The Far Cry games are ridiculous amount of fun, and Far Cry Primal is no exception. With a well-polished gameplay and the correct amount of craziness you can expect from the franchise, Primal is here to prove that annual-ish release can shine with innovation.
Review: Far Cry Primal
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Available on: PlayStation 4 (tested), Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Far Cry Primal takes the Far Cry franchise back to the year 10,000 BCE. The story unfolds in a fictitious place called Oros, a lush valley just below an Ice Age permafrost where three early human tribes are competing for dominance. First we have the Wenja, the tribe that our own character, Takkar, belongs to. The second tribe are the Udam, a more Neanderthal-like, bloodthirsty tribe that still lives in caves. And finally, the Izila, a technologically superior tribe. As you may expect, the Wenja are either being enslaved by the Izila or ate by the Udam, so coexistence is not happening. Takkar must rebuild the Wenja, make them stronger, and to eradicate the nasty neighbors.
Right from the beginning we spot the first big difference: the “choose your faction” and any other player choices were ditched for good. Primal proposes a much simpler story that tries to get out of the way as quickly as possible. Your tribe is in danger, go and kill all the enemies and tame some ferocious pets. That’s it. The choices that matter in Primal happen within the core open world gameplay: some key fights have an ideal strategy, but the approach to take is up to you. You can go stealth and kill everyone in a camp without triggering the alarm, or you can take your big bad bear and set everyone on fire.
While Primal doesn’t have any sort of multiplayer, the world is huge and there are always many events going on at the same time between points of interests. You are never alone, and the map never feels empty.
The main reason for the never ending action are the wild animals living in Oros. There are huge beasts like mammoths and bears that will always be a challenge, even in late game. The replacement for the typical melee and range weapons are clubs, spears and bows. That’s it. You can set them on fire to scare smaller animals like tigers and jaguars, but when you are out there in the wild there is little for you to use as a cover, and even a tiger and some bad luck will make you die, repeatedly. Takkar also learns to use throwing dagger-style shard weapons, traps, animal bait, and even primitive bombs.
One of the big reasons Primal is so fun is because you get to be a beast master. Takkar has an owl that works like an aerial drone. The more you progress and level up, the more abilities your owl will learn, like attacking or dropping bombs. There are also many companions to tame that can be given basic squad commands. And it works really well. You will be switching pets around because of their various unique abilities. They have their own stats, and while a bear is strong and can receive a few beats before going down, it lacks the speed you will need for hit and run moments. Most importantly, they feel balanced. I was afraid I would never switch a pet once I got my sabretooth, but that was not the case.
Another thing I really liked in Far Cry Primal is the crafting and progression system. You will need to craft your own weapons using resources gathered from the world, but here you don’t suffer from that one item deliberately in short supply. Your progress marker is the Wenja village. Improving it by doing different activities provides you with XP boosts, new abilities, and a visual reward as you watch it grow. But what does it have to do with crafting Well, it also gives you cumulative resource bonuses that stock at the dawn of each in-game day. This means less grinding for rocks, wood, and animal pelts, and it makes progress much more pleasant. The bigger your village, the faster your tribe members will gather resources for you, so you can focus more in the fun activities.
The final thing I really liked about Primal is the lack of weird glitches. Everything worked just fine from day one. Everything. The game looks gorgeous and Ubisoft was able to learn from past mistakes and the game is pretty much flawless. No performance issues neither. And there is a lot of meat to chew. In my almost 30 hours I was able to finish the main story, but I got just a little over 50% of mission completion. There are many, many side activities to take part of, as you can expect from the developer.
Far Cry Primal delivers a fascinating open world to explore. The gameplay is really fun, the beast-based mechanics are well polished and balanced, the crafting and progression system are perfectly designed, and the never ending action of the world will make you drain countless hours.