Earlier in the year, I had the pleasure of visiting Ubisoft Montreal to see where they were at with Far Cry 3. Of the four developers that I had face time with, Andrea Zanini was the first and talked about AI, RPG elements, a first-person cover system and the importance of physicality. Even though a lot of features are hinted at, Andrea offered some interesting insights in to what to expect from the different tact that Far Cry 3 is taking.
Atomic: Can you tell me about the AI? We saw a little bit of how they worked, but how smart are they?
Andrea: We spent a lot of time on AI reactions. We wanted them themselves to be characters, so they’re going to react based on what you do; and that really comes down to something we wanted Far Cry 3 to be from the beginning, which is that we allow you to play how you want to play. We’ve got the story, we’ve got this narrative, it’s open-world; really, how you choose to do something, whether you want to be sneaky or whether you want to go in and blow the whole fucking camp up, you go and you do it. And depending on your strategy, the AI is going to react differently based on your approach and what you do and where you come from. And that’s also to ensure that we always give you the right amount of challenge and we keep you on your toes because, at the end of it, Jason is on this island, trying to save his friend and trying to survive. And you, as a player, also, through Jason, need to survive, based on your choices.
Atomic: So they adapt to your play style. Do they adapt to your skill level as well?
Atomic: What can you tell me about the skills and experience points system? We just saw XP [in the gameplay demo] and a skill point unlocked.
Andrea: So there’s obviously an RPG layer in the game, and that comes down to… Jason, he’s just a normal guy, and he’s going to grow through the adventure and experience on the island. And you as a player do that also. And part of that comes through in the RPG layer where you, again, defining how you want to play and crafting how am I going to survive on this island based on, it’s my shooter, it’s your shooter. That’s sort of something that we throw around the table a lot, where it’s not a specific kind of shooter, it’s almost like a new breed where it’s all merged into one and you decide what kind it is. So you get to grow and you get to expand your skillset, like, at E3 we saw the knife throw; at the beginning of the game that’s not something you’re going to be able to do. Just to sort of give you an idea of some of the things that you’ll be able to expand your toolset and arsenal with.
Atomic: Is there anything else you can tell me about that?
Andrea: We’re going to give more away of that in the future. Sorry. It’s a good tease.
Atomic: We’ve seen a lot of first-person shooters integrate a cover system that seems to work more organically in a third-person shooter. I noticed you guys had a first-person cover system; can you talk to us about how it works?
Andrea: I can’t go into specific details, but when we approached, okay, we want a cover system, we sort of looked at, this is a pretty organic and natural environment. Looking at traditional methods on how cover systems are implemented, we knew that wasn’t going to work for us. So we approached the cover system in a more systemic way where, regardless of what the environment is, pretty much you can take cover behind anything, depending on if it’s a low cover object, you can peek over the top or blind fire. If it’s a tall-cover object, you can shoot along the side, and it’s systemically works throughout the environment, and that’s the way we approached all the mechanics. And we almost had to do that to ensure that everything works together in a cohesive way, so the systems themselves complement each other based on how you want to play.
Atomic: So is it automated or do you have to press a button?
Andrea: It’s automatic. If you ask me, I hate the button-cover stuff.
Atomic: Why’s that?
Andrea: For me, I feel it’s unnecessary. It depends on the game.
Atomic: Well you guys did first-to-third-person cover in Vegas, didn’t you?
Andrea: For Far Cry, we’re strictly first-person.
Atomic: Did you mess around with going to third-person?
Andrea: No, Far Cry, the brand, has always been first-person, and we feel that’s something that’s very powerful and unique to us.
Atomic: Even for cover, though. You didn’t consider the third-person thing?
Atomic: Okay. I noticed there was a little bit of vehicle stuff going on there, that was something that was very big in the second game; is it going to have that level of depth with repairing and can we expect to see a full range of vehicles in the game, as well?
Andrea: Yes, absolutely. So we put a lot of work and effort into the vehicles, not only making them a means to go from point A to point B, but also giving you the ability to explore the island, and different vehicles will give you the ability to explore different parts of the island. And even, systemically, making them a tool for you to use in combat. Whether you want to slap some C4 on a jeep, drive it in there, bail out at the last minute and let the thing roll, then detonate the thing and take out a group of guys, that’s sort of your call. You’re going to lose your vehicle in the end, but then again, that’s your decision, that’s your choice, and that’s what makes it powerful. So it all works systemically. So even if you want to take a jump, hop on a mounted weapon, and use it as cover, it’s a tool there for you. Or even, hey, I’m going to keep my jeep or keep my truck or whatever here, so once I do my little sneak through, I can sort of make a run for it.
Atomic: So you mentioned there are certain vehicles that can get you to certain parts of the island. So what I hear you saying is there’s going to be jet packs.
Andrea: Fuck yeah, with sharks. Sharks on jet packs.