Talking Cults, Cold War and Bin Chickens with Far Cry 5 Director Dan Hay

We caught up with Far Cry 5 Creative Director Dan Hay to talk cults, the Cold War and Sydney’s disgusting wildlife. Dan is in Australia to promote Far Cry 5 along with author and cult expert Rick Alan Ross who we also had an opportunity to interview. You can read that one right here.

First, here’s some background: Far Cry 5 is set in the fictional locale of Hope Country, Montana. A region controlled by the fanatical doomsday cult Eden’s Gate. Led by the charismatic prophet Joseph Seed and his devoted siblings, Eden’s Gate has been quietly infiltrating every aspect of daily life. As the only law enforcement in sight, It’s up to you to rise and spark the resistance into action.

Players can freely explore Hope County’s rivers, lands and skies with the largest selection of weapons and vehicles to date. Go hunting, fishing, take to the skies in epic dogfights or take Eden’s Gate on the ground, aided by the local militia, dogs and even bears – when they’re not mauling you.

The other big addition to Far Cry 5 is the reworked multiplayer mode called Far Cry Arcade which gives players over 9000 assets from previous Far Cry and Ubisoft titles to create unique experiences for single player, co-op or 6 v 6 multiplayer matches.

dan hay far cry 5 creative director

Dan Hay, Far Cry 5 Creative Director

Tell us about Far Cry 5?

It’s a choose your own adventure. We wanted to make a game that would allow players to go in any direction, meet any character, have any experience and be able to author the story the way they wanted to.

So we built this opening that’s pulse-pounding. You go in. You’re this junior deputy; you have a warrant for the arrest of the Father who is control of this cult in this fictitious place called Hope Country, Montana. You’re put in the middle of this mayhem, and you’ve got to figure out a way to effectively get out. To build a resistance and to push back against the cult who own the entire county.

The Far Cry series has been to some exotic locations: Africa, the South Pacific, Nepal, 10,000 BC. So why modern-day America?

Everybody wanted to do something different. As far back as 2012, when we were finishing Far Cry 3, we were already talking about bringing it to the states. But we didn’t know how to do it at the time. So we put it on the shelf, made Far Cry: Blood Dragon, and Far Cry 4 then realised the brand is kind of like The Twilight Zone. Each opus can be its own thing. Finally, we were kicking around ideas, and it just felt right to go back to the states.

Someone mentioned Montana, and we were like what the hell! Why? We didn’t know anything about Montana other than it’s in the middle of nowhere and its people seem to want to be left alone – then it just made sense.

Why focus on a Cult?

That was born from the idea of this magnetic leader. It’s easy to look at it and think oh it’s about religion, and about being a zealot but it really started with looking at Far Cry 3s villain Vaas and knowing that we can create these compelling characters. We asked ourselves how can we do that differently? How can we make an antagonist that feels different and for the first time in the Far Cry series, doesn’t know that he’s the bad guy?

far cry 5 in game footage of the player

Tell us about the antagonist Joseph Seed and his Doomsday Cult Eden’s Gate?

When I was a kid, I was terrified of the cold war and what was going on in the world. A lot of kids had a fear of the Soviet Union and the United States being locked in this titanic struggle. If you were watching The Terminator or War Games, these movies told you that all of your family and friends were just going to disappear.

Fast forward 30 years and I’ve got a family. Things seemed normal. Then I started to get this feeling again. I couldn’t place it. After seeing this guy in Toronto holding a placard that says the ‘end of the world is near,’ I had the thought oh yeah, that guy might be right.

That was what informed us building Joseph Seed. What if there was someone who was tapped into the zeitgeist of what was going on in the world and the feeling that everybody had? That something was off and believed it and really felt like humanity was on the edge.

Did real-world events or cults inspire Far Cry 5?

Yes for sure. We’re not specifically saying which ones, but we did our homework. We looked at a whole bunch of different ones, and you can guess. The visuals of the glasses for instance. We met with Rick Ross, I read a tonne of books, watched movies, television, read historical stories of witness accounts. Early on we decided that it was going to be our cult because we want people to be able to play it and know it’s still fiction.

cult leader joseph seed holding a rifle

Rick Ross says that when you approached him, a lot of your ideas were conservative. Did things get crazy after that?

It was more us wanting to shy away from the cliché cult. When we started, I had no idea what I was talking about. What I wanted to know was, is it conceivable for someone to take over an entire county? Is it conceivable that the government wouldn’t know about it? Can these types of things really happen? Rick told us lots of stories that validated our ideas. Regarding how crazy it gets, We’ve gotten pretty crazy in some spots, so it’s nice to know that we’re inline with reality.

What’s new and different in Far Cry 5?

How much time do you have? First and foremost, you can play every moment of the entire game in co-op. As soon as you leave the starting area, the open world is yours. The story is yours. The second thing is we made it so you can choose what you’re going to look like. That’s another first for us. You can make you and go out in the world and really try to clear the idea that there’s nothing between you and the story.

After that, we asked what are players going to want? They want to go in any direction. They want to be able to meet any character at any time. We thought great. That sounds really hard to do, but we actually pulled it off.

Think Far Cry 3. I could come in at any time and ask where you’re up to and you could tell me. With Far Cry 5, I’m going to need way more information. Did you go to John’s? Did you meet Mary Mae? Did you meet Nick? Are you flying a plane? Did you get the Widowmaker? Did you go to Jacob’s? Do you have a pet bear? Do you have an RPG? We have no clue where you’re going to be. That makes it truly a choose your own adventure for the player and somewhat terrifying for the people who are trying to make the narrative.

far cry 5 the dog brining the player a rifle

Tell us about the new multiplayer mode Far Cry Arcade?

We made it easy for players to fall into and give them better tools to make stuff. We asked and got assets from other Ubisoft games like Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs. You can go into a world and start to build it on your own. Some maps are curated from Montreal, so actual Far Cry developers are making that stuff. It’s the opportunity for you to build your own Far Cry.

What are our chances of a future Far Cry set in the Australian outback?

I won’t answer the question, but you can let everyone know that I was smiling when you asked. You do have some crazy wildlife here. Driving around I saw a bin chicken whatever the hell that was. That thing’s pretty scary.

Far Cry 5 lands on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One March 27, 2018.

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