Far Cry Primal succeeds in the rarely-explored pre-historic era while being just absurd enough to remind players that it’s still Far Cry.
Although Far Cry Primal is a step back in time, it gives players an experience that is anything but primitive. Instead, the game offers players a fun, slightly outlandish adventure that stands alone as an original gaming experience for the Far Cry series.
Far Cry Primal, a copy of which The Post received at no cost from publisher Ubisoft and will be donated to Operation Supply Drop, tells the story of Takkar, a man in the fictional Wenja tribe. As a saber-toothed tiger takes out Takkar’s hunting party, he is able to escape and recover to form a new Wenja village with others scattered throughout the land of Oros.
Unfortunately the Udam, a tribe of cannibals, and fire-wielding Izila tribes make living in Oros difficult. Takkar learns he must take out both the Udam and Izila leaders to make peace in his land for himself and his tribe.
The storyline does not evolve much more than that, which is a shame as it has a lot of potential. The game is very open-ended, which gives the player the ability to do what he or she wants in whatever order desired, but it does not provide much structure or motivation to see what happens next in the story. The ending provides little closure and feels unsatisfying, considering all Takkar has to go through to get to the end.
Even so, the characters within Takkar’s village are underutilized. Considering how little the player actually interacts with most of them, they still leave distinct impressions upon the player and are much more than the average non-player characters. Because of the unappreciated characters, they make the lackluster story even more of a shame.
Far Cry Primal does shine in most aspects. The gameplay is phenomenal despite the fact that the series is not influenced by outrageous modern-day weaponry. Hunting with items such as spears, bows and beehives is much more fun than one would expect. The weapon selection imparts the primitiveness of the 10,000 B.C. setting, yet still empowers the player.
Players can also learn skills from village members including the ability to tame beasts, more efficient crafting recipes, aerial takedowns and more. The way the player prioritizes learning the array of skills can greatly affect the way he or she experiences the game. For example, a player who focuses more on increased health and resistance will likely fight at a much closer range than somebody who crafts lots of arrows and learns to rely on his or her tamed beasts.
Combat is fluid and requires the use of the player’s entire available arsenal. Some battles require an unprecedented amount of strategy, especially on the upper difficulties. Even so, everything the player has might not be enough to conquer the foes, serving as a reminder that humans weren’t always at the top of the food chain. Maybe it should come as no surprise that fighting a mammoth or saber-tooth tiger in Far Cry Primal can be tougher than taking on a small village of the Udam tribe — it is a miracle the human race has survived all factors considered.
Players must craft all of their own materials as they go along, which becomes a problem during battles when there are no resources nearby. For some reason, Far Cry Primal features no hand-to-hand combat mechanics, which is odd. Not being able to punch as a last resort in sticky situations is not only frustrating, but makes little sense.
Maybe more fun than the actual combat is the fact that Far Cry Primal is not an entirely sensible game. It manages to be a bit outrageous in the best ways. Players can light the wilderness on fire and cause blazes that in turn catch other animals on fire: There’s nothing quite like fleeing from an angry rhino that’s on fire. Players can ride animals such as mammoths into battle, chucking foes sky-high along the way. Like a pre-historic Spider-Man, players can swing along cliff sides with nothing more than a grappling hook to save them.
Sometimes, outlandish scenarios pop up when a pack of wolves or a couple of tigers try to take on a herd of mammoths. Sometimes Izila or Udam are thrown in for an entertaining three-way battle. The absurd encounters are fun, often hilarious and break up what could have been a monotonous game given how basic pre-history is perceived.
The production and presentation of the game is stellar for the most part. The soundtrack features tribal overtones that help effectively set the mood. Graphically, the game is stunning. Beautiful mountain ranges, forests, rivers and waterfalls abound on the expansive map. It offers several great segments and gives the player plenty to do.
In a technical sense, the game falters on occasion. Sometimes animals will spawn into the world in front of the player’s eyes. Some beasts simply stand and growl, locked in place even when attacked. On occasion, the artificial intelligence of tamed beasts act erratically, and the animals run around without purpose.
But all interface problems considered, Far Cry Primal does a lot well with the rarely-explored pre-historic era. The gameplay is surprisingly solid and features more depth than the setting might lead one to believe, all the while providing the right amount of absurdity to remind players that it’s still a Far Cry game. An expansive skill tree, several difficulty levels, varied activities and an open-ended approach allow players to experience the game in their own ways. Although the game has its fair share of glitches and a lackluster story, the quantity and quality of the other experiences combined make up for its shortcomings for those willing to accept its non-traditional Far Cry experience.
—Far Cry Primal was released Feb. 23 for PS4 and Xbox One and March 1 for PC.