Where many near-future games portray warfare as fast paced and modern, full of flashing LED lights, exo-suits and laser guns, the newest trailers for the video game Far Cry 5 point to a far different kind of conflict.
In this game, which is expected to be released in 2018, instead of being immersed in an exotic, vaguely foreign locale, you instead are tasked with fighting religious extremists within the United States of America. Where previous Far Cry games have taken place in Africa, Pacific Islands, the Himalayas and even the distant past, Far Cry 5 takes players to the near American future. Outside of a fairly substantial difference in geography and climate, many of the scenes recently previewed online and at the E3 gaming expo would not seem out of place in a news report on a group as extreme as the Islamic State. Innocent civilians being brutally executed in the street, zealots forcing baptism on unwilling participants, and a cult-like leader using violence and intimidation to maintain control are now features of the overrun rural US town of Fall’s End, Montana. Early game-play trailers show the player setting up elaborate guerrilla ambushes, using snipers and employing other stealthy approaches to defeat the zealots one by one.
This game predicts a future where the kind of civilian-based violence seen in insurgencies from the Middle East to Latin America is still a prevalent form of warfare, where soldiers do not wear uniforms, carry standardized equipment, and follow a clear and coherent chain of command. Or the laws of war, either.
Though it does not necessarily foretell such an extremist insurgency will emerge in America, the game does certainly hit on the fact that well-armed militias do exist in the US, as well as present a dark vision of what such a movement could look like. Already controversial, Far Cry 5 does bring up important and relevant points about what the future of conflict might look like. America is more divided than ever, and Far Cry 5 dares to ask the question of what it might look like should domestic extremists exploit these differences.