Far Cry: Primal Review

Far Cry has been having a fairly good run lately with the release of the fantastic Far Cry 3, fan favourite 80’s action title Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and 2014’s solid, but familiar Far Cry 4 but if there is one complaint it is that these titles all feel more or less the same. Perhaps sensing this, Ubisoft has gone back to the drawing board for their latest adventure, ditched the guns, cars and modern technology and winding the clock back to the Stone Ages with Far Cry: Primal.

Far Cry: Primal takes place in 10,000 BC and sticks players in the well-worn loincloth of Takkar, a Wenja hunter journeying with some chums to find long lost members of his tribe. After becoming the sole survivor of an ill-fated hunting trip, Takkar proceeds onwards to the land of Oros in a bid to locate his scattered Wenja brethren, forge a home for them and hold off the other hostile tribes in the area – the cannibalistic Udam tribe and the fire worshipping Izila.

As with the previous titles in the series, Far Cry: Primal is a first person shooter set in a large open world with plentiful missions, activities and locations to experience and explore. Although the setting is fresh and the weapons are most certainly unique, fans of the series should not despair – Far Cry: Primal is most certainly a Far Cry game. Those familiar with the franchise will feel right at home with the types of missions on offer, the size of the world and the sorts of optional objectives closely resembling those previously experienced in Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4. Again you’ll be clearing out enemy outposts (and bonfires too this time around), partaking in random events, do a fair share of hunting wildlife and exploring the world for a range of hidden collectibles.

Perhaps the biggest change to Far Cry: Primal’s gameplay is in terms of the weaponry at your disposal. Whereas its predecessors were focused on various forms of firearms and shooting, due to the prehistoric setting there is a focus on primitive weapons (as you would expect). After starting players off with bows, clubs and spears these weapons will eventually make way for more advanced weapons such as slings, throwing shards, sting bombs (who doesn’t want to throw angry bees at their enemies?), traps and poison gas.

One of the distinct advantages to having primitive wooden weapons is that it is entirely possible to light all of your main weapons (or their projectiles) on fire. This serves several purposes including: to cause additional damage to enemies, scaring off the game’s abundance of predators, helping to explore darkened caves and can even be used to set wooden objects ablaze! Unfortunately the weapons won’t all last long in a burning state though so it’s wise to have a backup or two!

Whilst crafting appeared in previous Far Cry games, it was not always really necessary and it was possible to get by in the games without dabbling in it too much. This is not so in Primal, nope, in Far Cry: Primal crafting is an absolute necessity. Scavenging wood from trees, hides from hunted animals and an assortment of rocks and plants from the environment will soon become second nature to players once they realise the importance of having these items on hand. In Primal, crafting is required to make all of your weapons and if players don’t have the materials available, they’ll find themselves unable to create additional weapons and subsequently pretty much defenceless if a big beastie or hostile patrol comes along.

Speaking of prehistoric animals – there are plenty of them about. From the Stone Age equivalents of Far Cry’s more standard hunting fare such as deer, eagles, badgers and wild boars to the more thematic mammoths and sabretooth tigers there are animals absolutely everywhere. Takkar has lots of interaction with animals and in addition to fighting and hunting them, he’ll also have access to a number of friendly beasts to help out. Early on, players will earn themselves a tamed eagle that can be used to scout out locations, tag enemies and even perform attacks. On foot, Far Cry: Primal allows players to tame predators to act as a side-kick which can be commanded to attack specific targets, be used as a distraction and back you up if you get in trouble. Heck, if you invest your skill points in the right abilities they can even be ridden as mounts.

Another novel idea that has been implemented into Far Cry: Primal is that Takkar is required to build a new Wenja village of which with the expanding and upgrading of said village is connected to both exploration and story progression. In order to improve the village players must first locate key Wenja characters out in the wilderness, before performing a mission or two in order to recruit them. The major characters will then appear at the main village site where players are able to construct a shelter for each of them. From said shelter, these main characters will then offer their own unique flavour of additional missions to progress the story and encourage exploration. Whilst the buildings are all in set locations and is most definitely not going to give Fallout 4’s settlements a run for their money, upgrading the village is an interesting and worthy addition to the game that feels like it belongs and ties in well with the overall theme.

As with the recent Far Cry titles, players are able to accumulate experience and level up at which point they’ll gain a skill point. This can then be spent in one of a number of different skill trees to earn themselves new passive bonuses, additional abilities and interesting perks. This time around however, the skill trees are tied into the Wenja village and the main characters that have been recruited. Each of the characters has their own speciality and thus a unique set of skills and abilities to learn.

In terms of presentation the game features visuals roughly on par with Far Cry 4 and boasts a diverse environment ranging from icy slopes to tropical forests filled with some excellently detailed animals, people and environs. The audio on the other hand will polarise a few people – firstly the developers had linguists come in and create not one, but three different Proto-Indo European languages to match what is believed to have been spoken at the time and this dominates the game’s spoken dialogue – it’s a really interesting touch and along with the character designs and world helps to really build a sense of immersion.

Unfortunately, Far Cry: Primal is not a perfect game. As with its immediate predecessors, it relies a lot on the same kinds of objectives continuously throughout its running time. If you have played a recent Far Cry game in the last couple of months, you’ll most definitely get hit with a sense of deja vu despite the thematic shift. The focus on Stone Age languages makes the game feel a whole lot more genuine but the by-product of the entire spoken dialogue in the game not being in a modern language is that there are subtitles and having to follow a characters expression and body language whilst also skimming subtitles might be a little too much work for some and will no doubt irk some of the lazier gamers out there.

There is a lot of fun to be had with Far Cry: Primal and whilst the series formula remains relatively unchanged from its more recent predecessors, the tweaks to weapons and the setting provide a fresh approach to the core gameplay that is hard not to like. With a great thematic vibe, decent visuals and an interesting slant at audio design, Far Cry: Primal’s various elements gel together in creating an immersive atmosphere. Whilst it is not going to be a game for everybody, Far Cry: Primal might just be the best that the Far Cry series has offered since Vaas lectured us on the definition of insanity.

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