I have always been a huge fan of the Far Cry series and was surprised when Ubisoft announced their new game Far Cry Primal back in October 2015. Not only was it a surprise to find out the game was coming out just five months later, but it would also take place in a very different time period and setting. For a game that’s set in 10,000 BCE it still manages to capture the essence of Far Cry and also adds some unique gameplay mechanics and interesting twists.
When the game was first announced, people assumed that it was going to be a small spin-off, much like Far Cry 3’s Blood Dragon. It quickly became clear that this wasn’t the case and Primal was going to be a fully fledged title with plenty of content. Many reviewers and critics have been calling the game a reskin for Far Cry 4, and yes it does adapt some well-known gameplay mechanics, but also adds a hell of a lot. I have to say that the game is something very unique and is based in a world not many games have explored.
Far Cry Primal is set in Oros, a beautiful but dangerous Central European valley in 10,000 BCE. You play as a caveman known as Takkar, who has just started out in the valley and is searching for his Wenja tribe. The game introduces you straight away to the hunting elements of the game as you chase down a wooly Mammoth. It quickly becomes clear that things are far more dangerous than expected and Takkar discovers the Wenja tribe has fled throughout Oros. The main aim of the game is to gather up and build your tribe and become the dominant force once again. The world is full of dangerous tribes, creatures and animals that will attack you at any moment. The game is fully subtitled as there is no English spoken. The tribal language in the game sounds great and very believable, creating an immersive experience. It’s certainly a brave design approach, which isn’t something we normally see in big AAA games.
There is a main story and quest line to follow, but like the other Far Cry games there are multiple tasks, objectives and side missions to participate in. These side mission and tasks are not only great fun, but they also offer a lot in terms of upgrading various aspects of your character, equipment and base camp. Most of the smaller tasks involve talking to specialists in your tribe who can help provide new abilities and tools. The main enemy tribes are known as the Izila and Udam. The people you choose to interact with will lead you down slightly different paths.
What makes Far Cry Primal great is not only the beautiful world, but the unadulterated fun that can be had. Whether its shooting a fiery arrow into a massive Mammoth or fleeing from bears, panthers, wolves and many other terrifying beasts it’s incredibly fun. For me that’s what playing games is all about being able to experience something you normally wouldn’t whilst having intense fun. The game is not easy for the most part and feels brutal. The gore, guts and sheer desperation help to make you feel like you are truly trying to exist in that world. I remember playing the King Kong game back on the PlayStation 2, which used some similar ideas like using spear and had a heavy focus on using fire to help fight off enemies.
You have to watch your back, as anything and everything will try to kill you. There is also a day and night cycle, similar to Dying Light, you don’t want to be caught out for too long in the night in the middle of nowhere. Far Cry Primal certainly works in the same way as previous installments, which see you exploring large open areas, taking over enemy camps and meeting new and unusual characters that give you missions and progress the story. In Far Cry 4 one of the main game focuses was on climbing watchtowers and this time you have to light large bonfires that act as fast travel points. One of the biggest and most important parts of Far Cry Primal is the hunting, gathering and crafting within the world. You create weapons, upgrades to your camp and character by collecting important materials like animal skins, plants and other resources.
You will have to spend quite a lot of time hunting animals and picking up objects from the world, this might seem tedious but you can turn off the collecting animation in the settings. When you start the game you firstly collect materials to build a bow, which proves to be a vital weapon in the game. The hunting feels great and you can even use your hunter vision to scope out areas and even follow animal scents and blood trails. It’s important to note that there are obviously no guns, and you will have to use things like your bow, spears, club and other basic weaponry. I liked this though, as it makes the situation feel desperate and makes the world even more immersive.
The biggest and most interesting change in this latest installment is the ability to tame certain wild animals to help you and fight by your side. I started by gaining the help of an owl that has the ability to fly high above the world and scope out locations. You can then go on to tame animals like wolves, tigers and even bears, which can be used to attack enemy tribesmen. The combat is awesome and gives you the option to silently take out enemies or go in literally blazing, with fiery spears and clubs. I thought when starting the game that the combat would be limited, but every aspect of Far Cry 4 has somehow been implemented in interesting and unique ways in Primal. The animals you tame almost act as the ‘special’ and more powerful weapons in previous games. Overall I felt that the combat felt chaotic, brutal and ultimately refreshing.
The presentation of Far Cry Primal is sublime, with beautiful environments, lush jungles and gloomy caves. There are minimal man-made structures and more of a focus on exploring natural scenery. The game style and design is fantastic, combined with the harsh and quite frankly brutal gameplay makes the experience even more compelling and realistic, even if you are riding on the back of a grizzly bear! The day and night cycle adds tension and you will find that fire is a valuable source of light when it turns dark. The world is just simply well realised, which is full of life, dynamic landscapes and gorgeous environments. The sound design is fantastic and the tribal languages help to make it feel even more immersive.
Overall this has been one of my favourite and most original gaming experiences in recent months. The game has taken the open world genre and given it a nice twist by taking place in 10,000 BCE. The world looks stunning, but at the same time it feels bleak and violent. You need to make sure you stay on your toes and constantly watch your back. The game is all about survival and most importantly the game is fun. I strongly recommend this game if you like Far Cry games or even fancy an open world game that offers something truly unique.
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