Far Cry Primal review
Published 22/02/2016 | 12:00
Far Cry Primal takes us back in time to a world without guns and vehicles, but is that enough to make Primal stand out from other games in the series?
After taking players to exotic locales like Rook Island and Kyrat, Far Cry Primal’s setting is unlike any we’ve explored in the series to date. Primal takes us back 12,000 years or so to a very different time; deadly predators roam the Earth and mankind is much lower on the food chain.
Unlike its predecessors, or successors if you prefer to look at things chronologically, Far Cry Primal is not a typical fish out of water story. You assume the role of Takkar, an already capable hunter and gatherer who is more concerned with finding his fellow people. It’s said that there’s safety in numbers and when the world is as dangerous as this one is, numbers are exactly what you need. The Wenja have been spread far and wide, mainly due to the actions of the particularly aggressive Udam, but you hope to found a new settlement and attract Wenja to your village through your actions. Key members of the village not only give you motive and help progress the story, but open up new skill trees, craftable items, and rewards.
Initially, you’re armed with a handful of spears and a blunt club, you’re expected to take down mammoths and ward off wolves. That’s not to say that you strap an arsenal to yourself as the game progresses; yes, you can carry a little more, but you still need to be careful as to how you use your limited resources. Instead, you simply become more adept at picking your battles and using the tools at your disposal.
The safest way to navigate Primal’s world and to be able to appreciate some of its beauty is to have a tamed beast by your side. The story introduces this element fairly early on; you are the Beast Master after all. First, you’ll get an owl, which can be used for scouting, attacking enemies, and unleashing caged animals in outposts. But once you get a wolf by your side, Primal becomes a more engaging, perhaps even more aggressive beast.
You can take the fight to enemies more capably, sending your animal after one target as you dispatch another. It will not only protect you, but fight to the death if necessary. And it can be very useful while hunting or gathering resources. When the task is complete, you can pet it, which is a cathartic way to end any battle.
Though you are gathering Wenja and warring tribes is the motivation behind many of the game's missions, Far Cry Primal ditches the multiplayer component. Now, we wouldn't have said that multiplayer is in any way integral to the Far Cry experience, but it seems strange that this is the year that it is removed from the title entirely.
While Primal features a completely new setting and time period, there are still plenty of familiar Far Cry elements to be found. Bonfires and outposts dot the landscape, providing Fast Travel options once claimed; your inventory is packed full of resources, from animal skins and meat to slate, reeds, and plants; there’s a skills tree with a mix of passive and active unlocks; and there are hundreds of collectibles scattered around the world.
It’s said that this world isn’t quite as vast as Far Cry 4’s, but when you consider that you’ll be traversing it on foot, that is a blessing. Primal features some inhospitable and difficult landscapes, and even though you have Fast Travel at your disposal it can still take some time to get from point A to point B. Throw side missions, dangerous predators, and wandering hunters into the mix and you soon realise that size isn’t everything. There are some beautiful spots to be found too, if you can take a moment and find a safe spot to soak it all in.
Far Cry Primal may remove guns and vehicles, but the series’ DNA is present and correct here. That in itself may determine if it is for you.
4/5 - Mark O'Beirne