Far Cry Primal is everything you’d expect a Far Cry game to be without a lot of the things you’ve always known to be part of a Far Cry game. No guns, no vehicles, no explosions. Despite the omission of these and the implementation of clubs, bee bombs, Sabretooth Tiger sic’ ems and more this is 100% a Far Cry game and it’s a fresh start the franchise direly needed. While Far Cry 4 was good, and had a great villain in Pagan Min (he’s no Vaas though, am I right?), it also put the series squarely in the crosshairs of ‘formulaic and regurgitated year after year’. Far from a perfect game and not without fault, Far Cry Primal makes enough changes to make the long standing franchise feel new again.
In all truth there are more similarities than differences when it comes to comparing Far Cry Primal with the rest of the series. You’re still running all the same types of missions, they just have different names associated with them. You’re claiming outposts and bonfires, there’s rescue missions and caves to explore, cave paintings to interpret, and collectibles out the wazoo. There’s tons of crafting and lots of hapless innocents to rescue too (seriously, like a ton… to the point of too many). Difference is you’re defending yourself with a sharp stick instead of a semi-automatic machine gun.
“… this is 100% a Far Cry game and it’s a fresh start the franchise direly needed.”
In comparison to plot depth of past entries, Far Cry Primal seems predictable at every turn with a paper-thin story but still manages to keep you interested in spite of that. You are Takkar, a member of a tribe called the Wenja, who are trying to stake their claim and survive in a land called Oros. Of course the Wenja can’t do that unopposed and face enemies from two other tribes, the Udam and the Izila who are bent on eliminating them. As would be expected, Takkar becomes the great white hope of the Wenja in the form of the ‘Beast Master’. He learns how to tame the more fearsome creatures of Oros and uses them at his disposal for some of the best enemy deaths I’ve ever seen. Have your owl drop bombs from above or send your friendly neighborhood Honey Badger to rip apart the insides of your foes (because you know that Honey Badger don’t care, he don’t give a shit). As well, he recruits other skilled Wenja tribesmen (and women, gotta keep it PC, you know) who open up new skill trees for the player to improve with.
By leaving the last generation in the past and focusing purely on the PC and current gen consoles we are presented with the best looking Far Cry to date. Every square foot of Oros is stunning from lush, green forests to snowy mountaintops and scorched and barren earth. Night or day you are given the best lighting effects we’ve seen in a Far Cry so far as well. Whether it’s firelight dancing on a cave wall or moonlight shining through the trees onto the forest floor on a clear night, it is incredibly well presented. If I had one gripe, and it’s a minor one I’m sure, it’s that I had a hell of a time recognizing rare variant creatures from regular ones so I often poked holes through some beasts I would have much rather tamed.
If there’s one thing I have to give Ubisoft Montreal credit for it’s their attention to detail, and huge attempt at immersion, all without sacrificing some of the more modern things we like in an open world game like this. It’s 10,000 BC so while we don’t have drones to help scout enemy camps like we do in your yearly regurgitated Battlefied game (oh, did I just use my inside voice again?) we do have our trusty trained owl who can run recon for us from the air. No grenades? No big deal, we can toss bombs full of angry bees instead. You also start with nothing but an empty cave for a village and as you rescue other Wenja and recruit village leaders to the camp it grows exponentially. Build huts and watch your village become a bustling metropolis of primitive cave dwellers. I must admit I’m a sucker for base building so while it’s not the newest mechanic we’ve ever seen I always genuinely enjoy watching my base of operations improve.
“Far Cry Primal takes players to an era rarely visited in modern gaming and does so convincingly.”
One of the biggest steps Ubisoft Montreal took to ensure a high level of immersion is in its sound… as in there’s lots of talking but none of it is in English. I can only assume they worked with some serious linguistics pros to put together a very convincing prehistoric dialect that I even learned some of as I played. The performances put on by the side characters may not have been in a language we understand, but were great nonetheless due to some witty writing and entertaining circumstances. The fact that the game is presented entirely in this fictional language, however, requires subtitles through 100% of the game and that always pulls me out of my experience. When given the option to turn subtitles off it’s something I do religiously as I find I spend all my time focused on the writing as opposed to what’s happening elsewhere on the screen. All in all it’s a fair trade as the immersion of the spoken language mostly trumped the constant glances down at the subtitles.
Any series that sees itself getting a fifth game or more runs the risk of becoming stale. The developers at Ubisoft Montreal deserve a lot of credit for taking a franchise that started to feel paint-by-numbers and injecting some new life into it. The real smart move is that they still managed to retain the feel of what makes the franchise fun to begin with. It’s a smart, yet entirely safe change. Far Cry Primal takes players to an era rarely visited in modern gaming and does so convincingly. Any fan of the series would love it and many would likely argue it’s the best we’ve seen from Far Cry thus far.
*** PS4 copy provided by the publisher ***
- Highly immersive
- Stunning graphics and lighting
- Strong character performances
- Prehistoric weaponry is a blast
- Breathes new life into the series
- Thin and predictable plot
- Forced subtitles can pull you out of the experience
- A ton of repetitive missions