Far Cry Primal Review

The Far Cry series has been a staple in games in recent years, with Primal being the third Far Cry in the last 4 years. There's something to be said for having what's called "Franchise Fatigue" (it's something I've had with another Ubisoft property, Assassin's Creed). The team behind Far Cry understood this and sought to do something radically different with the next iteration. If you couldn't tell by the title of the game, Far Cry Primal is set in 10,000 BCE. It's an incredible idea, one that hasn't been attempted by many other developers (if any) and one that the team has nailed. The world feels prehistoric, with no vehicles (a key element in the Far Cry franchise) the world feels huge. There's wildlife everywhere and a seemingly endless amounts of new areas to discover and explore. Exploration is what makes Primal so much fun, or any Far Cry game for that matter. 

A waterfall to make you say... wow?!

A waterfall to make you say... wow?!

It's a shame, then, that world itself isn't consistently beautiful. There are breathtaking moments in the game, especially when the sun is setting and the light trickles through the trees or in the dead of night and the sky is on fire with stars. But there are other aspects of the world that will completely take you out of the experience. The water looks terrible, especially waterfalls. They look like blocks of rock that slowly fall to a flat surface with no consequence.

Some of the environments look dated, but the facial animations are superb. Specifically in the many cutscenes. The way the characters mouths twitch, or the body paint that has been on a bit too long and is starting to crack. The cutscene character models are fantastic.

Another signature piece of the Far Cry franchise are the over the top and unpredictable villains. In fact, Far Cry 3's Vaas is to this day my favorite villain of any medium. He was psychotic, brutal and downright terrifying. In Far Cry 4 Pagan Min was the silent, sympathetic type. The one who will be incredibly kind to you, until you cross him, then he turns into a maniacal psychopath who has no regard for life. They were truly fascinating and terrifying bad guys to go up against, so when we're introduced to the villains of Primal, it's incredibly underwhelming. And the terrible "baddies" are a direct link to a terrible plot. You play as Takkar, a member of a tribe named the Wenja, when the Udum tribe and Izilla tribe start expanding their borders into Wenja territory, it's up to you to push them back. The leaders of these tribes are the main villains. It's by no means an engaging plot and the villains don't really "scare" you enough to feel like you have to stop them like Vaas or Pagan Min did. 

Where Far Cry Primal does shine is where the Far Cry games always have, gameplay. The gameplay loop in Primal is addicting. Hunting a giant Mammoth or a Sabretooth Tiger to upgrade your bow and arrow or your various village huts can suck hours away from you. Hours that slip by without ever noticing. The incredible amount of side quests that populate the world, the different bases or bonfires to take control of from the Izilla or Udum, the deep caves that may or may not hold some incredible secret, literal hours can be lost exploring the vast land or Oros.

You can tell the developers tried to make the world feel as authentic as possible. All the characters speak in the native tongue with subtitles. It takes some getting accustomed to, but once you're used to it, it's engaging. The weapons are all made from bone or rock and hair and can be upgraded by finding different predators throughout the world. And the predators of the world are just that, predators. The Jaguars are quick, and if you aren't paying attention, you'll be mauled by a pack of them. Even the Eagles will dive down and try to peck at you (or even dive down and pick up goats, fly a bit and then drop them, seemingly for laughs).

With as big as the world is, it can be a pain to traverse. Luckily, Takkar is a "Beast Master", which means you'll be able to tame any of the major predators you come across. Once tamed, these animals will fight along side you. Each have different abilities that'll help Takkar either fight or hunt. Some of which, like the Sabretook Tiger or a Mammoth, are rideable, making travel a bit easier (and quicker).

Primal is very much a completionists type of game, if you're looking for a tight, linear story this isn't it. But if you enjoy running around, collecting things, hunting things and unlocking things then Far Cry will be right up your alley.