Far Cry Primal
Open World Action Adventure
PC, Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One
February 23, 2016
₹1799 (PC), ₹3499(PS4, Xbox One)
Far Cry Primal is a title that may have started as a concept note about surviving the dawn of species but eventually ends as how else can we make this franchise interesting without changing much. Primal is the confluence of a lot of hit ideas, the night gets harder theme from Dragon’s Dogma and Dying Light, the seldom free-running brain splattering melee action from Dead Island and the combined forces of all hit Ubisoft formulas till date. And with the story and the brand new timeline at stake (wonder why no one cashed on Primal Age till date), this episode was no short of being fun, with drab sequences giving you periodic headaches. And some primal issues for the ones who truly love the franchise. Primal takes the Far Cry USP to a brand new level, as it seems they finally achieved what they set out to achieve all this while – hunting in a captivating sandbox.
In 10,000 BC, in the Valley of Oros, Central Europe, you set out as Takkar, the last hope of a diminshing tribe of humans – called the Wenjas. As the game progresses, you see the tension between the Wenjas and their neighbouring tribes arrive. The first of the clashes involves a band of broad shouldered tribesmen who call themselves the followers of Udam, fierce close range fighters who punish Takkar and his tribe from time to time. As the story moves forward, and Takkar leads the Wenjas to retain the top position in the food chain, he is met with a resilient leader in Batari, the huntress who leads the people of fire – the Izila. The game doesn’t pressurise you to close the chapters as quickly as possible, unlike the previous Far Cry editions, and mostly relies on your thirst to explore Oros and empty out dialogue boxes, often unlocking quests.
Takkar’s story is told through sequences and often through side-quests, with the developers trying to give the world an edge over the protagonist this time around. Far Cry never helped the franchise out previously, as each of the protagonists failed to the antagonist’s charm, be it with Jason Brody or Ajay Ghale, so to me this was a good decision. Primal also wanted to keep a very authentic prehistoric ambience to the game, surrendering the English language as the spoken game language. It looks great on paper, but hurts a lot to read through subtitles while trying to focus on someone’s face as it dramatically foreshadows what’s incoming.
During combat, Far Cry Primal wants you to either go hush (stealthily completing missions with your nimble Rare Black Dhole) or go big (with mammoths and Rare Bears) and experiment with the animal companions and terrain at max in the quest. This is where I missed the decisions Far Cry 4 took to move the franchise forward, the mini-chopper, the gazillion guns that can blaze open the doors; only to be replaced by an item we’ve (Assassin Creed fans) already have had fun with – the berserk shards. While Far Cry 4 sent strong words of how to use the franchise sandbox to complement combat style, Far Cry Primal went many steps backwards in order to hold your hands and give you a very original feel, from the less crazy 10,000 BC. And even the most fun parts of combat in the game included a blast from the past – the mammoth ridden fort invasions.
Considering Primal to be a standalone, brand new Far Cry game, I wanted a little more experiment with the gameplay more than cleaning up the world and setting new ways to make you experience and immerse yourself in the world. Far Cry has earned the trust to immerse one in the world already; you don’t owe anyone anything Ubisoft, time to move on and work on the weaknesses. With a limited stock of ammunition, considering the numerous items you could’ve motivated us to craft in the primal age, the intent to kill in Primal is simply to survive, not to dominate. Three bows – normal, long and dual, spears – that change visuals and combat stats as you upgrade and a couple of clubs – single handed, dual handed, is all that you’re left with to survive in the time of mammoths and sabretooth tigers.
However, a lot has been put in order to make the beast combat look interesting, as each beast brings something unique to the table. The cave bears stand up to any kind of damage like a tank, the dholes scavenge important items for you in the midst of a fight, the jaguars fight from the shadows and the sabretooth tiger pounces on its prey at the speed of light. This isn’t just an enhanced version of the Shangri-La tales from Far Cry 4 and I’m in full confidence of this rendition, as it complements the hunter style sandboxing the franchise is famous for. A couple of animations and minute details, like the way two cave lions go at each other, or how Takkar dismounts his ride, shows how Ubisoft can get inside your skin with their eye for detail. The night time turns the fight fiercer, as rare animals and items come in frenzy. I spent most of my game time in my hunter vision at night, waiting out a rare sound or following the smell of a distinct animal.
Nearly anything and everything can kill you, from badgers (yes they are back) to eagles (EAAAGAAAAL!) and the family of mammoths. Don’t step on a snake that can leave you dazed for moments or come near a bee hive during a strife. Scavenging for rare items is as important as hunting rare animals and taming the rarest ones. The world is divided into the South and North zones, as each zone brings something unique to your shelf, often allowing you to craft a new gear and take an instant battleground advantage. The grappling hook returns from Far Cry 4 and cuts your journey short with its traversal advantage. The melee combat, which is the new world order of the franchise, fails to impress me, with button mashing winning it for me at the end of the day, minus the Far Cry finesse moments. The Sling Shot started afresh but how quickly it too faded away. For them, count on your spear and arrow kills. Bashing up someone never became my style, as I preferred to use my environment (like bee sting kills) and beast to unwind my enemies and then headshot them with my longbow. There is no single point of story progression, unlike the previous Far Cry, as you go on your own calls to help out Sayla, Tensay, Jayma, Karoosh and Wogah (the piss-man). This essentially keeps the main progression at bay and allows you to completely immerse in the 10,000 BC world.
The world of Far Cry, Oros, is jaw dropping gorgeous. It’s a brand new world from the ones we got used to in Kyrat, and in a blink of an eye it’ll make you believe that you’re seeing the mammoth in front of your own eyes. Far Cry Primal rides on a much polished sandbox with visuals complementing live events and action happening right in front of you, whether it’s a sight of two sabretooth tigers fighting against each other for a piece of meat or a Wenja warrior being hunted down by two Udam warriors, as you sneak in behind them and take them down like the shadow. Apart from a few visual hiccups, like jarring animation and blurred line of sight, Far Cry Primal sets the periodic tone right, with the right set of colour palette differentiating the green pastures from the frozen northern borders of Oros.
What really puts Far Cry Primal ahead is its strong SFX, as an enhanced hunter-based game makes sure you hear the right things at the right time. Stepping out during the night-time would require more than just a pair of eyes to keep you ahead of your perils, and Primal achieves a new hallmark in how to design sound for video games using clear and cutting edge wildlife cues. Whether it is the swarm of fireflies encapsulating a shrub or a rare tall elk gone astray from its family, everything feels just right in your 8-9 action packed hours. Couple it up with a subtle soundtrack that knows exactly when to ebb and tide, and some pretty amazing commercial tie ups like Fever Ray, Primal makes you believe – Ubisoft knows their Soundtrack.
The lack of a multiplayer option within the game makes it all the more relevant for one to use the time to skill up everything during the course of the single player story. Although Primal doesn’t necessarily bring anything exclusively special to the series, the same old Far Cry skill tree works in the old timer’s favour. In a lot of ways, Far Cry Primal is a return to the series, with a relatable periodic rendition of the dawn of human civilisation, presenting tons of side quests and content but without the loud and gasoline DNA that the series is well known for. Far Cry Primal needs your attention for all those who are seeking new challenge within the Far Cry premise.
+ Excellent Rendition of 10,000 BC
+ Jaw Dropping Live Events
+ Polished Skill Tree
+ Creative Freedom while Hunting
- Melee Combat System
- Limited Weaponry
- Minimal in-Combat Creativity
- Lack of Far Cry Signature moments
- Re-usage of older Far Cry missions