For obvious PR reasons, it’s rare to hear game developers working on major franchises to speak candidly about the flaws of previous titles in the series, especially if they only came out a couple of years ago. Developers will often discuss improvements to come in future titles, but these aren’t often voiced alongside blunt acknowledgements of the faults that needed to be fixed.
With that in mind, Game Informer‘s new gameplay video and interview with Far Cry 4‘s narrative director Mark Thompson is not only incredibly refreshing, but also fascinating as an insight into how game developers view their past works critically. Thompson was also the narrative director of Far Cry 3, a game that was widely praised but had its own fair share of shortcomings, and in the interview he discusses the lessons that he learned from the reviewer and audience responses to his last game.
Possibly one of the most-discussed aspects of Far Cry 3‘s narrative was its use of the “white savior” trope (in which a white character lands in a foreign country and rescues the apparently helpless indigenous people), and some of the unfortunate implications thereof. Thompson has spoken previously about how Far Cry 4 will turn the narrative of Far Cry 3 on its head by making the protagonist a native son of Kyrat rather than a crusading outsider, and he elaborates a little on how Ajay Ghale’s nationality was a response to the criticisms of Jason Brody.
“The first thing we said was, ‘This guy is from Kyrat.’ No matter what happens, the most important thing is he is part of this world, he belongs here, that’s where his parents are from, that’s where his family are from. So when you go back there, it’s a place you belong to. Everything you do is part of your history and culture and background…
“The Jason Brodys this time around are the bad guys. The outsiders who come in and try and have their escapist white savior fantasy are actually the bad guys. So it’s like an evolution of us trying out our own ideas.”
Just because Ajay is from Kyrat, it doesn’t mean that he is already intimately familiar with the country when he arrives. Thompson explains that Ajay moved to the USA when he was four years old, to escape from the revolution that had been started by his own father, and that therefore he returns to a place where everyone (including antagonist Pagan Min) knows who he is, while Ajay is still trying to piece his own history together.
The video also features some new gameplay footage, including the much-touted elephants that the player can either mount and ride into battle, or provoke into attacking strongholds and enemy soldiers. According to Thompson, Far Cry 4 won’t try to make players feel guilty for their violent actions, but will instead try to lighten the mood a little by mixing in dark humor with its more brutal aspects.
The promise of taking the best of Far Cry 3 and leaving behind its faults to create a rich new experience is more than enough to get us excited for this new adventure. Tell us in the comments if you like the sound of the changes that Thompson made for Far Cry 4.
Far Cry 4 will be available for PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3 and PS4 on November 18, 2014.