“You must become a hunter.”
Not many AAA studios would take the risks that Ubisoft do with its shooter series. The latest release in the franchise sees a game with no guns at all. Yes. Far Cry with no guns. With this change, Far Cry Primal delivers a magnificent survival game that ranks as one if not the best Far Cry to date.
Far Cry Primal is set in Oros, a Central European valley in the year 10,000 BCE. You play as Takkar, a hunter who after a pretty nasty run in with a Saber Tooth tiger ends up in the valley seeking his fellow Wenja tribe. After a brief tutorial you end up founding a small village. This is where you set about gathering and strengthening the village and its people until you can become the dominant tribe in Oros and live happily ever after…or not.
So how does a non technological Far Cry work? Even though it has a prehistoric setting, the standard Far Cry formula is amazingly unchanged. A gorgeous landscape to explore?. Check. Battling a huge range of native wildlife?. Check. Many side missions and collectibles?. Check. The forced changes that do come about because of the lack of modern technology is pretty minimal. The classic Far Cry 3 and 4 radio towers have been replaced with signalling bonfires, your weapons consist of spears, clubs, and arrows and vehicles are replaced with certain animals. Yes. Really.
The hunting and gathering mechanic from previous games really is at the forefront this time around. In the other games it never really was a must other than upgrading your gear. Here, you must hunt to get meat in order to be able to heal. Wood, stone, animal skins and plants all have their uses such as upgrading your gear, crafting your arrows and spears and improving your village.
A new addition allows you tame the wolves, cats, and even bears that you encounter in the wilderness. Taming is pretty easy, requiring you to only lay bait and then approach the animal. Easy! There are legendary animals that can be tamed too but these require them to be defeated in battle first. Think of a regular boss battle complete with health bar. These battles can be very challenging if you are not fully prepared for them. Once they’re tamed though, these animals become loyal companions which will follow you around scaring weaker animals and can be used to attack other animals or tribesmen.
The first beast you actually tame is an owl, this is effectively Far Cry Primal‘s version of binoculars. A quick button press and you become the owl as it flies overhead, scouting the landscape and tagging enemies. It’s a clever way to implement Far Cry‘s usual scouting mechanics without having to come up with a system that wouldn’t fit the game world.
With most Far Cry games the story revolves around your character trying to escape the location and defeat the big bad. Far Cry Primal goes the other way as you’re trying to build something sustainable in the location you find yourself and not trying to escape. Because of this many quests involve recruiting new tribes people into your village or securing resources to support them. This is the part where you could say the game suffers. The story.
Far Cry Primal‘s story at the end of the day is fairly limited and straightforward and is probably the weakest of all the Far Cry games. But what makes the game a standout is the fact that it doesn’t really need a story because it does a remarkable job of immersing you into its Stone Age world. In fact, Far Cry Primal finally feels like the Far Cry series was designed for. An open world you can explore and hunt at your own leisure whether you’re interested in its story or not. It’s a perfect combination.
Far Cry Primal is now available for PC, PS4 and XBOX One.