Cave lions, Sabretooth tigers, and Brown bears! Oh, my! It seems that 10 000BC is a more dangerous place than I had first anticipated. Welcome to the Valley of Oros, an environment that you will become quite familiar with during your time spent playing Far Cry Primal.
In the latest Far Cry game, developer Ubisoft has decided to take away all the luxuries and weapons that players have grown familiar with and drop you into the Stone Age. Armed with only a pointy stick, a club and some arrows, players need to learn how to survive in an environment filled with large predators and some really mean cavemen out for blood.
Players take on the role of a caveman called Takkar who is part of the Wenja tribe. The Wenja have been scattered across the valley of Oros and are being captured and hunted by the other two tribes that call the valley their home. The cannibalistic Udam tribe who believe that by consuming the flesh of their enemies they can gain strength, and the technologically advanced (at least in cavemen terms) Izila, who have figured out that slavery makes everything easier. As the mighty Takkar players are tasked with finding lost Wenja and uniting the tribe against their common foes.
Although the setting has changed, for good or bad, Far Cry Primal still retains a lot of what the Far Cry franchise has become know for. Outposts still need capturing, weapons require upgrading and collectibles are scattered across the valley. At its core, Far Cry Primal is still a Far Cry game, and will feel familiar to those who have played the previous games.
How Far Cry Primal tries to differentiate itself from its predecessors is by encouraging you to rescue and find your lost tribesmen (and woman), and to upgrade your village in order to unlock new abilities and rewards. These rewards and abilities make surviving away from your village a lot easier.
While on the subject of surviving, I found the open world of Far Cry Primal a lot more hostile and dangerous than I did in the previous Far Cry games. Staying alive while exploring the environments full of intimidating rival tribes, and vicious animals was a real struggle at first, as my pointy sticks barely did any damage. It is in these moments that I quickly realized that the game had elements and mechanics of a light survival sim, as players need to scavenge and gather resources out in the wild in order to craft more weapons, replenish broken ones and keep you and your pet animal alive and healthy. Nothing is scarier than being caught out at night with no more spears or arrows with which to defend yourself. Luckily this fear of the environment subsides as you unlock more of Takkar’s abilities, the most crucial and entertaining being the ability to tame the predators that roam the valley of Oros.
By unlocking this ability, players are able to tame creatures ranging from wolves to bears and even Sabretooth tigers. These animals can be called upon when needed as players are able to command them during battle or when on the hunt. I found that these tamed animals made attacking outposts easier and less nerve-wracking, as knowing that a giant bear has your back tends to fill one with confidence. There are quite a few animals that Takkar can tame and I found myself being compelled to tame them all. There are also unique versions of these creatures to tame, such as the Sabretooth tiger that wiped out your hunting party at the beginning of the game. It is really satisfying being able to tame these creatures after fearing them for so long.
While firing your bow hasn’t changed much from previous games, I found that the melee combat took some getting use to. As with most first person melee combat driven games, combat consisted of running around while wildly swinging my club or thrusting my spear and hoping that I would kill my target before they could kill me. Although melee combat felt a bit chaotic it did force me to think before attacking. Where in previous Far Cry games a player could charge into an outpost guns blazing, it is a lot more difficult to charge in spears blazing. It is because of the lack of guns that I found myself relying more on strategy and carefully though through tactics.
The valley of Oros is scattered with missions and side quests, while most of these tend to be repetitive versions of “go there, fetch that” or “go there, kill that” I did find myself forgetting to complete the main missions as I got distracted by all the icons that dotted my map. This is also because the story and narrative the game tries to weave feels a bit flat and uninspiring. The fact that the story did not grab me, and couldn’t keep my attention was really disappointing, as the environment and era the game takes place in would have been perfect for an engaging and interesting story. Instead, I found that through my experiences with the open world I was creating my own narrative.
As you will be spending a lot of time on foot (and I mean a lot), it is really great that the valley of Oros is a beautiful looking place. From snow covered mountains to lush valleys, each part of the environment is steeped in detail. This attention to detail is not only found in the environments, but in the language that the characters speak. Each of the three tribes speaks a language that was uniquely created for them by combining known ancient languages. This really immerses the player in the game, although there were the odd moments where an actor’s accent would come through, pulling you out of the experience.
As someone who had grown tired of the modern era Far Cry games, I found the changes in Far Cry Primal refreshing. Sure at its core the game is without a doubt still a Far Cry game, but the unique setting and environments kept me engaged throughout my time spent playing, even if the story didn’t. Far Cry Primal’s strength lies in the fact that it does not venture too far from the familiar, sure it can evoke a feeling of Déjà vu, but even this did not stop me from finding myself having fun exploring and collecting. If you enjoy the Far Cry formula, or you are just looking for something unique yet familiar then you might find yourself enjoying Far Cry Primal, as I found it to be a beautiful, brutal and entertaining experience.