With Far Cry 4 still fresh in our minds, it was something of a surprise when Ubisoft decided to spring Far Cry Primal upon us, even with its prehistoric, 10,000BC setting.
Let’s take a look at the BC action.
The story begins with protagonist Takkar and his party, hunting a woolly mammoth. After the tutorial, Takkar is tasked with finding the Wenja, his people, and the Land of Oros, where the story takes place.
The Wenja are being threatened by the Udam – known as the ‘Flesh Eaters’ – and the Izlia, another rival tribe. Traversing Oros, you encounter Udam who are attacking travelling Wenja, but what should feel like a rescue mission ends up being a minor disturbance while you’re on your way to the next objective.
In short, the story is weak. I didn’t connect with any of the primary characters as you only really meet them once before being sent off to the edges of Oros to do different tasks.
There wasn’t much direction to the missions, except as a slow progression of learning skills.
Happily, the gameplay is stupidly fun. Most of the travelling consists of parkouring towards the next waypoint, since there are no vehicles (although a sunken Flintstones car can be found).
One of the other selling points is the ability to tame wild beasts, such as wolves. Unfortunately, animals are something of a liability when trying to complete objectives in stealth. I would be scouting the area with my owl (the new form of binoculars), only to see my wolf in the background breaking stealth to maul the Udam, leading to them calling in reinforcements.
The environment itself is both your friend and your enemy. There aren’t that many safe areas, and more often than not, you’ll be running straight into bear territory or into a pack of wolves accidentally. Using trees and rocks you can kite these enemies, or simply parkour over logs to safety.
The Hunter Vision mechanic is similar to Assassin’s Creed’s Eagle Vision: the world loses colour, and objectives and enemies are marked in yellow and red. It makes the game a lot easier, especially at night. Snakes and underwater enemies like crocodiles and bitefish aren’t an issue because you can see them from a safe distance, and take them out with your bow, or wait and swim by.
As far as combat goes, in most cases I would sprint in with my club for a hit-and-run. In previous Far Cry games, this wouldn’t be possible as enemies had guns. Sneaking works well, but its not an improvement on previous iterations.
Furthermore, the outposts in Primal are just as easy as in Far Cry 3 and 4, unless your animal disrupts the process.
There really isn’t anything that has been improved here from previous Far Cry games.
The bears look like bears, but their fur mechanic looks like a test to see how it would work that was left with no further effort.
The screenshots below were taken via the Playstation 4 screenshot system, so give a good idea of what the graphics are like. Hopefully the PC community make mods for their version, but given Ubisoft’s previous PC versions, I’m not expecting much.
The sound work is decent, with animal noises creating ambience rather than music.
One thing I really liked was being able to calculate the proximity of an event through sound alone. Hearing Wenja in the distance yelling, accompanied by a wolf or bear, meant there was a battle between man and beast raging nearby. Little things like that help create the atmosphere.
Far Cry Primal ventured into a previously untouched spectrum, but didn’t come out any different. The story left my unsatisfied, and the gameplay was more or less a repeat of previous Far Cry games, with the only real deviation the primitive weapons.
The sound scores points, but the game was unnecessarily shoe-horned into a franchise that released three incredible games (Far Cry 3 remains one of the best games I’ve played).
If anything, the game felt like it was rushed to make up for the lack of major Ubisoft releases for the year. Far Cry 3, 4 and even Blood Dragon do it better.
Overall: 3/5 stars. It was an interesting concept, but ultimately fell short.