Far Cry has been an open world big wig for some time now, evolving from a linear first-person shooter which, quite frankly, never took my fancy. Things opened up truly in the second instalment, however there were too many elements of Far Cry 2 that prevented it from being a classic, such as constantly needing regular doses of medication to prevent Malaria from setting in and the annoying breakable weapons. Ubisoft did however pull it out of the bag with Far Cry 3. This game is what made me fall in love with the series. It had a huge open world to explore, a realistic story, albeit a dumb protagonist, a truly frightening nut job for a bad guy, and excellent gameplay fundamentals. Every gamer knows who Vaas is. He stole the show every time he was on screen thanks to Far Cry 3’s second to none acting.
We were soon introduced to a new bad guy quite different to Vaas. Pagan Min was eccentric yet deadly. Nicely spoken and smartly dressed in that purple suit, yet look at him the wrong way and you’ll soon be six feet under. Far Cry 4 had a bigger world, more upgrades, and tonnes of things to do and see. Although the story took a hit this time, the gameplay stayed intact and there was no feeling like hacking a skyscraper sized radio tower then zip lining all the way down to the ground.
Ubisoft have taken a huge leap of faith with Far Cry: Primal. It intrigued me. How can they build on the fantastic Far Cry 4? Well, they haven’t really. Instead, Ubisoft have chosen to take the series back in time, like all the way back to 10,000 B.C. when big woolly mammoths were a common sight and survival was the true meaning of life.
Far Cry: Primal puts you in control of Takkar of the Wenja tribe who, after Takkar’s hunting party is ambushed by a rival tribe, is tasked with rebuilding and reforming to eventually leading his people. Once again the acting is spot on, although I never really knew a great amount about Takkar and his tribesmen. There is no real back story or lore present, which disappointed me. Who is Takkar? What happened to his parents? Questions like these you will soon answer yourself as you play. Let’s face it, they probably got eaten by a Sabretooth tiger.
Ubisoft have recreated a new language which is a nice touch, and gives the game authenticity considering the time period. The effort gone into creating a prehistoric tongue from the ground up is astounding, and it is what makes this game an important and special one. I must be honest in saying it won’t be to everyone’s liking. The constant reading of subtitles will annoy some as it takes the eyes from the brilliant visuals and astonishing attention to detail amidst the fantastically acted out cut scenes. Characters include the shaman Tensay and Shayla who has a disturbing ear collecting habit. Nothing comes close though to earning the nickname “Piss Man” from a one armed odd job.
The Land of Oros is a huge playground filled with dangers. Walking ten feet without encountering something wanting to rip your throat out is scarce. Defending yourself is a must using your notably smaller armament. There are no vendors to purchase weaponry or provisions anymore. You must now make your own using the materials littered all over the map. Hardwood is used for making spears and arrows, and meat and plants are used for food and temporary enhancements. This is true survival and it’s at its best in Far Cry: Primal. Ran out of arrows? You’re pretty screwed unless you find some wood.
The Far Cry stealth is untouched in Primal and pretty much follows over from previous entries. You once again stay hidden keeping a close eye on a white marker that fills if you’re spotted. This excellent system works great, as it always has, and staying undetected opens up opportunities for some slick looking takedowns, or if you’ve gained the upgrade, chain takedowns. Speaking of upgrades, this is where Far Cry: Primal falters. Abilities unlocked from the start in previous games such as highlighting and tagging enemies and animals, plus upgrades like the aforementioned chain takedowns, all have to be unlocked again using skill points earned from completing missions. Veterans of the series such as myself will not be impressed here as we have seen it all before and it didn’t take as much effort to unlock it all. That said, there are some cool ones mixed in such as the beast rider perk, trap building, and bee bombs which are so fun to throw amongst unsuspecting enemies
One of Takkar’s ultimate goals is becoming the Beast Master. Introduced pretty early on, Takkar is able to tame some of the local wildlife to become their master. Predatory animals such as wolves, dholes, cave lions, and surprisingly powerful badgers and larger ones such as bears can all be tamed. Taming a beast enables it to become your partner in crime (so to speak). You can direct it to go wherever you are pointing, attack whatever you are targeting, and deter smaller animals from trying their luck. You can also ride them if you have the skill unlocked too. You have to care for your pal though. If it’s hurt, you need meat to heal it. If it dies, it costs you to revive it or tame another. Tip: Don’t pet your badger too much.
Oros is plagued with things to do. Missions such as search and rescue tribesmen, help your village missions, hunt missions, and tribe clash missions are all available to complete at your leisure outside of the many story missions. Differing in difficulty and requirements, each task feels different to the next and an impressive amount of variety is on offer all across Oros. That’s if you can take your eyes away from the beautiful landscape long enough. The snowy cold northern regions to the warmer desert south with beautiful sunsets and lush night skies never fail to catch the eye, and I couldn’t help but stop and stare for a while. Teaming with lavish detail from every rock and stone. Iffy water effects though by today’s standards.