It's easy to imagine that when the team behind Far Cry Primal were deciding what their latest outing should be, they looked back over their previous titles and asked: what do people most enjoy about Far Cry? One of the things that would probably be near the top of that list would be the hunting and crafting that acted as one of the pillars for the upgrade system. Far Cry Primal reflects a desire to ramp up these hunter-gatherer mechanics even more than ever before, and taking the action back to the Stone Age – an era of history when popping down to the shops because you broke your last club just wasn't an option – helps to support this ambition perfectly.
You assume the role of Takkar, a member of the Wenja tribe who must rebuild their settlement after it's nearly annihilated by two rival groups: the Izila and the Udam. By rescuing and recruiting the survivors of your clan who've become scattered around the land of Oros, you'll need to build your strength so that you can fight back and ensure that your tribe doesn't become a casualty of natural selection.
Rather than having you work through a single line of story missions for its campaign, Far Cry Primal has multiple threads that can be played through in any order. Most threads deal with your character finding specialists within your tribe who can provide new skills and tools, though the two meatier threads address directly the conflict with the Izila and Udam. Whichever mission string you decide to follow, there's plenty of memorable characters and missions, and while the overall story revolves around the usual Far Cry quest for revenge, it still feels different enough – mainly due to the setting – that it'll make you want to see each quest line through to its conclusion.
As was the case in Far Cry 4, the strongest aspect of Primal is the open world design. With very limited scope for manmade structures to fill the landscape, the environment needed to be varied enough to make you want to explore. Fortunately, the development team has done a brilliant job with the world, and delivered a savage wilderness filled with all manner of mountains, caves, and valleys, where pretty much everything is out to kill you. These environments are made surprisingly atmospheric not only by the beautiful day and night cycle but also by some nice lighting effects from the fire that you come across, which – outside of the sun and moon – represents the only real source of light.
By and large, Far Cry Primal works structurally the same as the previous games, so you'll be spending much of your time exploring the open world, taking over enemy camps or outposts, and undertaking missions for the aforementioned collection of odd characters. The biggest changes – outside of there being no towers to climb – come in terms of the hunting and crafting, which now feed into pretty much every element of the game, as weapons, consumables, upgrades to your tribe's village, and more are reliant on these crafting materials.
As a result, for good or bad, a lot of your time will be spent picking up plants and rocks, or turning the assorted wildlife of Oros into pin cushions with your bow and arrow. The hunting is pretty much the same as that in Far Cry 4, though there have been some nice additions to the process. Animals now leave blood and scent trails which can be tracked by activating your obligatory caveman vision – and lengthy multi-stage hunts against powerful beasts add a nice challenge as your wily prey leads you on a merry chase.
The biggest addition by far, though, is the ability to tame and control certain animals to fight by your side, and having a sabre-toothed tiger ripping into your enemies can provide an extremely useful distraction – especially when you fail to walk the stealthier paths open to you. Hunting down these beasts and adding them to your menagerie is especially fun, and it's easy to fall in love with your new companions – particularly when you recruit an owl that can mark enemies and drop bombs, or you unlock the ability to ride some of the larger beasts into battle. Let that sink in for second. Yes, you can ride a bear while firing a bow and arrow.
Taking down enemies stealthily with any of your weapons – whether its clubs, spears, or your trusty bow and arrow – is still as enjoyable as ever, however things aren't anywhere near as fun in open combat. Without the great gunplay of the previous games to fall back on, you'll find yourself maniacally swinging your club while trying to get enough distance so that you can use your ranged weapons. Unsurprisingly, this isn't much fun, and it's a real shame that more couldn't be done to develop this aspect of the gameplay, since the limitations of the setting seem to have caused a bit of a backwards step to the combat.
Despite some new additions – and a brand new setting in a largely untapped historical era – if you dig under the surface of Far Cry Primal, you'll find a remarkably well preserved edition of Far Cry 4 entombed within. As a result, if you were hoping for more of a revolution to the formula, or didn't particularly enjoy the hunting mechanics in past games, then you're best off steering clear of this title. Of course, if you're merely looking to jump back into the familiar Far Cry gameplay loop in a captivating open world, then there's still plenty of fun to be had. And at the end of the day, who on Earth doesn't want to ride around on a bear?
Sounds like what U was expecting, an expansion to Far Cry 4 that they turned into a full priced game. Will probably wait for for Wild instead. You can ride bears in that too.
This game really doesn't grab my attention.
Yeah, I actually find myself more drawn to this because of the setting than previous Far Cry games. Having said that, I've barely played a Far Cry since 2 so I'm not really "burned" on the formula. I can understand why there may be some fatigue as 4 only came out just over a year ago.
Thanks for the great review Alex.
I feel exactly the same for some reason.......when I think of Far Cry = blowing things up, lots of guns.
Looks OK, I'll pass though. I did really enjoy Far Cry 3 but it's all feeling very samey now.
Dark Souls 3, Uncharted 4 and Alienation just round the corner and I'm still working through a backlog of amazing games which is always huge, partly thanks to PS+. I need more time, lol.
I KNEW IT!!! so glad I didn't buy into Ubisofts bullish*t
Nothing like far cry 4. No guns. Sure the world is similar but you have to craft weapons and also upgrade your village by hunting certain animals. There are key members of the tribe that unlock different skills. It's so much more than an expansion to far cry 4 . You also get to tame animals to be at your side
Sounds good, I haven't played a Far Cry since 2... The setting and weapons are interesting me the most, and the fact I haven't played one for a while I guess I'll have no burn out like others. The hunting in this time period sounds really cool aswell. I have too many games to play through atm but I will definitely pick this up when there's a price drop.
@get2sammyb Thanks Sammy!
If anyone wants to ask any questions about Far Cry Primal hit me up in the comments and I'll share the knowledge.
at best very loosely inspired by prehistory.
I'm not really sure about this one.
FC4 was disappointing in that it was a FC3 replica but not quite as good.
As this doesn't have guns and has the animal mechanics etc I hoped it would be different, though looks like it isn't.
I might grab it if I see it in the bargain bin...
@AlexStinton Hey Alex. Great review. I was wondering about the armored guys. I saw mentioned in another review about some kind of heavily armored dudes that are hard to kill. Are they straight up bullet arrow sponges or is there some trick to killing them quickly. Like in other Far cry games there was a heavy take down skill. Thanks buddy.
Good review - these games aren't bad but there is a formula and if you have played FC3 and FC4 then you'll probably be tired of that formula (I am). I'm intruged as to how this will sell... as the review mentions, blowing stuff up was a very fun part of the FC games.
@tenderbeefcake The armoured guys can take a lot more punishment compared to the more common enemies, but you can take them down stealthily once you unlock the right skill.
In fact, all of the stealth takedowns are exactly the same as Far Cry 4, which is a little disappointing.
@AlexStinton Thank you sir.
@Comrade44 Imagine a drone that can mark the position of enemies, drop bombs packed full of bees, or even swoop down to kill unsuspecting enemies. Now imagine that drone is actually an owl.
I was on the fence with this game as I always enjoyed the settings of the previous Farcry games. The trailer really did not grab me then watched it for a few hours on twitch. Will give this one a miss there were scenes where it looked like they put a bird on stick and then moved it around the landscape. Hopefully they will go back to the usual settings for the next installment
I've never played any other farcry than the first one. Will I like it? Who knows... sounds a bit "too Ubi" to me!
Hmmm, figured an 8 at least, glad I didn't preorder now. Just picked up Divinity and Automatron will drop for Fallout soon enough. That should hd me over until the inevitable Division, which I am still not sold on. Why can't June just hurry up so I can start playing NMS??
I'll probably pass on this one, I played FC3 and 4 which were frankly very similar. I like the new setting but for now I think I'm done with Far Cry.
Good review @AlexStinton!
I've spend a good 8 hours on it so far and I was quite surprised how many new ideas were incorporated, while still feeling like a Far Cry game. I don't see this as a FC4 mod or anything. It certainly doesn't have a copy and paste feel as much as many franchises do (E.g. AC, COD, Battlefield).
I think the only reason I'll really look at this is because of the setting. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it isn't very often you go to the stone age.
Nonetheless, solid review Alex.
You're right, there aren't many games that use the Stone Age as a setting, and certainly not in a series like Far Cry.
I would love to see - just for giggles - a bombastic, over the top Call of Duty game in this era.
@Quintumply Cheers mate!
Awesome review Alex! I'm not sure about this probably pick it up down the line if it's cheap... I cancelled my pre order due to funds and quite glad I had.
@AlexStinton I recall seeing something like that in an April Fool's Game Informer. I fully admit I would get a kick out of seeing that.
Some people are reading what they want to in reviews for this; surely it is expected that games from the same series should contain similar traits? I agree that the same underlying game with a cosmetic refresh doesn't warrant much interest, although that doesn't stop everyone buying FIFA it seems, but this game looks much more than that.
Such a dramatic change of setting should he credited given that it essentially removes guns from a first person shooter, pretty bold.
I've not spent much time on a Far Cry game other than Blood Dragon and, perhaps for similar reasons to that edition, I find Primal to be much more interesting than the usual fodder and am quite likely to try it at the right price.
@MikLSP It certainly is more than a cosmetic refresh. Most of the mechanics are the same, with similar quest types and collectibles but the era does change things a bit, E.g. Instead of using binoculars for scouting, you use an owl, which can also attack and you can tame beasts like tigers and wolves to fight alongside you. There's a few other things too. Enough to make it seem more than just a modified version of FC4. It's well worth a buy IMO.
Well, my copy will be here tomorrow. I'd try it out but, ya know, Fire Emblem.
Meh, I sense far cry becoming the new AC for the next 7 years.
God I really hate these open world games. When will it end!?!
Boring, too much like the previous titles for me. I've enjoyed 2 - 4 but no thanks for future titles. It would have been amazing to see them dump the usual structure and turn this more into a survival rpg type game. May also have been interesting to play as the doomed Neanderthals.
Price drop required, as for every copy and paste Ubi games.
@AlexStinton I only played Far Cry 3 and I found it very easy even on the hardest diffuclty they add with a patch. And I had to tape a round piece of paper on the TV to cover the stupid mini-map. How about this? Can we customize the HUD?
While playing Far Cry Primal, wasn't there a moment that you thought about Michel Ancel's Wild and that he maybe shouldn't have pitched it to Ubisoft? I mean, so many things we saw and loved from Wild are directly coming back in Primal. I haven't seen any reviewer comment on this so far, but the similarities are pretty obvious; not only do they have the animal riding shtick, they also have the bird scouting ahead. Wild takes place a little later, but not noticeably when you look at the setting and actions. Wild is also about taking over other tribes in the footage we saw and Primal totally takes the novelty out of that game.
Could not stomach another Far Cry for a few years, FC4 was a real bummer...
I am surprised at how many people dont like far cry. For me it is one of the series that I always look forward to. I have played all of them since the 1st on PC and still love them.
@andreoni79 You can turn the minimap off, and there are a number of other options which make it so you can have no HUD at all.
@Boerewors You know what? I don't think I thought about Wild once while playing Far Cry Primal, which is odd as they do share a number of elements as you pointed out.
I will admit I haven't enjoyed a Far Cry since Blood Dragon, but the setting intrigues me.
@AlexStinton: Is knowledge of 4 needed to enjoy Primal?
@Tasuki Nope, previous knowledge of Far Cry 4 isn't required.
Well,i jumped on this title but i must admit -Little bit of a re-skin jobby..However,i've had good fun with it so far,the look of it brings me back to old fashioned Turok games on N64,The combat is different to FC4 (no block though,wha?) as is the atmosphere..No multiplayer..Its a quite a good game anyhow,7/10 is about right imo.
@adf86 first this is far from farcry 4 in every aspect from combat to walking and climbing . what child wrote this review how on earth could you get this being a updated farcry 4 as farcry 4 was a pile of junk and the worst game in the series by the majority of people who played it and this is actually fresh and new not the same junk we get with GTA or cod or farcry before.
i cant stand gamers like you that will read a review and wait for a sale or pass LOL go do some research instead as this is one guys opinion is just that , i can give you a bunch of way better reviews from real reviewers not these clowns just go see total biscuit or ACG they are not children that cant tell the difference and unlike this horrible junk they talk about everything like sound and sound is one of the most important things in most games but armature reviewers like this one will say nothing or 1 sentence.
@godslayer1975 Oh dear, something has touched a nerve. Next time, I'd refrain from making insults at the reviewers.
@godslayer1975 Thanks for stopping by to share your views. I always welcome a well thought out counterpoint argument to any of my reviews.
Loving this. Adore the Far Cry formula. Hunting/scavenging for items to upgrade my gear/weapons/village is as great as usual! The unusual characters and animals to tame are a treat!! Now ... to find that ever elusive last Badger skin to upgrade my cave ... Seriously .... where the hell are those pesky varmints!!!!
My copy just arrived from amazon, i wanted to play it this weekend, but i won't be home, what a bummer i think the game looks soo cool!
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