Hunting and gathering.
Ah, Far Cry. Ubisoft’s stress-relieving franchise which generally involves running, or driving, around beautiful landscapes and shooting, or blowing up, enemies with a nice variety of different weapons. Always packed with loads to do, and loads to find, there is something comforting about dropping into the latest Far Cry game.
But then, with the latest offering, Ubisoft have slightly mixed the formula up by setting it way back in 10,000 BC. So, the cars and guns are out of the window then…
In Far Cry Primal, the player is cast as the suitably primal Takkar, a member of the Wenja tribe who finds himself tasked with reuniting the scattered tribe in the land of Oros. Keeping with the previous Far Cry games, this ancient land is both filled with plenty for the player to do, and looks gorgeous to boot. Filled with wildlife, most of which will happily kill Takkar given the chance, and littered with amazing locations to find, Oros is a land of opportunity, even outside of the main quests. As players find the other members of their tribe, they will need Takkar’s help before returning to the settlement and helping it to grow.
Specialists make up the majority of the story in Far Cry Primal. These expert tribes people in given areas are the basis for multi-part quests, that in turn give access to skills, abilities and improvements to both Takkar and the settlement. Prove your skill to the specialists and they will return to your new settlement, along with the other Wenja, and help you out. Of course, they will still need you to do stuff for them – they are needy like that.
But the player will need the help of these specialists, not only to thrive, but simply to survive. It turns out that 10,000 BC is a dangerous time. Aside from the wildlife, there are two other tribes that also want control of Oros, and will happily wipe the Wenja out. The brutal Udam in the cold north will attack without mercy, and the more advanced Izilia to the south, and their love of fire, are not much better. Instead of a single main adversary, these two tribes and their leaders will give the player plenty to contend with in Far Cry Primal. Additional missions will scatter the map challenging the player to take out small campsites and capture bonfires to give access to quick travel, and to destroy larger campsites to reduce the threat. A day and night cycle adds even more peril for the player, so anything that makes Takkar’s life that little bit less dangerous is a good thing.
Far Cry Primal makes the wildlife an even more important part of the game than the previous Far Cry titles. Wolves, Bears, Sabretooth Tigers and even Wooly Mammoths all make for imposing adversaries. Some missions will set the player to hunting these animals, but a lot of time will be spent being hunted. However, through unlocking a skill, players will be able to tame most of these beasts, and have them accompany Takkar. These powerful creatures will help protect Takkar against any threat, they can be ordered to attack on demand, and some of them can even be ridden around the wilderness. Riding around on a Wooly Mammoth – still missing the vehicles??
Tamed animals prove to be effective weapons, but the majority of Takkar’s offense will come from the club, spear and bow combo. The bow takes care of long distance attacks, but even the club and spear can be thrown rather than simply used in melee. These weapons may seem limited, but they can all be upgraded and improved upon, and set fire to for that matter, through gathering materials and crafting. There are a few other weapons, and the upgrades can make a real difference to how effective a bow or spear is. There are even primitive hand grenades available which have quite interesting effects, such as producing a swarm of bees to harass the enemy.
You will need to gather wood, stone and animal skins to replenish ammunition for your bow and spears, while animal fat will be needed to add some flame. In fact, the crafting system in Primal is even more important than the previous games, with animal skins, bones and meat, along with all manner of flora, being in constant need. From healing items and various weapons upgrades and equipment, to providing huts for your village, there is always more gathering to do. Players will spend a huge amount of time looking for plants or hunting animals to gather materials, which can be a bit monotonous.
The concept in Far Cry Primal is excellent, and relatively unique. There are not many games set in this period of history. But once you get past the novelties of primitive weapons and riding around on animals, it still remains a Far Cry game, albeit with more emphasis on hunting, gathering and crafting. There is a huge amount of stuff to do, and completing the somewhat bland story only scratches the surface. Far Cry Primal may not be Far Cry 5, but it is a damn entertaining diversion that offers something a little bit different.