This is what the developers are calling the construction of the Anecdote Factory. Far Cry 4 has a narrative and plot, sure, but the developers are fully aware that the most important aim in the game's design is to gift players as much freedom to roam through the environment causing as much mayhem and exploring as much of its content as possible. This is the time sink that's bait for players to stay glued to Far Cry 4 long into the night.
"The interesting lesson we learned was that we'd made a game that had very interesting characters and a very layered story, but the reality is, the player didn't need to care about any of that," says Hay. "Players want to play the game their way and have their own fun."
In order to maintain that level of fun, Far Cry 4's developers are pushing the new-gen hardware right to the edge. On the surface, there's a lot about Far Cry 4 that will strike players as familiar – the guns, the crafting, the leveling and certain progress mechanics (such as unlocking the map using radar towers) – but the environment in the game is structured in such a way that many of the NPC AI's look at the world the same way the player does. They see opportunities and they exploit them, making them harder for the player to simply roll over.
"The player pushes against the world and like nature, the world kicks back – and hard!" says Hay.
"Freedom and opportunity and surprise; those are the ingredient of the Anecdote Factory, " says Hay. "Those are the three things we boil down to make the elixir of Far Cry."
In just a few moments, one can see what a heady elixir this is. Picture the scene. A player approaches a radar tower in a gyrocopter. Instead of landing on the ground and climbing up the side of the structure, they land on the roof. They drop down a level and hack the tower as volleys of bullets stream up at them from the soldiers below. Instead of take a zip line down to the ground, they hurl themselves off the tower, deploy a wingsuit and glide down the valley, landing in front of a truck filled with enemies. As the NPCs take cover behind the truck and begin firing at the player, they haul out an RPG and send their enemies to hell in a ball of flame.
That's just one story constructed in the Anecdote Factory. There are bound to be millions more on the way…