The full Far Cry: New Dawn interview: building the super bloom of a post-nuclear Hope County

We sit down with New Dawn’s creative director to see how rural Montana has been rebuilt in the wake of nuclear war

Far Cry New Dawn interview

Announced at last night’s Game Awards, Far Cry: New Dawn sees you return to Hope County to liberate it from ne’er-do-wells. Wait, didn’t you already do that? Ah, this standalone expansion is set 17 years after Far Cry 5, following a period in which the American landscape has been subject to a nuclear winter. It won’t look the way you left it.

If you want to understand Far Cry: New Dawn, you need to first look towards Far Cry Primal and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Like those two games, New Dawn is the result of Ubisoft letting its development team experiment with new systems and interactive toys once work on the main Far Cry game is finished.

The big new feature that came out of this process, and that you’ll find in New Dawn, is Prosperity – a settlement you can upgrade and expand. Alongside that, and replacing the Arcade mode, are new Expeditions, which are scripted missions that send you outside the confines of Hope County. And there are a slew of new Guns and Fangs for Hire, including a boar named Horatio – someone’s been reading Animal Farm.

We had the opportunity to talk to Far Cry: New Dawn’s creative director Jean-Sébastien Decant about this rapidly developed sequel. Read on to find out how the team addressed realism when advancing Hope County through the years, the scope of Prosperity base, and the game’s new villains – Mickey and Lou.

PCGN: How did you build your post-apocalypse?

Jean-Sébastien Decant: We started with the world first. We studied what’s happened on our planet in the past 200 years in terms of natural disasters, wars, and nuclear catastrophe. We looked at the impact on environments, weather patterns, wildlife, and population. We created our own model and ran it for 15 to 20 years [into the future]. We didn’t want to go too far – so that some of the characters from Far Cry 5 would still be alive.

We even presented the model to two meteorologists who specialise in building ‘what if’ models. They’ve been working with the US government and military to create these scenarios and see how the US could respond. They really helped us get into the details.

YouTube Thumbnail

What did you learn while doing all this research?

I didn’t know that gasoline goes stale after three years. That’s how we came up with the ethanol as an alternative fuel source, and that became one of the loops for the game’s systems. Scavenging ethanol is a key resource to furnish your home base.

How did you balance being realistic with your sci-fi storytelling requirements in New Dawn?

First we do our research, we get a basis that is grounded in reality, and then we push it a little bit further. For instance, the super bloom – the sand with the flowers – is actually a phenomena that occurred on the West Coast and in Morocco at the end of the summer last year. We wanted to find a way to get that into Hope County.

We studied different events and, actually, in the States in the 1930s there was the Dust Bowl that lasted years. It was malpractice in farming in the Midwest that destroyed the top soil and this became dust that was moved by the winds up to New York. We combine elements from the real world to try and get where we would like to.

YouTube Thumbnail

What role does your new settlement play in New Dawn?

Prosperity is the home base of the survivors and the last line of defense against the Highwaymen. It’s a place in which you will be able to welcome a lot of experts that will help you actually grow it. There’s the garage, the Guns for Hire training station, a weapons workbench, a place to access Expeditions – the missions that are occurring outside of Hope County. There is an explosive lab, a healing garden where you can craft and gather plants. There is also an infirmary for your wounded Guns for Hire and the intel station in which you can invest if you want information about opportunities in the world.

All of the facilities will help you unlock new abilities for your characters, access new weapons, and new gear. But, also, as you grow it there is more life injected into Prosperity. There will be kids, more people, more music, and events. It’s the backbone of your progression through the game.

A lot of the conversation around Far Cry 5 related to its perceived political message. This new Far Cry is based on nuclear fallout, the culmination of diplomatic failure, how are you prepared to deal with the inevitable questions about the politics of New Dawn?

I think we are further away from these inevitable politics questions. 17 years have passed. We’re in a setting that is rooted in reality but we are much further away. It’s a different world, a very harsh world where people have to grow up much faster in order to survive. It’s a kill or be killed world. I think we are not in the same space as we were with Far Cry 5.

Far Cry has enjoyed some iconic villains such as Pagan Min and Vaas Montenegro. What’s special about Mickey and Lou?

We are one of the brands that actually feature the villain on the box art, and since Vaas it’s really about finding the idea that will twist the expectation. So at first we wanted to go for a female villain and then started toying with the idea of having twins, a duo of enemies that would get straight in your face in a double trouble situation. With siblings it’s a super opportunity to create a dynamic that’s really different.

Is the protagonist silent again?

Yeah. It’s a new character you shape in the way you want and it’s the voices of the characters around that are really creating the story. You are making the decisions as the main character, but it’s all these characters that are going to move things around you.

Far Cry New Dawn beasts

Will the Arcade map editor return?

No, the Arcade is not featured in the offer. We really focused on creating that post-apocalyptic setting, and the Expeditions, and also putting an emphasis on the co-op play with the opportunities of the replayable outposts.

Some fans were frustrated with Far Cry Primal and Blood Dragon for reusing the same map as a previous game. Have you done enough to change Hope County and charge 45 euros?

With Far Cry 5 we were exploring this doomsday cult and their obsession. We wanted to push it with the surprise ending and go into a space that could actually be the beginning of a new story. And, on the other hand, we were really excited on the Far Cry team to do a post-apocalyptic game.

So suddenly we had an opportunity to tell a new story, to get into a context that we wanted, and revisit a space that a lot of players are attached to. Plus, some of the characters, some of the situations, offer the opportunity to see what happened 17 years after. I think that’s pretty exciting.

We put a lot of energy into transforming the world, I think the offer is quite generous – especially with the Expeditions. For a while now in-between the numbered releases of Far Cry we’ve done this experimentation. We had Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, then we had Primal, and now we’re doing this post-apocalyptic setting. We’re trying new things in-between the episodes so it’s an opportunity to find some new features and have fun.

And when you look at a transformed Hope County, a very colourful and inviting world; the makeshift approach that also is impacting the weapons and the game’s systems; the Prosperity home base, which is a brand new system for Far Cry; plus, the Expeditions that enable you to visit some other places; and then a new set of villains and the return of Joseph Seed – that’s a lot of cool stuff, I think.