Far Cry Primal is the latest instalment in the Far Cry series, the series that is renowned for its vast and beautiful open worlds and pulling out bullets to heal non-bullet related injuries. Far Cry Primal does a superb job of showing its lush prehistoric setting with its varied wildlife, breath-taking scenery, back to basics simplicity of life and the everyday struggle for survival. Unfortunately, this simplicity does tend to make the game repetitive and a familiar sense of boredom does creep in after a while. Far Cry Primal is very similar to past Far Cry games, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing given the past success of this franchise, but it gives the impression not a lot of effort went into the game to make it radically different or better than the previous games. Regardless of the fact that it doesn’t really innovate on the Far Cry formula, it’s still a superficially fun title and I enjoyed the time I had with it.
At the outset of the game you are thrust into the role of Takkar of the Wenja tribe. The game really throws you in the deep end at the beginning, opening with you being lead into a herd of woolly mammoths clinging onto a fellow tribe member as you try and catch some terrifyingly dangerous dinner. This intro serves as a brief tutorial of sorts and soon after you meet a crazy looking caveman that tells you the story of the Wenja tribe, who are currently embroiled in a war with two other tribes, the Udam and Izila. Without giving away any spoilers I’ll just tell you that in order to live out your cro-magnon days in peace and harmony, you will need to eliminate the enemy tribes. To progress the Wenja people’s dreams of a happily ever after you’ll need to work with your tribe to unlock skills and abilities such as the power to tame wild animals and bend them to your will. All of this while battling the harsh conditions of the different climates and surviving the vicious predators that roam Oros (the land in which you are situated in). Once the story is established you are more or less left to fend for yourself, and with that, your adventure really begins. The story ends up being a little two-dimensional and serves as little more than a cheap vehicle for the gameplay, but every time you return to your saved game there is a short video clip that gives you a recap on the story line of the game which I really liked. Not that the story is overly complex but the idea is great and should be incorporated into future games (and let’s face it, you know they’re coming).
I’ve got your back bro
Those who have not played any past Far Cry games will likely enjoy this game more than returning Far Cry players. As fun and visually spectacular as Far Cry Primal is, it is still more or less the same old Far Cry with a fancy new jacket and tie on. Instead of guns you have spears and a bow and arrows. Instead of crazy little helicopters and cars you get animals to tame and ride on. Instead of binoculars you get an owl that flies over and spots enemies. Although the latter is merely a twist on an old Far Cry mechanic, the owl as the new spotter is a great idea as it has upgrades and abilities that do a lot more then mark enemies unlike the lame binoculars. Eventually you can train your owl to swoop in and kill people for instance, I’d like to see a pair of binoculars do that.
Before mirrors were invented, this is how you checked yourself out.
The prehistoric setting is well done, in particular the wildlife and the subtitled cave man language as well as the crude weapons and tools give the game an authentic feeling. Of course, these tools and weapons can be upgraded by grinding for resources. I say grinding but the process is painless and is a natural extension of the gameplay rather than being a slow and tedious affair like Destiny for instance. I’m no history buff, but it all seems plausible for that time period and there’s nothing ridiculous like taming sabre tooth tigers and riding them into battle, oh wait, that happens. All jokes aside the game is simple to pick up and play and it’s easy to lose track of time just exploring the area and helping the Wenjorians as I like to call them. It took me about 15-20 hours in total to finish the story line and most of the side missions too. The length of the game is suitable as it gives you time to explore the whole map and also finish the game without dragging it out too much. There’s no point in having ridiculously huge maps that you don’t get to see anyway because there is just too much to explore in one human life time, but the samey objectives and gameplay loop do become slightly repetitive and boring after a while. Towards the end I found myself just wanting to finish the game and move on, and I recommend not playing for long periods at a time to stop this from occurring.
I like that Far Cry Primal doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s a simple game to enjoy at your own pace and won’t take your whole life to finish. The difficulty is quite low and all things said and done it is an easy game to master. I played through on hard difficulty with no troubles at all, especially once I had tamed the virtually indestructible sabretooth tiger. This tiger is more or less immortal too and if it passes away (whether it’s from an accidental drowning incident or getting set on fire while in the line of duty) you can “revive” your tamed companion by using red leaves.
More ears will not cure your tinnitus.
You should see him when he’s unhappy.
You don’t apply the red leaves to the animal itself, rather just apply them to thin air and the animal will magically come running back to you out of nowhere. I thought this revival mechanic was strange and was tailored to laziness. Instead of reviving said animal perhaps you could just tame another one of the same species. I did have fun taming different animals though, and each animal has its own perks for different approaches you might want to take depending on how you want to play the game. I did find that in the end the animals are quite disobedient once they are engaged in attacking someone and they would ignore you until they were either killed what they were attacking, or managed to subdue it. This was a little frustrating and necessitated pulling out the old magical red leaves a little too often.
I don’t trust you.
Don’t mess with this guy
The visuals and sounds are a highlight in this game as is always the case in Far Cry titles. The stunning scenery and the sounds of the wilderness brings a sense of freedom and serenity. While exploring the beautiful landscapes and helping out random Wenjorians, I often got distracted from the task at hand which I definitely didn’t mind at all. The short cutscenes throughout the game were also superb in quality, but sometimes the lesser characters or scenes suffer from stilted animation and dialogue.
Probably the greatest let-down in terms of visuals comes in the use of the tamed companions, which often felt glitchy and shaky. When the animals try to follow you they can’t swim or jump (except for the sabretooth tiger that only jumps when it’s convenient for him), so they either take the long way around or magically spawn next to you if they’ve gotten too far away. It has the effect of pulling you out of the experience and the way the animals handle themselves and their animations in general are a little odd at times. For instance, you can kill other sentient beings to provide food for your animals, but 99% of the time the eating animation has them munging on some grass next to the kill, and then the carcass would then suddenly disappear. A little polish in this regard would certainly have made the experience a more engaging. Related to this lack of polish, the game also suffers from a bug in which mission markers will point to a person who isn’t there and mission progress is halted. Many times I had to restart the game for the person indicated by the marker to appear so I could progress the mission.
He’s a real man, no sexism in this tribe
Far Cry Primal is a visually impressive game with a unique prehistoric setting that is superbly represented. While its gameplay is fairly shallow and errs on the side of being too easy, its various mechanics like beast taming do make it a fairly enjoyable experience. It can’t really sustain interest over a long period of time and its repetitive nature might have you suffering from a little Far Cry fatigue before your adventure is complete. Far Cry Primal is very similar to past Far Cry games which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’ve enjoyed previous iterations, but in terms of design it’s hardly revolutionary for this franchise which appears to be edging towards annual release. While the core Far Cry style of gameplay remains enjoyable, perhaps it is time for the series to take a break and re-evaluate before simply releasing another title with elements that are simply copy and pasted into a superficially different setting.