Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Review Context: I’ve been playing Far Cry games since Far Cry 3 and have loved them. I love a bunch of Ubisoft franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Rayman, and Splinter Cell.
Date of Playthrough: March 2016
Processor: Intel Core i5-3570K CPU @ 3.40 GHz
RAM: 16 GB
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 760
Resolution: 1920 x 1080, 60Hz
Controls: Xbox 360 controller for PC
Far Cry Primal is an open world, FPS, with RPG elements that centers around a caveman named Takkar and his quest to bring his people, the Wenja, to dominance in the land of Oros and, ultimately, prosperity. By hunting, crafting, fighting other tribes, and rescuing lost Wenja, Takkar must rebuild his tribe in order to have the strength to defeat the rival tribes and claim the land of Oros as their own. Whether you’re exploring caves or hunting saber-tooths, there is always something for an aspiring caveman to do. So put on your loin clothes and sharpen your spears, because it’s time to go primal.
Far Cry Primal is set in 10,000 BCE, a prehistoric land full of giant trees, dark caves, and of course woolly mammoths. Far Cry Primal captures the impressiveness of nature unchecked, providing daunting mountains, jaw dropping vistas, and massive forests. Not even the snowstorms of the mountainous north or the darkness of the deepest caves can hide nature’s majesty. It is a beautiful world yes, but it is also a dangerous one. Hiding among the flora and fauna are dangerous predators; jaguars, saber-tooths, and cave bears, oh my! Not to mention, the two bloodthirsty rival tribes inhabiting the same land. It’s survival of the fittest and victory goes to the man with the biggest stick and the truest aim.
Far Cry Primal changes things up significantly by only relying on caveman tech, and a little imagination. With nary an AK47 to speak of, Far Cry Primal only has 3 major weapons; clubs, bows, and spears. The player must find materials in order to craft new and better equipment. There are other things to craft too, like throwing shards, bee bombs, and even fire bombs. Though the bow and arrow were present in Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4, having only bows and spears available forces the player to play a bit more strategically and cautiously. Not being able to unload a machine gun on an unsuspecting bear to bring it down makes it a much more significant challenge. A proficient hunter needs a soft step and a steady hand to bring down the big game, and it’s the big game that yields the rarest crafting materials.
One of the things that Far Cry Primal does right is they way it balanced the need to pick up resources. In previous Far Cry games, animals only gave skins and most upgrades only required a few of a specific type of pelt. This meant that unless there was an upgrade that required the pelt of the animal, there was no reason to hunt it. Then you had to collect green plants in order to heal, but the game only let you hold so many. This makes sense, as being able to heal indefinitely would be too strong, but this also means that once you’ve collected as many green plants as you can carry there is no longer a reason to pick them up. As a result, you stop collecting them until suddenly you are out of healing and have to go get more. This cycle makes the whole process just feel like a chore because collecting plants is not fun.
Now in Far Cry Primal the way you heal is with meat, which you get from hunting animals. This is better because, unlike collecting plants, hunting is fun. As long as I keep having fun using goats for target practice I will always have healing. You do still have to collect wood to craft arrows, spears, and clubs, but this resource is insanely abundant, and there are several upgrades that almost eliminate that chore entirely. They still limit how much healing you can carry on you at one time, so that you have scenarios where you run out but they don’t just keep you from picking up more. Your village comes with a resource stockpile where excess resources get sent to be picked up later when it’s needed and convenient. This makes it so the player never has a reason to not be hunting or collecting. This is pertinent because while hunting for pelts and meat is fun, there are a bunch of new materials to collect like different types of wood and stones. Certain upgrades require up to 30 of a specific material, and even several rarer versions of the same material.
Far Cry Primal still has most of the same missions as the previous titles. Escort missions, hunting missions, enemy encampments to take over, people to rescue, and chieftains to assassinate. Most of these missions have remained very much the same with only a few thematic changes, like how you don’t climb radio towers and instead light bonfire beacons to reveal the map. There aren’t any vehicles or wingsuits unfortunately, but there is still a grappling hook so scaling mountains isn’t such a hassle. Karma points even make a return in the form of the population of your tribe. Population is increased in almost exactly the same ways that karma points were collected. Instead of discounts at the shop, which no longer exist, as it hasn’t been invented yet, the first set of rewards is having more crafting materials automatically generated and added to your stockpile. Then, just like Karma points, after a certain milestone you simply receive a percent based increase to XP gain.
There are a couple new things too. There are a bunch of cave systems that are like dark mazes which the player has to navigate. Every cave has a cave painting collectible hidden inside it, as well as certain types of resources that are harder to find above ground. They also replaced your camera with an owl, which is surprisingly more effective than a camera, as it lets you move the camera around without moving yourself. Instead of having to find a high vantage point or circling the perimeter to see everything, all you have to do is get close and then call the owl. You can fly the owl wherever you want, without getting too far away from the origin point, and for as long you want. The owl is undetectable to enemies and can even gain the ability to drop bombs and swoop down to attack enemies.
The biggest addition is the ability to tame wild animals. Everything from saber-tooths to honey badgers can be tamed, each with their own specialty. Jaguars are stealthy and can even take out unsuspecting enemies without alerting others. Bears draw the attention of enemies in battle and are exceptionally hard to take down. Some of the animals can even be ridden and the saber-tooth tiger’s specialty is that it is the fastest of all the animals, and as a result, my favorite mount. Once an animal has been tamed it can be easily switched out for other already tamed animals with the push of a button.
Far Cry Primal’s story is pretty much irrelevant. Unless the struggles of prehistoric man are really that interesting to you, I doubt you will pay attention to it very much. It essentially chronicles the Wenja’s rise to dominance by defeating the two rival tribes. The final moral being that even though the other tribes were portrayed as evil, they were simply trying to save their own people from extinction, just like Takkar and the Wenja. There is much less time spent on the story in Far Cry Primal as in other Far Cry titles. This isn’t a bad thing, as a long drawn out story consisting of solely caveman speak gets old really quick, at least to me it does. Though the story isn’t as engaging as it used to be, the characters are just as colorful as ever. Rather than furthering the plot, rescuing and meeting the Wenja of note is fun because not only do almost all of them unlock new upgrades and tools, but they are all so unique and interesting. Thankfully, Far Cry Primal knows where its strengths are and doesn’t let these characters stay in the spotlight so long that they become boring, making each dialogue fresh and interesting.
Far Cry Primal scared me when first announced. I feared that all the tools and conveniences found in previous games would be replaced with less useful or convenient versions in order to fit the theme. Thankfully, Far Cry Primal actually refined the system significantly and still managed to execute its theme wonderfully. Even though there is no firepower or explosions it still feels very much like a Far Cry game, and a great one at that. For anyone continuing to look for more Far Cry content or just super interested in the theme, Far Cry Primal is a great experience from start to finish. Whether you just want to play through the story or you have to get every collectible, Far Cry Primal will provide hours of fun.
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Fallout 4 (PC)
Assassin’s Creed Rogue (PC)
Similar Games Disliked:
Watch Dogs (PC)