Fresh off the back of Far Cry 4 comes Far Cry: Primal. As the title suggests, this ancestral saga takes place many millennia ago. As much as Primal does not carry over the numbered moniker, Primal is indeed a Far Cry game. I can’t address the accuracy Ubisoft put into Primal such as what was and what was not around 10,000 years ago, for my lack of knowledge on that era. What I can address is that, though this is every bit a first-person Far Cry adventure game gameplay wise, the developers made sure Primal was able to carry its own history and genre on its own– without the help of heavy story elements or out of sorts weaponry.
Ubisoft’s take on our world during primitive human upbringing feels nearly authentic, but sometimes slightly stereotypical. You play as Takkar, a primitive man who travels with his tribe searching for their Wenja cousins. Trouble stacks up against the tribe and Takkar quickly becomes on his own. Soon, he begins to enlist others in an attempt to bring about a new tribe to fight against competing tribes taking over all the land and killing his people.
Again, this is a very early time in ancient history. As such, the story is spoken through native tongues and very rough, rudimentary storytelling, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It really tends to emphasize this era. Just don’t go into this game thinking you’ll get the full breakdown of early human emotions and thought process you would in other games taking place in this time.
"The story is spoken through native tongues and very rough, rudimentary storytelling, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It really tends to emphasize this era."
Building up the game’s Village not only takes members, but resources and housing. Primal isn’t just about going from one place to another and killing humans left and right. A large part is about community. Gathering and hunting resources such as rocks, sticks and animal skins are used in the building of huts within the tribe, and can also be used to build weapons and equipment when out traversing the wilderness while recruiting new tribe members, building your numbers up and resisting the onslaught of enemy control. That sounds pretty much like Far Cry, right? The thing is that this is Far Cry as the title suggests and Ubisoft never tried to hide that fact from us, and that’s just fine.
Takkar has a few different weapons to choose from. A spear, bow and arrow, and — of course — a club. There are plenty of other primitive weapons throughout, but these are the main focus for nearly the entire game. Those resources I mentioned earlier have multiple purposes, many of which can be crafted into new items and equipment — such as an arrow quiver or a guts bag. What’s nice is how easy it is to create and upgrades weapons and items. Some equipment does take a lot of resources to produce an item, but the land of Oros is vast and material can be found almost everywhere. For the most part, weapons feel strong and precise just like in a good first person game. Too much swaying and inaccuracy can actually be worked on through acquiring new skills. Takkar also possesses a Hunter Vision. Hunter Vision can be accessed at any moment, turning Takkar’s vision grey, but highlighting specific, and often important elements to help him further his search.
"The thing is that this is Far Cry as the title suggests and Ubisoft never tried to hide that fact from us, and that’s just fine."
Along the way of building up Takkar’s village, there’s plenty of fights with wild beasts and rival tribes throughout. Taking over their camps and building your land ever larger. Each action tends to build XP that eventually become skill points. These skill points can be turned into a variety of different and very useful survival skills for Takkar. What’s interesting is that Primal is designed as an open world adventure where you can go off and do whatever you’d like at any given time. However, for certain skills to be unlocked, specific tribesmen must be recruited to join your tribe and teach you in order to unlock different skill types such as gathering, fighting, crafting Skills, etc. Moving forward in the story is rewarding in that way.
The land of Oros is a very big and very dangerous place to venture in to. Poisonous snakes, swamp monsters, tribesmen, loosing your footing and falling off a cliff side can make the adventure quite gruelingly difficult from time to time. Luckily, early on you learn Takkar can tame specific beasts, and even some he can ride on. These animals, such as sabretooths and bears are often life savers. They can stick by Takkar’s side throughout his adventure, fighting in the face of opposition randomly, or even told what to do specifically with a couple clicks of buttons. As these beasts take damage, they can be healed by allowing them to feed on meat; and if they die a few resources can bring them back to life rather than having to go out into the wild and hunt down and tame another beast just like it. Oh, and on a side note: taming a beast doesn’t not help you from accidentally falling off of a cliff side.
"Luckily, early on you learn Takkar can tame specific beasts, and even some he can ride on. These animals, such as sabretooths and bears are often life savers."
You’re not going to find an amazing voice cast in Primal, as everything is spoken through a native tongue and words are few and far between. You’re definitely not going to find a compelling musical score by today’s hottest artists either. Which is a good thing. Could you imagine playing as a primitive man and hearing a modern singer rapping along as you try to sneak through a deep cave trying your hardest to just survive the harsh conditions of the night? That would be hilarious, but it just would not fit here like it would in games such as Grand Theft Auto or Watch_Dogs. Instead, you’re ears will be fixated on ancient horn blowing, the beating of animal hide drums and very archaic notes. In a way it’s quite mesmerizing.
In a large way, Far Cry: Primal is a very big success. I didn’t experience any major flaws, glitches, or bugs throughout the entire game. However, for being a genre that is rarely touched, it felt as though there was something missing. That “X factor” that makes a game standout amongst its peers. Primal has the guts, the ambition, the execution, but not the flair you’d expect from many of Ubisoft’s bigger franchises. And though that doesn’t at all make this a bad game, in anyway, it keeps it from achieving that status few games have that truly make it feel defining.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox One.
Primal feels authentic. Virtually no hiccups throughout, and a nice hardly touched genre-spinoff from the standard Far Cry games.
Minimalist story, not much variety in weapons or really even variety in what to do besides the story.