In case you missed it, I wrote an article last week expressing my bafflement at how many reviews I'd read - both by professional games journos and those on social media - which placed what I felt was undue critical focus on the game's somewhat woolly politics... and it backfired horribly.
It might've been an issue of timing; thanks to the Kickstarter campaign for Digitiser the Show I'm suddenly more unpleasantly visible than I've been since my Teletext days, and there was a clear subtext of envy in some of the grief I got. I was blocked by people on Twitter, I lost backers on Kickstarter, and for the first time in a long time I vanity-searched my own name and discovered some people "hated" me and that I am "a prick".
Most of you are rational people, so you don't need me to point out what a ridiculous overreaction this is. I mean, I thought if anybody was going to be angry with me it'd be games journalists, as they were the ones who I most directly took the piss out of.
Still, I'm fairly broad-shouldered these days, and I can't say any of it has done lasting damage, but it nevertheless irritated and frustrated me. How can we progress as a species and a civilisation if we allow ourselves to become so entrenched in our views? Honestly, I despair.
One of the most hilarious criticisms which came my way was that I was a "centrist". Ie; somebody who aligns with neither the left or right, politically-speaking. Which, absurdly, wasn't at all what I was expressing. I didn't state any personal political affiliation in the piece, merely my bafflement that anybody would've expected anything different from a Far Cry game than what we got.
Unfortunately, we live in reactionary, knee-jerk times. Lots of people are on edge, looking for offence and attacks where none exist. That's not to say none exists whatsoever; we know full well about the swatting and the misogyny and whatnot, which might make some hyper-aware. It's entirely understandable.
But at the same time, if you've simply signed up to the cause because you liked the recruitment posters - if you're a foot soldier, not a victim - it's a mistake to be so aggressively inflexible. It ceases to be about the thing you're fighting for, and becomes about whatever is driving you personally.
Too often it seems that if you take a step back and say something like "Woah there... maybe we should all calm down for a minute" you're labelled as the enemy. Is that wise? Really? Just think about it. If a vicar says he hates you and you're a bad person because you don't fancy going to church on Sunday do you think that's going to make you more or less likely to go to church?
No, because that vicar would come across as an extremist who is only capable of interpreting what they see, read and hear through the filter of their own confirmation bias. You'd think that vicar was unnecessarily horrible, and if it happened too often you might end up thinking all vicars are like that.
And who knows? If somebody from the Church of Satan then comes along and says "Man, vicars are the worst - why don't you come along to our coffee morning? We have free Wagon Wheels!" you might be more inclined to go.
Yeah, I know, weird analogy, but... do you see?
I don't mind saying that, traditionally, I've always been to the left-of-centre. I despise the alt-right, but at the same time, my psychotherapy training has taught me that everyone is an individual, and nobody follows a cause simply because they're "evil". The world is not that simple. It's not black and white. I wouldn't say I'm a centrist at all... but we need moderates to bridge ideological differences, otherwise all that happens is you get locked into a war of attrition.
I've never voted Tory in my life, but one of my best friends was a Conservative counsellor. It doesn't make him a bad person. Most of my family voted for Brexit. Do I hate them because of it? Of course I don't. Does all that make me a centrist? Don't be ridiculous, but - candidly - I'd much rather be a centrist than someone at either extreme.
Of course, a lot of people in the "culture war" that's currently waging in the West have no intention of winning. They simply want to have their identity reaffirmed. Unfortunately, this isn't a traditional war. Keyboard warriors can't just drop an atomic bomb on their enemies to terrify them into surrender.
Ironically, this I'm-right-and-they're-wrong mindset is precisely the fictional reality that you've seen played out in all the Far Cry games to date. It asks the player to decide, and make up their own minds.
Scary thought, eh? Free will... brrr!
Far Cry dumped you on a Pacific island in the role of an ex-special forces operative investigating illegal genetic engineering experiments.
Far Cry 2 dealt with arms smuggling in central Africa. Set in a country gripped by a Civil War. The player finds themselves caught between the two warring factions, which are both depicted as equally ruthless. The player must assassinate an arms dealer who has been selling weapons to both sides - achieving your aims even if you must succumb to the same immoral tactics as your enemies.
Far Cry 3 was set on another tropical island, with the player assuming the role of an American tourist, caught in the middle of another civil conflict, pulled left and right between differing perspectives.
Far Cry 4 was, reportedly, inspired by the Maoist insurgency in Nepal, and the ending is entirely dependent upon which faction the player aligns with.
Point is... the Far Cry series has always been woolly and muddy with its politics and morality. The games don't really exist to make a point; they play out against backdrops inspired by real-world events, and give the player the freedom to play as they wish, and side with who they wish. Equally, you can play them as a big, brash, tongue-in-cheek, high-octane, Michael Bay-style shooters. Or just drive around looking for the best hunting spots.
Far Cry 5 is no different... except that it's set more firmly in a world which most of us recognise as our own, and right now that world is more polarised than ever. This is why, I suspect, there have been questions raised over its lack of commitment to saying any one side is right or wrong.
Nobody wants to be faced with being told they're incorrect, so they're looking for evidence that they're right. When that evidence is lacking it clearly jars. Cue - and here's that word again - outrage.
Admittedly, Far Cry 5 being set in present-day America, against a back drop of white supremacy, religious cults, and Big Government, is the only really bold choice here. The rest of the game plays much like the past three or four Far Cry titles.
What it does do, however, is succeed in streamlining the formula. Gone are the towers you'd need to climb to unlock new missions and areas of the map; you now get new things to do by exploring, stumbling across new locations, speaking to people you encounter, and reading notes. It makes the game more naturalistic, flowing from one mission to the next entirely at the discretion of the player.
Additionally, crafting has been stripped back to basics, hunting is less essential, and there are "prepper stashes", which are like sort of platform-game puzzles, where you have to work out how to get to them. And you can hire soldiers as back-up, or win specialists - a bloke with a plane, a bloke with a bazooka, a bear etc. - to join you in battle, and it makes for a subtly different sort of game.
And I love it. It's bloody great, an astonishing technical achievement, and whatever you might think of the story... it's hard to argue that it doesn't succeed in being anything less than democratic in allowing the player to choose how they play.
If that wasn't enough, there are multiplayer modes, and the arcade mode - essentially Far Cry's answer to Mario Maker - which, I confess, I've barely scratched the surface of.
Oh... it seems that I've written a review which contains little more than a review of the reaction to an article I wrote criticising the lack of focus on gameplay in other reviews.
So there's another label you can lob at me along with "prick" and "centrist": hypocrite.
SCORE: 9 lost Kickstarter backers out of 10