With E3 around the corner, developers are gearing up for the largest unveiling of new annual games. Hot off the heals of a reportedly new Assassin’s Creed reveal, Ubisoft were quick to drop news that a fifth Far Cry game is in development, rumored to also appear at E3. While no concrete information has been provided by Ubisoft regarding the setting, plot or characters, the most hotly debated rumor seems to suggest that Far Cry 5 will don a Spaghetti western setting. However, if the rumors do prove to be true, is a western setting for the series really such a wise idea considering Rockstar’s recent announcement of Red Dead Redemption 2?
The first whispers of a western setting for the series stemmed from fans who dug up news regarding Ubisoft’s involvement in the development of a new, untitled open world game set in the Wild West. It may not link to the Far Cry series and for all we really know, could be a different game entirely, but given Ubisoft’s catalog of open world games, the most likely candidate seems to be Far Cry. Other rumors seem to have hinted at settings such as the pre-Native American era and the most popular theory revolving around dinosaurs, either by way of a prehistoric setting or horrible modern experiments gone wrong – a rumor I went into further detail on here.
However, if Far Cry 5 reveals itself to be a western game, that could spell disaster for Ubisoft and the series in general. I don’t condone a western-set Far Cry at all. In fact, I believe it would be refreshing for the series to branch out of its usual jungle/rural mountain terrain setting that its predecessors brought to the table. Given the flexibility of Ubisoft’s open world designs, especially in Assassin’s Creed, this type of creative liberties would be quite beneficial to Far Cry and its vastly entertaining gameplay. The main crux of this problem lies in its external forces, particularly what would be its primary competitor, Red Dead Redemption 2.
Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2, as it stands, is one of the most anticipated games in recent memory. There hasn’t been a greater demand for a sequel to a game since Half-Life 3, and with the official announcement of its long-awaited follow-up, gamers typically exploded in applause and excitement. The hype train seems to be in full motion, so what would that mean for another acclaimed series to adopt the same setting? While Far Cry may be a beloved series to many, the anticipation for Red Dead Redemption 2 greatly outweighs Far Cry 5, largely due to the Rockstar brand’s sphere of influence and mainstream reach being far more appealing to both the average consumer and devoted gamer than the Ubisoft brand. With Red Dead Redemption 2 slated for a fall 2017 release, if Far Cry 5 were to launch within the same window, it wouldn’t scale the heights of success that Rockstar’s juggernaut is bound to obtain. Instead, I believe the conceptual similarities, especially being an open world western, would be detrimental to Far Cry 5 and end up destroying whatever chance it has at making an impact.
Western games aren’t necessarily in abundance in gaming either, so when one rolls around, especially as enticing and following the huge critical and commercial success of its predecessor as Red Dead Redemption 2, there’s bound to be a large pull to it – so much so, that any conceptually similar game by design that would only enforce the “Red Dead clone” label would be demolished by the masses. This is truly unfortunate as the Far Cry series has several rewarding and genuinely great qualities to it that could introduce worlds of potential to the western setting; but given the stigma of launching roughly around the same time as one of the most anticipated games of this generation, a western Far Cry 5 is simply suicide for Ubisoft and the series given all the factors weighed against it.
While nothing is confirmed and everything is basically speculation at this point, perhaps Ubisoft will take initiative and surprise us with a different setting, but if Far Cry 5 does continue on the path of the Wild West, then the developer would have to really dazzle the crowds to sell the idea of it somehow being different – playing to the strengths of the series such as its entertainment factor, compelling central villain, and morally conflicted protagonist. Unfortunately, Rockstar will have Ubisoft in a chokehold when it comes to the open world western design, and it’s perhaps in their bests interests not to go toe-to-toe with the same company that actually redefined open world games forever.