Warning: This article may contain spoilers for those who haven’t completed the main story in Far Cry 4. If you are trying a completely blind run through, I would suggest turning back now and coming back later.
The story begins with an introduction to a country left behind long ago. You sit on a crowded bus, waiting to revisit a past you don’t remember, to honour your mother’s last request. The only directions you’ve been given are as follows:
“Ajay my son, I have so much left to say to you. But I’m out of time. So please, take me back to Lakshmana. The journey will tell you more than I ever could. I love you and I will always be with you”
At a border crossing you are stopped and a group of soldiers fire upon the bus, driving you outside. That is when you meet him; the notorious Pagan Min, King of Kyrat. Unbeknownst to you, your fate has been intertwined and sealed with this man since the day you were born.
Pagan Min brings you to his Right-hand Man’s compound, where he describes his anticipation of your arrival. His exposition is interrupted , and he asks that you to please remain seated, enjoy your crab rangoon, and that he will return shortly. This is where your epic adventure takes off.
In Far Cry 4 you join a rebellious group known as the Golden Path in their fight to take down the tyrannical Pagan Min, who invaded and oppressed the people with an iron grip of dictatorship. You are told that your father was a brave and fearless leader who threw off the shackles that bound him, declared his independence, and created the Golden Path.
The Two-Headed Elephant
The current leaders of the Path, known by many as the two-headed elephant, are Sabal and Amita. Each have their own ideas of how Kyrat should be run once Pagan Min is out of power. Sabal would prefer to go back to the religious, traditional, and idealistic ways of Kyrat’s past, while Amita feels the end justifies the means, and is not shy about encouraging drug trafficking to fuel the post-oppression economy.
Over the course of the game, each leader will do everything they can to try and persuade you to their way of thinking. They speak behind each other’s back, whisper for you to betray the other and abandon their orders. Sabal will tell you at some point to enact the very same plan as Amita, though in a different manner, in an attempt to cut her out of the glory entirely. The bickering amongst each other never seems to end and the Golden Path seems to branch off more often than follow a single path.
King Min – The Tyrant of Kyrat
Enough is said about Pagan Min over the course of the game that I don’t need to mention much. Indeed, he seems entirely too eager to share his horrible acts of atrocity with you and often radios in with seemingly menacing purpose. Upon escaping the compound at the beginning of the game, he sympathizes that the crab wasn’t up to standard and so he understood you leaving. He then puts the chef to death… Or was it his family? He couldn’t care to remember which, but their deaths are on your shoulders.
One thing seems certain during the entirety of the game: Pagan Min must die. His deceitful ways of oppression have led the country to ruin and the only way to reach Lakshmana and scatter your mother’s ashes will be by uniting with the Golden Path to take down Min. His calm demeanour only serves to accent his cold and ruthless nature, his love for death and the pleasure he derives from the suffering of others.
The Final Confrontation
Far Cry 4 comes to its conclusion as any Ubisoft title would: a confrontation with the antagonist, during which he reveals his motivations and plans. This case is no different, as Pagan appeals to sit with him and talk a while. “I call ‘do over’” he states calmly as he pours a glass of wine and sits at the head of his table, saying you could represent the innocent man you once were and have a civil conversation, or you could reduce yourself to nothing but a cold blooded killer and shoot him on the spot.
This man has done so much to deserve a bullet to his head. Hasn’t this been your mission from the start? The Golden Path wanted Ajay to kill him, sure, but what had they just made me do ten minutes ago? If you’ve reached this stage of the game, you’ll know exactly the acts were committed in the name of “freedom”. If the gun is lowered, you speak with Pagan one final time. In this conversation, the deepest realization within the entire game comes to light: Pagan Min has never caused you any harm.
More than that, Pagan Min is the most honest character in the game.
Things Are Not Always As They Appear
Final warning: This is your last chance to turn back before spoilers set in.
The conversation with Pagan does everything a video game ending needs to do: answer all the questions you’ve had pertaining to the plot, provided closure and gave you a sense of satisfaction regardless of which choice you’d made. The decision to spare Min goes beyond the expected revelation of a conclusion, as details are given that a story lover like me could only ever hope for.
Pagan reveals that you mother was true to him in the end, and that Lakshmana is not a place, but a person. This could be apparent to those whom might know their cultural studies, as Lakshmana is actually a male name, and the only location in India with the name is a temple. Mohan Ghale had sent your mother to spy on Pagan Min, in an effort to include her more in the war effort and fix their marriage, which had been declining for some time. Instead, your mother fell for the dictator, and had a child together. Mohan murdered the little girl in a fit of rage, and your mother then killed him before fleeing the country with you. Throughout the entire game you were looking for an area named Lakshmana to scatter your mother’s ashes when she was asking to be placed with her daughter, your half-sister.
Min goes on to state that when he had first taken you from the bus and brought you back to his guard’s compound, he had intended to help you immediately and bring you to Lakshmana’s resting place so that your mother could be at rest with her. He laments that, much like you, he used the death of his daughter to justify the horrible things he did. During his reign, he grew to love the power, and dropped the guise of noble justice. He guesses that maybe Ajay has been using the death of his mother in a similar way.
Despite all this, the main point to hit home comes from the very beginning of the conversation: If you’d just sat down and eaten your crab, he’d have helped you immediately. Sounds like something every action movie villain has ever promised. It’s a very tough pill to swallow, but it’s true.
The Secret Path
A secret ending to Far Cry 4 was revealed some time ago in which a completely different path is taken in the story, allowing the game to be completed within 30 minutes. In this ending, upon being asked to sit and wait for Pagan to return, Ajay stays where he is for about 15 minutes. Pagan returns and apologizes for the inconvenience before taking you immediately to Lakshmana to explain the same back story context as in the regular game should you spare him. At the end of it, it is implied that you join with Pagan in his rule of Kyrat as the end game triggers.
Waiting in one place for 15 minutes with no clear goal in mind goes against everything a gamer is used to. The only time we would normally remain so still is if an objective had told us to do so, otherwise we are hardwired to move onto the next location. All promotional material for Far Cry has clearly labeled Pagan Min as the protagonist as well, and so it would seem clear that your first course of action when left unattended would be to escape.
This is a brilliant step from a storytelling perspective, in that not only does the game tell you “If only you’d just sat down and waited for me return…” but proves it as well. All of this comes down to show that right up until his (potentially) last breath, Pagan Min has never led you astray, never lied, and never done anything to harm you. His soldiers have harassed the Golden Path throughout the entire story line, but you’ve only ever gotten caught in the middle of a fight.
Is it not bizarre that the only time Pagan’s forces attack an outpost you’ve captured is when you’re not there and just leaving? He’s actually waiting for you to be out of the line of fire before sending troops in. The only attacks on outposts you’re assaulting are made by his soldiers, not him, and the soldiers appear within 30 seconds so he cannot call them off. The only assaults made on locations you’re at are typically large scale pre-planned. The Royal Army may be trying to kill you, but Pagan is trying to keep you out of the fire.
The Golden Path have used you since your first day among them to accomplish the goals they require, to the point that Ajay once posits “Who else points the gun around here?”, and yet the almighty “Tyrant of Kyrat” wants nothing more than your well being. You’re hidden from seeing this because while you’re tearing down propaganda centers and overthrowing a vicious ruler, the freedom fighters are shrouding you in their own propaganda.
The Implications in Gaming
Ubisoft’s brilliant plot device doesn’t just serve Far Cry, or future installments of the series. This could be used in future games to great success. Games like Skyrim often have quests in which the world will end in a month, a week, a year, etc… Yet we go off and perform meaningless tasks for what amounts to a decade and say “Hey, you know that threat that was supposed to show up ‘next month’ about ten years ago? Is it still showing up ‘next month’?”
What if waiting in a certain location, or taking too long to get somewhere caused a character to die in the background, and you never knew. That character could have helped you open a door later in a game that would help you, but your laziness means you never met them, never knew they existed, and now you need to fight an entire army. As a plot device this could be big. As a technical device, this could be HUGE!
Gaming has made numerous advancements to become more realistic, and this is another step in the right direction. There’s nothing prompted or indicated in the game to tell you that Pagan Min would ever return. This isn’t the first time a character has asked you to sit still as a plot device, never to return because they aren’t programmed to. Figuring out what triggers what could completely change games and make your actions have real consequences.
If the captain of the guard tells me to meet her within one month and I fail to make that appointment, it may be interesting to learn she was kidnapped and I now have to follow a set of clues to save her. Wander around rather than following the clues? Now she’s dead, and her blood is on your hands due to negligence. This could well go beyond basic questing, as you are now clearly the one responsible for her death all because you felt like killing 10 wolves for their hides rather than saving an ally. This could make gamers truly responsible for the choices they make in game. You’re not acting because there is a timer ticking down at the top of the screen, but because they want to explore and experience the world on your own.
Intended or not, the dedication to story telling this Easter egg shows is mind-blowing. This one hidden gem could have huge potential consequences for the industry.