Oman Bouali talks Far Cry 6 development update, conceptualizing its season pass, and in-game surprises

Oman Bouali talks Far Cry 6 development update, conceptualizing its season pass, and in-game surprises

The Island of Yara is a hidden gem in the Caribbean. It's a lush paradise with crystal clear waters, a thriving wildlife in the dense forest—and then there's the guerrilla resistance set on taking down the island's oppressive dictator and his 300,000 soldiers.

In Far Cry 6, you play as Dani Rojas, a Yaran native and military dropout, who joins the resistance and is armed to the teeth with all sorts of ridiculously badass DIY weapons and customizable rides. With the help of Libertad and its secret camps spread across the island, you get to choose between making an entrance with guns blazing or sneaking around in the shadows for a stealthy operation.

Of course, Far Cry isn't Far Cry without a ruthless antagonist with a heightened sense of charisma capable of overshadowing the player's character. This time around, we have Antón Castillo (played by Giancarlo Esposito), a tyrannical dictator whose corrupt government needs some shaking down. 

Bandwagon caught up with Game Content Director Omar Bouali to talk about where Ubisoft is in Far Cry 6's development process, what it's like working on a highly anticipated game in the middle of a pandemic, creating a new perspective for fans to enjoy with its season pass, and more.

How have you been these days? For those who are unfamiliar with the game development process, where are you now in the production of Far Cry 6 and what is it like?

I’m doing great, thank you! I hope you’re doing well.

Right now, we are in what we call the "closing phase." The team is focused on polishing the game and fixing the last remaining issues before shipping the game. We’re basically playing the game over and over to make sure we’re not missing anything important. It’s very exciting because we’re about to put the game in the hands of the players, and we hope they’re going to enjoy it!

Since this is already the sixth instalment of the Far Cry franchise, how did you and your team conceptualize the game to keep it fresh but also preserve its essence for returning players?

We basically took what we loved about the brand and the unique ingredients that really make a Far Cry game special: an iconic villain, a beautiful open world, a story about survival… and we added a fresh element—the guerrilla fantasy. Which is all about DIY, making do with what you have, and making one guerrilla feel like a 1000. All in a tropical setting frozen in time. The combination of all of that make it a fresh and true Far Cry experience.

Besides having to deal with the ongoing pandemic, what were the challenges you faced in bringing Far Cry 6 to life?

Besides the pandemic, I’d say that the main challenge we had is that it is the first time we’re leading a Far Cry game at Ubisoft Toronto. The team helped to ship several Far Cry games in a co-development effort but leading such a big and ambitious instalment comes with its own challenges. The pandemic just made it harder. Finding a good balance between delivering an experience that feels fresh and stays true to the brand. We got a huge support from our friends at Ubisoft Montreal. Their experience shipping FC games truly helped us, and we’re extremely happy with the result!

One of the most iconic levels in the franchise is Kick the Hornet's Nest from Far Cry 3 (a personal favourite of mine!). Will there be a mission on Far Cry 6 that's similar to it with a killer soundtrack to back it up?

This mission from Far Cry 3 is a personal favourite of mine as well!

Far Cry 6 pays homage to the brand, which you can see in our Season Pass offering where players will get to play as iconic Far Cry villains. What I can tell you, is that we made sure to have some surprises (with music) for our players in the main game as well. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

It was a pretty cool idea to give the player the option to holster their weapons and jumpstart conflicts at their own time. Tell us about the other things players can do as "regular citizens" outside the revolution.

Yes, we wanted our players to be able to explore the world at their own pace. If they don’t want to enter a conflict, we give them the ability to do just that. For example, you can go fishing in one of the many fishing spots in Yara without being attacked by enemies. But watch out for the crocodiles! Another thing players can do while holstered, is bribing some of the soldiers to get valuable intel for cool weapons and useful resources.

Far Cry has always had some of the most interesting antagonists in gaming. Tell us, how did you and your team come up with the idea for the Far Cry 6: Season Pass and have players experience the franchise through the lens of Vaas, Pagan Min, and Joseph Seed?

Far Cry is well known for its iconic villains and our players really wanted us to bring them back in some form. We thought the Season Pass was the perfect opportunity to do something different from the main game.

The team all agreed we should be doing something with the villains. But we needed a little twist for it to be memorable. So what if we played as them, seeing how it feels to be Vaas, Pagan Min, and The Father? To really get inside their mind. We could see their perspective through iconic moments from the previous games, but also to get to know more about them and their back stories…

The Far Cry 6: Season Pass seems to have some kind of a weird, trippy, and dreamy look into the previous titles. Could you tell us a bit more about its concept and those super cool flying sharks?

We really wanted the players to revisit those iconic locations from Rook Island (FC3), Kyrat (FC4), and Hope County (FC5). But what was more important to us is to revisit them through the villain’s perspective. We tried to portray the personality of each of the villains in their own twisted worlds: Vaas being the madman, Pagan Min who is more of a narcissist, and Joseph Seed the prophet.

In fact, every aspect of the experience feels like being inside each villain’s mind, from the art direction, the characters you’ll meet, the animations, and also the music.

Being inside their mind also means that you will hear them commenting on what’s happening, with their own personality. We as a team, had a lot of fun with this, and we we’re really looking forward to seeing players’ reactions.

Do you have any advice for aspiring game developers and storytellers on how to get their foot in the industry?

I’d say passion! I’m personally a very passionate person, and working on something that you truly enjoy makes things easier. I started as a game tester because I just love playing games, and I knew this is where I wanted to work. This is a good way to get in the industry and learn how to make games. Then it’s all about hard work, humility, questioning yourself constantly, and learning from everything and everyone.

Far Cry 6 will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on October 7, 2021. Pre-order the game here.