Far Cry 5 looks and feels like the kind of game that will mark a critical moment in Ubisoft's frontier exploring franchise. While the series' previous titles have had the same kind of storyline structure - a powerful, interesting villain in control of a large swath of land slowly being picked apart by a resistance - Far Cry 5 is doing some major things quite differently. Chief amongst those differences is the choice to set a game about exploring the unknown in rural Montana, a state in one of the most familiar countries in the world.
That doesn't mean that Ubisoft's version of Montana, which has been heavily influenced by real world inspirations, will be boring or mundane, however. In an interview with Game Rant, Ubisoft executive producer Dan Hay discussed the way that setting the game in Montana allowed the team at Ubisoft to create a new, exciting Far Cry experience. Part of that is breaking out of a formula Hay seemed to feel the Far Cry team had outgrown:
"What we really set out to tackle was the idea that [in] previous iterations of Far Cry you would follow a prescribed path, and you would meet characters within the confines of 'you do this, and then you meet this character.' There are beats in a story. What we wanted to do is we wanted to be able to make it so you could have different beats in your story and a different structure to your story, and moments, than I would."
Prior to the interview, Hay showed us a series of videos regarding Far Cry 5's characters which released to the public earlier today. Those characters will also play a large role in Far Cry 5, and a different one than they might have previously in past iterations of the series:
"Maybe you choose to go south and meet Mary May. She tells you about all this stuff and there's things you can do and you meet Nick, and you take the plane. [Suddenly] your experience is the muscle car, and the plane, and you're doing dog fights and bombing. Meanwhile I go north. I have a completely different experience. I don't know of the plane...I have something that is a completely different experience with different groups of characters. And the people that I choose to bring along in my group are different from you."
Part of what struck us during the interview was the sense that Far Cry 5's version of Montana would give players more choices, and more paths, than they had ever experienced in the series before, which Hay confirmed was the development team's intent during the interview. When asked about whether or not these characters were mandatory to meet - essentially, whether players could beat the game without ever meeting someone important - Dan had this to say:
"I think our intention was to make - I can't tell you directly the answer - but our intention was to be able to make it so that, maybe there's some people you don't meet. Maybe there's some people that your experience and my experience, to get to the Father, to get to a resolution, we take different paths."
Throughout the interview, this was something that Hay continued to come back to as part of the core design philosophy behind Far Cry 5. Earlier, he had mentioned that the game was about tying together themes of chaos and beauty, an attempt to capture the beauty of rural America while also placing players in the familiar trappings of survival and desperation that have come to be expected from a Far Cry game. To Hay, it appears that the choice to marry chaos with aesthetic and natural beauty has organically created a game that is more about player choice than its predecessors.
Of course, with Far Cry 5's release date still nearly a year away, there are likely a lot of changes to be made, hence why Hay was unable to go into further detail on how the game's different player paths will progress until its conclusion. Still, what he was able to discuss suggests that Far Cry 5 is the most ambitious entry into the series yet, and one that has shifted the way the development team looks at things like player choice, decision trees, and player exploration.
Far Cry 5 will release on February 27, 2018 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.