Far Cry Primal takes an ambitious step BACKWARDS (roughly 10,000 years backwards) to put you in the animal skins of stone-age humans fighting to survive and tame a harsh world of kill or be killed.
It’s 10,000 BCE (Before the Common Era) and you are Takkar, the lone survivor of a hunting party. You meet up with other wandering members of your now scattered Wenja people and begin to bring them together as a tribe. You must find ways to feed and protect your tribe through exploration and conflict so it can grow and fend off the attacks of the cannibal Udam and fire worshipping Izila.
Fans of the Far Cry series will recognize the mechanics but if you’re new to Far Cry, Primal is a great entry that stands on it’s own so don’t feel like this 5th foray into the franchise means you can’t enjoy it.
Primal is a visually impressive walk through the stone-age. There are wide open fields, mountains, glaciers and deep caves and caverns. As you move through the world the game uses the environment to give you boundaries in a suggestive way rather than a ‘wall’ marking the end of the playable area.
The game is set in a time when everything is raw, visceral and that’s what you get, the right amount of blood and gore for the hunt and combat to feel solid and immersive.
The environment is the key to the immersion into a time when we have no real frame of reference. This game gets it right as animal movements, tree sway, sunrise and sunset through the passage of time and how that impacts what you can see and do all plays an amazing role in that feeling that this may have been what life was like when you’re head is constantly on a swivel for your very survival.
Unlike the closed spaces and massive machinery most are used to, here’s a game where wide open spaces and dark caves really make you appreciate a natural silence. The sound design gives you a sense of space and players quickly realize that listening provides things the HUD does not. From animal noises alerting you to danger, to the cries of tribesman being attacked in the distance giving you audio cues, which add an atmospheric intensity to your game environment.
The subtle use of sound and a lack of in your face music gives the game that raw natural feel of crackling fires, damp caves and biting winds.
There’s a lot to do in Primal and like the other Far Cry you work to expand your reach across a map dotted with hunting grounds, enemy tribes, campsites and caves.
The controls are intuitive and easy to get used to and combat is throw, swing or shoot. In no time at all you’re able to flip between weapons easily as you address varying scenarios of hunting and fighting.
Initially you’ll address the common missions that form the basis of your tribes home but eventually you will figure out that you are going to have to strike out and do some learning and growing if you’re going to take on the bigger tasks.
Encounters with other tribes people are fast and deliberate -no time for polite conversation. Fight or die don’t hesitate. It’s kill and keep killing.
Be careful, if you get too close to fire you burn. Especially when you light the grass on fire.
You can choose to hunt and gather what you need or you can gain tribe members through rescue or enemy camp liberation that affords you valuable assets. There are obvious choices if you want to get things moving quickly but the option means that if you want to drink in the environment yourself and set out exploring, you can put hours into it.
At the time of this writing, while playing on the normal difficulty level I’ve got 18 hours of time into it and not yet reached 40%. YES, you WILL have some hours to put into this game. This game is a marathon, not a sprint and while you CAN focus on the missions to advance the storyline, it will be a good idea to grow your skills and build up if you hope to make it through.
Don’t overlook this skill friends. There are opportunities where you are able to tame some of the beasts you encounter. Each animal has a skill you can leverage and call upon during your time. Most offer great protection and each have strengths like stealth or speed or raw power. Knowing WHEN to employ them to your advantage is a valuable skill to gain.
The beast master cut scene is in your face. Very well done – the beast master mission is a trip -not to be missed.
If you lose the beast master mission you can start again. The nature of this game allows for endless play there’s no feel of restriction, which is similar to what it probably would’ve been 10,000 years ago.
While not having yet finished the game, unless completing the games story locked you out of the world, you’ll have plenty to do if you skipped things trying to advance the story. Totems, masks, hidden caves and places are dotted all across the land of valley of Oros.
You never know what you’ll find as you make your way in the valley, it seems the Assassins have been around for far longer than we suspected!
Far Cry Primal’s price point is standard tier 1 game $60 price point but with so many hours of play, it quickly makes your investment worth the price you pay. Primal is a good deal new and will likely be a title many will find even better later given there is no multiplayer and you can enjoy the story and play on your own terms and your own time.
Far Cry Primal is a fresh vision on the First Person Shooter stage showing that not everything has to go to space or into the future to be littered with gadgets. Primal offers a full range of visuals, sounds and heart pounding chases and encloses it in a Valley that never feels small. You could quite easily spend more time immersed than you realise, just to explore and experience a world lost in time, brought back to life in Far Cry Primal.
If you enjoy this style of game, this is one worth putting your money on.
We played Primal on XBOX One and Playstation 4 without any discernable differences, the graphics are solid and rich for both consoles. The PC version of the game will debut in March.