The Far Cry series has many memorable moments throughout its many games. Levels or events that have cemented themselves in people’s memories but nothing quite as well as the game’s villains. The game’s antagonists have even gone so far as to become the main selling-point of the games now.
With any good story, there’s an opposing force. Some might make this opposing force a very basic or 2D character, concept or organization. Yet, Far Cry seems to understand just how valuable and memorable one well-written character can be. After the success and adoration of Vaas Montenegro from Far Cry 3, the creative team understood the assignement they were now given. To create memorable villains.
We explore some of the main games’ best and most memorable villains, ahead of the new Far Cry 6.
What makes the villains so great?
A question millions of writers around the world asks themselves every morning. But if anything, Far Cry might have answered that. Far Cry 1 and 2 have gone mostly unnoticed in terms of their antagonists, but from Vaas’s debut in Far Cry 3, there series have continued to create brilliant villains.
So much so, many players often forget who the protagonist is. Whilst many might not be able to name Jason Brody as the Far Cry 3 main character, almost all Far Cry fans will be able to name Vaas. Whether you loved him or you hated him, you’ll know who he is. And that’s one of the elements of making a great villain. Making them memorable.
Even now, although I’ve not played the game in years, I still distinctly remember the scene where Vaas talks to you through the cage at the very start of the game. And of course, the scene with the infamous ‘definition of insanity’ line.
It’s worth noting that when I say that the villains are ‘great’, that refers to their memorability. They are written to be terrible and vile people, but what makes them great is their writing. The depth to these characters who feel more real than just a 2D image shooting at you.
What amazes most people is that Vaas wasn’t even the main antagonist for the Far Cry 3 game. Although the marketing and publicity around the game made him seem like it, he is dealt with half-way through the game.
Yet, what makes him such a memorable villain is his presence. He is present throughout the game. He’s not some entity that’s only mentioned in passing. Villains who’s reputation is only mentioned by other characters lead to a dull pay-off. Whereas if you get to see the villain and their evil deeds for yourself, you’ll remember them. This is the case with Vaas, who greets you when you start the game, proceeds to kill your brother and then remains a constant throughout the game until his demise.
That being said, Vaas’s popularity might also come down to his similarities to the Joker. Another favourite villain. The two were eccentric, cruel but charismatic.
The Far Cry Experience
What helped was also the promotional marketing around Far Cry 3. Particularly with the Far Cry Experience. A video set days before the events of Far Cry 3. It stars Christopher Mintz-Plasse as himself and Michael Mando as Vaas Montenegro. This additional content only made people enjoy Vaas all the more, he was despicable, cruel and endlessly charismatic.
This particular series of videos brought depth and intrigue to the game ahead of its release. It was a new and exciting experience for many gamers and lead to increased sales. This boom in sales, thanks to the marketing, has now lead to a trend in the Far Cry games. With the marketing focusing on the villains and even expanding them in some ways.
Pagan is the autocratic self-proclaimed King of the Kingdom of Kyrat, and the Dragon Head of the Triad Empire. And although there was some controversy surrounding the fact he was voices by a white man, despite being a Chinese man.
Just like Vaas, Pagan is introduced to us very early in-game. And one of the moments that cements Pagan in our minds as a threat is seeing his first interaction with the player, Ajar Ghale. Unlike Vaas who comes across as cruel and sadistic, Pagan instead greats us with a surprising kindness. All the while, there’s blood still on his face, a fiery bus in the background and bodies on the floor.
A great emotional contrast which makes the horror of the situation all the more real. Pagan’s seeming calmness is constantly undermined by his actions. Pagan often shows a strange sense of mundanity which is quickly replaced by a terrifying moment of being completely unhinged.
Throughout the game, Pagan frequently interacts with Ajay via radio and consistently displays a warm attitude toward him despite Ajay supporting the Golden Path. Though they are not related, Pagan often displays a father-like demeanour toward Ajay, showing what he calls ‘tough love’ and, at times, going so far as to guide Ajay and even save his life.
This mix of cruel and ‘seeming’ kindness leads to another distinct and memorable villain.
The ruthless megalomaniac, Joseph Seed, is the main antagonist of Far Cry 5. The founder and leader of Hope County’s religious extremis cult. Joseph is one of the most ‘real’ villains of the franchise. He is a religious fanatic who genuinely believes he is chosen by God and a prophet. But what makes him worse is… by the end of the game, he was right.
Joseph Seed was the most ‘real’ and close-to-home villain. He a the frightening minx of a psychopath, megalomaniac and religious extremist. But as with any cult leader, he is a charismatic individual who appeals to some. At the very start of the game, we hear him say: “We will not let them take our guns, our freedom, our faith.” Words often used to turn people against each other, and Joseph is the embodiment of that frightening zealotry.
That being said, Joseph does show an ounce of humanity, he breaks down emotionally after the death of his family. A moment that might invoke pity or even guilt from the players, and for just a moment forgetting what kind of a monster he is.
A charismatic, persuasive and highly manipulative individual, Joseph bears a close resemblance to real-life cult leader David Koresh, who led an armed religious sect called the Branch Davidians, and from which Eden’s Gate takes inspiration.
But unlike the other games, Joseph Seed doesn’t have quite as close of a relationship with the protagonist. He’s an interesting character but compared to Pagan, it seems like a partial downgrade.
Then again, at the end of the game it turns out Seed was right. Which makes him all the more terrifying, as he simply sings when a nuclear war goes off in the background.
Far Cry 6’s antagonist is the dictator, Antón Castillo. Although we don’t know, nor have we experience much of Antón, there’s already expectations being made. Played by Giancarlo Esposito, the Yaran dictator has been at the forefront of all the game’s marketing.
What will be particularly interesting about Antón will be seeing his relationship with his son, Diego. Although I do hope that Antón will have some form of relationship with the protagonist
A revolution occurred, and Antón’s father was executed right in front of him. As a result, Antón grew up with the view that the island was stolen from his family. He was raised by his mother who made sure her son knew that his father had lost everything he built by those who killed him.
Antón remains determined to restore Yara to its former glory, with his son, Diego, following in his bloody footsteps. Antón’s oppressive actions have resulted in revolution. He is grooming Diego to take his place to succeed him.