Far Cry Primal is more than just a Stone Age reworking of the Far Cry you’re familiar with. It also comes with a fundamental shift in tone, a grayer outlook on morality and a nonlinear approach to storytelling that’s centered on the people you’ll meet in the primitive land of Oros. In part two of our interview with Associate Producer Paola Joyaux, we talk about what shaped the narrative, the characters and the push for survival above all else. (Click here for part one.)
Far Cry Primal’s story is tied directly to building and improving the Wenja village. Why take that route?
Paola Joyaux: The village is really the backbone of your progression and your story. By going into the wild and exploring the world, you’ll find specialists. Each of them will be your mentor in a specialty that you’ll need to master to push back the danger of the world. So when you bring them back to the village, they’ll build huts there. And by working with them – sometimes they’ll need new components you can only find farther away, or you’ll help them develop new technology – you’ll not only improve your village, but also gain new knowledge that will help you improve yourself.
The reason why we tied story to the the village is that we don’t want your story to be linear. We want you to be able to choose a mentor that best fits your game style, and choose to progress through their branches in the order you want. That’s the way we built the story as well. We want to have a narrative thread, but not have a “golden path” with mission A, then mission B, then mission C. We want you to create your own story, because that’s what we do on Far Cry. This is a systemic, emergent, open world, and we want each player to have their own story. The village is a representation of that in the game.
What was behind the decision to explore a grayer moral area, with two apparent villains and a theme of survival instead of good vs. evil?
PJ: We wanted to be truthful to what life at this time and age was. And in the Stone Age, we were not at the top of the food chain. So in the modern time, man is your main enemy, but in the Stone Age, he wasn’t your main enemy – everything else was. You were the prey, and the megafauna and the mammoth and the world itself were your main enemies.
On the other hand, we also know that what allowed men to thrive was their ability to unite and share their knowledge and their technology. And Takkar, our main character, actually represents this middle way. Instead of just thinking about destroying the Udam and the Izila, he’s actually going to try to remove the bad seeds, but also to take what’s best to make his village and humankind thrive. So it was really a different approach, but that was related once again to the Stone Age fantasy we wanted to create. We always start from there, and we didn’t need another Pagan Min, another Vaas. They didn’t fit our fantasy.
What was the inspiration for the Izila?
PJ: They’re based on the Mesopotamians. They were our main source of inspiration. Takkar is a Wenja, a tribe that believes that every living creature has a soul, and they represent the voice of the middle, the voice of nature. On one end of the spectrum , you have the Udam, who are probably the most primitive and savage tribe of the region, and on the other end of the spectrum you have the Izila. Which were, at this time, the most technologically advanced tribe in the region, and that’s what they represent.
The Izila represent the beat of the modern world, and they give you this full perspective on what this age was. Because there were people that were really just starting to evolve, and there were other ones that were a little more advanced, and they all create a different dynamic in this world.
Are we going to see more of the backstories behind the other tribal leaders, Ull and Batari?
PJ: You’ll see some of their backstories. We always try to have really colorful and deep characters, and for us they are a big part of our cast, so we put a lot of attention in their backstories. For example, on the Udam side, the reason they are how they are today is because during the Ice Age, they got caught on the mountain, and they only survived by inbreeding and cannibalism. That explains why they are brutal. On the other side, we have Batari, who was born during a solar eclipse in a very religious tribe. So she became their goddess. At first she seems really kind, but then you’ll discover the real character behind it, that’s she’s really vicious and tyrannical. You’ll have a lot of contact with these tribal leaders, for sure.
During development, was it ever discussed whether Far Cry Primal should adopt aspects of hardcore survival games? Hunger, thirst, things like that?
PJ: Survival is important in Far Cry Primal. We wanted to drop the player in the world with little to nothing and have them use the environment to survive, and little by little become the apex predator, and yes, at some point it will be easier to venture into the great glaciers if you have the right equipment. We put ourselves in the skin of Stone Age people, and we are asking ourselves, ‘Your first goal is to survive. What do you need to survive? What do you need to master?’
We identified different elements – tools to craft, skills to master, animals to tame, etc. In the end, we can think of surviving as taming the wilderness around you, so we gave the players all the tools to do just do that. They will be able to gather resources in order to craft their weapons, and as they encounter different members of their tribe, they’ll learn to master different skills – from different types of takedowns to taming all the different predators in the world. What’s also important to keep in mind is that Far Cry has always been about taking players into lawless frontiers in a world that is alive and making sure they have all the tools needed to conquer this world and have fun doing it!
Were shamans actually just crazy people? Tensay kind of seems like a lunatic.
PJ: It’s because they take a lot of leaves, like plants. I think when you abuse that, you end up… he’s very close to the spirits, let’s put it like that.
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