Creative Director Jean-Sebastien Decant Interview - Far Cry: New Dawn

Far Cry New Dawn Wolves

Far Cry: New Dawn lets Ubisoft explore one of the many crazy settings and ideas the developers have always wanted to play with in the first-person sandbox series - the post-apocalypse. And with Far Cry 5, they were finally able to set it up with the game's main ending seeing a nuclear war begin.

17 years later, after nuclear fallout and drastic weather conditions, there was a Super Bloom and new life began. Far Cry: New Dawn isn't about the ending of what came before, it's about new beginning, and that theme applies to many of game's core design pillars. Far Cry: New Dawn embraces RPG elements, from tiered enemies to color-coded gear that can level up. There are even health bars on enemies for the first time.

Related: An Interview With Far Cry: New Dawn's Art Director Isaac Papismado

I had the opportunity to sit down Jean-Sebastien Decant, Creative Director of Far Cry: New Dawn, after the game was first unveiled, to ask about the new direction of the series, and how New Dawn is a direct sequel to Far Cry 5 with lots of new features, but familiar locations and characters.

Creative Director Jean-Sebastien Decant Far Cry New Dawn
Far Cry: New Dawn Creative Director Jean-Sebastien Decant

Screen Rant's Rob Keyes: First of all, great presentation.

Ubisoft's Jean-Sebastien Decant: Thank you!

I'm a big Far Cry guy and I liked the style. It looks good. Can you talk about how this project first came about?

Jean-Sebastien Decant: It was during the development of Far Cry 5. We were toying with different ideas for the ending. And the scenario of a doomsday was the most attractive one. And at the same time, we were very happy with some of the characters and some of the actors we're working with. And we thought that it would be super interesting to be able to actually continue that in a way. And on the other hand, you can't imagine how much we were willing to do a post-apocalyptic Far Cry. It's been years. And so, then we had an opportunity to kill to birds with one stone. We create this ending, that's the end of the world, but the beginning of a new story which leads us to a post-apocalyptic one.

I know we can't get into spoilers, but this is a setting you can see more of in the future? I know this is a continuation of Far Cry 5. But is it just like a standalone thing? Or could this be continued?

JS Decant: Right now, it's a New Dawn. It’s this thing. We have Expeditions and that's it.

Can you talk about some of the things you wanted to change or add that weren't in Far Cry 5 or weren’t in the DLC for Far Cry 5?

JS Decant: We get inspired by doing research on the post-apocalyptic setting and so the 'makeshift concept came bursting into our face, that led us to decide to do this idea of gathering elements to make this makeshift vehicles and weapons.

On the other hand, I think we wanted to go deeper in the expanse trying to find more depth in terms of gameplay and combat and challenges. So, that's when we started to go toward this, I would say, light RPG approach. How could we create more challenge and have our enemies lasting longer? We need to have more protection and everything. And we could also try and have our players be engaged with different weapons rather than sticking to one during the whole game. And then when you get these two together, you get levels for weapons, never for enemies. And that was also one of the big changes.

Far Cry New Dawn Screenshot Stealth Takedown

I noticed that. I noticed a couple of things like health bars of enemies. This is the first time we're seeing that.

JS Decant: Yes, absolutely.

Can you talk about the reasoning behind that?

JS Decant: Yes. When we developed this level of efficiency for weapons. When we develop these gaps -- these enemies that are of increasing resistance and efficiency, some people on the design team said we should actually indicate the proficiency of the different things. And I was very against it at first. Because to me, it was going to break the immersion in the Far Cry game. But then they snuck it in, and one day I played the build, and I start to see that. And it was actually super fun. To me, it added a layer of relentlessness. And you knew it was even more frantic with the numbers. And even more pleasing. So, we said, “Okay, let's go in, let's do that. It's making the system much more readable. And super fun to play.”

We talked about extending the life of enemies by increasing their level and having the enforcers. If you’re lower level, or you have a lower level weapon, is it very difficult to take out someone like an enforcer?

JS Decant: It’s going to be very difficult, yes. You're going to get crushed.

Can you talk about the weapons? We know you can get crafting materials to upgrade them. Can you find higher level weapons in the wild or is it all about crafting?

JS Decant: We have some higher-level weapons that are delivered in specific missions. But for the rest, it's really about upgrading your base to have access to the different tiers of weapons. And then it's hunting, fishing, and gathering elements.  Getting the Antenna in the outpost for the home base. And also doing the Expeditions to get the rarest resources.

Are you upgrading the vehicles as well?

JS Decant: Yes, yes.

Far Cry New Dawn Screenshot Hovercraft

Like the other Far Crys there’s a skill tree. You're leveling up the character. Can you talk about that skill tree? Is it similar to what we've seen in Far Cry 5?

JS Decant: When we tried to find new angles or bring back some that were left on the side during Far Cry 5. So, there are new perks that are attached to new features that I’m not going to mention right now. But for instance, you know, the knife takedown? It was one of the archetypal elements that you were progressing in Far Cry 5 and 4 and Primal.  And we really liked it, felt it was emblematic, and we wanted it back. And it also works very well with the levels of enemies. So, if you’re level one takedown and the enemy's level three, you won't be able to surprise attack him. And then we have also some, interesting perks attached to some other things that I can’t talk about it.

We saw the first time ever the bayonet on that shotgun weapon. Is that something that's on other weapons as well? Or is it specific to that weapon?

JS Decant: So, each weapon is unique, but the idea of bayonets, we've applied it to a few different weapons. Yes, absolutely.

Can you talk about the Expedition missions and what this unique offsite mission type lets you do in this game that players haven't seen before?

JS Decant: The context of the game is a post-apocalyptic disaster. It's not only Hope County that has been affected, but everywhere else. So, we were excited on the idea of visiting other places in the United States, 17 years after. The Expeditions are snatch and grab missions. So, you go there with a helicopter. You need to find the package, and you need the most resources, and then you have to extract. We picked places that would feel very, very different from Hope County. So, it's the West Coast, it's the bayou, it’s also the canyons. And then we have different missions, that all encompass very iconic elements. Like an old theme park has been destroyed. We also have an aircraft carrier and some other things. Even surprises in connecting with other Ubisoft games.

Ah, interesting. Is the game playable two-player co-op?

JS Decant: Yes.

Far Cry New Dawn Screenshot New Eden Hunt

For Expeditions editions as well?

JS Decant: Absolutely. The whole game is playable. And you can share the loot that you get. Yes.

Does each player progress their own character when they play it together?

JS Decant: You will progress your inventory. But, if you are not to mission on the host, it won't be unlocked on the client.

But you can get your own supplies to level up your--?

JS Decant: Yes. Absolutely. The whole getting resources is shared.

One thing I didn't see, I was going to ask you about. I know you can still tag enemies when you're looking at them. Can you still throw things to distract them?

JS Decant: The rock? Yes, yes. Absolutely.

I wasn't sure. I didn't see it in the demos.

JS Decant: That’s true, we didn't show it.

That’s essential! The distraction element [Laughs].

JS Decant: You’re right, you’re right.

What's your favorite weapon to use?

JS Decant: In this game? It's the Saw Blade.

Far Cry New Dawn Screenshot Saw Launcher
Meet Horatio and the Saw Blade launcher!

I thought as much. Can you talk about the highest-level version of that, and some of the other weapons? What are some of the crazy things these weapons can do when they’re tier four (max level)?

JS Decant: This one, especially the saw blade, when it's level four, I think, it throws three different blades at the same time.  And they go, and they rebound, and they're very efficient. And they are attracted by enemies, but also by explosive materials. So, it's always a surprise when you shoot with this thing.

That explains some of the footage, what was going on. Every single weapon has that fourth tier?

JS Decant: Ah, no. It depends. It's really this one as we made it entirely for the game. We tried different approaches for it. But for the rest, it’s more like one-off weapons. But then you can still invest resources in one weapon that you like, to increase slightly, its efficiency.

When you take out enemies, you can pick up their weapons?

JS Decant: Absolutely. Yes. But there are often low-level weapons.

It's always going to be not as good as what you have?

JS Decant: It's not going to be as good as level two or three. Yes. Absolutely. But you steal. If there’s an RPG or a sniper rifle, you can take it.

I know we can talk all the characters that are Heroes for Hire, but we definitely saw the two animal friends. Can you talk about how replacing the dog with Timber came to be? And the mutated boar Horatio, how did you guys come up with that idea?

JS Decant: We've had animal pets in Far Cry since Primal. There were a lot of canines, felines, and bears. And then we took that and refined it in Far Cry 5.

Me, I was adamant for a new animal. I wanted something that we didn't see before. And the idea of the boar came out… What if we could have something that's super dangerous? That could like blow up cars, smash into cars, destroy five characters at the same time, and be cool at the same time. And there's something grotesque about the boar, you know? It's cute, but it's also quite disgusting to me. It was like, “Okay, let's do that.”

Far Cry New Dawn Screenshot Zealot

[Laughs] The character you're playing is new and players can customize the appearance. Can talk about how you acquire different clothing and how that system works?

JS Decant: Yes. There's a lot of clothes that are unlocks from missions. So, when you do missions, you're going to get outfits, depending on the subject of the mission. So, if you’re a prisoner in the Highwaymen, you the suits of a prisoner.  But we also have plenty of crazy… suits that you unlock by playing outpost.  Each time you play the outpost, you get a piece of the suit. And in order to compete it, you need to play it a certain amount of times.

Let's talk about the outpost system. Because they’re replayable and it’s built into the main loop.

JS Decant: Yes, the Escalation System. Yes.

Is it always escalating? You take one over, the bad guys will take it back, and it'll be harder next time?

JS Decant: If you want to secure the outpost, like for instance your progressing through to the world or you like to have the teleport at that point, it's great to then go and be safe. Then you can keep it. They will never take it.  If you decide to scavenge that place, to get the resources that were there, and leave it back. It’s only if you decide. If you don't, it's going to be your place forever. But if you want to get more resources and tackle new challenges, then you leave it be. You get the loot, they come back, and you can fight back.

And it’s harder the second time?

JS Decant: Yes.

And for the Expeditions, there are different difficulties as well?

JS Decant: Yes.

Are players choose that when entering the mission?

JS Decant: No, it's incremental.

Far Cry New Dawn EXCLUSIVE Screenshot Dog Stealth

So, you do it again, it's harder the second time.

JS Decant: Yes.

And you get more rewards when it's more—

JS Decant: Absolutely. Yes. And we also change the layout. We’ve created that one square kilometer map with lots of buildings and opportunities. And we change the place where the package is. But also, the starting point and the ending point. And then we also put enemies that are more challenging.

You talked about a one square kilometer map where you can do more things with the visuals or with more AI. Can you give me an example of what you can do with that?

JS Decant: An example is in terms of lighting and SFX. We can push the game a little bit further than what we can do usually. And in terms of enemies, when you reach level three, we have like a cap. It's difficult to input more than 12 to 15 characters in a space in the open world. When you reach level three you see that.

[Laughs] For my last question then, what are you most excited for players to see when they start playing this game?

JS Decant: I think it's difficult to have one thing, but the transformed world. We worked very hard to create that post-apocalyptic setting that would feel very dangerous, but at the same time very inviting, and lush and colorful. That was the thing we wanted to go to. And it was the most important thing. After, makeshift, and the home base, and the Expeditions.

Of course! Thank you very much. The presentation was great. I’m very excited to play it.

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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