Far Cry 4's Best Ending Requires you to Not Play the Game
I played Far Cry 4 in 2014. I shot Pagan Min as soon as I reached him in his ivory tower. The game made it clear that I made the wrong choice by prompting an extremely unsatisfying and abrupt ending.
There are many ways Far Cry 4 can end, not to mention the tons of choices players can make that affect the story throughout. But which one is the true ending? Which one is the most worthy ending? The answer surprising might involve not playing the game at all. But before we get to that, let's take a look at the game's other endings.
Once you make it to the end of Far Cry 4 the game prompts a decision: Shoot Pagan Min or let him go. If you choose the former, you'll get the ending I just described above. If you choose the latter, you'll see a full ending. Ajay joins Pagan on his helicopter and the two travel to the shrine where Ajay wishes to scatter his mother's ashes. Pagan tells Ajay of his mother and the truth about his father. The player learns that, despite how things may seem, Pagan Min might actually be the good guy, or at least less of a bad guy than you are. Kyrat is actually Ajay's rightful kingdom, and Pagan's plan all along was to hand the keys over to Ajay (so to speak).
This ending provokes some serious thought that perhaps the writers of the game were looking to bring to the forefront. When we play games and mindless kill, kill, kill, what are we saying about ourselves? Players look at shooters as these games where they can unwind and have fun by shooting at "stuff." This Far Cry 4 ending has players take a step back and ask themselves who the enemy really is. Is it the guy that captures you and asks that you wait and then soon you'll understand why you're being held captive? Or is it you, the guy that failed to ask questions, but rather, chose to shoot everyone in your way?
Pagan even makes it clear that you made a mistake. He asked you to stay put while he went to tend to something else. Had you done just that from the very beginning, none of the terror you caused alongside the Golden Path would have occurred. By running away and inciting violence, you caused more terrorism than Pagan Min ever had.
However there is a third ending. At the beginning of the game, players can stay put and not go anywhere when Pagan says he'll be right back. If the player just waits for a while, Pagan will come back, thank you for waiting patiently, and take you to the shrine. The ending here is pretty similar the the second ending, but without the acknowledgement that Ajay messed up by killing hundreds of people. Pagan explains the relationship between himself and Ajay's mother. He tells you about Ajay's half-sister and father, then he tells Ajay that Kyrat is all his. At the very end of this ending, Pagan asks you to get back in the helicopter and says they can "finally shoot some goddamn guns."
This last line is the wrench in this ending. While technically the most satisfying and sweet ending, the developers essentially wave their hands in your face by saying, "Hey dummy, play the damn game!"
None of the game's endings are completely satisfying, or at least without pause. The player is left having to side with a personal favorite ending. To me, the third ending is the most satisfying, but perhaps that is only because I enjoy seeing happy endings. It is quite possible that one of the darker endings is the "true" ending.
The ending I got when I beat the game might be the most influential ending. It's basically a big middle finger to the player, that says, "fine, if you don't want to listen, have it your way." The game ends there, because the player's actions disregarded the message that the game was trying to present. Every time the game suggested the play stop and listen, the player ignored the call and proceeded to shoot without thinking.
This is the beauty of Far Cry 4. It suggests that our protagonist isn't necessarily always the good guy. Without someone pointing it out directly, we assume as the player that we are the good guy. In this case, Ajay is ignorant, and willing to hurt others simply because he is irrational. This unrealistic and absurd behavior is what helps me to side with the third, more secretive, ending. Yes, Far Cry 4 is a video game. It doesn't need to try and be realistic, but I tend to side with the more plausible and grounded story, which in this case is the one that does not require any killing or shooting.