When approaching the secret ending possible at the beginning of Far Cry 4 that ends the game after a mere 20 minutes or less, there’s a variety of different ways the Easter Egg can be read.
***Spoilers for that secret ending ahead.
The easiest to understand is a lesson in patience, as well as a brilliant idea on the part of the developers. By simply waiting around about 15 minutes for Pagan Min, whom asks you to stay put as he handles other business, the player can unlock an alternate ending. In this ending, Min takes you straight to the shrine where your sister’s ashes are kept so you can place your mother’s right next to her, effectively completing the initial goal of the game.
By showing patience, the game rewards the player by giving them an ending they wouldn’t otherwise reach. In doing so, the game plays off scenarios that players would normally be familiar with: if a crazy person who just stabbed one of his followers in the neck leaves you by your lonesome for any remote bit of time, you should probably get out of there. But the idea translates to any game: if there is no action, the player will get bored and will want to move around. When the player wants to move around, they will look for a way out. And if they find a way out, they will more than likely try to get out. It’s present in all sorts of games, from the Gerudo Fortress in Ocarina of Time, to literally any game with linear gameplay in the history of video games. Really, it’s surprising any gamer would actually treat Pagan Min like a person, take him for his word and actually wait it out. It’s even more ludicrous to think this secret ending was found days before the game even came out!
But that isn’t the only way to read this ending. After placing the ashes in the shrine, Pagan Min asks the player “Do you feel better now? Get it out of your system? Good. And maybe now we can finally shoot some goddam guns.” Cue The Clash. Roll Credits
This line in particular carries a great deal of weight, and really contextualizes the rest of the secret ending as a criticism. A lot of fans have mentioned in various comment sections around the internet that they would have liked to continue the story from Pagan Min’s side of things, but really that would muddle the point of the ending. The fact this route ends immediately before allowing the player to shoot any guns categorizes the whole ending as a non-violent one, and while Pagan Min’s in-game character is clearly referring to shooting guns at the resistance, the fact the game doesn’t allow this and instead puts the player right back at the start screen to begin a new game would imply that the developers specifically put in this ending to call attention to itself.
Perhaps it is in response to the criticism and discussion surrounding the excessive violence showcased in Far Cry 4’s predecessor. In this ending, the game offers the player a way to complete their goal and end the game without committing any violence what-so-ever, even though the character is clearly going to be forced to commit violence anyway– specifically for the bad guys, a distinction that is important as it calls attention to the idea of inaction in the face of evil. In that sense, the game may even partially be trying to justify whatever excessive violence is included in the main campaign thread.
Furthermore, the game doesn’t necessarily see that as a problem. Min’s tone reminds anyone playing the game that the reason they are even playing the game in the first place is probably to commit such acts of violence: to go massacre anyone surrounding an outpost and hunt down any number of endangered species of animals. Pagan Min may as well have said “There’s your fucking nonviolence, now let’s get to what we were here for: mercilessly killing anything in sight.”
The game even (likely) unintentionally offers criticism for trying to show respect for death in a warring environment in video games. While in the shrine, the game tells you “Press X to place ashes,” which, for anyone paying attention to recent FPS games, is very reminiscent of the silly and possibly intentionally absurd “Press X to Pay Respects” moment from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Far Cry 4 clearly doesn’t care what anyone thinks about its violence. It assumes players come in with the knowledge of the violence they will be committing and offers a fairly clearly joking response to critics who discuss that violence (even if the discussion has merit). At the same time, it sets up this joke through unconventional but rewarding play tactics.
I can’t tell if that’s too blatant or clearly ingenious. Maybe it’s both.