We spoke to Far Cry 6’s Narrative Director, Navid Khavari about everything Far Cry 6. We got to find out how Giancarlo Esposito became involved with the project, how the game is looking to push the franchise forward narratively and learn about the protagonist, Danny.
Was the story and Anton’s character conceptualised before Giancarlo came on board?
Well, I think what was extremely important for us was trying to live up to the tradition of previous Far Cry, right? They have some of the most amazing villains that games have ever seen. So I think that the starting point was there’s a lot of pressure there. But where we had a breakthrough was that dynamic of having a dictator in charge of this country that’s been frozen in time, who is sort of imposing his will to rebuild paradise, in his view, who also has a son.
That was really the jump-start of like, hey, I think we’re onto something here and from there, when we were looking into casting, there was one name honestly that just kept coming up over and over and over again and that was Giancarlo. So we have the fleshed out the idea of Anton as this ruler, this dictator that was going to see his vision through to rebuild paradise and is doing this while also being a father to Diego, his 13-year-old son.
When we went to the casting and we sort of reached out to see, hey, is this something that Giancarlo is and is interested in? We actually flew down to New York, to meet with him and he came in so unbelievably prepared, he’d done extensive notes on the character, he had questions and we sat down probably for about four hours, just talking about Anton and Diego and I think that was really amazing because we sort of had our vision of Anton and what makes the character tick and what Giancarlo brought to the table is just this empathy. I think you sort of see that a bit in the trailer of not only is this character of Anton having to rule the country but they have to do that while being a father who loves his son. That was his in on the character and what he really wanted to hone in on was just bringing empathy to Anton.
In an interview recently, Giancarlo hinted that he was working on a game and spoke about a new style of acting. I assume he was talking about mo-caping?
It was specifically mocap performance capture, so I think that was something that was very new to him you know, wearing the performance capture helmets, and also just this idea of, in the Far Cry brand, this is sort of the first time we’re going to be able to kind of cutaway and see moments with Anton and Diego, where the player isn’t necessarily there. So that’s, I think that’s what he was referring to there.
When I watched both the intro and cinematic, I thought you were going to play as either Anton or Diego. Was that idea ever toyed with at all?
No, we actually really started from the point of, of the guerilla fantasy, you know, Far Cry as a brand is known to have this balance of sort of the wild and crazy chaos that you inflict on a world and then that world reacts along with a strong dramatic narrative. So right from the beginning, when we tapped into the idea of being a modern guerrilla, and what does that mean in the context of an island that’s sort of been cut off from the rest of the world for over 50 years, we realised that that fantasy encapsulates both of those extremes. I was lucky enough to meet some former guerrillas who had amazing stories but all told me that there are so many motivations for wanting to fight in a revolution. You know, some people are looking to shoot guns, get that adrenaline kick, maybe even get away from their families, while others are doing it for the flag, doing it because they want to fight for what’s right and tear down this sort of systemic oppression that exists in their country and that fantasy is so Far Cry, and I feel like it’s going to bring this unique and fresh flavor, not only to the narrative but to the gameplay as well.
Both the Intro and CGI trailer are both cinematic, which is quite different stylistically to any other Far Cry game. Can we expect this to permeate through the game or were these created specifically for the reveal?
No, that’s It’s definitely something we wanted to look at in terms of Far Cry 6. We wanted to elevate that narrative as much as we can and we introduced a whole lot of new techniques that haven’t been done on the brand before. I think the first one is, you know, we’re going to have third person cinematics, where the player gets to see their character, their customised character, in the third person and sort of interacting with all the other characters. We have also employed what we call the B cam, which means that we shoot the scenes in full performance capture and then, the actors go away and then we brought on a camera technician from film and television that essentially shoots the scene with steady cams, dollies, even cranes to give that sort of filmic feel to the cutscenes.
Our Cinematics Director Grant Harvey has over 30 years of experience working in film and television and then also transporting that feeling across the entire game we don’t want a game that is just primarily focused on cinematics Far Cry has such a dynamic open world and in Far Cry 6 that’s where kind of the feel and look of Yara as this moving postcard, one that you’re you’re literally walking through this postcard and has a contrast of beauty but also the impression of Anton and this sort of weighty drama. We needed to make sure those things were cohesive and live together. I think in some ways, I find that cinematics can serve as sort of signposts in terms of tone that kind of inform the rest of the tone of the story and the open world and it was important for us to make it feel cohesive.
You can play as Danny as a male or female character. Why was this decision made and how does that affect narrative?
We really wanted to just give players the option of playing as a male Danny and a female Danny along with the other customisation options, see the Danny that have put their own personal stamp on. I think what was also important to us though, was that while there might be some, slight differences in terms of performance, we shot all of our cinematics with both the male actor named Shawn Ray and the female actor named Nisa Gundaz who did fantastic jobs. While there are slight differences in their performance, this is really one story of Danny Rojas. We wanted our players to have the same kind of unified experience of Danny’s journey from being someone who’s didn’t necessarily want to be part of the revolution, but becomes a huge part of the guerrilla movement that’s Libertad.
You touched on customisation just then. How much can you customise in the game?
You can customise your gear, your weapons, all the tools you’ll find in Far Cry 6.We’re going to be talking a lot more about customization, and gameplay and weaponry and tools at a later date. But especially with the new third-person techniques that we’re bringing on, you’re going to get a chance to enjoy seeing your Danny.
Back to Anton. A couple of the Far Cry game’s villains have appeared at the start of the game, end of the game, and maybe once more throughout. How big is his role in this game?
A very big role. I think what was important to us from a narrative perspective and we’re going to go much deeper into the specifics of the narrative later on, but what I can say is, Anton, Danny, and Diego are sort of this triumvirate that the story and the main game story sort of hang on. So it was not only important for us that you’d get a good amount of face time with Anton just to see that window into his worldview, but also to create this almost dynamic between the three of you that carries through all the way to the end of the game. So I think you’re going to be seeing a lot of Anton, you’re seeing a lot of Diego and I think where it becomes really interesting is throwing Danny’s perspective into the mix.
Do you think that Anton makes for a sympathetic villain than previous games, both because of Giancarlo’s performance but also his relationship with Diego?
I think the empathy that Giancarlo brought to Anton and the empathy that Diego as a character brings to our antagonists was really something powerful. I think when we were conceiving Diego, you know, you’re looking at a 13-year-old teenager and I think we all remember what it’s like to be 13, you know, that awkwardness, trying to figure out who you are, your place in the world, do I love my parents, do I hate my parents, and then you take that construct, and you put them in the seat of power of a country and your father’s a Dictator? I think you can’t help I’d empathise with Diego, but also there’s a danger there. You’re not sure if Diego is going to kind of follow in his father’s footsteps, or if he’s going to forge his own path and that tension was very critical for us and it sort of gives you a kind of empathetic gateway into Anton and Diego’s world.
Watching the trailer, I guess you could draw a few parallels to things going on in the current world with the statues being pulled down and a few other things. Was the announcement of the game pushed back or is there any commentary there based on what is happening in America and around the world?
I’ve been working on Far Cry 6 for about four and a half years now and even from the beginning, really we started from the point of revolution. What does it mean? What are the conditions that need to be met for a revolution to begin and what does it mean to be pushed so far that you are willing to pick up a gun and fight? I think when you look at revolutions throughout history, and around the world, you come across these similar themes of defiance of you know, systemic oppression, and how far you’re willing to go to push back against it. I’ll be honest with you, it’s been incredibly powerful to be able to watch those themes come to the fore, especially in the last few months. And I think for us it was important when we were approaching the story to not be afraid to go there and tackle those themes. I think you’re seeing it not just you know, in the United States, you’re seeing it in Canada, you’re seeing it in, in London. and I think what I hope is that for when our players play the game, they’re going to see our narrative, you know, paid honor to those themes and then find some some some interesting takeaways from that.
Far Cry 6 is releasing on February 18th, 2021 for Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, Playstation 5, and Xbox Series X.