Far Cry 5 Creative Director Dan Hay On Finding A Balance Between Serious And Silly

  • Playstation 4
  • Windows
  • Xbox One
  • Action-Adventure
  • Open World
2018-03-27
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Ubisoft's Dan Hay talks about the balance between drama and goofy gameplay in the Far Cry franchise Ubisoft/Player.One

Far Cry 5 creative director Dan Hay has been working on the franchise since the launch of Far Cry 3 back in 2012. Player.One had the opportunity to ask him about the franchise and how it manages to balance serious and weighty topics like civil war and religious cults, while also injecting plenty of goofy moments and testicals jokes.

Our full interview with Hay can be found below. Be sure to also check out the full article with Hay's interview on Newsweek.

Q: Far Cry is usually a serious franchise, with players toppling evil regimes and horrible cults. Yet there’s always an undercurrent of goofiness and weirdness. Is there a deliberate reason to include this?

A: I think if you’re approaching it from a narrative perspective, some people feel it has a fairly serious tone and that there is goofiness underneath. If you’re approaching it from a gameplay perspective, you approach it almost in the exact opposite way – our gameplay is this glorious anecdote factory, and what we try to do is make sure that we can explore topics on top of that anecdote factory. So it’s kind of six of one, half dozen of another. Do we include it? For sure, and I don’t think it’s from the standpoint of including it; I think the truth is that they are two halves of a whole.

We absolutely want to make it so that players can play the game and have a great deal of fun, and if that means that things get slapstick or goofy or bombastic, that’s okay. We also want to make it so that at the same time in that open world, we can have earnest moments or fun moments or crazy moments or emotional moments. You can meet characters of consequence, and it can still make you think. And I think that that’s what open world games can do, and in our case that’s what we continue to try and do.

Q: On the flip side, Blood Dragon is almost entirely fueled by weirdness. Was this game an outlet for Ubisoft to get it all out of their system, or to see how far they could push themselves?

A: Every single time that I try and speak in absolutes, which is ironic because this is an absolute statement, I end up looking foolish. Blood Dragon was an opportunity for us to pursue an idea and to lean into being zany and fun – so we took it. So I think that it was great to be able to see that we have the ability to take an idea that was on the floor and grow it and apply it to the anecdote factory. I think that the brand is really all about that.

When I think of the brand, I think of it like Twilight Zone or Black Mirror where each individual opus is its own thing, and you end up having an opportunity to have somebody new with a new perspective take all of the elements that work for Far Cry but apply a new lens to it. You end up getting wonderful facets of spectrums for each Far Cry, and I think that’s what makes the freedom, the opportunity and the surprise that we hold so close to our brand. The freedom to be able to run around the world, the opportunity to be able to attack it the way you want and the surprise that the brand is always going to surprise you with something that is unexpected.

Q: Do you feel the goofiness of Far Cry 5 (Clutch Nixon sequences, alien gun, Blood Dragon 3 set, etc.) detracted from the serious and heavy storyline, or is the levity needed to add some fun into a weighty topic?

A: I think you absolutely need it. If the whole world that you’re building has one taste or is painted with one brush, you don’t have anything to judge and/or feel based off of that. So for me, it’s a piece of music; you’re going to have notes, you’re going to have rests, you’re going to have runs, you’re going to have a chorus, and you have to be able to make sure that all of those things feel different.

I think that’s what we really tried to do with Far Cry 5 – also make it so that the player was the one who chose which way they wanted to go and how they would do it. So the player can choose if they want; they don’t have to go down the road of a specific mission or a specific character, and they can choose who it is that they want to be able to meet or bring on their team. They have a great deal of choice in terms of whether or not they go off and enjoy some of those zanier moments or characters. They are very much the author of their experience.

Q: The DLC for Far Cry 5 seems like it’s more in line with Blood Dragon than FC5 in terms of tone. Do you think fans will respond to the coming content like they did Blood Dragon ?

A: I hope so. I think that they know that we’re always trying to surprise and make sure they don’t see us coming. I think we offer a great deal of choice and opportunity. When you think about the spirit that made Blood Dragon and the spirit that we try and apply to our DLCs, I think that players are already responding to it and think they’re going to love it.

Q: Will we see specific tones used in the DLCs like Blood Dragon ’s 80s VHS aesthetic?

A: Yes, I think when you think about making an individual story for Far Cry, one of the things that we always ask for is “where is the spice?” Where is that moment that makes this unique? Or makes this feel like it’s got a creative that encompasses the whole idea? And then how does it connect to our larger universe? So I definitely feel like people are going to be able to play these different experiences and have different tones, but it still adheres to or allows the player to experience the anecdote factory.

Q: Will a future Far Cry game be built from the ground up with a goofy vibe to it, or will all

future main games retain that serious core?

A: I think Far Cry as a brand has to have both. I think it is absolutely a mix of both. I think that we always look at both sides of the equation; one side can be beautiful and exotic and the other side can be dark and brooding. So I think that we’re always going to build something that people are going to talk about and that is built for players to love, but I think it’s always going to have a healthy mix of both.

Q: Why is there always a drug trip thing?

A: One of the things we really try and do in Far Cry is tell extraordinary moments that are also grounded in reality so that they’re approachable to the player. It can be difficult to play a game and come across something fantastical – it pulls you out of your game. But if it’s grounded in reality, if the gateway to it is something that we know, it feels much more believable. So whether it’s a drug or a dream or a memory or an urban myth, all of those things can be gateway to something fantastic.

Q: What’s your favorite weird little moment from the franchise?

A: There have been a lot! But I think the one that most recently just made me laugh out loud in terms of our ability to pull it off was absolutely the “Testicle Festival.” Just going to harvest testicles from bulls, knowing that I had to do it three ways and then hearing the music play, I couldn’t stop laughing.

So what do you think? What has been your favorite goofy moment from the Far Cry series? Would you like to see another game as goofy as Blood Dragon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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