacks elements from different religions," Hay told the National Post's Chad Sapieha. "Whatever is convenient. Yes, he has a book that he follows, but it's his own teachings. His manifesto."
The Montana locale is a notable change for the Far Cry series, which have historically taken place in remote, foreign locations like a tropical island or the Himalayas.
The setting and characters shown off so far elicited some strong reactions from players, especially regarding the Christian imagery and references to far-right militants in the United States.
Some applauded the change, as the series has been criticized in the past for being a shooting gallery of "evil foreigner" archetypes. Others were more critical of what they described as painting largely white, Christian, politically right-leaning Americans as this story's primary villain.
Ubisoft nailed Bay Area liberal hipster culture last year with Watch Dogs 2. Only fair they go after fanatical gun nuts with Far Cry 5 next.— @agentbizzle
Has this person never played a first person shooter? pic.twitter.com/UavXV0FSH0— @9_volt88
Honestly the best thing about Far Cry 5 is it seems to have both a Bad Preacher with a Gun AND a Good Preacher with a Gun.— @Dauragon
Gameplay shown in trailers, however, seems to be mostly similar to previous games in the series. The first-person shooter features frantic shooting, big explosions and wide open areas you can traverse on foot or with vehicles like ATVs and muscle cars.
Ubisoft's press release even touts the ability to "recruit" wild animals like bears and cougars to fight or prowl with you.
Ubisoft's studios in Toronto, Kyiv, Shanghai and Newcastle, U.K., are also contributing to the game's development. During an earnings reports last week, the publisher announced that new games in the Assassin's Creed and South Park series are also due for release in the next fiscal year.
Far Cry 5 is currently set to launch on Sony's PlayStation 4, Microsoft's Xbox One and PC on February 27, 2018.