How Ubisoft has created a visually rich setting in Far Cry 5
The Far Cry games may be known for their blockbuster level of action gameplay, but where they have always managed to excel is in creating breathtakingly beautiful worlds that push the graphical limitations of both the consoles and PCs. To match such a quality, Ubisoft has to do a lot of legwork.
For Far Cry 5, the developers behind the game took a series of trips to Montana, trekking through small towns and wilderness locations where they not only got to know its ecosystem, wildlife and people but managed to take thousands of photos, many of which helped with the photogrammetry aspect of the game’s development. With it, they were able to create lifelike 3D objects from trees, vegetation and people, perhaps delivering the most detailed environments seen to date in a video game.
For those that are not aware, Photogrammetry is a popular method that various developers have used for games like Resident Evil 7, Battlefront and Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain with Death Stranding another upcoming to game to heavily make use of it.
It involves taking detailed photos of objects or actors from various angles that are then fed to an algorithm that creates a rough 3D mesh of the object from the given data. At this day and age even smart phones are capable of taking such photos, however it does not make it any less technical as a lot of cleanup and patching is required in order to make an asset “game ready”. When done right, the added effort does end up making everything look more realistic and believable.
Regarding Far Cry 5, there was a specific incident that started giving more depth to the game world when the photogrammetry phase managed to catch something interesting. “When Richard, our lead on biomes, came back and scanned a birch, there was actually a heart shape with initials and names, and we’re like ‘this is awesome!‘” said Associate Producer Philippe Fournier. “This is the level of detail you can find in some of the assets. We can tweak it and make it story-based, but getting that sort of detail is definitely a first for us.”
Not to mention, The team’s photos ended up informing not just the look of Far Cry 5’s environments, but the way the game world itself was structured. Like the real Montana, Far Cry 5’s landscape is dotted with road signs and billboards, and they aren’t just set dressing; they’re there to organically alert you to where you are, direct you to specific businesses or locations that might be of help, and even unlock Intel about good fishing spots. And a big part of making those messages stick out is through branding.
“Every logo is almost a character in and of itself,” says Fournier. “You’re always asking, ‘what’s the history behind that? Who’s the owner? What’s next, where can I find this person? I see there’s a shop, maybe I can find this shop somewhere?’ And it attracts you to go and find it, so it ties into the exploration of the world as you see those signs.”
Branding around the town both business and nature wise also managed to inspire an identity for the resistance group that is built up by the protagonist in the game. This was something that stemmed from the Hope County Cougars, a local baseball team whose sign and logo spread to pennants and promotional calendars within game.
“During production, we came to ‘who are the rebels, what are their logos?‘” says Beauchemin. “We took that baseball team. It’s a team of people that are really grounded in the region, so it’s normal that the rebels would take that as their logo, so let’s go for it. And then the narrative added to that with a character that’s all about the baseball team, and we can go into someone’s house and we know that guy was playing for the Cougars a long time ago.”
With how much hard-work appears to have been done with the game’s research and pre-production, it is evident that the backdrop given to players throughout Far Cry 5 will not only be visually rich but will have depth as well. Not to mention it will be teaming with wildlife such as bears, wolves, Moose, etc.
The game will be available for the PC, PS4 and Xbox One on the 27th of February and will allow players to complete the entire campaign with friends if they so wish.