Ubisoft On Far Cry 4’s Story, Box Art, Team Diversity

By Nathan Grayson on July 1st, 2014 at 5:00 pm.

Far Cry 3 was a lot of things, but a narrative tour de force wasn’t exactly one of them. To hear Far Cry 3 writer Jeffrey Yohalem tell it, there were good intentions putting the wind beneath its hang gliders, the komodo (and/or blood) in its dragons, but the end result was rather… misguided. When Far Cry 4 was first announced, it seemed like it might be off to a similarly shaky start with box art that left some feeling uncomfortable, but the E3 game demo ended up telling a different tale.

That said, we still don’t know much about this one is about, so I sat down with Far Cry 4 narrative director Mark Thompson to talk premise, plot, controversy, the inherent problems of videogame info hype cycles, and heaps more. Machete your way past the break for the full thing.

RPS: What’s the basic premise of Far Cry 4 beyond all the stuff we already know – the setting, etc? What’s the relationship between the main character and the pink-suited villain from the box/trailer?

Thompson: The main axis of drama comes from the fact that [villain] Pagan Min is an outsider, a Chinese national who invaded Kyrat, took advantage of being in the country, ended the royal family, stole the bloodline, and appointed himself the leader. He even went so far as to call himself the king and put his face on the money.

He’s charismatic and charming, has a cult of personality. He’s managed to run the place even as an outsider. He’s divided the country into civil war.

In the shadow of that, there’s hero of Far Cry 4, Ajay Ghale. He was born in Kyrat, his parents are from Kyrat. In that sense he belongs there, so there’s an opposition between someone who belongs there and then the people are being oppressed by an invading outsider.

So the story starts when Ajay is in his late 20s, and the civil war started when his mom left Kyrat, when Ajay was five years old. So he grew up in the United States. Ajay’s mom dies, but her last request is that Ajay returns to Kyrat to scatter her ashes at the top of a sacred place, a mountain.

But since Ajay grew up in the United States, he’s returning with very little information about the country, about Pagan Min’s regime. He’s managed to present to the outside world as a benevolent leader, someone who’s trying to rebuild a broken country, a failed state. He talks about the civil war as though he “has trouble with terrorist insurgents.” The reality on the ground is very different.

Ajay’s getting there not knowing any of this, and he also doesn’t know Pagan Min has a very personal connection to him. So the game starts. Ajay’s on a bus traveling across the border into Kyrat. He has a few days’ worth of clothes, a little bit of money, his passport, and his mom’s ashes in his backpack. He expects to be there for a week or so.

But within the first 15 minutes of landing in said country, shit hits the fan, everything goes wrong at a border patrol stop, and Pagan Min shows up.

RPS: So things go bad/murder-y within 15 mins, but is Ajay just, like, immediately a fighter? Far Cry 3 sort of charted its main character’s progression from Average McDudeBro to cold-blooded killer. What’s Ajay’s progression like? How is it different?

Thompson: It’s all about Ajay kind of rediscovering his roots and the connection his family has to the country, to Kyrat. Ajay doesn’t know it, but his family were actually almost the founders of the rebellion that started the fight against Pagan Min. People know who he is before he even shows up. His father was a founder of the rebellion, his mother was important in the rebellion as well. His name is almost famous.

He becomes caught up in it first because Pagan Min puts him in personally compromising situations, but then later he starts to see exactly what Pagan Min is doing to this place that is essentially his culture and his heritage and his people. So he gets involved in the rebellion, The Golden Path, and starts to help them. Not lead them, but be part of that group.

At this point they’ve been pushed back for so long, but there’s now a new generation [taking the reigns]. There’s a new group of people the same age as Ajay who were born in the shadow of civil war and have grown up with war. They want to make a difference.

So Ajay arrives at a pivotal moment. There’s a split in the leadership between the Golden Path. There’s two internal sides that have the same goals – liberate Kyrat, take it back from Pagan Min – but they have different views about how it should be done. What Ajay does is, he isn’t The Savior – ala Far Cry 3. He’s more of an agent of change. There are two sides in opposition, and Ajay kind of turns it into a triangle that leads to change. So the story is you overcoming part of The Golden Path and uniting them to try and take the country back from Pagan Min.

RPS: That sounds very un-Far-Cry 3. It’s another fictional culture, but it’s about them taking back what’s rightfully theirs from a very almost Westernized force, a leader who prances around in pink suits and takes selfies after murdering people.

Thompson: I mean yeah, we were very specific about the way we presented and coded Pagan Min so that he looks kind of non-conventional. We like to make interesting characters, and for sure the reason he takes a selfie is because he’s profane, he has a lack of respect for culture and tradition. He has no shame, basically. He murders a guy with a pen because that was all he had in his coat pocket at the time, and then immediately – as his guys are setting fire to a bus full of civilians – he’s taking a selfie with his new best friend Ajay.

We wanted to make sure it felt like Pagan Min didn’t belong in this world. He’s an outsider who has come in and caused a lot of problems.

RPS: Certainly. I guess my worry is that so far he seems like Crazy Kooky Far Cry Villain Guy – all mania and swagger. What grounds him? What makes him a person? Moreover, what makes him more than just another villain or better than a Vaas 2.0?

Thompson: I think it’s the way he’s actually very likable. He does horrible, horrible things, but sometimes he’s very charming and charismatic. He’s actually a lot of fun. The performance brings out this kind of very self-confident sort of swagger. So when you’re in a room with him, you get this feeling like he’s starting to talk and it’s sounding reasonable. But then he snaps and does something hideous, and you remember that he is a horrible human being. He just has this ability to turn on the charm. He has this cult of personality around him.

RPS: Far Cry 2 and Far Cry 3 both, to varying extents, had elaborate webs of meaning beneath their plots and mechanics. Neither was entirely successful at grappling with certain ideas, but both had an almost meta layer to them. What about Far Cry 4? Same kind of thing, or is this story more immediate?

Thompson: When we sat down to create the story, one of the first things we talked about was, “What is the message we want to convey? What is the theme?” But what I wanted to make sure is that we kept the plot on the surface. That part needed to be very simple, understandable and it needed to be built around the gameplay systems rather than in conflict with them.

So, like, if you played Far Cry 3 and removed the story entirely – you just did a summary at the end, a school report of what happened – it would be the story of someone arriving to a place that had been taken over and slowly, area-by-area, starting to take it back for an opposing force.

That was one of the first things I looked at for the architecture of the story of Far Cry 4. The open world systems are gonna be built on a similar design philosophy [to Far Cry 3], so it was important to me that we came up with the idea of Pagan Min as an outsider who came into a country, took it over, and the story of that civil war is his army capturing outposts one by one.

Pagan Min is almost the hero of a Far Cry 3.5. The prequel to Far Cry 4 would’ve been Pagan Min arriving in Kyrat 20 years ago and capturing the outposts. So the throughline of the story is someone returning and helping the rebel faction to take back those outposts. That’s really the simple throughline of the plot.

Sure, we have a cast of interesting characters that you meet along the way, that have their own personal stakes in the world. We’ve tried to color different locations to be more in tune with different characters. And like I said, we did a lot of work to make sure the story had deeper themes that ran throughout.

But for me it’s important that, as much as possible, we give ownership of that to the player. We want to give them authorship just like we do in Far Cry 4’s open world. We’re gonna introduce you to characters, put you in situations where you reflect on things from your own life experience. I’m not gonna tell you what you should and shouldn’t think about what happened.

RPS: Far Cry 3 also had fairly notorious instances of rape and what at least, on the surface level, seemed like racism. It was, to hear its writer to tell it, in the name of “straight faced satire,” but it didn’t come across as well as it could’ve. What did you learn from that example, and what – if anything – are you applying from that in Far Cry 4?

Thompson: Yeah, we definitely paid attention to reactions. We take a lot of feedback from players and critics. When nine million people play your game, you get a lot of feedback. On Far Cry 3 I was level design direction; I was a little more involved with the story of the world, almost.

Making the jump to narrative, it’s difficult because the feedback you get is much less metric, much less immediately tangible and action-able. Like, when you get design feedback you go, “OK, people didn’t like the fact that the mission didn’t have as much freedom as the open world.” That’s easy to fix. You can tick that box, put that in production, and it’s easy.

When it comes to story it’s much more [complicated]. Far Cry 3’s story was polarizing. There were people who disliked some of the themes in Far Cry 3, and there were others who kinda enjoyed that the game probed those darker corners. Personally I have a lot of respect for choosing to have a mature approach to content in games. But what’s more important to me is [the bigger picture].

I love working on Far Cry because it’s the kind of brand that lets us create characters like Pagan Min and situations like we do. We don’t try and stay away from any controversial topics. For me it’s fun to be able to play with those narrative things. But we have to learn from things the series has done in the past. When we get feedback from so many people it’s gonna have an effect on us.

We have a different writing team on Far Cry 4, and those people bring their own diversity to bear. Their own life experiences. That has a big effect on how the game is written, how those themes come across.

It’s not easy. We have a lot of debate, sometimes arguments, about what we do or don’t include. Everyone in the room has a strong voice and opinion. To me, though, that means we’re doing something interesting. If we put this out there and nobody reacted – or even if we just announced the game and nobody reacted – I think it would be sad. It would be a missed opportunity. There’s so much content in the world that doesn’t really provoke any kind of emotion or reaction from people.

But at the same time, we don’t go looking for it. We don’t hunt controversy. It can’t just be meaningless. We don’t shy away from controversy, and we have personalities on the team who are more inclined toward that. We like the wider bandwidth we have. At the same time, though, it’s not just arbitrary attention-grabbing. I mean these days it’s pretty easy to generate headlines. Why not do it right?

RPS: Definitely. Speaking of controversy, Far Cry 4’s box art got a lot of people talking – at least, initially, before they knew what the story was actually about. But at the same time, Ubisoft really do much to clear the air or explain, so people saw racially charged imagery where that wasn’t exactly the case. What do you think of that whole situation? What was it like being on the other side of that?

Thompson: It was a tough one because it was obviously released with almost no context. For me I was a little disappointed. I felt like the intention and the diversity of the development team were a little denigrated by the reaction, because a lot of people jumped to conclusions about what the image meant. They made it more loaded with their own interpretations.

But again, it was a piece of art and that’s what art is about. That’s what art is supposed to do. It’s supposed to generate reactions.

That said, I don’t think it was the perfect piece of art at the right time to fully represent the game. But I think now that people have seen more and learned more about who the game is, who the hero is, and the themes of the story, I think if we released the box art now there would be almost no controversy.

RPS: That kind of seems to be big budget game marketing and promotion in general, though. Agonizingly slow drip feeds of information over the course of months or even years, often with very little context. When you’re aspiring to topics/themes slightly bigger than base entertainment, do you think that hurts games and developers? I mean, it clearly did here, at least initially. 

Thompson: Yeah, us putting the art out there without context was kind of… I guess we were opening a door. But yeah, for us on the team it was a challenge, because in those situations we don’t have a voice to speak back, if you know what I mean. So we put it out there and everybody started talking about it, and we sorta had to sit back and wait. We knew that as soon as we got to E3 that we’d show more, we could talk about what the game was. We knew that it would go from controversy to a non-troversy, as it were.

RPS: You’ve mentioned the diversity of the team a lot. What do you mean by diversity in this specific case, and how does it affect the game you’re making?

Thompson: I mean, we have guys and girls, we have people of different races. It’s about gathering a team of people who are engaged by this content, they want to make this sort of game, but also they have diverse backgrounds and experiences. It has to come from somewhere personal. It’s important to have lived through different experiences. Otherwise everyone’s just gonna make the same thing.

A lot of moments in the game are rooted in real experiences. Like, I spent two weeks in Nepal [in South Asia]. We went there to research and experience things. A lot of that was about the company putting me out of my comfort zone in that part of the world to see what kind of stories I would come back with, anecdotes to put into the game.

So that opening bit with the buses is very inspired by that. Obviously I never met Pagan Min, but I took a lot of those bus rides and there were moments where we’d stop at a checkpoint and people were speaking Nepalese and I had no idea what was happening. People would hand money over to guys at the side of the road at sort of makeshift checkpoints, and then they’d check under the bus with mirrors attached to poles. I was terrified. We’d roll through the checkpoints and be fine, but yeah.

I think it’s important that when we tell those kinds of stories, it comes from somewhere real.

RPS: Absolutely. And Ubisoft does have a history of main characters from pretty diverse backgrounds in games like Assassin’s Creed (well, the spinoffs and DLC episodes, anyway) and more recent stuff like Valiant Hearts and Child of Light. That said, the rationalizations for not including playable women in Assassin’s Creed Unity weren’t super great, and they even prompted a lament from Far Cry 4 director Alex Hutchinson about the fact that you all were “inches away” from having them in your game. As both a writer and someone who values diversity, does it disappoint you that putting playable women in Far Cry 4 didn’t pan out?

Thompson: I can’t really talk about the topic at all. This particular topic. There’s been a communication, right?

PR: There was a statement released about Assassin’s Creed Unity. You heard about that when you were talking with the Assassin’s Creed team, didn’t you?

RPS: Yes, but my question wasn’t really even about that – certainly not in the way the statement addressed it.

Thompson: What I can say is… Yeah sorry, I shouldn’t say anything. 

RPS: Fair enough, though this is kinda similar to the whole box art thing – very little context, only a quick overarching statement instead of a discussion, etc. I totally understand that it’s Ubisoft’s call, but still. OK then, on a lighter note, what are the odds of a Far Cry 4: Blood Dragon?

Thompson: I know in terms of brand, we haven’t closed the doors to more kind of weird experiments like Blood Dragon. And I know that Ubisoft Montreal has really been allowing people to play with passion projects. Like after Far Cry 3, Patrick Plourde and Jeffrey Yohalem got to work on Child of Light, which is a huge change. A labor of love.

So yeah, there are teams who get the time, space, and liberty to experiment with smaller ideas like that. It’s really cool to see that the studio allows people to try different ideas. Sometimes they don’t get off the ground, sometimes they go all the way to shipping like Dean [Evans] and Blood Dragon.

They had a ton of fun with it. The team loved making it. Everyone was so hyped when they made that game, so I know there’s a lot of voices inside the studio that want to see [Far Cry 4: Blood Dragon] made.

RPS: If it happened, would it be another ’80s spoof-type thing, or do you think it’d explore some equally bizarre uncharted territory? 

Thompson: I think given the people that I know on the team and on the brand [it seems unlikely that it’d just be a direct sequel to Blood Dragon]. We never do the easy thing, so I think a direct sequel to Blood Dragon with the same type of universe and characters… I mean, it didn’t happen with Far Cry 4, right? We moved to a completely different part of the world. We’ve had to rebuild, throw away stuff we had and build new things.

Even characters. Some people were like, “Why are you even wasting time trying to find a new antagonist? Why not just use Vaas again?” And we were like, “Eh, he was cool but we want to make Far Cry 4 different. It’s a different world, a different story. We want different characters to say different things about the world they’re in.”

Dean Evans jokes that if he made another Blood Dragon, it’d be called Blood Dragon 4. He’d just skip 2 and 3 altogether [laughs].

RPS: Thank you for your time.

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104 Comments »

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  1. spacevagrant says:

    I liked Far Cry 3, not because of its story or characters but inspite of them. I loved Vaas but he was the only character I liked and I thought he was killed off too early. I hated the guy I was forced to play as so what I did was just run around the jungles pretending I was Rambo. The game was wonderful for that purpose and I look forward to doing the same in Far Cry 4 and hopefully I’ll enjoy the story in this one.

    • evileeyore says:

      “I hated the guy I was forced to play as so what I did was just run around the jungles pretending I was Rambo”

      Same here. I couldn’t stand Douche McShithead’s personality, but the gameplay of FC3 was pretty excellent.

      • alh_p says:

        I on the other hand thought the gameplay was repetitve, contrived and shite. I didn’t even get as far as to see the story being anything but dribble. Maybe I’m getting old.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          Dude, it’s not Father Time’s fault that you’re a soulless automaton.

          And I’d love to see a list of all of these games Far Cry 3 was rehashing, genuinely, as I had a blast with that game. It was the particular combination of tried and true ideas that made it fun and somewhat “unique.”

  2. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    How did people think that Pagan Min was white?

    I also like to imagine that the interviewee had a sniper trained on him and he saw a laser dot appear on his chest when Nathan mentioned AC:U.

    “What I can say is… Yeah sorry, I shouldn’t say anything.”
    The PR man gives him the slightest of nods and the laser dot vanishes. After the interview, the PR man throws him into the Ubisoft Employee Rehabilitation Closet™.

    • CKScientist says:

      I don’t really understand why it’s fine if he is Chinese but bad if he is White. Surely both ways he is a dickish foreigner messing up their country? If anything, the experience in that region with the Chinese is more raw and recent, given the ongoing issues in Tibet.

      • HadToLogin says:

        For the same reason why women without clothes means sexist game while guy without clothes is totally ok.

      • Jenks says:

        Because the 15% white majority is oppressing the other 85% of the world population, or something like that. I’m not sure exactly how these people think but it’s fun to guess.

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        lurkalisk says:

        Also, “white” is sort of a nebulous term when it comes to race, and it’s not commonly used outside the anglosphere and a few other countries (those extensively influenced by their English speaking neighbors, e.g. Mexico, or those that very rarely see those of European/Western Asian/North African descent).

        In my experience with Nepali people, they tend not to care nearly as much about skin color as they do about nationality, customs and language. I’ve seen mild sorts of bigotry, but it most often stemmed from things like views on marriage and sexuality, and now and then from views on traditional societal roles (particularly where women are concerned), but whenever “race” entered a conversation, it was met with confusion. The term “white” especially muddled things considering how many cultures around the world consider themselves white, yet aren’t the palest people on the planet. They do, however, have some rather… Specific attitudes toward Chinese people (again, nationality, not skin color).

        Getting upset because there are people of varying skin tones in an image is silly. What a picture means is the important thing, and this picture certainly doesn’t scream “all hail das Übermensch!”. Even without context.

      • nearly says:

        Because it’s a bit insulting to people’s intelligence to have a game set in fictional Nepal/Tibet and have the antagonist/protagonist be clearly white. Think about any game or film you’ve ever seen that was set in (but not necessarily made in) an ethnically/culturally distinct place and tell me if the main cast wasn’t white-washed. Think about anything where the main character was supposed to be from somewhere but for whatever reason, the only good actor they could find for the role was white.

        In the interview, they talk pretty explicitly about how the antagonist is coded. This isn’t something they’re not thinking about or something that they’re not aware of. I’m personally alarmed that he has a pink suit and somewhat flamboyant demeanor. If he isn’t gay or doesn’t have an ambiguous sexual preference, I’m going to be surprised, and maybe a little happy given how mainstream media likes to treat people that are coded as gay.

      • paddymaxson says:

        Well it’s fine if he’s Chinese because a white person belittling a “minority” is racist if a “minority” is belittling another “minority” then it’s totally ok :v

        Lots of people think racism is something only a white person can do, or at least something only white people should be scolded for.

        I mean the image isn’t racist, and wouldn’t be even if Min was white, the character depicted might be racist but it’s pretty stupid to think depicting your bad guy as a racist makes your game racist.

    • kwyjibo says:

      He looks white. It’d be fine if he were white.

      • soldant says:

        Well no, clearly it wouldn’t be fine if he was white, otherwise nobody would have said anything.

    • Chuckleluck says:

      Employee Rehabilitation Closet sounds like something Aperture Science would have. And I don’t get the controversy – is it so unreasonable to have a villain that has prejudices? He is the bad guy after all.

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        Snidesworth says:

        I think the controversy was over people believing that he was the protagonist of the game. IE you’d go around subjugating and demeaning people.

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      phuzz says:

      Is he the guy in the pink suit in this picture? Because without zooming in and looking carefully I think he looks like Julian Assange (it’s the white hair obviously).
      So, yeah, I was assuming he was default white villain dude, because I’d not read much about the game, or looked too carefully at the pictures.

  3. derbefrier says:

    Good interview. I personally liked far cry 3 quite a bit. The story I thought was passable but typical video game stuff. My one big hope is that they ditch the quicktime bossfights. I mean after all that leadup to the fight with vaas you give me a goddamn quicktime event? God I was pissed about that thankfully the rest of the game was fun. I am going to stay out of the rest of the impending discusion as I have decided I don’t care about that shit since its one of those things were people see what they want.

  4. Blackcompany says:

    I want to see the story lying about in the open world. No more story missions or mission areas. Just let us find the story organically while we play.

    • Zenicetus says:

      That’s my preference too, although few games manage to pull it off and I think that trailer above indicates that you’re going to be spoon-fed the plot.

      My favorite example of story line discovery in a game is probably Fallout: New Vegas. It begins with a mystery (who shot you, and why), but the two lead Villains and the main factions are something you only discover a third of the way through the game, after a lot of roaming around. The only negative point was the way it relied on the tired cliche of amnesia for the player’s character, to force discovery of things he/she should know about in the New Vegas setting. And there are other ways to handle that.

      The Far Cry 4 trailer does the opposite — you’re shown the Big Bad that you’re inevitably going to kill later on, right in the first 5 minutes of the game. It’s boring. There’s no sense of discovery there. It’s like the ultimate demonstration of how game designers think their audience has the attention span of a squirrel on meth, and can’t be relied on to find the plot on their own.

  5. Laurentius says:

    If this game have better story then let’s say : Far Cry 3 or AC:Black Flag or Watch_Dogs I’ll eat my hat. But of course I not looking for ketchup since you know, it’s Ubisoft…

    • The Random One says:

      Such a low bar you’ve set, so likely it’s still too high

  6. Koozer says:

    I didn’t understand the furore about the box art. The guy imitating Buddha was quite clearly Not A Nice Person doing Not Nice Things. The desecrated statue of a living god famous for teaching peace draped in weaponry and the subserviant dude pensively holding a grenade were little clues I picked up on; easily missed I know.

    Obligatory positive comment: Rather looking forward to this one.

    • Distec says:

      The only complaint I thought was valid was that it’s easy to do this with “foreign” religions and icons, but people would never dare do the same with say, Jesus Christ or the crucifix. And my response to that was pretty much “Well, they should”.

      • kwyjibo says:

        I don’t care about the race of the antagonist, I actually think it would have been better had he been white, which would have made the colonial connection much more recognisable. Now it comes across as China/Tibet, which is interesting, but I think the audience would react more to a white guy.

        I do get the point about the defacement of religion, and I can see why people would be offended. You can offend Buddhists and get away with it, you can offend Christians and get away with it. You can’t post a picture of Mohammad. And that speaks ill of the latter more than anything else.

        • Distec says:

          I have a set of brass balls I’ll give to any game company willing to tackle that particular taboo.

          Not sure if it’s worth the death threats and everything, but you’d do me proud!

        • Viroso says:

          What colonial connection though, between the West and Tibet?

      • PopeRatzo says:

        There’s so much Christ imagery in games, I’m surprised you haven’t noticed. Not all of it flattering, either.

        • Distec says:

          I’ll walk back from my original statement a little bit. But honestly, I’ve never come across much. I see a lot of stuff that’s supposed to resemble it up to a point, but it stops short of being explicitly Christian (see Chantry from Dragon Age). I’m not counting burning/inverted crosses at this point, because it’s pretty much passe and nobody cares.

          Even when it does come up, it’s usually in the game itself. Not the box art; the face of the game. Certainly not the equivalent of what’s depicted in the FC4 artwork.

          • SirMonkeyWrench says:

            Japan often uses christian iconography. But it’s almost always just surface aesthetics.

          • Janichsan says:

            “But it’s almost always just surface aesthetics.”
            I.e. just like most “foreign” religions are treated in western games.

  7. Orija says:

    I think I’ve mentioned this before, but as a Gurkha I find the natives’ voice acting utterly atrocious. It seems like Ubisoft just hired a bunch of second-generation Indian immigrant kids who speak the Indian language and that too with American accents. It’s rather chafing, for me, to see people based on the Nepalis speak the Indian tongue given the tension that has existed between the two nations for centuries.

    I guess it’s something that won’t even be noticed outside of Nepal, and since I doubt anything can be done about this, finding Nepali immigrants would be hard let alone Nepali voice actors, I probably won’t be able to enjoy the game for a whole different reason that folks in the West.

    It does make me wonder though, how opinions are for French, Italian, British voice acting in the AC series among their respective native speakers.

    • altum videtur says:

      As a Hungarian, I can tell you that the only piece of non-Hungarian media that I’ve ever seen with correct Hungarian pronounciation (and technically grammar, but the simplicity of the phrases spoken makes that a moot point) was The Usual Suspects. Presumably cuz they just hired some Hungarian guys to be the mooks because its quirky, thus the plot point.

      French and Spanish in particular are more well-known so that might explain the better quality of the usage of these languages even in overall English media. That said I just don’t think anybody cares, which is fair because we are, all of us, americans now.
      Versimilitude or whatever you wanna call it is not of real significance. It does not effect the scores your game gets, it does not sell many copies most likely. Nobody has a reason to be concerned with it and so they aren’t unless it’s meant to be some kind of selling point, or the project is at least partially a vanity thing.

      • Potem says:

        French is mostly catastrophic, even if they get native speakers the lines are awkward and sound straight out of some web translator, sad that the poor sods who have to speak em can’t even point it out.

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        Sunjumper says:

        For Spanish I can add the following:

        In Resident Evil 4 which supposedly took place in (not really) Spain, the Spanish and the voice acting was actually very decent, Capcom had invested in nativ speakers for the voice over, only that they were Mexican. Thanks to the B-Movie atmosphere I never found that beyond amusingly silly and they also got bonus points that they even used Mexican slang here and there. Either they weren’t even trying to get it right or the people responsible had no idea that there is a noticalbe difference between the different forms of Spanish.

        Come to think of it the Spanish spoken in movies made in no native speaking countries is often bad with bonus points to the USA who get Mexican actors and then make them say things that are grammatically incorrect.

        And the less said about the ‘German’ usually spoken in movies and series the better. It ranges from heavily accented to utter gibberish.

        Reading the other comments I am starting to guess that most companies think that out side of the US (as even British accents get regularly mangled) no one will ever notice.

        • El_Emmental says:

          Different countries saw different changes in their dubbing/translation industry, but the main idea is that the small groups of voice actors (getting contracts through recommendations/agents/networks) ended up not “competitive” enough in the very aggressive sector that is media (movies, tv, video games) entertainment.

          Rapidly, only larger companies regrouping/federating more and more voice actors/translators survived, by accepting to work more for less, by maximizing the amount of work an individual human would do (by throwing their employees/”business partners” from one project to another), forcing them to deliver a worse product over shorter period of time.

          Example:

          – company A, 10 workers, “normal” rates, can upscale a little if needed (up to 20, beyond that it gets messy with coordination, planning and management).

          – company B, between 5 and 80 workers (depending on contracts), variable rates (can do down to “discount” level), can upscale a lot more than company A.

          Logically, the larger the dubbing/translation company was, the more contracts it would get, allowing it to secure more contracts, expand its business network and afford a larger structure allowing it to maintain a mediocre (but not fully terrible) quality while cutting down the cost.

          In the end, it became more difficult to find good dubbing companies, because the sector drastically changed and the only entities to flourish were these large discount-quality one: if you want good dubbing, unless you know the right people (and can afford them), you’ll end up with the same old terrible dubbing.

          And sadly no, you can’t just hire some random people from that country to do the voices: voice acting and translation are both a profession, requiring weeks of work and a very particular set of skills.

        • Premium User Badge

          Oozo says:

          Yeah, I always found it baffling that with the number of German (and even Swiss and Austrian) actors wanting to “make it big” in Hollywood, a lot of studios couldn’t care less about hiring native speakers to do German voice work. I’m sure there are people who are desperate enough to not be very expensive to hire, but talented enough…

          On the other hand, much fun was had with so-called “German” barks and dialogues in movies and TV series. I’m especially fond of the German that is supposedly spoken in the Buffyverse — the episode where they had a villain based on Grimm’s fairy tales, complete with a German entry in one of the lore tomes, is fantastic, as are them wacky Nazis in Angel. (Even though Boreanaz could for the life of him not do the Irish accent his character was originally supposed to speak, either.)

          Anyway, to sum it up: lots of German dialogue in American games, movies and TV series, lots of native German speakers,, not so much willingness to hire any of them.

    • karthink says:

      Yup, it was quite odd hearing them speak Hindi, and an affected, artificial accent at that.

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      The political aspect makes it a bit more special in this case I guess, but I’ve rarely heard reasonable Swedish spoken in non-Swedish films either. I think this is a general problem when making voiced media with languages not your own. Access to quality voice acting is naturally going to be limited if you’re far away from the country/region in question.

      What’s funny of course is that Ubisoft are French, but the French accents in AC:Liberation for example sound quite ridiculous. At least to my, non-French ears.

    • Pich says:

      I’m Italian and i had to switch the the italian dub of AssCreed II because in the english one everyone sounded like Mario

    • Koozer says:

      If it’s any consolation, English and Scottish voices are almost always done by Americans doing painfully bad approximations of the dialects. I only remember one instance of Irish, it bordered on racist it was that bad.

  8. P-Dizzle says:

    It was funny how everyone thought the picture was racist when they thought it was a white guy, but then when they found out it was a Chinese man it was suddenly not racist. Only white people can be racists!
    Anyway Far Cry 4 looks and sounds awesome.

    • altum videtur says:

      Well, he’s not black and a villain at the same time so it can’t be racist.

      I’m also getting really fucking bored of the “do this murder that” structure. I want a world built to be walked and climbed and driven and flown all over for the sake of it where combat is not a focus but a side note. Maybe an inventory system would be nice.
      Perks and skills I like though because they make cheating more fun.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        I’m also getting really fucking bored of the “do this murder that” structure.

        I hear a lot of people say this who just loved Hotline: Miami.

    • Orija says:

      As an ethnic Nepali, I was rather bemused by, to me, people needlessly blowing things out of proportion. I guess it had to do with the surge in liberal and leftist ideologies in Western societies. Hopefully, they’ll be able to find their feet in a few years and stop fumbling about for things to get offended by.

      It’s also rather funny that while the notion of White villain does not bother me at all, an Indian antagonist in the same position would be something I’d certainly not be comfortable with.

      • Sleepy Will says:

        ” an Indian antagonist in the same position would be something I’d certainly not be comfortable with” – Isn’t this you needlessly blowing things out of all proportion, fumbling about for something to be offended by! Get that lefty liberalism in check, on the double marine!

        Or perhaps the only thing being blown out of all proportion is the response to people having the confidence to state “I’m not comfortable with some things and I’m happy to state this and my reasons why”.

        • Orija says:

          Which was the point I was trying to make.

          • Sleepy Will says:

            I’m really not convinced it was – but as we both use english as a second language lets just agree to agree and/or disagree!

          • Orija says:

            My point being that while it alright to have reservation about what is shown, throwing hissy-fit every time you see something that doesn’t conform to your ideology doesn’t do much good.

            It is rather perplexing to see that the only time anyone gives two shits about artistic integrity is when it’s used by the likes of EA as a shield for indulging in bait-and-switch tactics.

          • nearly says:

            I don’t think people being concerned about this one specific game qualifies as throwing a hissyfit every time something doesn’t match their ideology. I also don’t think people voicing concerns over an ambiguous depiction for an upcoming game that’s sequel to a game that had a pretty poorly communicated and questionable white-savior plot. Were people right to be a little upset about the half naked sniper running around the battlefield in fishnets in the videos for Metal Gear Solid V? Yes, and while the story might justify it later on or make it obvious why it’s happening, they’re showing it to us now to get a reaction and it’s entirely fair to call for media to represent better.

  9. Distec says:

    I’m not sure if I care for the roster of psychotic assholes that Ubisoft has on rotation. I thought Vaas was well-done, but that kind of guy should have been a one-off.

    I don’t buy Ubisoft games, but my roommate does and I often sit down and watch him play for a bit. Usually it seems like If some guy isn’t popping his top in an act of sadism, they’re constantly ego-tripping on the player with shit like “I OWN YOU, YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING” or something to that effect. They just get slathered with “asshole paint” without any subtlety (from what I see). Okay, fine. Villains have been that way for a long time. But the ones from Ubi’s games just never let it up.

    I watched my roomy play some Black Flag yesterday and there was some dude who was oscillating between gravelly delivery and then going off the hinges every thirty seconds over the player’s comms, yelling about how the player is powerless and will do everything he says and I just wanted him to Shut. The. Fuck. Up. Like, I’m complying with everything you’re asking me to do. Is there a reason for the dickbag routine? It doesn’t make an effective villain, it’s just annoying. I’m pretty sure the scene finished with him saying “Don’t worry, you can still trust me” in a completely non-trustworthy tone. Watch_Dogs was full of characters that seemingly only exist to be passive-aggressive and make snide remarks to the main character.

    Charming Psycho is a trope that can be done well. Hell, go watch Leonardo Dicaprio in Django Unchained. But I’m with RPS on the “KOOKY ZANY” concerns here. Having a dude randomly flip his shit and casually murder people may have been edgy at one point, but it needs more now.

    • Orija says:

      Well, The Jackal is one of the best antagonists I’ve come across in big budget title, and so were the Templars in the first Assassin’s Creed, and as you say, Vaas was great as well. I think having eccentric villains full of idiosyncrasies works really well for games like Far Cry 3 and 4, having a high brow, morally ambiguous bad guy wouldn’t really work for these kinds of games. So, yea, I’d say Ubisoft does villains better than most.

      • Distec says:

        I’m not sure if I want something more high-brow, necessarily. And I’ll take a caricature over a nobody.

        I just feel like they lay the nastiness on pretty thick at times and it gets to be a bit much.

  10. hilltop says:

    I thought the reluctance to answer the question regarding female playable characters was strange. I can understand why they would want to phrase things carefully but a blanket lack of permission to offer any answer is odd.

    Looking at it realistically, what was he likely to respond with? I would anticipate something bland but polite, perhaps centered on a desire to deliver a particular narrative experience curated with a particular playable character in mind (whether or not this holds water is a different matter). Hard to see how that would be so objectionable it couldn’t be uttered.

    Perhaps I lack imagination.

    • Orija says:

      Given how each time whatever they’ve said has blown into a new controversy, it’s understandable. I don’t care either way about the inclusion of women characters, the tokenism when it came to portraying homosexuals in Mass Effect and Dragon Age left a bad taste in the mouth. But what makes me somewhatr annoyed is the fact that this moves the topic of discussion away from the gameplay in AssCreed that has gotten progressively worse with each new title.

    • Bull0 says:

      It’s a pretty tough question to answer “right”, they’re calling the shots, opting just not to talk about it seems pretty prudent really.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I’m not defending Ubi here, but it’s interesting how they’re boxed-in on that question by external factors.

      The budget is obviously huge for a game like this, so they can’t say budget limitations are why they can’t have a female player character. And it’s a first-person shooter, which means it’s even easier. Since they’re writing a story from scratch, they can’t fall back on a The Witcher/Sherlock Holmes defense that it’s a game based on a famous male character and a female wouldn’t make sense.

      From a corporate P.R. perspective, just not talking about it is probably their best option.

      • El_Emmental says:

        A budget being huge doesn’t mean the budget is infinite – it only means they have more risks (financial, commercial, logistical, in terms of software development, etc) to manage.

        The playable character requires specific first-person and third person mo-cap animations (for mirror/water/shiny surfaces reflections, + all the cutscenes), own voice acting, entire new dialogues (because people don’t talk the exact same way with a man and a woman, especially if they have particular characters/personality), and a place in the main story/universe.

        If you want a credible and respectful female playable character in that kind of game, you really can’t just go with reskinned hands in first-person view and sub-par voice acting reading the same lines: people would be outraged (for good reasons).

        If that entire new set of content cost 3 millions to make (nb: your average AAA productions are above 10M) , it means 3 more millions you need to make to start making profits to fund the next projects and reward shareholders for their investments.

        Three points:

        1 – Economically speaking, if the addition of a new gender as the possible playable character only bring 500k in additional sales, the publisher’s losing 2.5M. How are you going to justify that ? Why should publishers/developers be the only private corporations having to foot the bill when it comes to the female representation in media ? Why the most culprits, fashion magazine, constantly manipulating* how men and women see themselves and others, are not expected to participate at all ?

        * Using a very discriminatory selection of models (from the skeletons to the “legally adult” ones), tons of make-up, and as always a boatload of post-shoot photoshopping.

        2 – These 3 millions will not be invested in other projects. These projects could be featuring female protagonist (like you know… Child of Light, from the Evil Sexist Ubisoft, or Beyond Good & Evil)(or Mirror’s Edge at EA), where the game could properly address (directly or indirectly) the topic of femininity, sexism and gaming (within the main story), instead of trying to fit in the already crowded story of the initial game (here, Far Cry 4, dealing with invasion and cultural war).

        3 – Oh, so the woman gender get its own character, but not all the others ? The other 49 can go screw themselves ? That would be extremely sexist – if games should feature all genders, it shouldn’t only cover the few genders who can be the most vocal.
        What about sexual orientation ? The main character should be able to have all kind of sexual orientation and be able to change it during the game at any time.
        What about ethnicity and skin colour ? The main character should have all the possible combinations.

        = Who is going to decide who gets to be featured in the game ? What is the most important ? That the main character can *also* be black ? a woman ? gay/bi ? muslim ? from a third-world country ? with disabilities ? including mental ones ? I would love to see a game covering all these things while remaining a video game…

        Or maybe we could stop calling any game not featuring all of these possibilities a clear attack against *group A*, and start supporting games featuring *group A* instead. I haven’t seen a lot of people supporting these games: hundreds of people are okay to jump on the crusade train against the evil publisher, but when it comes to empowering devs making games with interesting female characters…

    • The Random One says:

      I am convinced that that reluctance came about due to a marketing meltdown. They didn’t have multiple player characters who were all male, they had one player character who was male and could wear a multitude of hats. The devs could not explain this because they were under orders by marketing to downplay the fact that everyone played as the same dude in coop. That’s my take on it anyway.

  11. JoeX111 says:

    Nathan’s one man war against Ubisoft continues unabated.

    • Orija says:

      Shitting on Ubisoft seems to be in vogue after E3.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Hell, I’ve been shitting on Ubisoft for years. Everyone else is just playing catch-up.

  12. Howard says:

    Sorry, but if this game is even 10% as face-meltingly dire as the last, I want no part of it. The story of FC3 was just cringe inducing, and the way it was JAMMED down your neck by the incessant, never ending, badly acted, horribly scripted, utterly ludicrous cut-scenes has rendered it utterly unplayable to me. Thoroughly regret having bought it and it will never, ever be installed again.

  13. Robert H. Dylan says:

    Hi all. Such seemingly candid corporate P.R-spin expressions of caring n’ sharing are inherently disingenuous; while superfically appearing ‘sensitive’ and allegedly addressing ‘diversity’, they in fact display an unhealthy underlying ideology about Race: http://alienfiction.com/2014/06/18/dubious-views-far-cry-4-narrative-director-mark-thompson/

    • Michael Fogg says:

      Neither the main character in FC3 is a simple White Saviour (especially if you take into account the ending) nor is Citra a Magical Negro. You just slap on those easy tropes seemingly after only a very superficial examination. Not to mention that these tropes are not even bad in themselves.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      For fuck’s sake…

    • Philomelle says:

      FC3 is not a glorification of the White Savior trope. In fact, its plot loves chasing that trope around, shoving it to the ground and beating it into submission with machetes.

      So yes, you should probably play games before writing articles about them. It might make your attempts to advertise your journalism blog in the comments of another game blog slightly less awkward.

    • hypercrisis says:

      ““The Jason Brodies this time are the bad guys” – as though this ultra privileged bunch of hollow skulled, high-fiving dudebro gwats weren’t also Bad Guys the first time around”

      You probably think you sound really clever with such statements, but instead you sound like an ass.

    • El_Emmental says:

      “Amateur Postmodern Philosophy”

      You went full freshman, man. Never go full freshman.

    • Orija says:

      Thank you for ruining my evening with that utter piece of shit.

  14. Michael Fogg says:

    I like Nathan’s no nonsense approach to the interview. I mean, when you get the PR Chekist to intervene, then you are clearly doing something right.

  15. Megakoresh says:

    It’s a shame. RPS once again wasted most of the interview on bullshit topics like implied racism or rape scenes and all that crap. “What have you learned?”. What bullshit. Not a single question about the gameplay flow, is it more stealth-oriented, are there more interesting side-activities. Flying vehicles maybe. How different it is from Far Cry 3 in terms of gameplay.

    None of that, instead they waste time talking about shitty non-existent messages in the previous game, on the box art and all, when those messages are never (at least never when RPS talks about it), actually there. In fact Far Cry 3 storyline was fantastic also because none of it felt contrived, everything played towards the plot, towards enhancing that plot.

    And as always the PR people, who shake at the mere hint of some political implication that the press might disapprove of, will probably tell the developers to fuck up the story and remove or reformat some parts not because it hinders the plot, but for PR censorship. When it is actually caused by people like Nathan.

    I do hope the PR department at Ubisoft doesn’t read this interview or consider it important enough. I am absolutely sure that a ton of AAA are being cut into pieces because of journalists who’ve got a stick up their arse about finding controversy and disrespectful intentions in places where neither exist, and obviously gullible crowd which will pick up on their words and carry it as an omen for flame wars, arguments or your average “Fuck [publisher/developer name here]. They’re all [dishonest/misogynistic/racist/sexist/fattist/homophobic/etc.]!”.

    It’s in part why many don’t consider gaming press a legit press. While in reality RPS, as a media outlet, is as legit as BBC or Guardian or any other mass media outlet, this article and many others show that their ability to stuff people’s throats with their own little propaganda is much less subtle than at, say, BBC. And much more annoying. And worst of all: it results in worse games.

    • meloncrab says:

      You are bananas.

    • JoeX111 says:

      I’m not sure when RPS turned into the Video Game Shame Squad, but I miss the old days.

    • kemryl says:

      File a lawsuit! I’m sure your inconvenience due to efforts like Nathan’s is extreme. Or maybe just visit another site, failing that.

      Everyone who reads gaming news regularly should know what to expect from RPS by now, even if you don’t read this site itself. But you’ll have to do more than whine in RPS’ own comments section if you want them to change.

      Your arguments have been rebutted already, and they really aren’t likely to give a whole heck of a damn anyway.

    • soldant says:

      I think it’s important that some of these questions are asked by gaming outlets, and the intent of the interview was clearly about the story. But I also agree in part that sometimes RPS seem to be inquisitors out to burn anybody suspected of being [insert alleged offensive behaviour here]. It’s good that they’re ready to ask these questions but hell, it turns into a witch hunt sometimes.

      • Faxanadu says:

        I’m just wondering where does this agenda come from. Where are the witch hunters bred? Who goes around telling tales of the invisible, terrifying threat, that we must fight against?

        Maybe it’s just human nature to blow shit out of proportions. I mean hell, when was anyone happy taking just enough and no more than what he she transgender needed.

        Or maybe it’s just because we’re only now learning how to fight this phenomenon. Only now learning to not duck and cover when someone throws big words like “racism” and “misogyny” around. Hopefully big companies will also learn to overcome their fears and take a bold step. Imagine someone saying “no, I don’t think that’s sexist” in an interview.

        Shit, too much text. I’m blowing stuff out of proportion.

        • El_Emmental says:

          Calling something racist or sexist or cultural appropriation online automatically makes you a better person, at least according to your ego.

          A person denouncing (“having the courage”) racism/sexism/__ism is obviously the opposite of a bad person, right ? The world is only made of good people and bad people, right ?

          It’s also an excellent way to deal with the cultural guilty associated with the infamous “privileges” – if you’re a westerner and/or “middle class” and/or “white” and/or “male”, it’s difficult to acknowledge and accept that a few billions of people on the planet Earth have it worse than you in life.

          Imagine: you have access to drinkable water, food, a roof, heating during winter, hell, you even have access to the Internet (and maybe video games !) – that’s pretty damn high on the shame ladder. But what if… you were against something bad ! It would take away the shame from your conscience and replace it with a satisfying feeling of self-worth and confidence !

          So you start being “anti-___ism” on Facebook/your public blog/comments, and suddenly you can be a lazy ass in your bed/couch, watching Dr Who (or whatever you fancy at that moment) on your laptop, walk 10 foot to your mini-fridge to grab a cold drink and some snacks, and resume on watching that pirated/streamed TV show, when you’re not complaining (internally and externally) about your shitty job, the weather, love/social life, getting older, etc, like everyone else.

          It’s basically a coping mechanism for #firstworldproblems.

          • Sleepy Will says:

            You know how in conversation, you may say something like “Mmm, that resturant we went to last night was really nice” – you know, your bog standard expression of your opinion. You’re not saying it because you think it makes you a better person are you, and if someone tells you that you’re wrong, hestons resturant is so much better yadda yadda, you tend to think they are just being a dick and may not be very polite to them next time, perhaps you’ll be defensive of your opinion, perhaps you’ll tell them that actually you did eat at hestons and it sucks ass. Normal human interaction.

            Thats all anyone is doing – (In my opinion) Thats racist. (Well in my opinion) No it’s not.

            And as overly verbose as you’ve been, that’s all you’re doing as well. Communicating in a normal human way (though you’re clearly playing the guy who tries to “win” an argument through special “logic”, good luck with that)

    • El_Emmental says:

      People who read RPS do not play video games.

      People who spend several hours reading online rants after rants, trying to find as much potential offensive ___ism as possible, in all video-game related media ; people getting all alarmed and hurt at how terrible the current situation is (and thinking reblogging will fix it) ; these people end up playing the same limited number of games they liked, before they started reading/blogging/writing about gaming.

      These people enjoy playing video-games, but they are not playing video games.

      “Playing” here means investing most of your time, emotional involvement and conscious dedication to playing video-games, all of them – not just “the few video games I like”, not just “the few video games from a genre I like”, all video games – in order to experience all kind of gameplay and story telling you could find in gaming.

      That’s why you won’t see RPS articles deciphering and analyzing game mechanics/dynamics or gameplay, that’s why level or sound design will be barely mentioned, whenever it’s really terrible or slightly above-average: this is not the purpose of RPS, this is not what the people who (still) read RPS want.

      – – –

      I really think you, Megakoresh, are mistaking RPS for a multi-authors blog about game design and game experience – it isn’t.

      It may have been that a few years ago, but now it’s some kind of meta-commentary about the *most visible* part of the VG industry and the *most visible* part of the VG “culture”, nothing more.

      RPS is made by its writers, mostly – and just like people who were once big fans of something (like a music genre, or a particular sport), they start all enthusiastic and tried to share their passion with everyone.

      Then they try to analyze it, understand its inner workings.

      Then they try to rationalize it, explain everything.

      Then they get bored of all that, because the system never change fast enough to satisfy their desire for change, so they start finding other, larger, “meta”, elements.

      Suddenly, the most important things are the large, nebulous and unclear elements, that “obviously anyone with a brain cell should care about”.

      You know… Capitalism, socialism, religions, civilizations, cultural appropriation, racism, sexism, __ism, and so on.

      Almost everyone went through that phase, or know someone who went through this: applying flawed reductionism to a complex problem, by invocating a larger and more complex phenomena, justifying the initial reductionism through the complexity of that larger issue.

      In the case of RPS and its current focus on tumblrism, you have “sexism in video games”, reduced to “video games are sexist [against women because of men]” (and all the tumblrist principles regarding oppression, binary view of the world and victimism), by invocating the overall sexism found in most societies during the last 10 000 years discriminating against women, justifying that the initial issue (sexism in video games) is reduced to pointing fingers at games with sexualized and/or passive female characters.

      Instead of using the larger and more complex issue of “sexism and sexuality in human societies” to get an even more complex and subtle view of the initial issue (sexism in video games), these people use the broader problem to simplify the smaller one and run with it.

      It wouldn’t be a big issue if these people were keeping it in their private space (just like millions of people aren’t openly racist in public, but still simplify the issue of immigration and criminality by firmly believing it’s exclusively related to ethnicity and culture – skipping the entire poverty, globalized economical exploitation (aka modern slavery), social integration and historical factors).

      It becomes problematic when a few people don’t know when to stop, and start preaching that everything That Is Wrong comes from the Ultimate Bad Cause Of All That Is Wrong, the One Evil, that is everywhere.

      But it gets even worse: not only every bad thing comes down to one thing, there’s also the belief that everyone becomes an enemy or an ally, an inferior or a superior, in a form of social war between two groups.

      Refusing to actively adhere to one of the point of a militant will automatically turn you into an enemy, especially if you’re agreeing with that person on other points: traitors are the “real enemy” of the “cause”.

      It denies the humanity and personalities of everyone else, turns them into passive entities. They are either allies or enemies, they aren’t even allowed to be neutral on the whole issue or a single element: if you’re don’t acknowledge a militant’s hypothesis, if you don’t “admit” it (because it is the pure truth, that doesn’t need to be supported by arguments and discussion), “you’re part of the problem”, aka “you’re the enemy” in the war.

      And this is where it gets nastier: some of the militants will find here an amazing opportunity to reinforce themselves.

      It’s not enough to force all humans to fit in the militants’ slots, “us” vs “them”, some of of the militants are war profiteers: knowing they are always on the “right” side, they automatically have a superior self-worth when compared to their enemies: they exist, they matter.

      That is (in my opinion) how we start from respectable issues: environmentalism, regulation of the economy, distribution of wealth, welfare state, animal cruelty, discriminations, etc – and end up with rants telling people how they are responsible of everything that is wrong in this world, that they would only achieve superiority by 100% adhering to the militant’s views and stances.

      Examples:

      Enjoying Minecraft ? Oh yeah, the game where you steal the land from natives, kill and enslave the wild life, destroy the environment to mine precious ore to pollute even more and spread your empire. It propagates the ideology of rampant consumerism to young innocent players. Pixel art ? More like ‘we hate curvy people so we force the player to have the ‘perfect’ angular body feats, and pretend it’s art’. And apparently you can’t have sex in Minecraft, so that’s very sex-negative ; meanwhile, the animals can have sex, but it’s always to make babies, and pregnancy isn’t properly represented (animal babies appear out of nowhere) – blatant sexism against female mammals. #letsendminecraft

      Enjoying a pizza you bought at the supermarket ? Omg, cultural appropriation of the Italian culture, supporting the fast food/Big Food industry, western arrogance toward the starving third world, supporting the exploitation of animals (if the pizza isn’t a vegan pizza – if it is, it’s ‘not being a true vegan, still trying to fit in with the meat-murderers’). #defendrealfood

      “Wow it’s raining a lot, we’ll get the car to go there”: oil industry, pollution, climate change, obesity, car accident against pedestrians/bicycles, cars/parts manufactured in 3rd world countries, etc.

      – – –

      Usually, the few people who can’t suppress that desire to shove their alleged ‘superior consciousness’ in the face of others end up alone, because it’s an asocial behaviour (and sometime an antisocial one).

      Here comes the magic of the Internet: everyone can do that shoving, without ever being isolated in real-life or on another account – they can always unleash their most profound desires on their blog, in comments, tweets or emails, and become a “normal”, sociable person in real-life and elsewhere online.

      Feeling frustrated because the society is so unfair, and racist, and sexist, and fascist ? Yell it in the street every time you go outside and you’ll look immature (at best), lunatic at worst. Do it online instead, and you get plenty of “likes”, thumbs up and reblogs !

      Just like people love to “Like” “Against poverty in Africa” pages on Facebook, the “social justice” you see online is people being frustrated with the constraints of real-life (= life and societies are unfair, problems are extremely complex and subtle, change is extremely difficult and long), compensating online by simplifying it as much as possible, down to a comical point.

      Recent examples: Frozen’s scandinavian Saami being too white to be natives (or 19th century Scandinavia not having enough ‘POC’, according to some of the 2013 western cultural expectations), the FC4 cover reactions (kinda clear skin color = MUST BE WHITE AKA WESTERNER ; a character isn’t respecting a religion/culture = GAME IS NOT RESPECTING A RELIGION/CULTURE).

      – – –

      Unsurprisingly, telling people that they are inferior and guilty of a crime (even when they haven’t actively nor consciously did anything that would be qualified as wrong) doesn’t work: people reject that violent and aggressive proselytism.

      The saddest consequences is regarding the actual problems: that asocial behaviour turns away more and more people from these issues, and make it much harder for actual activists to discuss the topic with people, to find solutions to the initial problem.

      When every time a game doesn’t feature a female character it is immediately misogynist, people stop seeing the issue of female representation in video games as a serious one, and just classify it in the “hysterical militants” folder.

      Same with sexual orientation, or ‘people of color’ representation: when the most vocal voices on the topic are extremely aggressive, hostile to discussion and binary, people just don’t believe it is a serious subject – “if the moderate people aren’t covering that and we can only see the extremists, it shouldn’t be something I should care about”.

      How can you talk about animal cruelty, when the PETA is going full PETA ?
      How can you talk about environmentalism, when you’ve got Greenpeace militants (the middle-class hippies) yelling at people’s faces ?
      How can you talk about sexism and feminism, when tumblrism appropriated it ?

      You can’t, you spend more than half of your time reassuring your interlocutors that you’re not one of these extremists.

      That’s why these developers aren’t allowed to say a single word about these topics – and that’s why Ubisoft, who paid good money to have excellent marketing/PR people (including/especially female/women-gendered employees/consultants), finally chose to do these vague press announcement a few weeks late:

      – the militants build up the hype.
      – in the following week, the campaign breaks outside the militants circles, people learn about it
      – militants try to keep the campaign up, demand answers.
      – the lack of answer initially gives the publisher a tiny bit of negative PR (but most people outside of militants’ circles believe in the “innocent until proven guilty”).
      – the militant’s campaign start losing steam, people point out its flaws, militants fail to integrate self-criticism
      – publisher releases a vague press statement, kinda “understanding the concerns” of their “fans”, kinda giving some kind of arguments.
      – militants try to spin it into a new campaign, but fail as the press statement kinda disarmed the situation for most people, and it sounds like an old news now.

      Results :
      – publisher was slow to answer, but still answered ; most people understand it’s not easy for big companies to react rapidly.
      – militants still look very aggressive and pissed, even after the answer – it’s like the answer actually doesn’t matter, they only want to be angry all the time at everything.
      – people will remember that some militants were all outraged about something, but it ended in nothing being done and everything going back to normal a few days after the press statement.

      = the game’s sales figures are good, only a handful of militants will boycott it for a few months or years, people playing the game will not notice any outrageous ___ism in it, and will start to think these militants are not reliable instead.

      • Sleepy Will says:

        You may have had more of a point if you hadn’t have spent your precious free time typing that and chosen some real examples.

        D- Could do better

        • Faxanadu says:

          You kidding me you giving him D- after the mess you wrote above?

          *hands El_Emmental a cookie*

          Well done.

      • Megakoresh says:

        That was a lot of text there, I am not sure it was needed to write that much. My main message is that, if this particular RPS author (not all of them are like this, I have never seen O’Connor post this controversy hunt articles for example) happens to care for it, that these kind of articles result in videogame storylines being degraded.

        Regardless of what RPS has become or what the authors are, it still attempts to imply that it is somehow trying to make the industry a better place (or does it? Hmm, maybe this is just a very popular troll blog…). Calling out games on contrived “disrespect” towards something, that was never there, at least not from the game, will and have resulted in videogames compromising the authenticity, tension and realism of their plot towards cliche “politically-correct” moments that inherently hamper the storyline and the game. And in addition, it is never going to stop fantasy MMOs from having striptease armour and it is not going to result in more racially diverse protagonists.

        It is doing nothing but harm the plots of games and scare the developers from being bold with their storylines. Scaring them from having no compromises for the sake of not being picked for controversial discussion. Very few devs are already left who aren’t scared to put in the game what they want to put, due to the crap like this article being posted by gaming press around the world. CDProject and Rockstar are the only ones which come to mind immediately. Just two. And that is not good.

        • El_Emmental says:

          I think the main body of RPS is now focused on “making a point” rather than making the VG industry/culture a better place – they’re more busy showing they are against sexism and racism than analyzing how sexism and racism appears in video games products.

          They could document the history of sexism in video games (actual games), the VG culture and finally the VG industry, with a series of articles for each topic.

          They could meet with developers and see how they create characters, stories, what challenges they face with the publisher/producer/boards – then how they could get a positive change to the process, to allow interesting and new female characters to be featured in the games (as playable character, NPCs, story-only characters, etc).

          They could run a series of articles showing that female (or gay, trans, etc) characters can be interesting and actually perfectly fit within a game, using examples of games featuring such characters and how it brings something valuable to the VG culture, environment and the game’s story.

          You know, openness, cooperation and positivity. The complete opposite of the close-minded, hostile and negative approach, that we currently see here and elsewhere online.

          Instead of forcibly trying to make an Ubi dev “talk”, to immediately parade around a context-less quote, to build up hype and drama on the blogosphere – until the said dev has to close all its social network accounts (due to harassment and threats), until people (outside of militants’ circles) ask this lynching to stop and the law step in (online harassment/threats)…

          … RPS could, instead, sit down and listen to all kind of developers/fans of blatantly sexist games (from the naked-armor RPGs, macho FPS, to the fighting games), in order to see how these people see/perceive these games, sexism and society (regarding sexism). There’s very probably something to learn here.

          I remember reading “if only you could talk to the monsters” on this very website…

          Same with the discrimination and sexism perpetuated by female members of society, stereotyping the average video game player (the immature asocial lonely single male teenager, who’s a total loser at life) and banning video games from the all-mighty definition of femininity, only allowing them to play “socially-valuable” games (from the AAA console shooter like Call of Duty, to the Facebook games). Sexism isn’t just “boys will be boys” (sic), RPS could make an effort at properly talking about sexism.

          Oh sure, that would create a massive shitstorm bomb (especially among all the new RPS readers coming from the blog’o’sphere) requiring very careful hypotheses and thorough researches, but that would actually provide insightful material.

          But RPS isn’t about that: it isn’t about gameplay and it isn’t about sexism, it is about “making a point”. It doesn’t cost much, and it feels good for everyone involved.

          EDIT:

          I know I could say the same thing with less words, but I’ve tried that before: hostile people will not carefully read the sentences and make tiresome baseless assumptions about my message – that’s why I have to cover more bases, otherwise the whole discussion is spent on explaining to people what the initial message is saying.

          By fully unrolling my message (to some extent), the people who are only here to pick a fight will not read it, or will only scroll through it after the first 2 paragraphs to post their useless 2-3 contemptuous sentences (that no one will pick up).

          And if anyone really care about the subject, and isn’t just here to “make their point” and immediately go home feeling better about themselves, they will take the time to read the article and the comments.

          I try my best to cut it down in categories and subcategories, with each argument/logical step in its own paragraph, sometime even numbering the categories and giving them a title (I tend to work and rework my comments a lot before and after posting), but I can’t fix people acting dumb to flame – the only viable defense is a little more development.

      • KenTWOu says:

        That’s why you won’t see RPS articles deciphering and analyzing game mechanics/dynamics or gameplay, that’s why level or sound design will be barely mentioned whenever it’s really terrible and above-average: this is not the purpose of RPS, this is not what the people who (still) read RPS want.

        Thank you.

  16. SRTie4k says:

    Curious…why are protagonists always from the US? Doesn’t really matter what ethnicity they are, they always have some tie to the country for some reason. Wouldn’t it have worked just as well if the protagonist in this story grew up in the war-torn country and, after coming of age, decided to rebel?

    It always kind of baffles me that a protagonist seems to need American ideals to overcome their obstacles.

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      Perhaps young white american males are seen as the epitome of ignorance by the writing world.

    • El_Emmental says:

      1) The biggest VG market for western AAA project is the US of A.

      2) The players need to feel related/connected to the story/characters – having a childhood or US origins is the bare minimum.

      3) Ethnocentrism is strong in the US, because it’s a very large country (even if there’s differences between states, they all share the same language, money, everyday-consumption products, including cultural products, large-scale politics, etc). Large enough that a lot of people can live their entire life without ever leaving it, for holidays or for work.

      = something that isn’t related (at all) to the USA is less likely to sell well on the US market.

      ps: of course a lot of americans will buy foreign products and will get into video-game stories where the USA aren’t mentioned once – but Ubisoft is a company, so they need to stay afloat and generate profits (if possible), they can’t afford making a commercial faux-pas by completely ignoring the US.

      • Megakoresh says:

        Yeah pretty much that.

      • AyeBraine says:

        Actually this is completely fair. You know, many people would put up STALKER as an example how foreign protagonist would be perfectly OK and atmospheric… But you know, the sheer ectasy Russian players felt when they were able to finally play a Russian\Soviet-born (no real difference if we’re talking 90-2000s) dude as a protagonist in a AAA game? In a Russian atmosphere, with its cultural references, items and architecture? It may be refreshing to walk in someone else’s boots for a change, but this IS a strong thing for everyone.

        Besides, it gives you an entry point. Just to broaden the topic – I loved Sleeping Dogs, ’cause I love East and it was super-fresh to play around with Hong Kong realities, not with tired US gangster cliches… but it helped that a guy who’s lived for a long time in America was the protagonist. I’m Russian but I’m more aquainted with US culture than with HK or Chinese one. He was my window.

  17. Comrade Roe says:

    As long as Pagan Min isn’t Vaas in flamboyant new colors, and I don’t have to do a QTE to kill him, sounds as if Far Cry 4 will be a nice improvement over Far Cry 3.

  18. Roz says:

    Well as long as the PC version isn’t cut down to match consoles

    Well as long as there aren’t any white men!

  19. Wrathbone says:

    Far Cry 4’s antagonist could be the greatest character ever conceived, but the sad truth is every time I look at him I’ll be thinking “stupid hair stupid hair stupid hair stupid hair stupid hair stupid hair”.

    Get a haircut! With computer scissors, or whatever they use.

  20. zaphod42 says:

    Nice try at an interview; too bad he dodged all the interesting questions.

    Ubisoft corporate shills are getting old. “waaah we can’t do ____ we can’t do _____” Ubisoft, who are you? What are you doing? Are you making games to serve your customers, or are you making them for yourself? They’re approaching EA levels of “we’re gonna do what we’re gonna do and you’re gonna buy it”. Too bad people keep falling for it and buying their crap.

    They need to fire all these pretentious writers who think that an off-hand rape reference is somehow “dark and gritty and mature”. That’s not mature you morons! You can’t just shout “RAPE” and then move on, and claim its edgy. That’s ridiculous.

    I really wish they’d just make Dean Evans the lead designer on all Farcry related properties. He gets it. Blood Dragon was everything Farcry3 should have been and wasn’t. It was a game, it was fun, and it let you just run around and cause mayhem. No stupid racist bullshit, no stupid rape bullshit. Robots and dragons.

  21. zaphod42 says:

    Pagan Min is almost the hero of a Far Cry 3.5. The prequel to Far Cry 4 would’ve been Pagan Min arriving in Kyrat 20 years ago and capturing the outposts. So the throughline of the story is someone returning and helping the rebel faction to take back those outposts. That’s really the simple throughline of the plot.

    Uh, can we get that game instead then?

    Farcry 4 sounds exactly like Farcry 3 but with a wash of Eastern paint. That’s cool and all, but I’d rather play AS Pagan Min. Let us be the bad guy! That’d actually be fresh!

    • The Random One says:

      The Blood Dragon style game to follow should be this. It’d be a game released in the Far Cry 4 world, commissioned and published by Pagan Min, and depicting him as a flawless hero. It could even take place in the same area, only warped by Min’s take on it. Ooo! Maybe Ubisoft could release it as Abstergo Entertainment just to mess with everyone’s minds! I’ll be waiting for my check and complimentary hoodie, Ubi.

  22. The Random One says:

    The theme and story as described are close enough to Far Cry 2 that I’m interested, but still not so close that I’m optimistic.

    Also, it’s perfectly likely that one likes that a game tackles “dark” themes while disliking the way it does so. B-, you can do better.

  23. Raoul Duke says:

    Can someone explain this gibberish to me:

    So, like, if you played Far Cry 3 and removed the story entirely – you just did a summary at the end, a school report of what happened – it would be the story of someone arriving to a place that had been taken over and slowly, area-by-area, starting to take it back for an opposing force.

    That was one of the first things I looked at for the architecture of the story of Far Cry 4. The open world systems are gonna be built on a similar design philosophy [to Far Cry 3], so it was important to me that we came up with the idea of Pagan Min as an outsider who came into a country, took it over, and the story of that civil war is his army capturing outposts one by one.

    Isn’t that just a fancy way of saying that it’s going to be exactly like Far Cry 3 in every way?

    • KenTWOu says:

      Far Cry 3 story was built around saving your friends vs enjoying open world. Far Cry 4 story will be build around outposts’ liberation.

  24. AyeBraine says:

    I don’t really like how RPS interwiewer forces his conversation partner to basically acknowledge and nod at HIS take on FC3 story. Things like “How will you actually make the villain good this time, unlike Vaas?”

    Personally, I loved the FC3 story, in spite of cheesy and shaky moments, exactly because of the grand things they went for with the triangle of characters: Brody, Vaas and CIA man. I guess I don’t require my protagonist to necessarily be Mary Sue or likable.

    Every time I see references to FC3 on RPS (the site I revere and adore), it’s always the same: “the story best un-spoken about”. Yeah, the usual action film arc is quite ridiculous, but that’s the thing. There are high-concept movies and low-concept movies: the latter depend on execution and moments and atmospheres more than anything. So for me FC3 was a high-concept movie that went full on low-concept, just spilling through the cracks.

    “She doesn’t understand me” call from girlfriend in the middle of a massacre, a nightmare-riddled CIA agent who maintains a cheesy gung-ho cynical attitude to get through the day and flies off into the depths of madness on a Cessna like it’s his personal Valkyrie, the very contrast of the game and the blood-soaked ground it’s happening on… I actually felt my “hands”, these disembodied FPS hands, in this game; I felt how strange they were, this impassionate tanned hands that were capable of doing oh so many strange things, no, eager even… like they were as much alien, and curious, to the character himself.

    I mean, you know all this, there is a way to judge FC3 story as a multi-faceted affair. A late-nite action movie that’s gradually merging into your drunken dreams, that wipes the sarcastic smile off your face, and makes you laugh nervously at its strange twists, until you don’t care what the third act brings, and only remember the hallucinatory reality of it all, playing drunken poker with fishermen for hours, carving friend and foe into pulp with glee, eating dissociatives till you puke, running across sunlit hills with a pistol in your hand. All the while, fevered whispers of a mad warlord and stir-crazy G-man lump into one schizophrenic chant in your head, punctuated by gunfire and screams, until, at the very long last, you finally find all of it funny. Oh so funny.

  25. Listlurker says:

    Once I step back from the various sub-debates, what I’m seeing here is that the Far Cry folks continue to controversy-bait in the hopes of stirring up continuing press coverage and potential game-sales.