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Far Cry 6 writer: Yeah, our game is political

‘A story about a modern revolution must be,’ says narrative director, whose family fled one in real life

three people, two of them old men and one a boy between them, acknowledging each other silently in Far Cry 6 Image: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Far Cry 6’s story is unequivocally “political,” the game’s narrative director says. It’s a pivot from the previous stance Ubisoft developers have claimed in seeking to avoid controversy leading up to their AAA game launches.

“Our story is political. A story about a modern revolution must be,” Navid Khavari said in a statement posted on Monday. Far Cry 6 is set in the fictitious island nation of Yara, which is an analogue for Cuba under its communist regime of the past 62 years.

“But if anyone is seeking a simplified, binary political statement specifically on the current political climate in Cuba, they won’t find it,” Khavari said.

Previously, Ubisoft developers took pains to distance big-budget games like Far Cry 5, about a white separatist cult in rural Montana, and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, involving a government agency maintaining order in a time of anarchy, from any political messaging or symbolism.

Many found the publisher’s claims hard to believe, given those games’ settings and characters. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, a 2018 game set in ancient Greece, also seemed to take on sociopolitical themes in some of its missions.

Khavari’s post seemed to answer a preview published Friday by TheGamer, in which Khavari said Ubisoft developers “actually went down there [to Cuba] to speak to actual guerrilla fighters who fought back then, and we just really fell in love with their stories.”

However, Khavari also said “our game doesn’t want to make a political statement about what’s happening in Cuba specifically.” TheGamer headlined its original preview with that statement, which echoed the apolitical dodges Ubisoft developers made earlier.

Khavari has been a writer for Ubisoft since 2014, with credits on Far Cry 5, Far Cry Primal, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and Assassin’s Creed Unity. His family fled Iran’s 1979 revolution for Canada, where he grew up and went to university. “I am from a family that has endured the consequences of revolution,” Khavari wrote. “I have debated revolution over the dinner table my entire life. I can only speak for myself, but it is a complex subject that should never be boiled down to one quote.”

Preview trailers of Far Cry 6 show Yara to be a nation beset by civil demonstrations and rioting, which authoritarian leader Anton Castillo is suppressing violently. Khavari said Far Cry 6 will have “hard, relevant discussions … about the conditions that lead to the rise of fascism in a nation, the costs of imperialism, forced labor, the need for free-and-fair elections, LGBTQ+ rights, and more.”

“My goal was to empower our team to be fearless in the story we were telling, and we worked incredibly hard to do this over the last five years,” he said. ‘We also tried to be very careful about how we approached our inspirations, which include Cuba, but also other countries around the world that have experienced political revolutions in their histories.”

Polygon spoke to Far Cry 6 lead designer David Grivel last week, and Grivel also said the Ubisoft Toronto team visited Cuba to study the country as a model for Yara. In an interview, Grivel spoke more about the culture of a nation that has been cut off, economically, by a superpower nation’s 60-year embargo. This has given rise to a spirit of improvisation and innovation, which manifests in the customized weapons players carry in the game.

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