Far Cry Primal is what Far Cry 4 would look like... in the Stone Age!
The first teaser for Far Cry Primal caught our attention and raised expectations from the game solely because of a refreshing plot depicting the Stone Age. Most stories currently are inclined towards showing how technology is going to ruin mankind in the future whereas some try to narrate an alternate version of popular historical events. Ubisoft decided to completely distance itself away from these tropes to give us Primal under the Far Cry series. The new game certainly brings in a few never-before-seen elements into the gameplay but after a few hours of exploring the vast open world, it felt too familiar and we found ourselves sidetracked from the main mission. Was it able to live up to those expectations? The answer to that is a bit complicated.The plot
Setting the stage for Far Cry Primal, you play as Takkar, a member of the Wenja Tribe. Trying to outrun a Sabretooth, you are separated from your tribe members, ending up alone in the vast and dangerous land of Oros. With ferocious beasts waiting to shred you into pieces, your primary objective is to bring all the Wenja together. What follows is a quest to rebuild a village, gather resources, bring members to your village, hunt animals, gather more resources, search for key members of the tribe and finally, gather even more resources. In this quest, you’ll come across members from the Udam and Izila tribes whom you’ll to have to slay down on sight since if you don’t, they will kill you. No hard feelings.Also, along the way you’ll learn how to tame the same beasts that are out for your blood and learn the ability to command them. And that’s about it. You might wonder that’s a lot but after playing for a few hours, you’ll realise that all the above-mentioned activities occur simultaneously and sequentially as you explore the wilderness.
Rather than the conventional and overwhelming arsenal of guns, all the weaponry has been replaced with crafted tools from prehistoric times. Guns have been replaced with clubs; bow, arrows and spears, while grenades have been replaced with bee nests and poison bombs. Throughout the game, you’ll be crafting tools on the go and with the earned XP and skill level, you can further improve your weapons. To unlock and improve your weapons, you’ll need to collect resources. Resources are available throughout the map including different types of wood, stones, animal hide etc. Certain upgrades require rare items that can only be found at specific locations while the main story’s progress also affects other upgrades. On the way, you’ll also need to craft weapons since clubs burn out, break down while you run out of arrows as well. If you see the number of resources dwindling down, reward stashes will be available at camps refilled by your people that you can take. Initially, the main story leads you into the wild in search of prominent members of your tribe possessing key skills which are advantageous to your final objective of bringing down the enemy tribes. Bringing them back to your village unlocks abilities related to their skills that can be upgraded further with the resources collected.
Into the land of Oros
Oros is a beautiful place, complete with dense forests, deep caves and snow-capped mountains. As rich as the landscapes of Kyrat in Far Cry 4, flora and fauna is abundant in Far Cry Primal as well. Once you have explored the map enough to reveal the major parts of Oros, you’ll sense something familiar. On comparing the pattern of water reservoirs and terrain, the map looks the same as that of Far Cry 4. A known practice of Ubisoft games, the map is flooded with a number of icons depicting spawn points, stronghold camps, outposts, unknown areas to discover, rescue missions etc. Camps and outposts are scattered throughout the map. Once captured, they serve as fast travel locations and this time due to limited avenues of travel they have included a high number of such locations. Takkar’s task is to rebuild his village by searching fellow tribe members across Oros and bringing them back. You won’t get any control over how you rebuild your village, which would have introduced a strategic gameplay mechanic to the game. The level of intricacy gone into creating the models of costumes, characters and weapons are crazy. The key tribe members possess certain abilities such as crafting, hunting etc and their costumes quite evidently indicate their abilities.
A Far Cry game without anything supernatural looks incomplete. This time around, they have a justified premise with the prehistoric times being a commonplace for Shamans or witch doctors. As you advance in the story, you’ll learn the ability to tame beasts and eventually ride them later. Probably the most appealing element in the game, you can tame Dholes, Wolves, Jaguars, Cave Lions, Bears and Sabertooths. Taming animals is easy and all you need to do is throw a bait near them and with a press of a button, they’ll be your pet. Certain missions by the village Shaman will let you take the role of animals, which completely goes out as crazy supernatural. Different classes of tamed animals give you different advantages while attacking, such as canines are better at warning enemies while felines are silent and don’t attract much attention during attacks.
Rare animals from the same classes can also be found that have additional capabilities such as resistance to fire or being able to swim. Tamed animals can be summoned anytime and switched between other tamed animals, but sadly, you can’t control multiple animals at a time. This would have been incredibly fun and acted as an added advantage when attacking camps, making it possible for you to send a pack of wolves to maul down the enemies before you entered. Later in the game, you’ll be able to ride Sabertooths and Wooly Mammoths. Travelling on foot is a pain in the open world and with the absence of vehicles to travel, riding animals is fun. You’ll also be able to control an owl which is essentially a drone that scouts enemy camps, tagging them so that you could plan your attacks. Upgrades will enable your owl to attack enemies as well.
Whenever you start up Far Cry Primal, you’ll be given a short recap about your progress in case you’re logging in after a long time. This is a good feature and every game should include this. Combat in Far Cry Primal is slow owing to the set of weapons at your disposal. So when you’re attacking enemy camps, you can’t infiltrate with guns blazing and blowing everyone up. Instead, you can storm into camps with clubs banging and beating them to death. If you’re of the shy kind, then you could strategise your attacks by stealthily approaching, performing takedowns, throwing bee’s nests etc. Already mentioned, your owl gives you a tactical advantage of planning and you could also deploy your ferocious pets to attack after you’ve tagged the enemy tribe. It makes you think how the Stone Age must have been where you would have to be always wary about predators around you while hunting for food.
The developers have tried to emulate the same sense of getting immersed into Oros and after a few hours you’ll be able to recognise animal calls. This is helpful when there’s a Bear or a pack of Wolves prowling around since it’s difficult to go head to head against them even though you might have a tamed beast by your side. Hunter vision makes gameplay interesting by letting you see things which aren’t visible normally. Some missions such as tracking and hunting down a bear or a wolf can get really intense. It’s intriguing to follow the footsteps of a predator when they can pounce upon you from nowhere. The game has a day and night setting, and as expected, it’s dangerous to wander off into the jungle after sunset. More animals come out in the dark, they are more aggressive and won’t stop until you’re dead.
Verdict: Far Cry primal
The story of Far Cry Primal is mediocre. It lacks excitement and there are no plot-twists that will keep you hooked to finish the main missions of the game. In fact, you’ll spend more time exploring Oros and playing the side missions. Although Primal’s map isn’t boring, broadly it looks like a reskinned version of Far Cry 4 with their protagonist, Ajay Ghale, now Takkar, doing the same thing all over again with small changes in gameplay. One would wonder why the game wasn’t released as an expansion rather than a full game.
If you haven’t played any Far Cry game ever, especially Far Cry 4, then you will love playing Far Cry Primal. For old timers who have overplayed the Far Cry series, you won’t notice much difference in the gameplay other than the story and setting. Beast taming has to be the best addition the game has to offer, which kept bringing us back to Oros. Voice acting is impressive and although it’s a made-up language, the angst and expressions of joy were brilliant. The premise of stepping into the footsteps of Takkar in the Stone Age sounds alluring and considering the elements it surely is worth playing. If repetition and the full price is a concern, you should probably wait it out for a sale.
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Abhijit "BabuMoshaaye" Dey
This ape-descended life form believed that coming down from the trees was a bad idea until he was introduced to video games. Has spent endless hours playing Prince of Persia, Hitman, Assassin's Creed, Unreal Tournament, Half-Life and Left 4 Dead. This makes it three sentences, Half-Life 3 confirmed.