Ever since the reveal of Far Cry 5 in May of this year, there has been widespread speculation about whether the decision to set the game in America will prove controversial. The game’s creative director, Dan Hay, has recently offered detailed comments about the upcoming title’s setting and themes, explaining what inspired the development team.
The game’s announcement certainly skirted controversial territory. Set in the fictional Hope County, Montana, Far Cry 5 will cast the player as a deputy sheriff pitted against Eden’s Gate, a militaristic doomsday cult led by preacher Joseph Seed, the game’s antagonist.
In a political climate fraught with tension, Far Cry 5‘s announcement received immediate criticism from some, and many speculated about whether the game’s choice of setting was politically motivated. Dan Hay, the game’s director, has previously made statements rebuffing that notion, explaining that the story is about exploring what happens when beliefs are taken to extremes and was not intended as a direct commentary on current events.
The first entry in the franchise that Hay worked on was Far Cry 3, and even then he wanted to explore the idea that you don’t have to go far to find strangeness. That idea seems to be at the heart of Far Cry 5; “… About three years ago-ish,” says Hay, “the idea came back and it felt right, so we just sort of started to explore that the things, sort of in real life and in your backyard, can be as wondrous and strange and sometimes scary as all the stuff that you could do if you go out and visit an exotic locale.”
Hay has previously lived in Montana and returned to research the region as a potential setting during the early stages of the game’s development, as the studio looked for somewhere new to set the next entry in the franchise.
“We weren’t sure at first, but within two days, we’d met enough interesting people, we’d been to enough interesting bars, we’d heard enough stories about people that wanted to live life the way they wanted… some people had actually moved to Montana to get away from the prying eyes of the government. There was this flavor, this feeling, and it felt very Far Cry.”
Perhaps the most iconic aspect of the Far Cry series, however, has been the games’ antagonists. Powerfully-written characters such as Vaas and Pagan Min have set a high bar, but Hay seems keen to raise that bar once again with Far Cry 5, stating:
“You know you build a character that’s a bad guy and you can ask yourself, ‘Why are they bad?’ And the reasoning doesn’t satiate anything. It’s just, well they’re bad because they’re supposed to play a role. And the point is, is that what makes this character tick, what do they believe in, why are they doing this? Maybe they don’t believe they’re the bad guy. That was sort of element number one: how do we build that and how do we grow on the things that we did with Vaas and Pagan Min and how do we take it to the next level?”
He goes on to describe how his experience growing up amid the tensions of the Cold War was the primary inspiration for the game’s emotional themes. He speaks of a sense of insignificance and a pervasive feeling that the world could come to an end; of being afraid to go to sleep at night as a child in the eighties. But, he says he believes those same feelings have begun to return, and the story he wants to tell with Far Cry 5 addresses that head-on.
“There was no way I could have predicted the state of things today, but there was no question that there was something in the water. There was something that was making me feel uneasy, making the world feel uneasy. It’s interesting to see how that’s informed Far Cry 5, and informed The Father.”
Far Cry 5 looks set to be a major step forward for the franchise when it releases next year, and reviews of the game’s hands-on demonstrations have been very positive. The development team looks to be trying to raise the bar in many different ways. The game’s soundtrack, for example, will be the largest in the history of the franchise.