How Far Cry’s Iconic Villains Were Created
If there’s one thing everyone remembers about Far Cry it’s the villains. Characters like Vaas, Pagan Min, and Joseph Seed have all easily earned their place in the bad guy hall of fame. Over time, the role of the villain in Far Cry has become increasingly important to the series’ identity, so much so that in the latest installment – Far Cry 6 – the antagonist is played by one of the most recognisable villain actors of all time: Giancarlo Esposito.
The journey to this high point has been the result of wild audition tapes, ambitious writing, dedicated performances, and an E3 demo that miraculously turned a cut character into Far Cry’s iconic bad guy that started it all.
This is the inside story of the evolution of Far Cry’s villains, and how they were all created.
Far Cry’s villains are always on the front of the box. Played by the cream of video game and Hollywood talent, they stand in the spotlight for each game’s promotion. They even inspire cosplay and fan fiction within the series’ community. But this was not always the case. The original Far Cry, developed by Crytek and published by Ubisoft in 2004, did not have a particularly memorable antagonist. That first game saw main character Jack Carver butt heads with genetic scientist Dr. Krieger, a villain really only notable for tarnishing the ambitious shooter with packs of his annoying Trigen mutants.
Far Cry’s journey towards more nuanced villains began when Ubisoft parted ways with Crytek and took over development duties of the series. In 2008 it released a sequel that would redefine what Far Cry was. Set in an open world based on Africa, it cast players as a mercenary working between the two sides of a bloody civil war. Providing weapons for both sides is Far Cry’s first prototype for its now-signature brand of villain; an arms dealer called The Jackal.
“The Jackal is just a utilitarian, pragmatist gun runner,” says Clint Hocking, Creative Director of Far Cry 2. “He just decides ‘Screw these guys who are trying to rip me off and cheat me or kill me’, and he embarks on this path to pit them against one another and show them what real wickedness is. It’s almost like he’s trying to teach them a lesson. That’s his motivation. Once the hornet’s nest has been kicked he thinks, ‘I’ll show you what a real bad man is’.”
As Far Cry 2’s story progresses, the Jackal begins to regret the scale of the atrocities that he’s fuelled. This shifting of his moral compass leads to an unexpected finale in which the player works with the Jackal to aid the country’s civilians. But beyond the game’s story, there’s a fascinating history behind the Jackal that few people outside of the walls of Ubisoft know.
“The Jackal is actually supposed to be Jack Carver from the original Far Cry,” Hocking reveals, confirming a long-held fan theory. Both Carver and the Jackal have a history in the US Navy, and – perhaps most tellingly – some texture files for the Jackal in Far Cry 2 are named after the original Far Cry protagonist. These details have convinced some fans that the two characters are related, but Hocking’s confirmation finally transforms the theory into fact.
“Jack Carver in the original Far Cry was this shifty, smuggler, gun runner kind of crook,” says Hocking. “The idea was [the Jackal] is just him, 10 years later or something, after he’s seen whatever he saw on this island [during the events of Far Cry]. Maybe it was drug induced, maybe it’s post-traumatic stress disorder, or maybe it’s real. But the idea is, a decade later, he has leveled up his smuggling game, and he’s gotten embroiled in this conflict. But he’s also been through a lot more and he’s seen a lot of messed up stuff.”
- 1 The Jackal is actually supposed to be Jack Carver from the original Far Cry.
- 2 Ubisoft called me and said that they were going to let the character go.
- 3 You can’t say that Pagan is not one of the most memorable villains to ever be in a video game.
- 4 I think that the best villains are the most relatable villains, because we all have that darkness in us.
- 5 You’ll find some moments in the game where you’ll be particularly stunned with what he asked his son to do.
The Jackal is actually supposed to be Jack Carver from the original Far Cry.
This fascinating origin story is, sadly, nowhere to be seen within the world of Far Cry 2. But despite his link to the original Far Cry only existing within the minds of the people who made him, The Jackal’s warped moral compass makes him a great villain in his own right. Compared to the bad guys who will succeed him, though, The Jackal’s role in Far Cry 2 is relatively straightforward.
“He’s really kind of the MacGuffin, right?” Hocking says. “He’s really there to give a high-level target and a goal that the player doesn’t have any expectation of being able to get to until they’ve worked their way through the content. He’s not really a gameplay function, he’s just a motivation.
“We could have, in retrospect, gone a lot further in bringing some of that narrative into the world,” he admits. “Bring some of that characterization into the world, with in-world storytelling and things like that. It was just all very new. We were trying our best, but I think we maybe didn’t have the other benchmarks we needed to get to where he would have felt more present, more ubiquitous in the world.”
While The Jackal may not have had the strongest impact on the game world, Far Cry 2 did establish a new identity for the series; a conventions-challenging shooter where players would come face-to-face with a daunting antagonist. But the true potential of that formula would not be found until a few years later.
“When Far Cry 3 was written, there was all this discussion about whether video games were good for you, and also about gamification in general society,” recalls Jeffrey Yohalem, Lead Writer on Far Cry 3. “This idea that you could get people to do things they didn’t really want to do if you made something fun and you gave them a badge and a gold star.
“We tried to look at what made games tick, and then examine the player’s involvement in them,” he adds. “And whether they were an enjoyable experience for the player, whether the player gets caught up in something that results in this uncomfortable development as a character. And so Vaas was a warning about what could happen to the player character.”
Vaas was the character that put Far Cry on the map for Ubisoft. A pirate seemingly on the knife edge between sanity and mental collapse, he represents what a player’s most indulgent, violent impulses could lead them to. His electric presence was only made possible thanks to the latest advances of the time in motion capture technology. This system replicated the nuances of a magnetic performance from actor Michael Mando.
Years before starring in Better Call Saul, Mando became involved with Far Cry in pursuit of a new form of creative freedom. In July 2010 he auditioned for a role then known as ‘Mr.X’. While he was provided with a script, he decided to improvise. It was a choice that set him on a path that would go far further than he first imagined.
Ubisoft called me and said that they were going to let the character go.
“The thing that started the whole avalanche of the character was in the audition room,” Mando recalls. “I thought it’d be interesting if he started with his back to the camera. I was pretending that he was eating, and as he starts turning around he starts licking his fingers until he gets to his middle finger. He does this really crude gesture and just licks his middle finger.
“I thought to myself, ‘They weren’t going to like it at all.’ It was one of those things as an actor where I said, ‘I’m taking such a big risk here, not giving them what they were expecting.’ But I said to myself, as an artist, ‘This is where I want to be. I want to go that far.’ And when the audition was done, there was a moment of quiet. And [Animation Director] Brent George looked over at the Casting Director, Andrea Kenyon, and he said, ‘Can he do it again? Could you go even further?’ And that’s when my mind went, ‘Okay, this is going to be a lot of fun.’”
Ubisoft was impressed, and Mando was hired. But the excitement did not last long; the creative team wanted Far Cry 3’s villain to be a huge, imposing figure called Bull, and Mando simply wasn’t that.
“We had done great rehearsals, we had some great footage and everything,” Mando says. “And then Ubisoft called me and said that they were going to let the character go. Whatever I was doing wasn’t working with the visual character that they had in mind.
“And then last, last, last minute they called me back,” he reveals. “They really liked what I was doing in the rehearsal. So that’s when they made the decision, we’ll just have the character look like him. And of course, the character went viral and became part of the game in a bigger way.”
Vaas was revealed to the world as part of the Far Cry 3 gameplay demo at E3 2011. It was an unforgettable debut, with the villain performing an elaborate, violent monologue about the definition of insanity. It’s a speech that instantly became a fan favourite.
“From the very beginning, Vaas was a lightning rod,” says Yohalem. “When that E3 trailer came out, people were obsessed with him. He had this incredible gravity.”
“I did that monologue to a tennis ball,” says Mando. “I didn’t really understand why this would be so compelling. But underneath the simplicity of it, there was a truly profound existentialism to it. It’s totally in the moment, that kind of ‘I don’t like the way you’re looking at me.’ I think once we got to the bottom of that, then the character really became super clear.”
Yohalem notes that the monologue neatly dovetails with the philosophies behind Far Cry 3’s design. “When we make video games we always talk about 30-second loops, that you have to put the player into a situation where what they’re doing every 30 seconds is so satisfying that you never want to stop,” he says. “And so, that monologue perfectly encapsulates the dark side of that loop. Why are you doing the same thing over and over and over again? Why are you doing a meaningless thing over and over again in order to get a meaningless reward, and expecting something to come out of that? I feel like that monologue is at the center of what the game is about.”
With the E3 trailer generating a huge amount of hype for Far Cry 3 and Vaas, Ubisoft continued to develop Mando’s interpretation of the character. Both the actor and creative team worked in tandem, fleshing out a personality, mannerisms, and motivations. Gradually, Vaas became a ‘real’ person.
“The goal was never to create somebody insane or somebody that was a great villain or somebody that audiences would like,” says Mando. “It was always to create somebody who’s truly looking for the truth in that moment. And this sounds crazy to say, he was such a crazy character… But at the end of it all, he has an innocent heart and he’s just gone so far off the deep end.
“It’s a liberating character,” he adds. “It’s a character that I love very much. And I find him very endearing in a funny way, but only because he exists in the world of symbolism, obviously not in real life. In real life, he needs help.”
“We experienced that lightning in a bottle for the first time with Vaas,” concludes Yohalem. “And then the series went on to explore all the different possibilities of that kind of dark central performance.”
Far Cry 3 was a critical and commercial hit, with no small amount of praise given to Vaas and Mando’s performance. It was quickly clear that this new formula was too good a thing not to attempt at least once more, and dedicate even more time to. After all, despite his fierce impact, Vaas only had precious few minutes of screen time. A sequel would be the opportunity to make the villain ever-present, and even allow players to decide their fate.
“I think villains is a very convenient term,” says Troy Baker, the actor behind Far Cry 4’s villain, Pagan Min. “I would choose the word antagonist rather than villain. Because especially with Pagan, he’s not a villain. He’s the most caring, benevolent… a bit temperamental… all he wants to be is a good king.”
Pagan Min is the opposite of Vaas. Inspired by how many Japanese movies, such as Ichi the Killer, present villains as sharp and well-presented, Min is an eloquent, thespian-like monarch dressed in a flamboyant suit. But he was built upon Far Cry 3’s success; just like Vaas, Min was also designed to encourage players to think about the path their actions lead them down.
“I think it’s interesting because he’s a tinpot dictator,” says Alex Hutchinson, Creative Director of Far Cry 4. “He’s a peacock. He wants power. He’s driven by selfish desires. But strangely enough, if you think about the player in a lot of Far Cry games, so are they. They are imposing themselves in the environment. They are stopping a murderer by murdering people.
“There’s a lot of similarities between the player and the villains,” he continues. “So having [Pagan] talk about that, and challenge the player on why they’re there and what they want to do, felt like an interesting way to have the player question their own motivations.”
While there are distinct similarities in the ways Vaas and Pagan Min fit into the plot and themes of their respective games, the team working on Far Cry 4 wanted to go beyond the successes of its predecessor.
“I think there’s always a tendency whenever you have success to try and pick it apart, and figure out what worked and what didn’t work,” says Hutchinson. “Obviously Vaas was terrific in Far Cry 3. I think the biggest thing, to go along with that though, was that Vaas was barely in Far Cry 3. He disappears relatively quickly. It felt like a missed opportunity. So I think everyone knew it was a great angle for Far Cry to focus on the villain as much as the hero, but this time, to make it a much bigger part of the game.”
“So much of the interaction that you have with Pagan comes through just being on the radio, or hearing them on phone calls,” says Baker. “He’s this omniscient presence without ever really being personally visible. You may see him in effigies around the country, but it’s more about the relationship that you have through these conversations. And every single one of those that we did was always revealing, somehow revelatory, not only who Pagan is, but where he came from, what the history of Kyrat was, why [protagonist] Ajay is here.”
“It’s hard in video games, because there isn’t much of a history,” Hutchinson acknowledges. “You turn up and the villain is there, so they can feel paper thin or artificial. So we wanted someone who was responsive. That led to all of the various different endings and alternate moments in the game, which were there to respond to questions that the player might have. So for me, he’s a mirror and a reflection of the player’s behavior.”
You can’t say that Pagan is not one of the most memorable villains to ever be in a video game.
Ensuring that Pagan Min felt responsive meant occasionally offering players a choice. In the closing moments of the story they’d be able to choose if he lived or died, but it was important to demonstrate that the players’ relationship with the antagonist had a level of flexibility from the very start. As such, the development team built a game-altering choice into Far Cry 4’s opening sequence. After being captured and taken to his palace, Pagan Min asks you to wait at the dinner table while he goes to deal with some terrorists. At this point, you’re free to escape the palace and start the main storyline. But there’s another option; you can simply do exactly as Pagan Min asked.
“If you just wait, then the game ends,” enthuses Baker. “You can just jump straight to the end. And what I thought was beautiful was this idea of narratively baking in an alternate ending that is still canon, that still leads to the same point, just a different version of it, if you just do what you’re supposed to do. And what that does to me is it actually flips the story and Ajay becomes the villain of his own story. And that is just something that games don’t do.”
“I was realising that video game characters are always lying to you, and the player assumes that they’re lying, too,” Hutchinson recalls. “We thought, ‘What if the villain was telling the truth?’ So this initial moment where it’s the first cinematic that you’ve seen in the game, if the player actually does what they’re being asked to do, we should pay that off.”
For that branching moment to be successful, though, Pagan Min had to make a huge impact on the player within the first few minutes of the game. The set-up, the script, and Troy Baker’s performance had to sell the idea that this dictator – and his world – were worth investing in. Only a player that could believe Pagan Min was offering a genuine choice would sit and enjoy the crab rangoon.
Within the first five minutes of Far Cry 4, Pagan Min brutally murders one of his own men using a ball-point pen. He then, in almost an instant, turns on a smile for a selfie opportunity. These polar opposite actions present him as a fascinating enigma to be cracked. Baker needed to sell that duality while performing on a motion capture stage that was empty aside from some stacked boxes and wooden props.
“I could see all of it,” Baker says. “I could see the bus. I could see Ajay. I could see the helicopter. I could see the blood. I could see the shoes. I saw the pen. And there’s very few moments that that happens. A lot of times you’re like, ‘I hope it’s good’ and you wait years sometimes to actually see that come into fruition. But that was one of those moments where we all stopped and we knew that we were done. We knew that what we had just put into the can was something that was like, ‘We’re going to tear shit up. We really are going to say something with this game.’
“For good or for bad, you can’t say that we didn’t make a great game and you can’t say that Pagan is not one of the most memorable villains to ever be in a video game,” he confidently adds.
Troy Baker was nominated for a BAFTA for his portrayal of Pagan Min, and the character was praised by fans and critics alike. It’s arguable that Ubisoft didn’t quite recapture the lightning – Vaas is still cited as the series’ best villain in numerous rankings across the internet – but the Far Cry 3 formula certainly worked. It’s interesting, then, that the 2016 spin off Far Cry Primal abandoned any interest in strong, front-of-the-box villains.
Regardless of if that was a mistaken judgement or simply an attempt at something different, centrepiece villains would be back with full force in 2018’s Far Cry 5. Furthermore, it would mark the next step in the series’ quest for compelling foes, with a focus on making evil feel even more human and relatable. To that end, Far Cry 5’s villain would be from a nation deeply familiar to many players: America.
The shift from exotic lands to the more familiar United States resulted in a very different tone for Far Cry 5. Rather than dealing with wild, violent antagonists, the development team targeted a quieter, more insidious form of evil. Joseph Seed is the leader of a Doomsday cult, inspired by America’s past struggles with groups like Peoples Temple and the Manson Family. This new villain, known by his disciples as The Father, was intended to be a significant departure from the likes of Vaas and Pagan Min.
“It was really tough at the start,” says Drew Holmes, Lead Writer of Far Cry 5. “Because going back to the previous two characters, we knew that we didn’t want to repeat that one more time. So it was, ‘Okay, how can we make him feel terrifying without having to stand here and point a gun in your face and threaten to kill you all the time?’
“I think we knew that in terms of the temperature of the character, we wanted him to be spooky,” he adds. “In a lot of ways that’s how he comes across. It didn’t feel like he was going to be a believable cult leader if he was just being Vaas and going out, shooting up a bunch of people, and clearly being insane. So that was the baseline, but it didn’t gel at all, really, until we got Greg’s audition.”
“They reached out to my agent about coming in to audition for this video game,” recalls Greg Bryk, who plays Joseph Seed. “And foolishly I said no, just out of hand. I hadn’t played a game since I was a kid, and I had no idea how far the storytelling aspect had come.
I think that the best villains are the most relatable villains, because we all have that darkness in us.
“Then they asked if I would at least read some of a monologue that Drew Holmes had written,” he continues. “I started reading and I was just blown away. The first couple of sentences of this monologue was talking about being 23 and pregnant with this child. I got my wife pregnant in theatre school when I was 23. And just this idea of not being ready and not feeling that you were worthy to become a father, and being broke, just being a nobody from nowhere with nothing. That really resonated with me. And then the way the monologue unfolded was so dark and beautiful that I fell in love with the writing right away.”
“The minute that we opened up Greg’s audition tape, it was chilling,” Holmes remembers. “I think that he really understood that character. And he has a lot of empathy for that character, despite all of the madness. Ultimately, I think that it wouldn’t work without him bringing so much to that role.”
“I think what made the character scary is that I could be honest with it, and I could reveal a lot of myself in the character,” Bryk says. “I think that the best villains are the most relatable villains, because we all have that darkness in us. We all have a danger that can come out in the right circumstances. So that was the challenge, to just ground myself in him as a human being first and foremost, and let the villainy take care of itself.
“I believe almost every word that came out of my mouth in that game,” he admits. “That could be Greg talking, Greg delivering those sermons. Just so much of it felt real and timely and important, and things that I had been thinking about in my own life.”
The team’s desire to create a more emotionally-driven villain altered Far Cry’s power structure. Joseph Seed surrounds himself with devoted people, compensating for his troubled childhood. His siblings – John, Jacob, and Faith – act as his lieutenants and closest followers. Players must find and kill each of these family members in order to emotionally devastate Seed. And then, in his weakest moment, they can complete their goal of arresting him.
“I felt very connected to the material,” says Bryk while reminiscing about filming that late-game moment. “There was a vulnerability and emotion to it that was right. And then we were getting to the final [scene before Seed’s arrest]. I was doing it and it was good, but it just needed something. He becomes that six year old abandoned, beaten, abused child again, and his whole world has been torn apart. He’s in this rage at the player for doing that to me, for taking that which I love away from me.
“I asked them to stop, and I stepped away from the chair where we were shooting for a moment, and I found something from my past,” he recalls. “It just came up, just bloomed in me. This very dark black rose bloomed, and I just launched into it. And in the studio in Toronto, there’s a subway that goes by every once in a while that ruins every take. So if it happens, you just have to go again.”
“We had been getting closer and closer to when the train was going to go, and Greg’s in the middle of this scene and everyone is just… you don’t want to say a sound because it’s an incredible performance,” says Holmes as he recounted his memory of the day. “We kept pushing and kept pushing him.”
“I can remember that I flew into it, and the snot and the tears, all of that was just happening, and it ended, and it was dead silent on the set,” says Bryk. “And then the train went past. And Dan [Hay, Far Cry 5’s Creative Director], had been holding his breath the whole time. And he turned to the renderers who were watching, and he said, ‘Everything goes in that. The snot, all of it. Do not sanitise this performance in any way.’”
For every Far Cry villain before Joseph Seed, the end of the game marked the end of their story. But for the first time in the series, Ubisoft created a direct sequel to Far Cry 5, and Joseph Seed returned in Far Cry: New Dawn. Once again, he’s forced to endure the loss of a family member at the hands of the player, this time his son, Ethan. This gave Bryk another opportunity to deliver an emotionally charged performance.
“I knew that I wanted to carry my son away,” says Bryk. “I wanted to carry him. This is a weird thing about actors, but you steal things from your life. I had a dog that I loved, this Boxer dog named Lucky who died when I was away in Copenhagen doing a convention. He had this massive heart attack and he died, and I didn’t carry him out.
“He was my guy, and I wasn’t there when he was dead, to carry him to the vet for his cremation,” Bryk continues. “I missed that moment. I think now, actually, that I wanted to have a moment of honoring the dead. So I really fought for that moment. ‘Let me carry my son out. Let me carry him, because he’s mine. That’s my responsibility and you have to take that on.’”
In Joseph Seed, Ubisoft found an opportunity to create a more realistically disturbing villain. By drawing on real-world cult influences, Far Cry 5 traded edge-of-your-seat theatrics for an absorbing and chilling presence. Three years later, Ubisoft is once again returning to the well of real-world history to find inspiration for the latest Far Cry villain. This time, the roots of the villain have been found in Cuban history books, as Far Cry 6’s antagonist is a Latin American tyrant. And, thanks to the huge success of the series over the years, Ubisoft has built enough clout to be able to have this tyrant be played by one of the most famous and popular villain actors of the last decade.
“It really started from character to be honest,” says Navid Khavari, Narrative Director on Far Cry 6. “Pedigree or what they’d done wasn’t really on our mind. And so when we were looking at character and mapping out the story, I became a bit obsessed with the idea of what it would be like to sit in the living room of a dictator. Away from cameras, away from propaganda, and sit in a room with them and just ask, ‘Why? How can you do this? Why are you doing this?’ And so in our minds when we began asking ourselves who’s going to bring the charm, the gravitas, the craft to a performance that would be able to answer that question, enter Giancarlo Esposito.”
“Folks from Ubisoft reached out to me and asked me if I would be interested,” says Giancarlo Esposito, who plays dictator Antón Castillo in Far Cry 6. “And I said it sounded fantastic and I absolutely would.”
“I was working on a film at the time and I remember trying to figure out what I would go in there and look like,” he continues. “I didn’t want to be referring to any character I’ve ever played before. I was concerned that they may want me to do a repeat performance of a very nefarious person that I played before. Well, they didn’t.”
“I had been writing with him in mind for a little while,” Khavari admits. “So actually sitting in front of them in that meeting in New York was super surreal because it was like, ‘Okay, well now you’re in front of me, that’s odd. Okay, let’s talk’. And it ended up being something like four hours. It was the most prep I’d seen an actor do for our meeting.”
“I remember standing in front of the closet before I went in, thinking ‘Should I wear a really clean suit with a tie? Should I wear a uniform? What should I wear to let these guys know that I had the gravitas?’” Esposito recalls. “And also the idea of creating this person who was not only in control, but had some vulnerability. I chose the suit, by the way. A three-piece suit because it made me feel steady. I always feel when you dress for yourself, you’re dressing for your own power.”
Antón Castillo is inspired by a variety of historical figures, including Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Those influences have shaped an iron-fist ruler whose tyranny sparks a violent revolution, something that makes Far Cry 6’s story particularly politically charged. The series is no stranger to serious stories, but its increasingly outrageous and humorous gameplay has prompted criticism over Far Cry’s ability to tackle its heaviest themes properly. With its murderous roosters and guns that play the Macarena, Far Cry 6 is also under watchful critical eyes. Despite the game’s sillier elements, though, Ubisoft aspires to thoughtfully explore the mind of a dictator.
“We are seeing fascism rise around the world, we are seeing a revolution all throughout the world right now,” Khavari says. “And I think we’re tapping into why is that happening. One of the main themes that we landed on was that we’re never really safe from tyranny. I think in my generation, as I was growing up in the nineties, it never would have crossed my mind as a kid that fascism is a real prescient sort of danger, but you feel it now.
“I think that’s something we wanted to explore,” he says. “And then delving into not so much making a judgment call on the person itself – I can make judgments about what they’re doing every day and that’s my right – but without making a judgment call on the character itself, we want to understand how someone can be brought to that point.”
You’ll find some moments in the game where you’ll be particularly stunned with what he asked his son to do.
“What I wanted to do was make this person human and have him have an obstacle,” Esposito says. “And the obstacle for him was his past. Antón Castillo grew up in a period of time where he witnessed great atrocities. His father was a dictator before him, and then he was taken away from his power, incarcerated for a time, wandering for a time. And during that period, figuring out what he wanted for his people. So I wanted him to be sensitive. I wanted him to be empowering people, but also within the course of the game, to realize that in order to do that, he had to subjugate other people because he has a resource that could bring his whole country enrichment.
“Now I’m not saying a dictator or someone who threatens like that is a good person, but behind it is a good reason,” he adds. “Eventually you will bear the fruit of my labor, because we’re going to keep this country together. Especially during a revolution that’s unproven. At least order is proven with a dictator who comes from a line of dictators, who has an idea and a vision for his country.”
Finding the humanity in a dictator is a tough proposition, but Ubisoft has navigated this by positioning Castillo as a father to a son who doesn’t share his authoritarian values. Castillo’s love for his son provides character depth, while also offering a new reason to fear him.
“You look at pictures of dictators with their families and there’s something deeply disconcerting about it,” Khavari says. “You’re just sort of like, ‘What are you thinking? What are they thinking being around this? What are they really thinking?’ And that was ripe for exploration. I think the idea as well that Antón is someone who’s put this enormous burden on [his son] Diego. Diego is questioning his loyalty to his father, this is a person he loves.”
“I wanted to be a father,” Esposito says. “It’s important that you share values and morality. No matter what that is, we hope it’s good, that it will eventually allow someone to come to their own decision and find their own morality within that. And so that’s compassion, vulnerability, and love. This man loves his son, and his son might disappoint him, but he’s got to be patient enough to realize ‘If I say the right thing and I lead by example and allow my son to know the history of what the country has been through, he will then stand up and fight liberta.’
“You’ll find some moments in the game where you’ll be particularly stunned with what he asked his son to do,” he adds, promising that Castillo’s fatherly values are far from that of the average family.
The casting of Giancarlo Esposito marks the logical eventuality of Far Cry’s evolution of its villains. Game by game, Ubisoft has found increasing nuance in its antagonists, and carefully cast actors capable of conveying that depth. Esposito’s popularity comes from his ability to create complex and human characters that are truly terrifying, and so he’s a perfect fit for Far Cry’s goals.
The ideas and philosophies that have powered the evolution of these antagonists hasn’t just provided Far Cry with better villains, though. They have moulded and shaped what Far Cry is at its very core.
“Far Cry is often about the question of ‘Are we all just animals? Are we all just fighting for our scrap of meat to survive? Is this all a fake construct that we built of morality and is it all just really about me giving into animalistic tendencies?’” says Khavari. “And in a lot of ways that’s the question that Antón is posing. He has a line that he uses throughout the game: ‘Do you want truth or lies?’
“He’s saying I can paint you this beautiful fake picture of why I’m doing what I’m doing, or I can tell you the truth. And in Antón’s eyes the truth is there are lions and there are lambs, there are the rulers and those who will be ruled. And I think that’s a very Far Cry mindset. We’ve just boiled it down into our antagonists, and I think we’re trying to keep that tradition alive.”
The creation of Vaas changed the course of Far Cry forever. It provided the series with an iron-forged identity that influences everything from design to marketing. The fact that Vaas was almost cut from Far Cry entirely only makes this journey even more fascinating. Maybe Far Cry wouldn’t even be here today if it weren’t for that fateful change of direction. But that’s what evolution is; a series of fateful changes and adaptations that ensure survival. And, thanks in no small part to the continual evolution of its villains, Far Cry has definitely survived.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer.
Dale Driver is IGN’s UK Senior Video Producer.