Far Cry 5 didn’t make many end-of-the-year lists, but the game wasn’t an abject failure. It changed aspects of the tired gameplay formula for the better. It gave players more opportunities to explore. It also presented an enemy maybe more familiar to American audiences than the past couple entries of the franchise.
In creating the game’s Eden’s Gate cult, Ubisoft developers worked with real deal cult deprogrammer Rick Alan Ross to get the details right. In this episode of Parallels, producer Ben goes deep into the four tenets of destructive cults and lines them up with Far Cry 5‘s villainous Eden’s Gate.
Not surprisingly, a lot of similarities come from David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, the cult at the center of the botched Waco siege in 1993. Koresh not only shares distinctive eyewear with Eden’s Gate leader Joseph Seed, but also his proclivity for heavily arming his followers. Especially impressive is the way Ubisoft nailed the facial stillness of Joseph Seed in comparison to Koresh. As a kid growing up in Texas, the news cycle creeped me out when Koresh was covered almost every day the first half of 1993.
Ben also touches on the Rajneeshees and Jim Jones’ People’s Temple, two cults who carried out violent acts in service of their goals.
On a personal note, watching this episode made me appreciate the work Ubisoft did to create a cult with more groundedness than I really understood when I first played through the game. Although I still think the developers and marketers played up the right-wing militia aspect too much before launch, it’s clear Eden’s Gate has more to do with religious cultism than white nationalist movements around the country.
The aforementioned choice to suggest a parallel between the Bundys in Oregon or Craig Cobb’s attempted white nationalist sanctuary in North Dakota disastrously undercut the message Far Cry 5 was actually sending in-game. Austin Walker touched on the mixed messaging and hedged bets Ubisoft was responsible for in much more detail over at Waypoint. I recommend it all. (As an aside I recommend Austin Walker, as a concept)
Ben mentions in the video a bunch of the things Ubisoft exaggerated about cult behaviors to match the level of action Far Cry 5 serves. These choices are understandable in service of an action/adventure video game, but the video piqued my curiosity about how the developers could’ve made these behaviors protracted and subtle to make the message even creepier.
Anyway, watch the dang video!