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Scriptwriter Olivia Alexander Interview - Far Cry: New Dawn

Far Cry New Dawn Screenshot Highwaymen Dinner

With every new Far Cry game, the teams at Ubisoft working on it always have ideas for new stories, characters, settings, and even time periods. Through DLC and standalone spinoffs, many of these get explored - and with them - new gameplay mechanics and unique narratives. Far Cry: New Dawn is the latest example of this seemingly limitless sandbox potential.

Ubisoft developers have told me they wanted to do a Vietnam game and players got a version of that as Far Cry 5 DLC, while others told me they wanted to see more sci-fi which came in the form of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and Far Cry 5's Mars DLC. A lot of Far Cry 5's team wanted to explore a post-apocalyptic setting and the game gave them the perfect setup - a story that foretold a nuclear fallout.

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

That's the backdrop to Far Cry: New Dawn which takes place 17 years later in the same Hope County, Montana setting of Far Cry 5. Society and its infrastructure is in ruins, but there's something familiar. It's a new beginning, and that's very important to Scriptwriter Olivia Alexander who we had a chance to interview after demoing the title at Ubisoft Montreal.

Scriptwriter Olivia Alexander Far Cry New Dawn

Screen Rant's Rob Keyes: Hi Olivia, can you tell me about your role as a Scriptwriter for Far Cry: New Dawn?

Ubisoft's Olivia Alexander: I’m one of many script writers of a team of script writers on the narrative.

Can you talk about when you first joined the project and its origins?

Olivia Alexander: So, I worked on Far Cry 5. And as we were rounding on Far Cry 5, a lot of concepts were coming up for Far Cry: New Dawn. I was there from the beginning. For conceptualizing a lot of the world, researching sort of scientific places where that would come from. And sort of building villains and highwaymen as their threat and their philosophy.

Can you talk about some of the inspirations behind that? I was saying earlier,  “I get Mad Max vibes” when I see like the gear and the vehicles.

Olivia Alexander: We definitely wanted something that didn't look like other kinds of facets of post-apocalyptic media that's out there. Generally, we wanted, we based our villains and kind of their pirate nature on what land pirates would look like in that kind of way. You know, pirates of the sea dress a certain way for specific reasons. These guys dress a certain way like motorsport for a very specific reason. They are very much here for a good time and not a long time. They are loud, they're colorful, they take whatever they want, and they give nothing back. And that comes very much at the expense of the places they invade.

Can you talk about their leaders?  It’s interesting seeing twins at the top of the hierarchy.

Olivia Alexander: Yeah. Mickey and Lou are wonderful, because neither one is like a lieutenant to the other. They are co-leaders, like a single iron fist.

Are they always on the same page?

Olivia Alexander: They have a specific dynamic that's between them. That's something that's definitely, you're going to see more of in the game. But it's also something we really wanted to explore with twin villains. Because the thing with twins, is that the power dynamic is always changing, always shifting.  And even though they're two different, fully fledged people, with two different brains, they're on the same side on a lot of things that really matter.

Can you talk about some of the characters you meet, not just the guns for hire, but some of the characters you meet in Prosperity?

Olivia Alexander: Yeah.  There are many people in prosperity that, well not many. There are a significant amount of people in Prosperity who survived. Not all of them did. Because it is a horrible cataclysm, that kind of nuclear fallout.  But the ones who did were very much making a life for themselves. They were getting to that point where they don't necessarily have to survive anymore. They can start living.  And of course, the highwaymen heard about that.  And they rolled into take all of their hard earned, you know, supplies and way of living. And they drew back to Prosperity to protect this place from that.  Prosperity is this little sort of safe haven that they've built. But it's only going to last if the player comes and helps them.

Far Cry New Dawn Screenshot New Eden Hunt

In the teaser, we see that Far Cry 5's Joseph Seed is still alive. Can you talk about the Seed family and how they factor in this one?

Olivia Alexander: I can tell you that Joseph Seed survived. I want to leave the rest for gameplay and for kind of exploration in that way.

Okay. That’s fair. Going back to the origins of this game. I know when it came to the DLC, when we're talking to Far Cry 5's Lead Writer Drew Holmes and Creative Director Dan Hay, a lot of people on the Far Cry team had pitched all sorts of cool ideas for future Far Cry games that they'd love to explore. And sometimes, the concepts that wouldn't make their own game, got to be as DLC. We got to see Mars, Zombies, and Vietnam post-launch in Far Cry 5. Was New Dawn ever pitched as something like that? 

Olivia Alexander: So, on the Far Cry brand, something we had wanted to do for a long time was a post-apocalyptic setting. And we also knew we wanted to do it in a way that was visually very different and thematically very different.  This was definitely a way to kind of do a standalone project that fulfilled that dream for the brand.

And I noticed in the trailer as well, there seems to be, not just more stylistic visuals, but there's also like a lot more RPG elements and how the makeshift approach you're crafting and building the character to weapons to vehicles. But also, I noticed that there's health bars, both characters and stuff like that. Can you talk about the decisions behind that, refining the formula?

Olivia Alexander: Well, honestly, I know that it was something we wanted to make a little bit more seamless, a little bit more approachable as a UI for the player. For specific reasons and placement and things like that, there's definitely other members of the team that would have a more fleshed out answer for you. But I know that there was a strong effort to kind of make it more palatable, make it more approachable.

Let’s talk about the main character. It’s an all new character and players customize their appearance. Can you talk about writing for like a character like that who’s a blank slate?

Olivia Alexander: Well, Far Cry games are often ensemble pieces, even if they don't really feel like that right off the bat. And with many ensemble pieces, usually the way it works is that the main character, in an ensemble piece, is a bit of a blank slate. And they inform themselves over the people around them. It's a bit like what we do in real life. But the people around them, the characters are so colorful that they surround themselves with, it really helps to sort of inform what kind of person you are as that blank slate. Like, this is how this person reacts in this situation. Do I think that's right or wrong? Am I going to condone that? Or am I going to go somewhere else?

When it comes to planning story threads, or missions, or writing characters, what's the most exciting part? Your favorite element?

Olivia Alexander: Doing things that are unexpected?

With characters or stories?

Olivia Alexander: Both. Because oftentimes in writing missions, when a character makes a choice that's unexpected, usually it informs gameplay that's unexpected. Without giving too much away with Nana's mission. She is definitely-- She leans into a stereotype until she doesn't. She kind of uses rage as her own kind of a weapon to make people think she's one way. And really she kind of behaves another. So…

From her description, Nana, she seems like potentially one of the most lethal or well trained. Can you talk about her background at all?

Olivia Alexander: Sure. Yeah. She was an extreme tourism guide. So, she took young rich folks into the woods and they would get cold and cry. She'd laugh at them. And basically, she knows the woods like the back of her hand. She's a crack shot. And she's definitely hit an age where she doesn't really give a crap anymore. She says whatever she wants, she does whatever she wants, she dresses however she wants. And that makes her a really, really fun companion to have. She has sort of made herself the player’s grandma. Whether that means, you know, kind of nurturing or smacked upside the head.

As a moral compass, she lies on the good side of things it seems.

Olivia Alexander: Yes.

Cool. And for my last question, what are you most excited for players to see when they play this game?

Olivia Alexander: The sheer beauty of it. It's one thing to kind of -- The themes of a post-apocalyptic world are already so dark. The themes of New Dawn aren't necessarily about the death of an old world. They’re about the birth of a new one. And I think that's something we can all use right now.

That’s awesome. Thank you so much.

Screen Rant: Thanks very much.

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

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