Far Cry Primal is the latest instalment in Ubisoft’s reputable franchise. It borrows many elements from its predecessors but shifts the focus in a meaningful way.
Far Cry Primal takes the Far Cry formula that we’ve seen in the last two games and transports players to the Stone Age. Players take on the role of Takkar, one of the last members of the Wenja. The Wenja have been hounded to extinction by beasts and rival tribes, the Udam and the Izila. Takkar must rebuild the village, convincing more Wenja to join, and stomp out the neighbours.
The game is a debate of design vs. mechanics. Far Cry Primal‘s presentation is absolutely gorgeous. Small details have been considered to increase a player’s engagement with the game – and it pays off. There are a few elements that I could do without but overall the game is incredibly strong.
Far Cry: Primal
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform: Xbox One (Reviewed), Playstation 4, PC
A New Flavour of an Old Favourite
Like I mentioned before, Far Cry Primal borrows many of its mechanics from Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 before it. The nature of traversing the world, liberating outposts, lighting bonfires (instead of radio towers) and so on. The basic elements are the same; and this is fine. These are fun things to do.
Where Far Cry Primal forges its own legacy is in its focus. Previous games were very quest-based. Longer, protracted quests, gun running, and the mixture of modernity and spirituality. Primal, on the other hand, moves over to a mission-based, exploration style and brings hunting and gathering to the forefront. Time between free-roams is reduced because missions are five to ten minutes long instead of 20+.
Something I enjoyed in Far Cry 3 was hunting for the animal skins. Much of the magic was lost from this, though, when more and better guns became available. Sure, it’s a giant bear with neon claws, but is it really going to survive six landmines? Probably not. Primal keeps the hunting front of mind and maintains the charm. Hunting gives meat (for healing), hides (for crafting ammo), and skins (for expanding your village).
A Well-Crafted World
I don’t think I could dream of saying anything negative about the creation of Oros, the world in which the Wenja live. It is stunning. Such meticulous care has been taken to ensure that not only does the world look beautiful but its art direction is consistent.
Standing atop a mountain and surveying the land below gave me the same reaction now as Skyrim did years ago. It’s that amazing. Rustic, natural, and unkempt. We clearly see the vegetation just happens to exist alongside people who are too busy fighting for survival to tend to it.
Even in areas that shy away from the warm colours and aridity, the consistency of the creation shines through. Wandering through snow, we see the same sorts of trees and shrubs. It’s truly believable that the area under the heavy snow is a part of Oros.
Where I do take issue, though, is in the characters. For the sake of immersion, they all speak Proto-Indo-European – a language used in the time of our setting. I appreciate that level of detail and it speaks volumes to the time that went into crafting this world for us. Where it falls down, however, is that the voice actors have a hard time delivering convincing emotion in this dialect.
These are the last remnants of the Wenja. One well-placed fire bomb from the Izila, one more attack from the Udam, or even a mammoth having a bad day could spell the end of their culture. But the only time there is any somewhat convincing signs of concern has Sayla falling to her knees and screaming at the heavens. It feels like overacting.
I can’t help but wonder if the story could’ve been driven better by letting the actors speak in their native tongue.
It’s Primarily a Resource Game
As an aside to hunting being such a focus in Far Cry Primal, the game has shifted towards resources much more profoundly than previous iterations. I like this.
It’s consistent with the experience of foraging during the Stone Age and epitomises the hunter/gatherer feel of being this tribe’s alpha male.
Gathering different types of wood, rock, or hide are important for Takkar because it fuels his health, his ammo, and his crafting upgrades. There’s more to it, though, because Takkar is responsible for the Wenja village. Building and upgrading huts for specialists lets the village flourish and increases their value for the player.
So important are the resources to the game, a stash has been added into which resources are added daily for your use.
I do like this focus for art direction reasons and mechanically. It keeps players thinking about their trips out of the village and how to get the greatest value from them. With these resources changes and the increased difficulty at night, it puts me in mind of some of the more hardcore survival titles. It’s charming and something I really enjoyed.
I’m so addicted to Far Cry Primal. The game is amazing. It’s taken everything good about the previous two Far Cry titles and refocused the objectives enough to be fresh. For me, much of the magic was lost when it became simple to rush in with two assault rifles. Primal doesn’t let that happen and it’s all the better for it.
Fans of the Far Cry series or anyone looking for a sizeable game with a beautiful world would do well to pick up a copy of Far Cry Primal.