We ven­ture to Mon­treal to see how Ubisoft is go­ing about cre­at­ing a cult clas­sic.

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENTS -

We’re look­ing down on Fall’s End (pop­u­la­tion: 35) from its wa­ter tower. At first glance, it’s the sort of un­re­mark­able town that no­body would think twice about. The streets aren’t empty, though, they’re crawl­ing with mem­bers of the Project At Eden’s Gate, grab­bing some peo­ple and lin­ing oth­ers up for ex­e­cu­tion in the street. They run this town. But how did it get to this point?

We’ll worry about that later. Right now, our cus­tomis­able hero and his dog chum Boomer are in the mood for lib­er­a­tion. We grab the sniper ri­fle and start tag­ging the ene­mies by hov­er­ing our retic­ule over them. There’s a church di­rectly in front of us, with a bar, houses, and a few stores to the left. We de­cide to crack a shot at one cultist, who’s near the lo­cal wa­ter­ing hole. But in­stead of tak­ing full ad­van­tage of the al­ti­tude, we use a zi­pline to slide down to just out­side the holy house, spraying cult mem­bers with our SMG on the way. When we hit the ground, we watch Boomer tear at the throat of one un­lucky fel­low. That’ll de­serve a treat later.

There are more cultists to take care of first; they start to pour from the di­rec­tion of the bar. But, un­for­tu­nately for them, there’s a gas tanker be­tween us. We lob a stick of dy­na­mite at it and the re­sult­ing ex­plo­sion can prob­a­bly be heard across the state. It also means Fall’s End is free – for now – from the clutches of the cultists.


To find out how Far Cry 5’s vil­lains came to be, we’re off to Ubisoft Mon­treal to meet sev­eral key mem­bers of the team work­ing hard to cre­ate a be­liev­able cult. Their ef­forts are giving birth to the Project At Eden’s Gate. This new threat is a dooms­day cult which be­lieves that the end is nigh and, in its own twisted way, is try­ing to save hu­man­ity from it­self.

In a pre­sen­ta­tion with cre­ative di­rec­tor Dan Hay, he de­scribes how new big bad Joseph “The Fa­ther” Seed sees him­self as Noah, pre­par­ing the ark be­fore the end ar­rives. But Seed isn’t a kooky cliché. He has a fam­ily be­hind him – older brother Ja­cob, younger sib­lings John and Faith – who are help­ing to en­sure that Hope County fol­lows in The Fa­ther’s foot­steps. They also be­lieve that the first sign of the apoc­a­lypse is the au­thor­i­ties try­ing to take Seed away.

Nat­u­rally, the start of Far Cry 5’s story sees your rookie deputy caught in the mid­dle of an at­tempt to bring Joseph Seed to jus­tice on kid­nap­ping charges. Your char­ac­ter is just do­ing their job, but to the mem­bers of the Project At Eden’s Gate, this is the be­gin­ning of the end. Some­thing hap­pens that trig­gers a lock­down and strands you in Hope County, hav­ing to con­front and de­feat the Seed fam­ily.

But how did the team go about mak­ing the Project At Eden’s Gate be­liev­able? Hay tells us: “I think, do­ing our home­work. We go to Mon­tana, we have our sto­ries, we can smell the air, we can drink the wa­ter, and then com­ing back and talk­ing to real ex­perts, peo­ple who have been in cults or de­pro­grammed peo­ple.” This re­search led the team to Rick Ross, a man well-versed in the in­sid­i­ous na­ture of cults, and founder of the Cult Ed­u­ca­tion In­sti­tute. He tells OPM: “The team at Ubisoft had ideas, and what they wanted to do was find out, are these ideas that we have grounded in re­al­ity… Do they res­onate his­tor­i­cally? And what I found was not only that they did, I gave them ex­am­ples and con­tex­tu­alised them.” Ross is clear that Far Cry 5’s cult isn’t based on any spe­cific group and that in­spi­ra­tion is com­ing from many dif­fer­ent sources. He men­tions a few, in­clud­ing Colo­nia Dig­nidad, which was led by Paul Schae­fer in a large, well-armed com­pound in Chile, as well as the cult Ra­jneesh­pu­ram. That was a group which man­aged to change the name of the town of An­te­lope, Ore­gon to Ra­jneesh for a short pe­riod in the 1980s and, more im­por­tantly, com­mit­ted the first bioter­ror­ism act in US his­tory, when the mem­bers poi­soned 751 peo­ple with sal­mo­nella by con­tam­i­nat­ing res­tau­rants.


It’s also fair to say the idea of a cult tak­ing over a town or an area isn’t con­signed to his­tory. Ross ex­plains: “I can think of towns in the United States that are dis­pro­por­tion­ately pop­u­lated by the mem­bers of a sin­gle group or a group that dom­i­nates a


sec­tion of a down­town area through its real es­tate hold­ings. I mean, this is go­ing on right now in the US, there are com­pounds and there are very po­lit­i­cally well-con­nected groups, groups that have a great deal of power.”


But there was an­other as­pect in get­ting you to be­lieve in the Project At Eden’s Gate: the ac­tor who’d play Joseph Seed. Get­ting the right per­son for the role was paramount for Hay. “When The Fa­ther sits down in front of you and ex­plains what he’s do­ing, you find him charm­ing and com­pelling and out there, it be­comes be­liev­able,” he ex­plains.

The man bring­ing this charisma to Seed is Cana­dian ac­tor Greg Bryk. While he might not be a house­hold name (al­though fans of Net­flix show The Ex­panse might recog­nise him), his au­di­tion left Hay floored. “I said to my­self: I would ab­so­lutely join that guy’s cult. And it took five min­utes.” Here’s hop­ing we’ll be a less re­cep­tive to his charms or it’ll be a short game.


Back to Fall’s End. The town is lib­er­ated, but our work isn’t done. Mary May Fair­grave, who runs the Spread Ea­gle bar, tells us to go and find Nick Rye. He’s on the out­skirts of town, where he runs his avi­a­tion busi­ness, which means we’re go­ing to have to go for a drive. As we step out of the bar and into the road, we come face to face with a huge, gaudy, 110% Amer­i­can truck. There’s ab­so­lutely no way we’re not driv­ing in it.

We clam­ber in, chuckle at the Vaas hula fig­urine on the dash­board and then head to­wards our ob­jec­tive.

Alas, half­way there, a car driven by a “Peg­gie” (as Mary refers to the cultists) slams into us. As they’re clearly in the mood for a scrap, we hop out and give it to them. A few rounds from our SMG do the trick, and we clam­ber into their car to see how it han­dles. As we start the car up, mu­sic fil­ters through, but in­stead of the twang of coun­try guitars you would ex­pect, Ap­palachian choir songs come from the speak­ers. Lis­ten­ing to the lyrics, which ref­er­ence The Fa­ther and his fam­ily, we quickly re­alise we’re tuned


into a cult ra­dio sta­tion. Why would the Project At Eden’s Gate go to the trou­ble of writ­ing and record­ing some – ad­mit­tedly quite catchy – tunes? For au­dio di­rec­tor Tony Gron­ick, the key came when he was watch­ing low-level cult mem­bers go about killing cat­tle and kid­nap­ping peo­ple: “I got to think­ing about how can I jus­tify what they’re do­ing? By writ­ing these hymns and putting it un­der­neath their ac­tions, all of a sud­den you re­alise they [think they’re] do­ing God’s work.” Com­poser Dan Romer is at hand to cre­ate the hymns and give them a catchy qual­ity, which is use­ful, as they’re ever-present in Hope County. You’ll hear them in cars or speak­ers set up around the place.

If the idea of heav­enly sound­ing pro­pa­ganda isn’t for you, though, don’t worry. There’ll be dif­fer­ent ra­dio

sta­tions play­ing some recog­nis­able tunes for Hope County’s dif­fer­ent re­gions, which in­clude Hol­land Val­ley, White­hall Moun­tains, and Hen­bane River. While we’ve yet to hear what they sound like in-game, we do know the ra­dio sta­tions will have dif­fer­ent playlists. Gron­ick tells us why we can ex­pect some va­ri­ety to the cult’s con­trol of the air­waves: “As you go from re­gion to re­gion, dif­fer­ent styles of mu­sic take that same ac­tion and change it for you, and it makes you feel a lit­tle dif­fer­ent when you’re killing some­one to doo-wop or killing some­one to heavy metal. You have a dif­fer­ent feel­ing when you’re do­ing it, and I wanted peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence that.”


There’s no mess­ing around once we meet Nick Rye. He makes his in­tro­duc­tions and tasks us with de­stroy­ing si­los that are filled with the agri­cul­tural fer­tiliser am­mo­nium ni­trate, oth­er­wise known as a chem­i­cal that goes boom. Nick of­fers us a plane – a first for the se­ries – and we gladly ac­cept the chance for some tar­get prac­tice. The con­trols are easy to pick up, and we’re soon off hunt­ing down the Cult’s ex­plo­sive sup­plies. There are two tar­gets across the map and we have a choice of pep­per­ing them with our ma­chine gun or drop­ping one of Nick’s own rock­ets on them. We opt for the more gen­teel bul­lets from our mounted gun, but the re­sult is the same: a massive ex­plo­sion. But be­fore we land, an­other plane glides into view. There’s a type of cult mem­ber known as The Cho­sen in the cock­pit, and we’re in a dog­fight (alas, with­out Boomer, who we as­sume isn’t sit­ting on our lap). Nick colour­fully de­scribes The Cho­sen as “Eden’s Gate Special Forces. They do not f*** around.” How do we take it out? Do we man­age to arc over it in the air and take it out from be­hind? Er, no. We ac­ci­den­tally fly into it… which at least hurts The Cho­sen a lot more than it does us.

It’s a fit­tingly mad end to our demo of what prom­ises to be the most eclec­tic Far Cry yet. One mo­ment you’re lib­er­at­ing a town from the clutches of a sur­pris­ingly re­al­is­tic evil, the next you’re tak­ing them on in a dog­fight in the sky while a new friend hollers en­cour­age­ment in your ear. That’s why it’s hard not to be ex­cited – we can’t wait to see if Ubisoft Mon­treal can co­he­sively pull these var­ied el­e­ments to­gether to cre­ate some­thing that puts the fear of God into you while giving you the power to fight back against it.


Whether on the ground or in the air, the fight­ing feels ut­terly ex­hil­a­rat­ing.

Planes are a big im­prove­ment on Far Cry 4’s lit­tle ‘Buzzer’ mini-copters.

Grace Arm­strong isn’t just good for shoot­ing deer. Her snip­ing skills mean she’s a very use­ful ally.

This truck is so tempt­ing, Seed would def­i­nitely call it the devil’s work.

Lim­ber up your throw­ing arm, be­cause you need to get that dy­na­mite in ex­actly the right place.

‘Lib­er­ate Fall’s End’. There’s noth­ing like a small task to start off with, eh? We’re on it…

From the wa­ter tower we’ve got a good view of what the cultists are do­ing to the cit­i­zens.

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