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Art Director Isaac Papismado Interview - Far Cry: New Dawn

Art and World and Highwaymen of Far Cry New Dawn

Far Cry 5 was one of Screen Rant's favorite games of 2018 and a followup of sorts is releasing less than a year later in the standalone first-person shooter sequel Far Cry: New Dawn. Just prior to the game's official unveiling at The Game Awards in December we visited Ubisoft Montreal to demo the game and to chat with some of the leads behind it.

We learned about how early in the process Far Cry: New Dawn came to be and how the main - and most extreme - ending of Far Cry 5's story allowed Ubisoft to explore another setting they've always wanted to play with in the Far Cry sandbox, while adding RPG elements to the gameplay. New Dawn is set 17 years after the nuclear fallout predicted by the Seed family in Hope County, Montana. After the world as we knew it was wiped out and the nuclear fallout lifted, a Super Bloom occurred, offering extreme regrowth and new life.

Related: Far Cry: New Dawn Trailer, Release Date, and Screenshots

That's where Far Cry: New Dawn picks up, in a Hope County that was devastated and that's trying to build using makeshift gear. Weapons, vehicles, settlements, and everything the player protagonist and characters utilize in the game takes the "makeshift" approach, and as for nature, it's been mutated in a weirdly beautiful way. We sat down with Far Cry: New Dawn Art Director Isaac Papismado to discuss designing the new version of Hope County, its post-apocalyptic society, and the new enemy faction known as the Highwaymen.

Art Director Isaac Papismado Interview Far Cry New Dawn
Far Cry: New Dawn Art Director Isaac Papismado

Screen Rant's Rob Keyes: Can you tell me when this project first started in relation to when Far Cry 5 was in development?

Isaac Papismado: We knew when we were making the ending of Far Cry 5. We knew that one of the endings was bringing this nuclear apocalypse down. And from there, with Far Cry we really wanted to visit the post-apocalypse setting for a while now. And it gave us like the perfect opportunity to do so. Toward the end of production, we got that momentum to really go forward with this project. And the team was really excited. Everybody was really excited about that.

There are a couple of changes, obviously beyond that. Can you talk about the sort of, the inspiration for, not just the art style, but the vibrant colors and the music that goes with it too? It’s very stylish.

Isaac Papismado: So, for me, I didn't want to create the end of the world. We really wanted to create the beginning of a new one. And we really wanted to create a world that was really refreshing and surprising for the player. You know, everyone has it in their mind what the post-apocalyptic setting should look like.  We really wanted to play with that and kind of flip it on its head.  And give our take of what that is. And for us the super bloom was really our main inspiration where that all starts.  For us, Super bBoom, after you do a lot of research, that something that happens in the real world. It's a real world phenomenon, that you can be in a desert place, and all of a sudden, you know, after a couple months of heavy rain the soil gets wet and then for a short period of time is what we call the super bloom. Where all these flowers start coming out. And that was something that we really want to leverage in are game. And that's really our foundation of Far Cry: New Dawn.

Far Cry: New Dawn is About The Beginning of a New World

Can you talk about how it affected not just the plants and the flowers, but some of the animals we saw too? It looked like they had this mixture of foliage on their skin.

Isaac Papismado: For me the animals is one of my favorite things. We have some animals that had been affected by the nuclear apocalypse, that are a bit tougher, that have these really special and iconic elements. And I don't want to give too much information. And for the other animals, we really did a lot of research and what could happen after 17 years of all this radiation in the air and stuff. So, we really wanted to play with bringing these animals to look really beautiful. So, maybe once was really rare, like an albino deer. In Far Cry: New Dawn, it's the new normal. And you're going to see them everywhere. And you know we have hummingbirds. We have all these beautiful animals. I think that's something that we're really excited to show in our world.

Far Cry New Dawn EXCLUSIVE Screenshot Epic Cougar
Exclusive Screenshot of an Epic Cougar in Far Cry: New Dawn

Can you talk about the inspirations behind the highwaymen? I get that kind of like Mad Max post-apocalypse vibe.

Isaac Papismado: For us, when designing the looking for the highwaymen, we first looked at who they are as a group. So, they go around the world and they’re scavenging. They're really trying to intimidate a lot of people. They're all about leaving their mark in the world and that's where the graffiti comes in. Whenever you come across the graffiti, like you saw in the demo, you have these vertical cars planted in the ground and painted, you know that you're entering their territory. And for them, in the context of the world, where they're+ scavenging, the motorsport gear really gave them an identity that they could use, not just as a visual identity, but also as protection.

So, as [Creative Director Jean-Sebastien Decant] mentioned, the characters level, visually they’re changing them. More motorsport gear and more elements on that can protect them. And then there's the whole animal jaws on their masks that's really interesting. They're trying to instill fear. They really want to be that apex predator in the world and that's really part of that. How you really want to instill fear, make their mark on this world. And they'd rather you give them the resources, then you have to fight them for it. That's something that we really wanted to portray in their design.

And going with their bike gear, of course the Highwaymen have pretty unique designs, vehicles as well. And you can make your own makeshift vehicles? Can you talk about that?

Isaac Papismado: Yeah. So, we have this makeshift approach that we really want to bring to our world. In the context of the world, you know, nothing has been produced in factories for a while now. So, people have to do with what they have. Whether that's for the vehicles, the weapons, where they live, how they survived, everything like that. Also, it's also about how you play. So, as Jess mentioned in the presentation, is that you're crafting weapons that really suit your play style. And depending on where you are in the world, in the game, you need better levels of weapons. And we’re giving the player the opportunity to craft what he wants and how he wants it.

Far Cry New Dawn Screenshot Twins Mickey and Lou Dinner
Mickey and Lou, Twin antagonists of Far Cry: New Dawn

With the Expedition missions, you guys get to play with areas outside of Hope County and and different styles, aesthetics, everything about it. Can you talk about generating some of the ideas and landmarks for that?

Isaac Papismado: So, for us, it was a great opportunity, and me as art director, it was really a dream come true. We were able to bring the player outside of Hope County and put them in refreshing environments that are super different. And we really wanted to choose locations that were really iconic and that would be super different then they experienced in Hope County. That's in the video you saw theme park, that's the one that we're going to talk about right now. But we have other locations that are as unique as a theme park and the swamps are really different. We really want to entice the player to do this Expedition. Not only will they give you great resources that you could use to upgrade your player and crafting your weapons, but you're going to really explore different areas and different territories.

We know, as you play the game, as you progress, the home base of Prosperity, it evolves. Can you talk about some of the things that you expect to see there, as you get later in the game?

Isaac Papismado: So, when you first get there, you're really, it's really at the base, the people of Prosperity really need your help.  The highwaymen are coming, they want to take what they have.  So, you’re there to help them prosper and to rebuild the community.  So, on the visual side of things, that when we first get there, you know, there's people in there, but it's not so full. There's no children. And as you progress, you're leveling up, you're really breathing life into this community. And that's something really interesting. Because as you play the game, you're going to feel like you're impacting this community. And whether it's on the people that are living there now, the community that's being more vibrant, they’re repainting the walls, they're growing more vegetation and their gardens. So, the player will really see a visual progression as they play.

Far Cry New Dawn Screenshot - Prosperity Chop Shop
Prosperity's Chop Shop in Far Cry: New Dawn

I know you're playing an all new character in this one. And it was mentioned during the presentation that you take every opportunity to offer a third-person perspective of your character. Is your character changing and evolving visually as well?

Isaac Papismado: So, the character is customizable. The player can change and customize them as he wants. And what's super interesting is that we really wanted to show, as you mentioned, in third person so that you feel like you are seeing the character that you just created. Not the same first person all the time. So, that was something that was really important to us. Every time you come into Prosperity, or you be at an outpost, you're really going to see, we really put emphasis on the avatar that you created.

Can you talk about some of the new, maybe returning allies, in this one? The guns for hire and the new things for higher and some unique weapons and styles.

Isaac Papismado: What's really interesting is that, as you mentioned, that you are meeting new characters, but you're also meeting characters that you've seen in [Far Cry 5].  And that's really interesting, as a player, is that you met Nick and Kim Rye in Far Cry 5. And now, 17 years later, what changed about them and their personalities. And then you saw Carmina, their daughter in Far Cry 5. You helped give birth to her, pretty much. And now you're interacting with her as a gun for hire. That's something really interesting. And we also have a new for hires that we can’t divulge too much yet, but they each bring their uniqueness to them. How they speak, how they act, gameplay wise.  And you saw Timber in New Dawn, he’s really interesting.  He can come into the vehicles with you. I think people are going to love it. And then we have the wild boar Horatio, which is, as Jess was saying, it's super cute but at the same time he's really -- Yeah, he's vicious. He's creating chaos everywhere he goes. And I think that's something that people are really going to [enjoy].

Far Cry New Dawn Screenshot Hovercraft
A familiar Hovercraft

At the end of the teaser, we get that hit and we get to see Greg Bryk back as Joseph Seed. Can you talk about the Seed family? We know that they foresaw this apocalypse in Far Cry 5, but it's not what they expected.

Isaac Papismado: All we're going to say right now, is that the father did survive the apocalypse. He was in a bunker and he does have a place in Far Cry New Dawn.  But the rest, you’ll have to wait until you get to play.

For my last question, of all the new elements New Dawn adds to the Far Cry formula, whether it's environments, weapons, vehicles, characters, what are you most excited for the players to see?

Isaac Papismado: You know, it's a bit of it altogether. This new world that we bring in, it's a completely different take on the post-apocalyptic setting.  And we really want something beautiful. But for me, personally, I think it's the makeshift approach. When you're building these weapons, you get to see elements like the things you use to close down trunks. You get to see those kind of cords on your guns. You see that people are putting wood and it's nuts and bolts and stuff like that. So, I think for me, designing those weapons was something really fun. And the team had great fun doing it.

Awesome. Thanks for your time.

More: 12 New Things You Need to Know About Far Cry: New Dawn

Far Cry: New Dawn releases February 15, 2019 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

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