No guns, no vehicles, parachutes, wing suits, gadgets, turrets. What is a gamer to do? Get back to basics is what.
After the magnificence of Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4 in my opinion didn’t really follow up on that greatness. Perhaps it’s because, like Ubisoft’s other series Assassin’s Creed it started to feel a bit stale. You know exactly what you’re getting, just in a different location. I think Ubisoft kind of felt this, hence the dramatic departure from modern day lush Jungles, African Desserts, and snowy mountains, and gone way back in time to erm, lush jungles.
Far Cry Primal casts players as a survivor of an almost extinct tribe, not wiped out by animals and the like, but by a rival group of cannibals. Being a video game, it’s up to you to get your tribe back on its feet. Bigger and better so that they can’t be wiped out again. To do this, you have to recruit tribes people, witch doctors, and specials to grow your village. Which if you know anything about games will then give you access to bigger and better upgrades.
So now we’re left with this new primal setting, which by it’s very nature means there are no vehicles and gun play at hand. What else is missing from this latest game in the franchise?
Well Charismatic villains for a start, probably the greatest omission. The likes of Vass and Pagan Min are nowhere to be found which is a shame, as they always made the Far Cry stories interesting. That’s perhaps one of the main criticisms leveled at Far Cry Primal, the story doesn’t really offer up much more than you building your village. None of the characters you come across in the game match the greatness of Vaas and his henchmen.
Another reason I think the story struggles is the subtitled caveman speak, I applaud Ubisoft for going for some kind of authenticity, but the speech is very basic and makes your mind wander to you phone to check your latest FB update rather than leaving you glued to the TV.
Exploring the game world is a lot of fun, it looks beautiful in places and the lack of vehicles, a pre-game worry is nothing to fear. Your caveman can run at pace, there are fast travel points, certain animals to ride, and plenty to do on your journey. If you’ve played any previous Far Cry game you know what this will entail, collecting resources, crafting and hunting animals (or taming them) one thing that stood out for me (in a negative way) is that the only creatures of note are the Sabre Tooth Tiger and Mammoth. The rest don’t really look any different to their modern day counterparts. I can’t help but think Ubisoft should have gone all out and thrown in some dinosaurs. Then this would have been the Turok game everyone has been asking for.
Speaking of crafting, the lack of guns was also a concern of some gamers when the game was first announced. Well they needn’t worry, the primitive tools at your disposal are just as satisfying to use as any machine gun. Later on you can even unlock a grappling hook, perhaps a bit too advanced for the time, but a bit of artistic license can’t hurt. There are also skill trees to unlock more skills, each one is tied to a different tribesman/woman and offer some interesting level ups. So taking down animals, cannibals or taking out tribes is just as satisfying with a home made club than it is with a pump action shot gun. In fact, I think this game is better for it, especially once you’ve learned to tame animals. Having a wolf by your side at all times is a comforting thought in the wilderness. It also offers something new, new tactics and well, it keeps you on your toes.
Eventually though, you’ll soon realize that the main missions consists of nothing more than fetch quests, and the lack of variety in the combat will soon get to you. Of course taking over outposts, riding mammoths into battle is still as much fun as it ever was and is oh so very Far Cry. Neither helped or hindered by the new setting.
Far Cry Primal is a very enjoyable a game and thoroughly enjoyed my time in the prehistoric setting, the lack of guns and vehicles I think make this game just different enough to differentiate it from previous titles. There is a moral question about killing animals, that hangs over your head but given the setting, and that the game is about survival it never really makes you feel guilty, besides, if you don’t kill that deer, the pack of wolves snarling in the distance will.
One thing I really likes about Primal is the famous fire mechanics. Since Far Cry 2 fire has been a useful tool, in creating diversions or perhaps killing the odd hidden guard or something, but in Primal it’s put to much better use. A great example is, you may have just taken down a mammoth, your health is low and you need that wooly hide. one way to avoid the snapping jaws of the baying wolves is to set the grass and bushes on fire around your downed reward. Animals, as you would expect don’t like fire so keep their distance, giving you enough time to gut the mammoth, and heal yourself. It really is a case of man vs beast and it’s great.
The repetitive fetch missions, and shallow story line might make you pack up Far Cry and teleport back to the present day sooner than you should. there is no main villain which I think hurts the game most. But if you can look past these flaws you’ll find a game rich in detail, and fun to play.
It’s just a shame that Ubisoft didn’t got all out and throw in some giant reptiles into the mix. It does feel like they thought about it, wasn’t sure about the idea, so decided to do something safer instead. Which is a shame because Primal could have been so much better.
Far Cry Primal
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Far Cry Promal is out now on PS4 (version reviewed), Xbox One and PC
Disclaimer: In order the complete this review, we were provided with a code from the publishers.