At first glance, the freshly-revealed cover for Far Cry 4 is certainly striking. It depicts a blindingly white, bleach-blonde-haired gentleman in an absurd suit, perched upon a decapitated statue dressed with guns. Under his grasp is a brown-skinned soldier, presumably under his employ, and presumably native to the game’s new Himalayan locale. There’s a clear visual here: that of a powerful, likely-crazy white guy controlling and oppressing the native people of a land that isn’t his. It’s surely intentional, and there’s probably a twist in mind for the game’s story, but this reveal still left me feeling a little grossed out.
I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but Ubisoft has a lot to prove, and I wish they had offered up a little more than this image and a list of bullet-points about redefining shooters. I wish they said who the game’s protagonist is, what the context is, and why this imagery is important, rather than talking about how the game will be more multiplayer-focused. I wish they said this stuff so that I’m not left to jump to my own conclusions.
I can’t help but think of Far Cry 3, the previous game where you played as a rich, white brat who saves his group of privileged friends while simultaneously becoming the chosen one to the island’s native tribe. Far Cry 3’s lead writer called the game’s story misunderstood, but by my count any attempt to poke fun at the tropes of “going native” were lost because the game played it completely straight.
Will Far Cry 4 take these kinds of stories to task this time around, instead of being one itself? I hope so, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if the only person who can take down Mr. Evil Purple Pants is another heroic white guy. I’d love to be wrong. I’d love if the new hero is one of his hired guns on the inside, or someone native to the area looking to take back their home. I’d love to see something different, rather than a bunch of light-skinned boys trashing another culture’s sandbox.
For now I’m left to wonder. Hopefully Ubisoft has a proper trailer on the way where these questions will be answered, and hopefully we’ll be looking at something different this time around. I’m excited to jump into another Far Cry sandbox, especially on newer hardware, but Far Cry 3’s story was hard to swallow, even though it was presented magnificently. I hope this is something different, but all there is to do for now is hope.
And admire that guy’s purple suit.
What do you think? Did the cover art throw you off? Do you think it’s a problem? Am I blowing this out of proportion? Sound off in the comments below.