Far Cry 5’s launch is near

To celebrate the upcoming launch of Far Cry 5, Ubisoft held a media event at their Toronto studio. It was an amazing opportunity to go hands on with the game, as well as learn some intriguing insights into the characters and setting. The highlight for me was a panel discussion involving key members of the team. They included:

  • Jean-Sebastian Decant, Narrative Director
  • Drew Holmes, Lead Writer
  • Greg Byrk, Actor, The Father

The panel was about 30 minutes long and got me even more excited for the game (as if that were possible!) Here are some my favourite highlights and quotes from the discussion:

Looking for the right setting for Far Cry 5

Jean-Sebastian Decant, Narrative Director:

When we started looking, we want a places that would connect with pillars of the brand, where would there be a lot of wildlife, where would we find a savage place with not too many people, and that’s when we fell in love with Montana. We love the variety of the environments, the mountains, the forests, the fields. We also found it was a lot of people were settling there to be away from the prying eyes of the government, and that’s when we discovered the militias and the cults. We then started to think that being a great new menace, and played around with the idea of a doomsday cult.

Expanding on the cult leader idea

Drew Holmes, Lead Writer:

When we sat down to talk about who this cult leader was all we had was the name, The Father. It was then what could we bring to him, how could we make him more complex. Vaas and Pagan Min relished in his villainy, but we wanted to explore a guy who believes what he’s doing is right and that he has been commissioned to complete a real goal. He has really wants and needs and fears. So for us this idea of a man who thinks god has told him the end of the world is coming and he’s going to let nothing stop him from saving as many souls as he can. We thought that was something interesting, something that hasn’t been touched upon before in Far Cry. There’s an opportunity to build a character that is scary and dangerous and terrifying, but at the same time there’s this underlying message that we kind of understand and relate to. When we started to get into that territory we thought this is a character we can really sink our teeth into that feels very different than we’ve seen before, it was just a matter of finding someone who can make us buy into this idea.

Searching for The Father

Drew Holmes, Lead Writer:

We came up with this monologue for Joseph that we sent out all over. We were trying to cast in Toronto, Vancouver, New York, LA, everywhere. Trying to find an actor who could (a) make us believe they could start their own cult, and (b) and really hit that level of honesty. The scene started very innocent but then goes to really dark places. The trick was finding an actor who understood it wasn’t about chewing scenery, or leaning into the horror of it, it was about just telling an honest story. And we saw Greg Byrk audition, all of us were immediately like this is the guy. I’m suddenly starting to see all these scenes in his voice, but apparently Greg wasn’t sold on it.

Birth of the Father

Greg Byrk, Actor, The Father:

In my defense, I was used to Atari and didn’t understand how sophisticated the storytelling in video games had become. So when I was approached by casting about this game, I just said no. And then then came back and gave me a breakdown of a whole bunch of characters in the game. Then I came across The Father, a charismatic cult leader in an apocalyptic cult. It might reflect poorly on me but I was immediately interested.

So they sent me this monologue and you know when you have one of those moments where something just slides in perfectly. And you realize that not not only do you have something to say about this, but you have to say something about this. The monologue was so beautiful. It starts off with Joseph saying “you think you’ve been tested by God, you’re not the only one”, and he talks about being 23 and getting his wife pregnant with his first child. Myself, I got my wife pregnant when I was in theatre school, and the character talks about being so terrified about that responsibility, about being poor, and god knows I can understand that. So immediately the circumstances of being overwhelmed spoke to me, and I thought about what it means to be that man. To be someone who God speaks to, and that you’re willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable and the most precious to you because you have to fulfill that obligation. So they just had me at that. Sometimes there’s a role and writing that comes to you.

I know it’s a video game but it’s a character as well, and when you get a character just as complicated, as dangerous, and as vulnerable, and he’s honest with his failings. It makes you just want to have this journey. And the writing the game me throughout the process was extraordinary, and I was so intensely proud of what we were able to capture together.

The Father’s influence on the region

Drew Holmes, Lead Writer:

The way that we shot it is there’s three regions in the game, three storylines that feed into the ending. We shot John’s region first, then Jacob’s region, then Fate’s region, and unlike past Far Cry’s where the villain shows up at the beginning, get a little bit in the middle, and then shows up in the end. With Greg we knew we had something special and we need to make sure this character feels present throughout everything. Not just in the cinematics but in the creation of the world. So in each of those regions you’re engaging with the villain but Joseph is weaving in and out of all those scenes. So we’re shooting John’s scenes, and it was all about John as the owner of that region, but then Joseph steps in and you see that dynamic of that older brother / younger brother. The power change immediately happens, and not just in the scene itself but in the entire room. Although John owns that region, Joseph steps in and just commands that power. Capturing that family dynamic, what it’s like sitting around the dinner room table, and understanding that power dynamic from the oldest to the youngest, the middle child who’s the black sheep. Everyone has a different flavour, they reflect a different facet of Joseph and it made everything feel much richer.

Hands-on with Far Cry 5

Following the panel discussion I had my much-anticipated first hands-on with the game. All game stations were running Far Cry 5 on PS4 Pro consoles and must admit, the environments looked incredible. The mission I took involved rescuing a bear named Cheeseburger (no, seriously) who now only eats fish. Apparently he used to eat cheeseburgers until getting diabetes. Due to his new forced-upon diet, Cheeseburger is extra violent, which I suppose is a plus since he joined my team following the rescue. It was pretty awesome to see, Cheeseburger would run after enemies and maul them like crazy.

While I only had a brief time with Far Cry 5, I was super impressed with everything I played. It’s March 27th release date can’t come soon enough!

Are you looking forward to Far Cry 5? Let me know in the comments section below what you’re most excited for in the new game!

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