Far Cry 6’s season pass comes to an end this week, as Joseph: Collapse concludes a trilogy of expansions that returns to re-explore the great villains of previous games in the series.
All three of the DLC expansions for Far Cry 6 have followed a set template – how very Ubisoft of them? – casting you into the tortured mind of each of the main antagonists from Far Cry 3 through 5 and exploring their psyche through the medium of the roguelite genre. In that regard Joseph: Collapse holds few surprises, though there’s a slight tonal shift to the story being told with this particular character.
Joseph Seed wakes up in the heart of a Hope County transformed into a dreamlike state. The clouds hang in the sky shaped like the cross that was Eden’s Gate’s symbol, there’s churches and preaching spots that dot a landscape that’s utterly idyllic in places, and then some of the key landmarks from the original game at the edges, transformed into more nightmarish forms. Hope County Jail, for example, floats in the sky, its only attachment to the rest of the land coming from the bridge to its front door.
You start with nothing but a pistol, but must head out from your central sanctuary on this map in order to find and unite the three fragments of a cross. You’ll encounter somewhat demonic versions of Eden’s Gate goons along the way, each one exploding into ashes when they’re defeated, and collecting the Penance that they drop.
Penance is really the key for your progression, allowing you to head back to your safe spaces and spend it on a variety of upgrades. These start off fairly cheap – 200 Penance for a health bump or to unlock additional healing charges – but soon ramp up into the thousands, which will require a fair bit of grinding and surviving to earn. There’s also weapons to unlock, which you do so at challenge altars, fighting and defeating a certain number of enemies in order to get anything from a bow all the way up to a grenade launcher.
It’s a roguelite, so when you die, you lose all your weaponry and powers, but keep any character and weapon upgrades you’ve unlocked. You can get a boost on your next attempt with the ability to keep some Penance after death, with upgrades letting you keep a bigger chunk of change in your pocket so you can re-buy any weapons you lost.
There’s a fairly satisfying loop to this progression, especially as you get to traipse home from exploring one corner of the map with your pockets full of Penance and maybe a new weapon to buy, and there’s a constant risk-reward factor to weigh up for tougher encounters.
Then again, after a while I was happy to change the DLC’s difficult down from ‘Action’ to ‘Story’. By default enemies pack quite a punch, with some rather unerring accuracy at long range, and I tired of the gruelling nature of tougher encounters. If you want the challenge, it’s there for you, but the lightened action of Story difficulty lets the… well, the story take centre stage.
The main difference to the previous DLC is narrative. For the first two parts of the season pass, we were relitigating the pasts of each game’s antagonists, whether uncovering the roots of Vaas’ madness and tortured origins, or discovering more about the family troubles that led Pagan Min down his tyranical path. For Joseph Seed, however, we already have an epilogue to his story in Far Cry 5. The character reappeared within the post-apocalyptic Far Cry: New Dawn as something of a changed man. Joseph: Collapse shows the inner battle as he goes through that personal transformation with ties to both games.
The switch has flipped for Joseph after his time as a prophesied leader in Far Cry 5. The canonical doomsday ending of that game has shown to him that, while he might have been right to preach about the end of the world, he was also completely wrong in how he lied and misled his followers, and failed in his main objective of protecting his family. He’s accompanied, or haunted, by the Voice, which speaks to him as an internal manifestation of God’s voice.
Looking back on the three parts of the Far Cry 6 season pass, it feels like something of a missed opportunity. While the roguelite genre really suited delving into Vaas’ mind, trotting out the exact same format for both Pagan Min and Joseph Seed feels rote, stretching the idea out as a means to an end. It would have taken much greater effort and time for Ubisoft to do so, but mixing up the genres, the structure and approach that each DLC took would have been much more impactful. Still, fans of Far Cry will likely get a kick out of the expanded exploration of each character’s tale.