Far Cry 5 is an open-world shooter for the PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs set in the US state of Montana that squares you off against a doomsday cult called Eden’s Gate. In our time with a pre-release build of the game at IGX 2017, we noticed that it felt inspired by the current state of world affairs more so than other games on the horizon. Gadgets 360 spoke to Dan Hay Executive Producer and Creative Director on Far Cry 5 to find out more.
“When you think of the genesis of where the idea came from, when you think some of the different things that inform the creative [process] on Far Cry 5 it was really borne from the feelings that I had as a kid looking up at the Cold War and the titans that were waging this Cold War – the Soviet Union and America and really feeling that the end of times could come and feeling tiny and insignificant and not feeling there was anything I could do about it,” says Hay says, as he talks about Far Cry 5’s inspirations, which are surprisingly personal yet universal at the same time.
“As I watched that happen over the course of years I remember – I was a child of the 80s and I was watching everyone spending money like there was no tomorrow and I think it’s probably because they thought there might not be. And I think that towards the end of the 80s, cooler heads seem to prevail, and there a secession of hostilities, there was a calming across the globe to a degree, and I think overall the world took a step back and calmed down a little and it didn’t feel like we were on the edge of a precipice and it went away for awhile. The Berlin Wall fell and there were key moments where the Soviet Union and US weren’t in a cold war,” he continues.
“So I really remember that when I was a kid and I remember that feeling and for about 10 to 15 years I didn’t have it. There were still terrible and amazing things happening in the world but I didn’t have that [feeling] and I got married had kids, and then I started to have moments, when 9-11 happened, it was horrible. Everyone remembers that day and where they were, and that familiar feeling of angst, that pang in your stomach comes back.”
This sense of uncertainty extended through the subprime mortgage collapse in the US during 2008 and 2009 which impacted those close to Hay.
“People who had really been planning for their future, people that I know, people that were around me being extremely upset saying ‘Where’s the government? Where’s the people that are supposed to be protecting us? Who is on watch? Who is taking care of us? Who is going to protect our legacy? And it was really disconcerting and hard to watch and to live through that. And then I started to watch across the landscape of the globe the language of the global village was disappearing. We’re hearing less of ‘we’ and more of ‘us’ in them,” he explains.
“When you think about Brexit and you think about all the different things that were happening at the time and I think what really formulated for me was I started to hear about things in the United States and I started to hear about tensions and I was walking in downtown Toronto, there was a guy who came around the corner and he was wearing a sandwich board. And it said ‘The End Is Nigh’. I had two thoughts: that guy might be right and I’ve never thought that about somebody who thought about the end of the world before,” says Hay. “It kind of hit me like a lightning bolt – that feeling from when I was a kid was back. That we’re not going to be okay or we may not be okay and that somebody has their hand on the button that could end it all and we’re on the edge of that cliff. That feeling of we’re on the edge of the cliff and that really informed the creative for Far Cry 5.”
These feeling on events both current and otherwise snowballed into a what would end up becoming Far Cry 5’s main villain, Joseph Seed.
‘It’s not specifically about separatism. It’s not specifically about religion. It’s more about the idea that a character, a person living in the United States who has moved to Montana to be left alone and running a cult is believing that we’ve been to the edge so many times that we won’t know when we’re going to fail,” Hay explains. “And he’s simply going to say ‘look it’s going to happen’ and he truly believes that he’s right. So what he says is, ‘you’re not going to understand it, you’re not going to trust me, you’re not going to believe me so what I’m going to do is save you whether you want it or not and when it’s all over and the dust settles you’ll thank me.’ We have an interesting legacy of building interesting and unique antagonists, but this time what I wanted to do was make sure that this person had an ethos, a purpose and a belief and it all starts with him.”
In this sense, the villain of Far Cry 5 feels like a good fit for the series, but the setting of Montana is, well, a far cry from the norm for the franchise. All the previous entires have been set in an exotic locale, right from the first game back in 2004 which was set on an island, upto last year’s Far Cry Primal, that took place in a picturesque rendition of the Stone Age. For Hay and the team at Ubisoft Montreal, the answer lay in the fact that no one knew anything about Montana, and that it fit the frontier-styled appeal the series is also known for.
“It was super interesting to make this selection to go to Montana because we want to make sure Far Cry is surprising and that people can’t guess where we’re going to go and I think we were kicking around where in the States we would go…we were in the room and someone threw out the idea of Far Cry being always in a frontier and how it’s always removed and a little bit rough but that it’s beautiful and inviting and that it’s generous,” Hay says. “Somebody threw out Montana to which someone else says they know nothing about Montana, nobody does. That was an opportunity. We started to look at it and kick it around and we heard that people…