Sporting a shock of platinum hair and a bright pink suit, Pagan Min, flamboyant despot of the Himalayan region of Kyrat, is a fellow who knows how to enter a room.
He also knows how to enter a video game. At E3, Ubisoft focused on the villainous character for its big reveal of Far Cry 4, the latest installment in the popular franchise from its Montreal studio. In the trailer, Min arrives at the scene of a border gunfight to summarily execute one of his guards with a pocket-knife before getting all chummy with the adventure's protagonist.
Ajay Ghale has returned to the country of his birth, from America, to scatter his mother's ashes. There is a general sense of foreboding as Min, a former drug kingpin rumored to have killed his own father, welcomes Ghale like a long-lost brother.
Ubisoft has a history of creating deeply unstable villains, like Far Cry 3's murderous nutcase Vaas. So just how insane is Pagan Min?
"When we built Pagan Min we specifically tried to build someone who is a little bit different," said executive producer Dan Hay, in an interview with VG247. "He's like that friend that everybody has that is really bad for them, that friend who is super dangerous. If you stay friends with that person, you're going to end up either in jail or dead. He is charming. He is intelligent. He is dangerous."
Pagan Min is voiced by actor Troy Baker (Joel from The Last of Us and Booker DeWitt from Bioshock Infinite). According to a recent Comic-Con panel, the developers were inspired by charismatic but unstable warlords in places like 1990s Liberia, such as Joshua Milton Blahyi, who is alleged to have led troops into battle wearing nothing but shoes.
"It was this idea that there were these extreme characters who, in their universe, they seem sane," said creative director Alex Hutchinson. "But if you take them out of context, and put them in our world, they seem very insane."
Far Cry 4, which is due for release on major platforms on Nov. 18, follows the story of Ajay as he clashes with Pagan Min during a bloody civil war. Min's local enemy is also a love rival.
"I don't even know that Pagan Min is insane. I'm not even sure about that," added Hay. "He is just super, super powerful and nobody has said 'no' to him for 20 years. This is a guy who runs his own country. His face is on the money. That kind of power, you can't buy. It can be dangerous.
"You think about the brands of insanity, if you pit Pagan Min in a cell with Vaas, who would win? The reality is, we don't know. The reality is, we want to make sure that every time we do something, we give you different types of characters so it's a different brand of insanity."
"It's interesting to think about what makes Pagan Min tick. He is an enigma. He gives you little slivers into what his thoughts are, but I see them changing all the time. Every once in a while you'll think, he's not so bad, and then he'll kill someone, and you'll think, what does that say about me?"