Nobody likes gatekeeper types and I get that! So, before you roll your eyes that I’m insisting people play one game before playing another — hear me out! There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to Ubisoft’s Montana Cult Simulator, so let’s get to it!
Before I get too deep into territory nobody wants to hear about — I won’t be throwing a ton of spoilers out, so nobody panic. However, I will take this time to make sure people who are antsy about the game, based on previous entries in the Far Cry, to soothe their minds. Nobody needs to panic over the goings on with hectic maps or an overabundance of side-missions and those weapons aren’t going to be an issue. I won’t be discussing the DLC to Far Cry 5, as it’s just silliness that expands upon goofy stories. See? You’ve already eased up a bit, I can tell.
Okay, but why do I have to play Far Cry 5 first? It’s a stand-alone!
You’re right! Far Cry New Dawn is definitely a stand-alone title and if you desperately want to tinker with the color, the difficulty and the fun that you think only New Dawn can provide you — do it. I’d rather you play it without playing 5 than not play it at all. That’s the thing, I’m not telling you that you’re wrong in doing so — I’m saying that the experience will be all the greater if you walk in with a complete story.
See, Far Cry 5 did something that I wasn’t expecting — it grabbed me. Granted, I’ve enjoyed my time playing Far Cry games in the past, but it was a pretty one-note experience. Play the game, do the things and then move onto another game. Nothing other than the villains really stuck with me before in those titles. Now, Blood Dragon was wild and super fun, but it wasn’t quite the same thing. Another stand-alone does not definitively help you understand the prior titles and, to that end, I would understand if people were burnt out on the franchise. Well, I used to understand.
Far Cry 5 goes a completely homegrown route this time around and brings the villain Stateside and centers it within the state of Montana. Hope County is a nicely tucked and out of the way area in Montana where Joseph Seed and his little whackadoodle family have set up shop. As it appears, Joseph Seed is a multidimensional figure who seems completely devoid of logic and perhaps in his own insane way — he’s trying to help folks. He speaks of a change coming and through his soft tones and rather passive behavior through the game, there’s always a sinister flicker. Nobody is going to stop his little religion from rising up and you damn sure aren’t going to be the guy, Rookie.
Through Far Cry 5, the game is separated very easily into three sections on the map. Each section shows an image of the family member’s face that is protecting it and helping Joseph gather all the necessities he will need for this collapse he speaks of. His brothers, by blood, protect both to the West and North and his ‘sister’ protects the East. Now, doing enough missions and rescuing enough civilians in each place will bump up a yellow meter which will essentially piss these dingdongs right off. Every time you hit a marker on that yellow meter, you’ve antagonized them and foiled enough plans that they send their people to come pick you up. It’s terrifying but it’s in these moments that the story soars.
Once you’ve defeated the three siblings, well, it’s time for you to face Joseph your damn self. What happens doesn’t necessarily need to be spoiled, but I will say that it’s a crescendo not met on the same level in Far Cry titles before it. It is a Gary Jules song played over and over on a tiny piano until you just gasp and hold your face.
Right, but we already know from the trailer that Joseph is not dead!
I know, I know. You DO know that. The specificity in the fact he is not dead matters though. Context absolutely matters here. See, Far Cry games tiptoe through absurdity and remind you very easily and often that it’s a fictional world that isn’t really here to be taken incredibly serious at all times. While the story of the Eden’s Gate cult is very real and ripped from so many stories of religious cults in our real life — it doesn’t want you to focus just on that. Far Cry 5 is about the people who survive this family of maniacs. It’s about Hope County and the community that comes together in an attempt to save themselves and others from being destroyed by this family’s cruel machinations.
By the time you finish Far Cry 5, you should be so invested that you are desperately pained no matter the choices that you end up with. You should feel for Hope County. You should cry for Montana. By the time you complete the game, you should be left going… “IS EVERYONE OKAY???” and that’s the rub. If you played New Dawn without that, you’re missing out on so much context that makes New Dawn all the better.
You really want me to play Far Cry 5 first, don’t you? Sigh.
I do! The thing is, when you step into New Dawn — you’re going to meet people. People with names, the families of people who survived Joseph Seed’s onslaught only to be rewarded with sixteen some odd years in fallout shelters and bunkers. You’re going to have to go find these folks that populated and survived and were a part of the rich tapestry of Hope County before they could rise from the underground. That’s going to be so much more rewarding if you have the context of the previous story. Granted, it will run you a good forty hours (unless you’re blazing through and ignoring pretty much all of the side stuff) to get through 5. I’ve beaten Far Cry 5 no fewer than nine times now (I would promise co-op help to anyone who got the game after I evangelized the crap out of it) and each time, I’ve found new things to keep me in love with the world they gave us to play in.
Seeing Montana and Hope County proper in 5, I believe, makes it all the more enticing when you step into it post-Superbloom. It gives a history to the game and it makes the vamped up difficulty in New Dawn make sense. In New Dawn, you’re full survival and saving people who also need help rebuilding in this new existence they have. Back in 5, the most survival you had to do was dodging wild wolverines and skunks and keeping your head on a proper swivel. In 5, you could hunt and fish and end up fully kitted out and ready to take on Seed’s family. New Dawn doesn’t make you feel quite so secure. While the game is shorter in length, the complexities of crafting, enemy difficulty levels and challenges to building your own outpost and raiding others flips the sweetness and calm of 5 right on its head. You never truly feel safe. I’ve beaten New Dawn and I still, with all the best gear and items, don’t quite feel safe even standing on the road.
This here is TheRussianBadger and he gets it. This is his spoiler-free video he made explaining the fun to be had in Far Cry 5 and if you’re still on the fence and wanting to know if you SHOULD play it before New Dawn, let Badger show you why. This is the guy you need to co-op the campaign with and I wish I would have! Mouth like a sailor, but man, he understands the craziness to be seen in Hope County, Montana.
Alright, I’ve done and said everything I can. Don’t be surprised if you, much like me, deep-dive into cult documentaries, buy the novelization by Urban Waite which expands on the Hope County story and flail over not being able to secure yourself the Father statue from Ubisoft. Don’t be shocked, because this game gets in your head and the balls-first entertainment touches on everything from serious discomfort to teary-eyed laughing fits. Get a friend to play it with you in the co-op campaign mode. Make Montana know your name and THEN head sixteen years into the future. New Dawn deserves that kind of care, friends.