GDC '08: Far Cry 2 to be modern <em>Heart of Darkness</em>

Ubisoft's Patrick Redding tells attendees that the forthcoming Africa-set wilderness survival game will force players "to become a monster."


SAN FRANCISCO--In the next Far Cry, gamers will hunt down an evil arms dealer, and then discover the evil within themselves. Patrick Redding, game designer at Ubisoft Montreal, let the audience at his "Do, Don't Show" talk at the Game Developers Conference have a little sneak peek of the upcoming game.

Redding said that the company first established four core "pillars" that would act as the guiding principles for Far Cry 2's game design. The first was freedom to explore all spaces, the second realism, the third immersion with consequences, and the final meaning backed up by mechanics.

The original Far Cry game was heavily influenced by The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G .Wells, which Redding believes "is really about people's anxieties with science." In a similar way, Far Cry 2 draws its inspiration from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and the movie version Apocalypse Now.

He said, "Any human being no matter how civilised, if you take them to the edge of the abyss, they will find themselves staring back. We're all savages. We're all about two weeks away from rioting."

Another strong influence on the game was the story of Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett. Redding explained, "It's the idea of the solitary gunslinger who strides into a town that is completely corrupt and bereft of mercy. And he's disgusted with it. So he decides to dole out hard justice. Inevitably it ends with the two factions in town killing each other off and the hero striding off into the sunset."

The lead character in the game journeys to Africa, where his mission is to assassinate a notorious arms dealer called The Jackal. Redding says that he loved the idea of setting the game in Africa because he wanted to give players a broad range of African settings, including savannahs, deserts, rainforests, and rivers. These different settings don't all naturally occur close to each other, so it was decided to make a fictional setting. The total gameplay space will be around 50 square kilometers or 31 square miles.

One gameplay mechanic that has been introduced is malaria. As soon as the character arrives in Africa to begin his mission, he contracts malaria. Malaria medicine can only be obtained from civilians, which creates a dependency between the player and the non-combatants in the game.

There will also be "ceasefire" zones in which the player can interact with friendly and hostile NPCs. The main character will also grow his "infamy" according to the things he does, which in turn will affect the way the nonplayer characters deal with him. He commented, "Rather than telling the player there was a human cost to what was going on around them, we wanted them to experience it...and as the player is building his infamy, for example, he's more likely to be horrible in battle."

Redding concluded, "He [the main character] has to become a monster, because in the end, he can't do anything else."

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