We recently sat down with Jean-Sebastien Decant, Creative Director for Far Cry New Dawn. He is a veteran in the gaming industry and is known for his work on franchises like Assassin’s Creed as well as Far Cry. He was most recently Narrative Director on Far Cry 5.
PSLS: First, let me say thank you for sitting down with us Mr. Decant.
JS: You can call me JS.
PSLS: As a very obvious sequel to Far Cry 5, will we see a lot of call back to previous characters and locations?
JS: Yes, absolutely. So, Far Cry New Dawn is a standalone sequel to Far Cry 5. So, in a sense, we are carrying a lot of the characters and the stories from Far Cry 5, and also some of the locations. But everything has been used, and aged after 17 years of global nuclear apocalypse. So, Joseph Seed, the Father who was the main villain in Far Cry 5 is still alive, but he has changed. He sees this event as an opportunity to rule in the new society. Something that would not fall in the pitfalls of our society. It’s like banishing weapons and tools and culture, and he’s creating his own thing in the wilderness. They’re almost like leading technology from the 16th century. So that’s something that is a new approach to some of the characters we had before.
And at the same time, it’s stand alone gaming in the sense that it’s a post-apocalyptic Far Cry and we made sure that you could get in that story without knowing anything about Far Cry 5. You’re playing a brand new character, there is this brand new situation, now the villains are Mickey and Lou, the twins. We made sure that there was a balancing act in between putting in some stuff that are new and connecting with the past.
PSLS: Is it to your advantage to know Far Cry 5? Does it help you?
JS: I think you will have a stronger emotional connection with the situations. You know Joseph Seed. You know Kim and Nick Rye. You maybe have done the mission where you brought them to the cleaning, for them to get the kid. So this I think is going to create more relatable situations, but we really make sure also that if you didn’t know that you would be able to connect and understand the stakes and also get to see the characters. But a bit like the two generations of characters if you don’t know Far Cry 5 you’ll like Carmina. You only know the world of the apocalypse and the things that are told by the elders, it’s this old world I don’t know about, but if you come from Far Cry 5 you’re like the first generation, you know what was there before.
PSLS: How does New Dawn make the post-apocalypse stand out from other post-apocalyptic games? There’s quite a few of them out there now.
JS: Yes, indeed. We wanted to create a world that would be bright and beautiful and inviting. That’s why there is this explosion of vegetation and colors. There’s also flowers. We made sure also that what was left of what the human did was also very colorful. Like the tarps, the colorful plastic tarps or the containers that are also popping with colors. And all the graffiti that are brought by the highwaymen. So yes, very colorful inviting world in which you could spend hours and still be marveled by your surroundings. But in which we have this very brutal story and situation, where every day is a struggle, and it’s a dog eat dog world, it’s very very dangerous.
PSLS: Far Cry 5, Joseph Seed, the only villain that you don’t ever have the option to kill in any of the Far Cry games. Was that a choice going in to Far Cry 5, were you all planning on using him in this sequel or is that something that evolved into that?
JS: It’s an evolution, when we were writing the end of Far Cry 5, at some point, the idea of finishing with this nuclear events and you being stuck in the bunker with Joseph Seed. That was really appealing to us. So we decided to go for it, and that’s when we realized this would also open opportunities for more. We could bring back this character and tell maybe more stories. And or so other popular conclusion and maybe bring some conclusion that people want about Joseph Seed. Maybe that can be happening in Far Cry New Dawn, and at the same time this nuclear event was also the starting point for bringing Far Cry to the post-apocalypse, which is something we wanted to do for a long time. I’ve been on the franchise since Far Cry 3, and we’ve been discussing that since then, because if you look at what Far Cry is, there is a lot of common points with post-apocalyptic setting. It’s like a lawless frontier. The wildlife is very dangerous, and there are these groups that are like fighting for survival. So, that’s very Far Cry and that’s like the pillars of a post-apocalyptic setting.
PSLS: Does the original player character from Far Cry 5, the deputy, make an appearance in Far Cry New Dawn?
JS: Absolutely, but it’s a mystery you will have to play the game to see that. But yes he is back.
PSLS: The in between Far Cry games, Blood Dragon, Far Cry Primal, and now New Dawn, they all have distinct and unique identities that allow the team to break from the traditional modern day themes and environments. Why make a direct sequel to Far Cry 5?
JS: I think it’s a question of how could we surprise the audience with every new Far Cry. We’re taking different directions. Blood Dragon was all about the homage to ’80s action cinema with the neon colors and everything. Primal was sending Far Cry in the prehistoric age, without any weapons, with made-up language. This time, we’re doing a sequel. It’s the first time, we never did that before. Personally, as a fan I was very happy to be able for the first time to carry on with characters, with situations. We’ve created a bond with these people, and we are going to actually tell their stories 17 years after. It’s becoming a stories about generations of characters, and I’ve never had the chance to do that because often we create these worlds, we share them with the players, and then we put them on the shelf and we go to the next one. So I was very happy to be able to see continuity with some of these characters.
PSLS: Is this something you’re gonna continue after New Dawn? Do you want to keep carrying it on from there?
JS: I think we’re all about surprises with Far Cry, so we did that, and we don’t want to settle in the comfort of a certain formula. We want to be able to go in different places and try new things.
PSLS: In Far Cry Primal we could command a bear. Will I be able to do that in New Dawn?
JS: So, no bears in this one, but there’s a dog. There’s Timber the dog. Fangs for hire, but the new one, the brand new one that we never had before in a Far Cry game is Horatio. He’s a boar, he’s a giant boar. This one is pretty cool. He can flip cars, he’s very good at blasting enemies, like five at once. I love the idea of the boar because it’s gross and powerful but cute at the same time. For me it’s very Far Cry.
PSLS: It seems like a very effective weapon.
JS: Yes, it is absolutely.
PSLS: Expeditions. Series first, giving players a chance to find out new things. How are these smaller location bubbles being developed differently from the open world?
JS: What changes is that there are incentives that are not in the open world. They are like one square kilometers map. They give us actually freedom to push a bit more the graphics because it’s not attached to the open world, so it has lot less constraints. So we push the graphics and we push the amount of enemies you could find there. That was really the cost that was accepting to us. After really visually or so you can seem to get into spaces like the Bayou or the West Coast that feel drastically different from Hope County. So it’s like palette cleansers. You’ve been spending some times in the forest in Hope County then you take the helicopter with Roger and you are at Six Flags in the Bayou. That to me is very cool.
PSLS: Will they feature distinct and unique architecture and design that make them feel different from anything on the normal game map, as far as the expedition?
JS: Yes, the scape, for instance we have Alcatraz, we have the Alcatraz island with all the prison building, that’s not something we would be able to do in the open world because such a building would suck up all the memory of a large part of the map, so it would be a impossible to get that. So yes, the expeditions gave us the opportunity create this bigger infrastructure that we can’t have in the main world. More detail, bigger spaces, bigger enclosed spaces. Far Cry is usually in the wild. Being able to shoot in corridors it gives a different feeling sometimes to the shooting.
PSLS: Thank you for your time.
JS: Thank you.