In early 2015, Ubisoft Montréal approached us to create the sound for another instalment in their popular series, Far Cry. This time being set in prehistoric times with neanderthals, vicious wild animals, and the ultimate goal of survival and evolution.
In the game, there are three distinct tribes each with their own unique music and sound based on their evolution and technological/cultural advancements. The difficulty would be we needed to create authentic-sounding music for a time when music had not yet been invented. This was an incredibly interesting and challenging request from Ubisoft. We jumped right into it.
Facing this challenge head-on, we experimented extensively in order to craft the right sounds that felt raw and primal. We were restricted to raw materials due to the setting of the game, which was pre-technological advancement and discovery. This meant no metal instruments (as iron had not yet been developed) as well as no known musical patterns. We were starting completely from scratch. Wood, rocks, bones, and clay were our sole tools.
With the dynamic of the three tribes, Ubisoft wanted each to have their own unique horn sound to aid the player’s ability to recognize them. Using wood as our main influence, we built several instruments and tested hundreds of objects from our collection to land on the perfect sound for each tribe.
The Neanderthal Tribe: The music needed to feel brutish, and couldn’t be sophisticated in any way. It was all about raw force: hard, heavy, and powerful sound.
The Wenja Tribe: An increase in sophistication called for more delicate, detailed, and textured instrumentation.
The Easila Tribe: For the most evolved tribe in the period, we added more voice, guttural sounds, and animal calls, drawing a lot of inspiration from Amazonian tribes.
We tested dozens of horns, pvc pipes, seashells and Tibetan prayer horns in search for the exact rallying calls for each tribe. One of the instruments we built for this project was essentially a massive log drum. It needed to sound big, deep, and dark. And in order to achieve the sound we were looking for, we developed a technique to play this instrument while hanging from the ceiling. It took us weeks to create exactly what we had in mind.
After many iterations, each rallying call was a combination of 3-5 horns blended in such a way that it became a unique and rich sound for their respective tribes.
Communication with Ubisoft was key; there was a lot of back and forth required throughout the duration of this process. Our original work was far too musical; Ubisoft pushed us to truly embrace the primal nature of this project, to try and create music that was not musical at all.
With this feedback, we continued to iterate, maintaining consistent communication with Ubisoft. After many months of work, we had come to a final result that truly immersed the player in the primal experience.
For a game of this caliber, Ubisoft and its many fans expected the best, so we needed to deliver. We were also tasked with handling post-production at the end of the creation process to ensure that everything blended cohesively, and was top-notch production quality.
The game was released in February, 2016 to critical acclaim on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It sold 2.6 million copies around the world across all platforms.
The creative process was a huge success and Ubisoft has shown interest in collaborating with us again soon.