And I didn't have a clue who the dead guy was.
More pertinently, I didn't care. In fact, I just got annoyed that they were telling me that this was a major turning point in the game, rather than giving me what I needed to feel it.
Contrast this with Red Dead Redemption 2. In that, when a certain character died, I felt genuine sadness. Likewise that bit in The Last of Us, when Joel (spoilers) gets impaled on a bit of rebar. In both those cases I didn't want anything bad to happen to those characters. It was a shock, and I was shocked that I was shocked, because I'm so used to not caring what happens to video game characters.
In New Dawn, the dead character's deadness was preceded by him being tortured. Clearly, the creators of the game felt this would heighten the tragedy when he was then shot in the face. Indeed, my character was so enraged by this, that he turned into a sort of Incredible Hulk, and started punching the dead characters' murderers. All out of my control, of course.
But... I didn't know who he was, I didn't know a thing about him, I didn't understand why it was being treated as a major turning point in the story. I felt nothing, other than a bit of confusion, and impatience, because I wanted to get back to the gameplay.
And I'll tell you why this is: cut-scenes. All of Far Cry New Dawn's storytelling is done via cutscenes, and the examples above, both good and bad, have finally gotten to the core of why I've disliked cutscenes ever since they started becoming a thing.
What both Red Dead Redemption 2 and The Last of Us have in common is that their storytelling extends into the gameplay; there's no jarring shift from one to another.
Yes, there are cutscenes, but they're kept to a minimum, because they understand that one of the prime rules of cinema is Show Don't Tell. Cutscenes, in an interactive medium, are the equivalent of exposition. They're not part of the game - they're apart from it. In the case of games, it should always.be Play Don't Tell.
I never quite escape the feeling that cutscenes exist more for the developers to live out their movie directing fantasies than to benefit the player. What they represent for me, is game creators not doing their job properly - and mark an utter failure to use the medium properly.
If you want players to feel something when a character dies, you've got to give them a reason to care about that character. They have to know that character. Red Dead Redemption 2 cleverly builds relationships between your protagonist and the NPCs by forcing you on long horseback rides, where the characters chat between themselves.
Similarly in The Last Of Us, Joel and Ellie never stop talking to one another, even in the midst of tense action. We see the bond grow between them, we see how much they care about one another - and through that we start to care, without even realising... until something terrible happens.
In Far Cry 2, you get a lot of - admittedly brief - expositional cut-scenes, but the characters are treated mostly as macguffins. Even your team-mates, who can be assigned to help you out on missions, are little more than extensions of your weapons wheel. When they die, it's an inconvenience, not a plot point - not helped by the fact that their mid-mission chatter is the same dozen or so lines repeated ad infinitum.
Though it feels primitive by the standards of The Last of Us and Red Dead, Half-Life 2 was the first game where characters and character was embedded into the action of the game, without breaking away from it for cutscenes. Even then, 15 years ago, I felt it was the future of video game storytelling. I cared about Dog and Alyx, because I was being given the opportunity to spend time with them.
And then, following Half-Life 2, almost the entire games industry ignored it, as if to say "We're never going to be able to do that", went cut-scene mad, and here we are 15 years later, and Red Dead Redemption 2 and Half-Life 2 are the exception, rather than the rule.
Bioshock is another of the few games since Half-Life 2 to successfully combine story and game. Indeed, its creator Ken Levine's view on cutscenes echo my own: "You know what kind of gamer I am? When we come to a cinematic, I jump it. I go 'I'm not watching a movie, f*** you'. I want a game. You can selectively take control away from the gamer for a few seconds but don't render him inactive."
Him? Bit sexist, Ken.
I know I've ranted about this before, but cut-scenes - unless they're brief, unless they're setting the scene for atmosphere - have no place in a video game, unless they're used as an establishing shot,. Least of all if they're not backed up by the characters in those cut-scenes then interacting with you during the actual gameplay.
Cinema and video games are two completely different things. One's passive, the other is interactive, and when telling a story they each need a completely different approach. It's lazy to break from gameplay for a cut-scene; work harder to figure out how to give the player what information they need within the body of the gameplay. Trust me; even idiots who don't consciously know why they're feeling a thing will like you more for it.
It's so rare that a cut-scene will ever engage me. During most of them, I'll grab my phone, or turn to my laptop, only half-engaged. Or, when it's available, I'll skip it.
This, surely, if you've gone to the effort of writing a story, isn't what you want is it? If I want to switch off and watch a film, then that's what I do. When it comes to playing a game, I'm engaging a different part of my brain, and I want to stay busy.
I'm not advocating that games should do away with story. On the contrary, my favourite games balance story and emotion with action - in the way that the best movies do.
I bang on a lot about Marvel, but they get that; the best of their stories take the time to build a relationship between the audience and the characters. The action sequences have emotional stakes, which given them a reason to exist beyond eye-candy. They move the story on.
It's why I was so disappointed with Captain Marvel, because it felt like the first of their films - which, yes, I know some are better than others - to drop the ball on that. The character was essentially a vacuum, due to the fragmented nature of the origin story, and it was hard to connect with her. Consequently, the action sequences felt - ironically - like clips from video games. I wasn't invested in them; there were no emotional stakes, no risk to the character's journey...
You can say the same for Star Wars; the best battles in those movies are driven by vengeance, usually over the death of a mentor. The lightsaber fight at the end The Phantom Menace just sort of exists... and only has an emotional element once Qui-Gon Jinn gets killed. And then he's promptly cut in half and kicked down a drain.
Video games, which are frequently primarily an action-based medium, could learn a lesson from this. I mean, I'm not saying all games need to do it... but if you are going to insist on having a story, give the player the opportunity to connect with it. Embed it in the action, and keep cut-scenes to a minimum, otherwise it ends up feeling like an exercise in self-indulgence on the part of the creators.