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You're a Far Cry from Home, Mate - An Impassioned Bid to Make Australia Far Cry 5's Open-World Playground
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 11:21am 14/01/15 | Comments
Australia is a perfect setting for Ubisoft's much-loved Far Cry series, as Stephen Farrelly explores and explains...

Dear Far Cry teams of Ubisoft Montreal and Toronto,

Welcome to Australia.

Yes, Far Cry 4 has shipped and yes you’re likely not really thinking about anything but supporting the game post-release, but I’m here today as an ambassador for Australia, urging you to set Far Cry 5 in our homeland. I have a very strong case as to why you should heavily consider this request, too.

Did you know, seven of the top 10 deadliest snakes in the world are Australian? The Inland Taipan (or Fierce Snake), the world’s most dangerous snake, was first encountered in the late 1800s but remained an elusive animal until its rediscovery in the early 1970s. The indigenous Australians call it “Dandarabilla” and its bite is so lethal, a single nip has enough venom to drop 100 grown men. It is especially adapted to hunting mammals. Humans, as you know, are mammals.

"They’re also known for their aggressive tenacity and can paralyse a victim with a single bite...”

While Fierce Snake is an elusive predator, the Eastern Brown Snake is far more common, and runs into the paths of humans relatively often, both rurally and in more built-up urban settings. They’re also known for their aggressive tenacity and can paralyse a victim with a single bite. They’ve been recorded as having the second-most toxic venom of any land snake in the world, and they have a bad temper around humans.

We have others, too. But we’re not just a land of deadly snakes.

Next-gen power should mean a greater emphasis on the little things, right? We have lots of little things in Australia, lots of little things that bite, crawl and sting. The Funnel Web Spider, for example, is one of the most toxic spiders in the world. They also thrive in urban settings, and are often found in the back gardens of Sydneysiders. Back gardens where children play, adults toil and humans go about being human.

Australia has plenty of its own monster legends and sightings. Perhaps the most famous creature lurking in our country though, is the Yowie. The Yowie is comparable to the Himalayan Yeti and the North American Sasquatch and is most often sighted in the eastern states of Australia. NSW's Blue Mountains region - some 90-minutes outside of Sydney is a hot-spot for encounters with the creature.
Although more venomous, the Funnel Web is really only found in Sydney, but our Red Back Spiders are spread all over the country. They’ve been found in sheds and garages, dog kennels and mailboxes. They’ve also been found under toilet seats.

The Australian Paralysis Tick, an eastern native blood-sucker is also a dangerous groupie -- following you around, sucking your blood sometimes for days before you even realise it’s there. The tick’s saliva -- its most dangerous part -- has the ability to trigger severe allergic reactions with some unsuspecting victims even going into anaphylactic shock. This tick, which starts feeding time the size of a small grain of rice, will bloat to the size of a large garden pea and has claimed plenty of victims since its discovery, though none in modern times. Still, death isn’t the only thing to fear from any nips from our creepy-crawlies meaning danger could still lurk in ways your series explored way back in Far Cry 2. Healing shouldn’t just be a matter of holding down a button in a game fraught with danger at every turn.

At sea and in our waterways, of course, things remain as bullish on the danger front as ever. Great White Sharks are obviously an apex predator not specific to Australia but populate our coastal water more than almost any other country, while our local Tiger Sharks have also been known to show heightened aggression towards anything that moves in their home turf. And while a bite from either is not something anyone wants to deal with, you can at least know that they’re confined to the open waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The same can’t be said of our Bull Sharks though, which often manage to find their way into our freshwater rivers and inland waterways. In fact, Australian Bull Sharks have even been found at Brisbane’s Carbrook Golf Club, living in its (fresh) water-feature lake. It’s believed a flood in the 90s saw two major rivers (obviously housing Bull Sharks) overflow into the course’s lake where the animals now live and thrive with no access to salt water anywhere (completely debunking a debunked myth from Aussie shark experts Ron and Valerie Taylor that sharks aren’t capable of surviving in fresh water).

Have you heard of “Salties”, Ubi? You might have, given that Far Cry 3 featured crocs. In Australia their abundance is fast becoming an issue, even for urban residents in our more northern provinces as a result of it being illegal to hunt or cull them. Each year the largest reptile on the planet kills an average of two people, but has been known to stalk and hunt many more. While it’s arguable sharks don’t have a predilection towards humans as far as feeding goes, Salties are known man-eaters and many tourists have fallen prey to their millennia-perfected hunting techniques. They also have the strongest bite of any animal in the world, measuring an incredible near two tons of pressure. By comparison, the Great White’s bite force is measured at just over 2000lb of pressure. Also, unlike the shark world, the more aggressive males in the crocodile family are also the largest, with the biggest Saltie in Australia ever caught (and kept in captivity) coming in at 5.48 metres long. He is also believed to be 110 years old. We call him Cassius.

"Some marine biologists believe this ocular setup, alongside the Stinger’s deliberate propulsion around potential prey, means they actively hunt...”

Maximum Car Culture
Mad Max is perhaps the best poster-child for Australia's obsession with vehicles, but it should be known that car culture runs deep in our veins. Our V8 Supercars are things of legend, while our modern and classic cars are points of pride to the average Aussie.

There's a lot that could be explored in this space given the vehicular nature of the Far Cry series, and it's something that would really help a game set in Australia stand out.
Sharp teeth aren’t the only hazards we face in our waters though, with nasties like the Blue-Ringed Octopus (the only octopus known to use venom on its victims -- a venom so deadly it’s roughly 100 times more poisonous than cyanide), the most poisonous fish in the world, the Reef Stonefish (whose venom is so toxic and painful, morphine is reportedly incapable of even taking the edge off) and pesky jellyfish, including the Irukandji Jellyfish and the deadly Box Jellyfish -- affectionately known here as a “Stinger”. Stingers have roughly 15 long tentacles and each of these contains thousands of stinging cells. Stingers also have sophisticated vision, with an array of eyes on either side of their signature box-shaped body -- some of those eyes even have a lens, cornea and an iris. Some marine biologists believe this ocular setup, alongside the Stinger’s deliberate propulsion around potential prey, means they actively hunt. A theory that bucks against the regularly accepted notion that they’re just hapless, floating opportunists. Both of the aforementioned jellyfish can easily kill a human.

Our sunburnt country is perhaps an overlooked danger of its own though, and diversity here is key -- especially in the consideration of building an open-world game around our ancient land.

Anecdotally, a young man was recently bitten by a shark while surfing. That man had to take “the long way around” to be airlifted to the closest hospital for help, because the shortest route from the beach he was surfing at to civilisation was across a large stretch of sand dunes -- dunes riddled with sunbaking snakes. Think about that for a moment -- from beach to desert, in a hop, skip and a jump, with the first two legs of that journey carrying life-threatening dangers. While our country is large, it’s not uncommon to not have to travel far to go between landscape extremes like tropics, bush, swamp, mangrove, desert, waterways, cliffs and canyons, as well as urban areas.

Our Bushranger Past
Australia's wild history could make for a compelling narrative for a Far Cry game. Bushrangers were Robin Hood-like figures; social misfits who turned their backs on authority. Using the bush as their base, they robbed banks and coaches, and are romanticised today as warriors who fought injustice. Our most famous Bushranger is Ned Kelly whose signature metal helmet is recognised the world over.
We also don’t have danger-locked radio towers in Australia -- a good thing that will benefit the design of the next Far Cry, Ubisoft. Trust me.

There’s a native plant that grows mainly in the northern-easterly parts of Australia called the Gympie-Gympie. It’s one of four known stinging plants that grow in Australia and its sting has been described as feeling like you’re “being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time”. The plant is laced with tiny stinging hairs that essentially become hypodermic needles once they’ve been removed from the plant. Brushing up against its innocent-looking large heart-shaped leaves is enough to do this and there’s very little you can do to alleviate the pain, or even remove the stinging hairs. Often a brash response to this breaks the hairs off at the skin, leaving tips embedded in whatever part of your body you brushed up against it. This could be the beginning of a true game-changing element to movement through your lush, gorgeous game-worlds in the series, Ubisoft. You know, making traversal a point of care and skill for players.

"Wombats are more dangerous through the burrows they dig deep in the ground, leaving traps for unsuspecting hikers and walkers to fall or trip in...”

It should be said, however, that it’s not all about danger Down Under. We have one of the most diverse animal populations in the world, with myriad mammalian and marsupial critters the rest of the world adores, that aren’t all that aggressive. Kangaroos are capable of hurting people, but often ignore humans despite coming into cities and towns regularly. The cuddly Koala is also a signature animal of our great land, but spends most of its time atop trees high on the eucalyptus leaves it consumes at a steady rate (though when not, they’re quite tenacious). Wombats are more dangerous through the burrows they dig deep in the ground, leaving traps for unsuspecting hikers and walkers to fall or trip in. Dingoes -- a non-native dog breed introduced to Australia upon white settlement (the facts around this are still debated though), is the largest terrestrial predator we have, and hunts and moves in packs. Legends do exist of puma and mountain lions that escaped captivity from circuses or private collections, now living wild in Australia, but none of these legends have ever been proven.

Thanks to our 40,000-plus years-old native peoples though, Australia is actually full of legend and myths. Indigenous Australians have passed down stories and art for tens of thousands of years and speak to, and passionately believe in, the “Dreamtime” -- a magical, ethereal place where the land and its people are effectively one; sharing a symbiotic relationship of mutual give and take and where the past, present and future exist as one. It could be visited during sleep in your dreams or through other altered states and is also considered the final stop in your lifetime upon death, before reincarnation.

And “reincarnation” is an apt place to round this all out. Above is a (small) list of tantalising ingredients that could bear wonderful design returns for your much-loved series, but what’s left is how you decide to approach it. The past two games have, for better or worse, been built on the same formula -- some of that works, and some doesn’t. In Australia there is no militant group you could apply to the open run and gun play the series embraces, but mining is huge here, and it could be a chance to Bond the experience out. A ruthless, rich powerbroker as your tried and tested big-bad, running illegal mines or scaremongering a small town surrounded in all corners by a mix of the terrain above would make for a brilliant setting. It’s not my place to assume I know how to make Far Cry 5 better, I can just tell you what isn’t working anymore in the series, and hope that with the right approach in what the team nails, a more ambitious and universally-accepted game could be the result.

"you should be looking at Australia for inspiration where the series’ characters and personality is concerned...”

Making the environment a character that is both friend and foe would be a huge step in open-world games in general, and while Far Crys 3 and 4 upped the aggro animal ante (and then some), traipsing about the jungle or Himalayas with no other concern tends to deaden the lush worlds you’re attempting to bring to life. And your worlds need to be about character.

A quick glance at Australian media can give you a seriously important look and spin on how we reflect our own place in the world. Mad Max, Chopper, Red Dog, Rogue, Razorback, Malcolm, Wake in Fright, Wolf Creek, The Man from Snowy River, Animal Kingdom, the recent The Rover, the upcoming Wyrmwood, and even Crocodile Dundee are all great examples of how the Aussie personality is a larger-than-life one that we celebrate for good and for bad. In fact, in listing and thinking about those representations and your ‘psychos’ throughout the last two games, it’s almost written in stone Ayers Rock (or, actually Uluru) that you should be looking at Australia for inspiration where the series’ characters and personality is concerned.

The Far Cry experience is usually one about a fish out of water, and I can’t imagine a better platform for that concept than the land Down Under. If you want to hang on to your spiritual, visual tangents, there’s no better place to start than with the Aboriginal Dreamtime. If you want the game’s animals and ecology to be a peripheral -- but important -- focus, our unique fauna and plant-life is perfect. If you want varying, challenging and visually stunning landscapes, watch any tourism advertisement featuring Australia. If you want to connect an environment with the world, that it both fears and acknowledges, speak to any Aussie-bound Pom leaving the dreary, rainy cobblestones of the UK. And if you want a game wrapped in character, personality and a theme untouched in the world of games, you really cannot go past our great Southern Land.

There is no more unique place in the world than Australia and what Far Cry needs in moving forward is something new and fresh, challenging and beautiful. An inviting place full of hidden and glaring dangers, like a real-life videogame dungeon, sans structure. How a game hasn’t been built around Australia yet baffles me, and this feature has highlighted effectively how wrong that is. Please broach this travesty, Ubisoft. You’re our only hope, mate.

Latest Comments
Posted 02:51pm 14/1/15
good idea. are there any really successful games set in straya?

base it across the North to NW regions from Kakadu through to Dampier.

they should use Drop Bears as the new Honey Badgers!

for towers they could make Telstra the bad guy and we could unlock their mobile towers.

They will use this them song i assume.

Posted 03:09pm 14/1/15
Awesome idea. Liking FC4 but a Far Cry set in Australia would be great.
Posted 03:17pm 14/1/15
Will never happen. There are a hundred more interesting places to set the next FarCry.

good idea. are there any really successful games set in straya?

Yeah Diggers Fall.
Posted 03:56pm 14/1/15
I have actually been on the Ubisoft forums lately asking them to put some Aussie history into the next Assassins Creed. Apparently it is going to be based in England in the 1800s so why cant we catch a slave ship to the colonies here back then? So sick of no Aussie love in game development.
Posted 03:57pm 14/1/15
I'd rather their dinosaur island idea be the next Far Cry than Australia.
Posted 05:12pm 14/1/15
venomous snakes and invertebrates are frightening in real life but in a video game? they don't exactly have the same impact as a charging rhino, elephant, tiger etc. oh look a brown snake better walk around it, oh look another snake, oh look a another... you get my point.

i would also like to see them do a dinosaur/Jurassic park theme
Posted 05:30pm 14/1/15
I'd like to point out that great white sharks are not apex predators, since killer whales prey on them.
Posted 05:32pm 14/1/15
Yeah but think about all the truly awful Australian accents that would be in the game!
Posted 05:33pm 14/1/15
Posted 05:59pm 14/1/15
Oh my god this would be amazing.
Posted 07:52pm 14/1/15
Mad max? Wait no.. that was terrible.
Posted 09:03pm 14/1/15
Yeah but think about all the truly awful Australian accents that would be in the game!

I'll never buy it coz uplay sux but were I to die and wake up in another person's body who lacked a brain and I actually bought it, I'd hope at least one person yelled out "CRIKEY", before you shoot him through the chest.
Posted 09:23pm 14/1/15
Did you know, seven of the top 10 deadliest snakes in the world are Australian? The inland taipan (or Fierce Snake), the world’s most dangerous snake,
How many people has this "deadly" snake killed... if you guessed zero you'd be pretty damn close.

Australia has the some of the most venomous snakes, their kill count is f*****g woeful though,.
Posted 02:35am 15/1/15
A good place to set it is South East Queensland. There's rainforests, beaches, urban areas, city areas and the local regime is massively corrupt which is always a must for a open world game.
Posted 03:53am 15/1/15
I don't think its a great idea. I want a Snow region for the next game. We have had 2 tropical setting, Afrtica and now a mountainous region. Its time to change it up a bit.

My idea would be Russia or some other snowy place. Could even use North or South Pole. As for enemies, you could be fighting an oil drilling company and the mercs it pays for protection. Towers could be Oil Derricks or something. It could be a bit bland visually, with just snow but it depends on where you set it. If set in Russia, half of the map could be cold and snowy plains and the other half could be wet and cold forests. Something to that effect. But not 'Straya please.
Posted 08:28am 15/1/15
The gun culture and political stability in Australia could really work well to make the worlds most boring game.
Posted 11:24am 15/1/15
I dunno, sure we have some very dangerous spiders and snakes, but they don't really lend themselves well to shooter gameplay. And the setting could just end up feeling a lot like the Africa one outside of that.

Personally, I've always thought an Australian GTA style game would be great, set like the 60's/70's type of thing. Remember that movie Dirty Deeds? I always thought that sort of setting would make a great GTA style game.
Posted 01:40pm 15/1/15
Yeah, I think it's safe to say it's a fail idea. My votes for the Congo.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 04:08pm 15/1/15
It's not a verbatim idea though - the places are fictional, so you can still play with how it's structured. I really don't see how no one can see the diversity of AU as being a negative. You talk about small animals, meaning all anyone wants is the larger ones, meaning you don't want change. The tail-end of the feature points out that open-worlds need to stop being static platforms, and a system players need to think about - in an Aussie-based game, built on even a few things I mentioned would mean you couldn't just run through the game-world without consequence. It would change how you approach conflicts; you couldn't use a muddy waterway to stay out of sight at night, for example, for fear of crocs or bull sharks.

these games need something new, and a reacting and dangerous environment that isn't enemies with guns or just tigers you can eventually kill isn't it. Having to monitor insect bites and fevers and more would really create a tense experience IMO
Posted 07:50pm 15/1/15
Having to monitor insect bites
yeah im pretty sure that malaria was the most universally loved part of far cry 2.
Posted 07:57pm 15/1/15

Having to monitor insect bites

Steve, you have lost the plot.
Posted 08:18pm 15/1/15
Every time you have an itch a QTE happens that determines whether you scratch the itch or not.
Posted 11:54pm 15/1/15
I think set in Aus would work well, and remember to all non-aussies Aus is a mysterious and wondrous dangerland filled with walking, crawling, slithering, swimming, flying death traps.

Having said that, I would absolutely love a dinosaur one, been thinking about that for a while!
Posted 03:07am 16/1/15
If it were set in Aus you could have your character fight with aboriginal freedom fighters against the white man for control of their land lol. Or perhaps big mining companies trying to swoop in and take the uranium mines and such. You could do things like smuggling runs for...medicinal liquids for the native peoples.
Posted 05:25am 16/1/15
Least I can play one AAA game with some Aussie love. Been racing around Bathurst in my Holden Xbox Racing Team VF Commodore lately and they have a whole V8 Supercars series to complete in Forza Motorsport 5.
Posted 07:32pm 18/1/15
it would be pretty hard to have that sort of chaos going on in Australia :L
I reckon the character we play as would need to have no identity what so ever.
make the game in the Northern Territory and Use the Myth that there is supposed to be some big underground American facility under pine gap which is more central Australia.
have police and our society.
make the story where the main character gets exposed to information about the facility, the Americans are bad guys (for once) and he has to take their operation down. so like gta and farcry interfused pretty much because lets face it Australia may be diverse in a lot of ways but the only way you get combat on a farcry scale in Australia to look good is if we were invaded or the above plot!! or maybe invasion would be better like the movie/story: tomorrow when the war began which is set in Australia????
Posted 09:58pm 20/1/15
lol Diggers Fall.
Posted 12:36pm 09/2/15
This could be either totally brilliant or close-to-racist crap. The big dumb occa Australian can be seen in so much media it sucks, that said if they take from Crocodile Dundee, and really get to know the real Australians and the "tough Aussie worker fair go spirit" it could be really good! Also everything here can kill you so that's a plus too lol
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