Title: Far Cry Primal
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Where To Buy: Steam, PSN, Xbox Store, Local Retailer
Far Cry Primal is a bold attempt to reinvigorate the Far Cry franchise, which many felt the last outing lacked originality. Far Cry Primal still feels like a Far Cry game but the new era and world absolutely brings freshness to the series. The new taming aspect is a brilliant addition but Far Cry Primal lacks a strong narrative, which ironically I wish they had retained from the previous games. This makes Far Cry Primal feel like a worthy sequel, yet keeps it just shy of greatness.
Far Cry Primal takes players 12,000 years back in time to the dawn of mankind. As per usual within the Far Cry series, the game begins in an action-packed fashion. Playing as Takkar, a member of the Wenja tribe, you hunt a mammoth having traveled days without food. The pursuit is a success but victory quickly becomes tragedy as an imposing sabre-tooth tiger makes quick work of your brethren, leaving you stranded and in desperate need.
Far Cry 3 and 4 introduced us to the psychotic Vaas and the egotistical Pegan Min, Far Cry Primal however suffers by having no definitive antagonist. The lethal sabre-tooth is formidable yet other than a lust for food, does not have an interesting motive. The lack of a nemesis is Far Cry Primal’s biggest disappointment. The narrative revolves around establishing a village and recruiting specialists, which in turn expands the capabilities of the tribe. Warring with two rival factions, the Udam and the Izila, is the core journey but these stories lack standout moments. Disappointingly, the respective leaders of these groups are as charismatic as the aforementioned sabre-tooth tiger.
Thankfully, the charm and intrigue arrives from the colorful recruits you encounter. They can be contrived as stereotypes but their varied personalities and great motion capture bring them to life. There is no recognizable language here; instead a whole new primitive speech has been devised. As we are in prehistoric times, it allows for some outlandish designs choices. Sayla sports a necklace of severed ears from her enemies whereas the peculiar Shaman Tensay dons an entire wolf skin as a hooded cloak. Other integral members of the tribe include a hunter, a warrior and other maestros. These characters distribute missions which revolve around their expertise. As you recruit more members, you will physically see your community grow with additional NPC’s and new structures being erected.
If you have played a Far Cry game before, you will immediately feel reacquainted with the mechanics. The era may have changed but the age old Far Cry logic has not. However that is not a negative point as the game play feels just as rewarding as it always has. You will be liberating outposts and bonfires, but how you eliminate the enemy threats within the vicinity is your prerogative. Be it stealth or all clubs blazing (there are no guns here) the freedom permitted is liberating.
The same enemy types return but this time they are equipped with a barrage of spears and rocks. Differentiating between the enemies can be tricky and the more lethal heavies, that take more coordination to defeat, look the same as weaker enemies. More often than not, I would attempt to assassinate the said foe and discover too late that it was not possible, setting alarms off in the process.
I adore playing covertly in games and having my trusty sniper rifle removed from my arsenal highlighted my reliance on the weapon. Stealth is still very prominent within Far Cry Primal and the first weapon you will craft (you construct all weapons from gathered resources) is the bow. Firing a head shot from fifty feet away is far more satisfying that shooting a gun. In fact all of the weapons within Far Cry Primal feel more powerful and deadly than the firearms seen in most games. Throwing a spear directly into a man’s torso and watching him crumple to the floor feels wonderfully primitive. Clever methods have been introduced to improve weapon proficiency, such as upgrading a bow to fire two arrows simultaneously. This is an archaic way to boost the strength of a bow.
Ranged combat is a delight whereas melee combat is not. When enemies rush you, you need to resort to a more hands on approach and it feels chaotic and cumbersome. I am accustomed to a dedicated melee button in modern shooters so not having that ability had me feeling lost. You are not given a block ability which is a massive oversight in my opinion and you will find yourself aimlessly swinging your club until it connects with anything in the immediate radius. If your weapon is on fire, expect the surroundings to follow suit as brushing the base of a nearby tree will soon have the environment engulfed in flames.
The inconsistency of the close quarters combat is infuriating as enemies can take multiple hits. The heavy enemies will take in excess of twenty strikes which quickly becomes dull. One of the final boss fights involves a huge amount of this fighting style and I soon became infuriated, frustrated and simply bored. When the weapon does connect, you are greeted by a pleasurable thud but overall, if you can keep your distance that is the best choice.
Far Cry Primal takes place in the fictional world of Oros. The landmass is large, varied and densely occupied. Venture north and you will encounter snowy mountains whereas in the south expect to see a drier, sun soaked landscape. The luscious forests reside in the center of Oros and look beautiful. The graphics within Far Cry Primal are a mixed bag. At times, when the moon shines through the trees illuminating the glint of a wolf’s eye, the game looks great. Effects such as water and fire can look dated, to the extent that the game looks as though it could have been ported to last generation consoles.
With a lack of civilization, the animals dominate this world and the circle of life is ever present. Predators will be stalking prey, and herds of weaker animals will flee in terror from a pursuing menace. Traversing across the land, you will encounter a wide range of creatures from the hapless deer to the formidable cave bear. You feel vulnerable knowing you are not yet at the top of the food chain and hearing the roar of a distant cave lion had me running for cover. The world is densely populated and feels alive. There is a sense of tranquility with the lack of modern day noises and instead you will be blessed with the sounds of grazing goats or the soft hoot of an owl in the midst of the night.
Hunting animals, completing missions and activities rewards you with a healthy amount of experience points. In Far Cry Primal, the abilities screen has been segregated into more sections than ever. This enables you to really mould Takkar around your play style. Sadly there are only a handful of new skills. Executing an enemy and then throwing a blade at a nearby foe’s head is thrilling, but I’ve done it all before. The only new perks develop the abilities of your owl companion. This owl can fly above the field and scout nearby enemies and outposts. With upgrades your airborne friend can tag enemies, drop bombs and even swoop down and immediately kill an unsuspecting opponent.
Ubisoft have tried something new with Far Cry Primal by including animal companions and it is the best addition. After a psychedelic experience courtesy of Tensay, you become known as the beast master and gain the ability to tame some lethal allies.
Taming the beasts at first is too simple as you throw a piece of bait and simply hold a button, but once the animal joins you it becomes increasingly more complex. You can recruit a number of animals ranging from a silent jaguar to a mountable bear. Each beast has their own unique ability and I would use this to my advantage in the game play. For example, having a cave lion by my side would tag enemies within close proximity and then I would utilize my jaguar to eliminate stray enemies without alarming anyone.
There is a lack of animals to choose from however. Other than the sabre-tooth tiger, we have encountered all of these animals before. You can find rare breeds of these beasts that look aesthetically different but the only bonus they possess would simply be fire resistance. Being able to tame water creatures or weaker animals with unique qualities would have been much more captivating. A leveling system could have been interesting too, but perhaps in the future?
Taming animals can feel effortless but the extreme hunts are not. These pursuits are drawn out affairs and by using your hunter vision; you track these dangerous animals along their war paths of decimated structures and mutilated victims. When you finally catch the culprits, you can construct traps to ensnare the creature. Once all preparations are complete, the concluding fight is testing and satisfying. These beasts look fearsome and mighty with deformed scars and spears emitting from their bodies, but sadly they have similar abilities to companions you would already have acquired.
I cannot help but feel Far Cry Primal has still played it too safe. They took an ambitious leap by delving into the past, but did not fully commit to an overhaul of the series. I wish they had embraced the wondrous and included dinosaurs, inventive weapons and unseen abilities. I still thoroughly enjoyed my time in Oros, but I cannot help but feel I have been playing the same game for the past few years. If you enjoy the Far Cry series then you will relish Far Cry Primal. The game does not remove the shackles of the previous games but it does loosen them. The fundamental game play is just as fun as it has ever been but without more innovation in the future, we could see the series stagnating not unlike another of Ubisoft’s properties.
- Gameplay: Hunting, Gathering, Killing.
- Graphics: Beautiful Vistas, Weak Water/Fire Animations.
- Sound: Fully Engrossed In The Animal Kingdom.
- Presentation: Attention To Detail For 10,000 BC.
- New Era
- Animal Companions
- Rewarding Game Play
- Terrible Melee Combat
- Still Feels Like Far Cry
An Englishman living in Australia. I edit and provide video/written reviews for all of the latest games.