The Far Cry series has been astoundingly popular with fans, offering an immensely detailed open world experience with a motley of memorable characters and varied gameplay. In its latest installment, Ubisoft takes you away from the panoramic landscape of the Himalayan mountains (Far Cry 4) to go far back in primitive times with Far Cry Primal, replacing modern guns and explosives with melee weapons. You can see Conan O’Brien goofing around with YouTube personality PewDiePie in the latest Clueless Gamer segment, where both play some sections of Far Cry Primal.
Set around 10,000 BC in the land of Oros- a dense wilderness of forests, swamps, frozen caves, and teeming with mammoths and sabertooth tigers, you play the protagonist Takkar, a heroic caveman of the Wenja tribe determined to find his people and prevent them from being wiped out. The most dangerous enemies here are not exactly members of warring tribes, but the apex predators prowling the forest. It is a fierce battle for survival where you must fend off tigers, bears and badgers, as well as hostile bloodthirsty tribes bent on wreaking destruction.
Refreshing premise, satisfying gameplay
The first thing that you notice about Far Cry Primal that is a breathtakingly beautiful game, with the world feeling more alive and rich than in previous installments. The land of Oros is exceptionally well-built and each area feels unique, full of different flora and fauna. Another unique aspect of Primal is that Ubisoft has created three new fictional languages for this game- indicates the amount of effort that has gone into it.
Before the release of Primal, I had a few reservations about how the gameplay would be like, especially due to the absence of any mode of transportation (although, you can learn to ride a wooly mammoth and a tiger, which is ultra-cool). However, it turns out that half the fun in this game is travelling on your two feet, exploring open worlds, scouring through every nook and corner for myriad collectibles and inventing new, innovative weapons.
The strategy to succeed is quite similar- in around 25 hours (that’s just the approximate total gameplay hours. There are no time-bound missions. Have fun!), you have to traverse steamy rainforests to icy tundras to fight and conquer the two rival tribes Udam and Izila, which will stop at nothing to drive the Wenja towards extinction.
You can unlock sections of the map by lighting bonfires, undertake missions from non-player characters (usually involving killing someone/something) and destroy camps of enemy forces, thus unlocking that area for your tribe and making you travel faster to that location. Primal also has some new mechanics included, such as collecting bark, assorted plants and animal skins to upgrade huts of your rescued fellow tribe members, who in turn will help you upgrade your arsenal of spears, bows and clubs- this is fun in itself, but can become slightly tedious over time. I would have loved it if more time had been devoted to combat, which is brutal and replete with adrenaline-fueled visceral thrills.
The most interesting addition to the game is the beast taming ability which you learn from the shaman Tensay. Through this, you can partner an owl to target your enemy or have a jaguar or cave lion as a companion to hunt down prey. The beastmaster hunts are especially fun where you get a chance to tame great beasts. The animal companions can die in battle, but can always be resurrected with food or leaves. Also, if your companion is big enough, you can even ride it. The experience of riding around a sabretooth tiger around the Oros wilderness is really exhilarating!
A minor drawback to Primal is regarding its core story and characters. The story never really grips you (as in Far Cry 4), the motivation felt a bit cliched and the characters don’t make that much of an impression.
Verdict: Go for it!
I must stress that the lack of a stronger story and characters do not in any way make Primal less fun to play. The primary concern remained that whether it would stay compelling enough and not make you feel like you are retreading old ground. In that, Far Cry Primal succeeds spectacularly, unfolding random, unscripted events and unpredictable situations to keep you hooked.
Ubisoft has perfected the formula to create an immersive and challenging environment and this is why Far Cry Primal is so fun to play. The Stone Age setting is more foreboding, with the natural surroundings enhancing the raw brutality in combat, and also creating more menacing threats. The experience is captivating and has plenty to offer to delight fans.