Thread: My opinion on Joseph Seed | Forums

  1. #1

    My opinion on Joseph Seed

    Obviously, there may be some spoilers in what I am about to say. Read at your own risk.

    One of the most distinguishing features of Far Cry games have always been their memorable, larger then life villains.

    Let's be honest, many of us wanted to join Pagan Min and help him exterminate the Golden Path. Many of us were appaled, yet at the same time fascinated by Vaas. Even Far Cry Primal, although lacking any trace of an interesting story, had Ull, a savage, brutal warlord capable of crushing a man's skull with his bare hands. None of them were good people, not by a long shot, but while playing those games, I could understand why Pagan Min had so many devoted followers. I could see how living on a tropical island with Vaas as your leader was a blast (if you were a pirate). And I am sure any caveman would feel a lot better having Ull as a leader of his tribe.

    So it's not a surprise to say that I was eager to see what Ubisoft had in store for us with Far Cry 5. Who is going to be the next big baddie that all of us will hate, yet secretly admire? When I read it's going to be a cult leader, I was skeptical, but at the same time very much intrigued. "Dangers of a cult" is a subject that has been done to the death in countless movies and TV shows, so much that it became a cliche. But hey, that's Far Cry we're talking about! These guys always had the best writers and the best actors on their side. I was sure they would find a way to make Joseph Seed an interesting and memorable character.

    Turns out he is neither.

    When you first see Joseph Seed, he is surrounded by an army of creepy looking fanatics. They are gathered around him in a dark church that looks like a setting of "Nightmare on Elm street". The man himself is covered with tattoos and scars that spell seven deadly sins. He is a creepy, creepy dude with pedo glasses and a man bun. And the only thing he talks about is... sin. That, and quoting Bible.

    Wait, that's it?!

    First of all, how the hell did he manage to charm so many people into following him? I am no expert on the subject, but from what I know about cult leaders, I gather that they are charismatic. They are very good with others, they can be kind, intimidating, charming and surprisingly intellectual at the same time... and you can feel it as you talk to them. But I felt nothing of that sort when I saw Joseph.

    Remember Pagan Min? How he took you to dinner and charmed you even though he stabbed a guy in the neck with a pencil just a minute ago? Seed was supposed to be more like that, and less like a creepy uncle that nobody would dare to leave alone with children. He is a cult leader, for god's sake! If you met that guy in a bar, you'd enjoy his company. You'd invite him to a family dinner without hesitation. He would talk to you in a language that you'd understand and he would make perfect sense when explaining his understanding of a Bible to you. He would make you question your own beliefs, not with a threat of torture and mutilation, but with a kind word.

    Joseph Seed is not a cult leader! I am sorry, but I could not believe for a second that this guy was some charismatic prophet.

    I'm not saying every villain needs to be Pagan Min. I want every big baddie to do his own thing. Vaas was a crazy badass with a philosophical streak. Pagan Min was an intelligent, charming drug lord. Ull was a larger then life warrior. And Joseph Seed should do his own thing, be different then them. So I don't have any problem with him being something else. Script writers had a good idea when they thought of him. The problem is, they didn't bother to put any effort into creating a character who is actually believeable as a cult leader. He is just a creepy guy who drugs people into submission. That, my friends, is what I call lazy writing.

    All of the scenes involving Seed family members are just 5 minute monologues where they basically explain to you that they are evil bastards who don't believe in humanity. Again, lazy writing. No story, no intelligent arguments on their side. Just a bunch of creepy dudes getting into your face and telling you "look how f***ed up we are!". The scene where I literally gave up on the game's story was the one when Joseph gets into my face and tells me all about how he killed his baby. It was chilling and gruesome, especially if you imagine your character being a woman and listening to that while locked in a cage. That's thanks to the brilliant performance by the voice actor (I forgot his name, sorry). But after it ended, I just said to myself "Wait a minute, this is bulls***!". It was just there to make sure we know, beyond any doubt, who the bad guy is. And to make sure we hate him. Obviously, the writers think we are all ******ed, so they need to hammer it firmly into our heads that Joseph Seed is a baddie. Lazy, lazy writing indeed.

    Of course, the entire story is ******ed in many aspects, but that is another matter. Joseph Seed is what I want to talk about here. Why the hell doesn't he leave an impression on me? He is supposed to make me feel like I, a sheriff's deputy with an arrest warrant for him, am a bad guy for putting cuffs on him. He is supposed to shake my belief in the rule of law. He is supposed to make me understand his side of the story and think that maybe he's right and I am wrong. He is supposed to do all that with his words and words alone. Because he is a freakin' cult leader, not a back alley junkie!

    If you want your villain to be a cult leader, then he should do what cult leaders do - charm people. I know this is a gross oversimplification of a relationship between a leader and his followers, but in order to make his character believable, then this is the minimum of what he must do.

    Sorry, but to me Joseph seems like another one of many generic "I want to watch the world burn" characters that pop culture bombarded us with lately. And just to make sure we get the point, the writers had him activate a freakin' nuke so he LITERALLY watches the world burn in the end.

    The big question, my dear friends is... Am I the only one who feels this way?
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  2. #2
    In my honest opinion, Vaas and Pagan both fall into the category of being more like a larger-than-life exaggerated "caricature" of an antagonist, rather than being realistically believable people.

    For example, Vaas was little more than every teenage boys fantasy of being a cool 'psycho', which is why so many male players have a total hard-on for him.
    And Pagan was extremely gay/campy (I'll let you come to your own conclusions about the type of male player who is drawn to such characteristics).

    Joseph however, was a believable cult leader, especially when you compare him to actual real life cult leaders, rather than comparing him to previous video game villains.
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  3. #3
    Thanks for your reply! I was hoping to get a chance to talk to someone about Joseph Seed and Far Cry 5 story in general.

    Obviously, I love Far Cry 5, despite some of it's flaws. I wouldn't be here writing about it if I didn't. I love the Far Cry gameplay and the series' trademark villains and stories. And I have to say, previous Far Cry titles delivered such great stories and performances by everyone involved in it's making, that it raised the bar for every video game that came out after Far Cry 3. Perhaps that is the reason why I am being so "hard" on Far Cry 5.

    I agree with what you said about Vaas. However, in my opinion, he is a great villain DESPITE all that. Same goes for Pagan Min, he is a great villain in his own way. I liked him a lot more then Vaas precisely because he was so flamboyant and everything. It made him unique in a relatively boring world of video game bad guys.

    I will take a wild guess and assume Joseph Seed was inspired (at least partially) by real life cult leaders like Jim Jones, David Koresh or Charles Manson. People who were described as seemingly kind and truely charismatic by almost everyone who met them. In contrast, Joseph Seed seems a bit too creepy and forceful to me. His henchmen and followers rely too much on violence, in my opinion, and that makes them a little bit unconvincing as cult leaders. In other words, the game makes it a bit too obvious that Joseph, John, Faith and Jacob are psychos. Far Cry 4 made me feel like I am the bad guy for fighting Pagan Min and doing Sabal and Amita's dirty work. Joseph Seed was supposed to make me feel exactly like that. It would make a lot more sense in the context of the story and themes that Far Cry 5 deals with... (Yes, I know I said I want Joseph to do his own thing, rather then copying Pagan Min... no need to point that out).

    Again, I love Far Cry 5. I love it's gameplay, even though I almost gave up on the game when it tried to force story missions on me. I prefer the good old Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 philosophy of "tackle the story missions when you feel like it". So I hope my post will be seen as a bit of constructive criticism. I am looking forward to the next Far Cry game. I am merely asking for a little bit more subtlety from writers.
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  4. #4
    Honestly i think that Joseph Seed and the Seed family are the most well made antagonists in the far cry series. They are very "realistic" made with what they are doing and why they are doing it, and everything they are doing supports their idea of preparing for the collapse in some way. Just because Joseph is creepy dosent mean he cant be charismatic(Charles Manson and David Korresh were also very creepy in my opinion) Joseph seed acts and behaves very much like real life cult leaders, and he is very much like a "real life" villain so to speak... A person who is extremely commited to his idea of preparing or working towards something, and not just doing these things because he enjoys it. Because he truly believes this is how to prepare people for a new world. In this case because he actually knows something others dont and then wants to take people(By force if necessary) and save the people who are worth saving and discard the ones who fights or resist them. The ends justify the means to him...

    Note that the cult in the game events have initiated the reaping and are on their highest level of violence, because they know the collapse is now near and they pretty much have control of everything so no need to try too hard anymore to not to rely on violence if people resist them. More like "save the people who are worth saving and kill the rest"

    According to the drugging he does, this is very used in every cult to brainwash and calm people down. Charles Manson accepted vulnerable girls into his cult and plied them with drugs, brainwashed them, gave them new names and thus made them reborn and "devoted" this way... Just like Faith herself was hooked into it in the game... So this is very much how it works in real cults. A lot of drugs and brainwashing. Yeah it is coercion and it is not morally right, but to Joseph: if it means a person is being saved and devoted to the family this is the only thing that matters because HE knows the truth.

    So I think the antagonists in this game are everything else than just evil for the sake of being evil like you say. Everything they are doing makes sense in terms of preparing for the collapse, And such are well written villains in my opinion.

    What they are doing is morally wrong but there is some great logic in it.

    Joseph and his cult didnt detonated any nukes. He just predicted the collapse and he was right about it. It sounds like they came from North Korea or something. You can hear hints in the car radio about major cities have been bombed as you progress the story.

    Vass is just like stated above a good example of a typical shooter videogame villain. A pure psycho which is good for its time and place, But there is not much nuance or thinking about his methods or anything. He is just evil because he likes it and because of money. "Just definition of insanity as he says" lol. Thats why i like Villains like Joseph Seed more. Much more like real life villains who actually have reason and logic behind their actions...

    I think the problem with far cry 5 is more how the whole story is executed and put together, and how Joseph Seed gets so litlle screen time. And the heralds also needed more exposure and also different exposure and other ways to put the protagonist and antagonists at the same place than just forced capture. Also the silent protagonist helped making the story seem bland because they have not included any other characters in these scenes to fill up a dialogue. Almost all the time they are just standing and talking to no one(The player) It would have worked if there was some player agency or player choices allowed to let the player feel like they are acutally being a part of it.
    The story execution could have been a lot better in general to my mind, but the antagonists and the cult itself are very well made.
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  5. #5
    Its interesting because I have never viewed any of the antagonists as bad people.

    The only one that stood out for me as a true enemy was Pagan Min because he looked like a jelly bean with an awful haircut. I just didn't like him one bit. He was like a slimey toad.

    Vaas had fantastic leadership skills and considering it was like a 3rd world country where he lived he did a fantastic job of controlling everything and everyone.

    In FC2 the Jackal was really just in it for the money as an opportunist. The tapes showed us that he had a conscience and how he was simply the man for the job in a chaotic world of gun running, trying to stay diplomatic and do the right thing. He knew that if you cut the head off the snake there would just be another snake there tomorrow.

    Joseph I am not sure about. Scripture can really affect people at a very deep level and maybe he also thought he was doing what was right.
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