Far Cry Primal represents a re-imagining of Ubisoft’s open world adventure, with the shift to the prehistoric era making way for numerous changes to the series’ tried and tested formula. A large number of these changes are cosmetic, however, as necessitated by the setting, and the underlying gameplay remains true to what one has come to expect from the Far Cry games. Despite a dramatically different setting, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Primal is more or less an elaborate re-skin of some of the previous entries in the franchise.
The game’s story has you assuming control of the protagonist Takker, as you travel across the forests and caverns of the Oros Valley in pursuit of members of your tribe, known as the Wenja. Besides your own tribe, there are two others that you will encounter, and they’ll each have an agenda that often conflicts with that of your tribe. Your aim as Takker is to build a new village and populate it with recruited members of your tribe and, in turn, bring glory to the Wenja. The progress of recruitment is directly tied to your character’s progression, with the Wenja gradually adding new weapons, abilities, and items to your arsenal. While it is hardly different from the character progression systems seen in previous Far Cry games, it is smartly associated with the game’s overarching plot. On their own, however, the storyline and narrative are rather weak and nothing to write home about.
Far Cry Primal’s biggest challenge doesn’t come in the form of conflicts with members of other tribes, however. A large number of ferocious animals sprawl the game’s large open world, and they often travel in packs. A head-on confrontation is often unwise, and it is here that the opportunity to use a stealthier route begins to make a lot of sense. A dynamic day/night cycle lends further weight to the game’s natural perils. As things get darker, these animals get far more dangerous. At this point, it is the loot and crafting system that comes in handy, allowing you to craft and light up a club to make your way through the dark.
The element of survival doesn’t end here, however. Far Cry Primal’s open world will have you travel to areas with unique climatic conditions, each requiring you to familiarize yourself with and tackle its own environmental hazard. Bonfires, for example, will serve as the means to keep you warm in the colder regions of the game. You’ll also get the opportunity to tame wild animals and put them to good use via the Beast Master skill tree. This aspect was first introduced in Far Cry 4, where you could tame and ride elephants. It’s much more fleshed out in Far Cry Primal, however, and you can use a variety of animals to scout areas, hunt other animals, and even fight by your side.
During your adventure through the Oros Valley, you’ll get to use a range of melee weapons that largely serve a similar purpose, and you’ll often find yourself resorting to the tried and tested ones. You’ll also get long-range weapons such as the bow and the spear, which serve as your stone-age replacement for modern day firepower. On the whole, Primal’s stone-age combat tends to be rather slow in terms of pace, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you played previous titles in the series. It’s also worth mentioning that, outside of a few exceptions, none of the weapons stand out as particularly creative.
By far the most disappointing aspect of Far Cry Primal is its lack of a multiplayer offering. Far Cry 4 featured an online coop mode that let you tag along with a friend or a random and help them complete their missions. Its omission in Primal certainly hurts its replay value.
You’ll still find yourself capturing outposts and radio towers, only here they’ve been re-skinned as settlements and bonfires. Other elements ranging from the crafting system to the world map itself also resemble those found in recent Far Cry games. That said, there is still plenty to like about Far Cry Primal, especially if you’re a fan of the series.
This review covers the PS4 version of the game.
Far Cry Primal
Far Cry Primal’s involvement of nature’s perils serves as a tense and engaging distraction, and it is indeed during these moments that the game truly shines. However, its fundamental gameplay is otherwise hardly different from that of previous titles in the series.