The Beauty And The Beasts Of Far Cry Primal

The clue’s in the name, as Far Cry Primal takes Ubisoft’s premier first person shooter to a distinctly different time period. It symbolically rolls back the years as you start the game for the first time, taking you to 10,000 BCE, as Takkar and his Wenja hunting party scavenge for the food and resources of a baby woolly mammoth.

It’s a moment that quickly turns against them, as they’re ambushed by a sabre-toothed tiger, leaving Takkar all alone as he enters the land of Oros. Even the rest of his tribe and his people have been scattered by the sheer brutality of the cannibalistic Udam and the fire worshipping Izila who dominate these lands.

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The world that Ubisoft have created here is almost without compare, with an exceptionally lush and verdant wilderness for you to head out and try to conquer. However, what stands out are the characters that have been created here. Instead of resorting to English, Ubisoft worked with notable linguists to recreate prehistoric languages from Central Europe, lending each tribe its own dialect, and furthering this with accentuated body language and raw and simplistic emotions clear to see throughout the cutscenes. The performances of Shayla and the shaman Tensay give a wonderful sense of presence and atmosphere to the world.

A number of things also just make a lot more sense in Primal than they did in Far Cry 3 or 4. Where it just felt excessive and luridly over the top to be skinning a tapir in order to use its hide to carry a few extra grenades, being set in the Stone Age makes it more than acceptable to use a woolly mammoth’s hide as it would have been a necessity back then. Admittedly, it’s still a game-like way of letting your character progress, but it no longer sticks out like a sore thumb.

At the same time, Primal also encourages you to find a way to live alongside these animals. Though humans were certainly a species in the ascendancy at this time, they weren’t necessarily at the top of the food chain. However, Takkar seems to have a natural affinity towards other animals. It doesn’t take long before you undergo to your first spirit walk and are able to take direct control of an owl to scout ahead, and shortly after that, you’re told to track the last remaining wolf from a pack, and use a bait ball to gain its trust and companionship.

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That’s only the beginning, and as you gain experience and earn skill points, you’ll soon be able to tame big cat, bears, badgers and more. It’s a shame that taming animals seems to be as simple as throwing a bait ball and then approaching the animal with arms outstretched, and I hope that spirit walks feature at other points in the story – it would be unimaginable for them not to – but each creature is endlessly endearing. Being able to pet the animal lets you view them up close, soaking in all of the little characteristics, such as the way the tip of a cave lion’s nose twitches in joy, or how a jaguar will match your crouched pose and start to lightly shift its hind legs to wiggle its behind.

It’s safe to say that the animals will be one of the more popular new aspects of the game. You can ride a handful of these beasts, allowing you to get around quicker without resorting to the fast travel system, but they will also come to have a big role in how you tackle the various missions before you. A quick tap of a button, and they’ll attack a target of your choice – be mindful that your pets don’t take too much damage of their own, as they can die – while you can synchronise your own assault.

Without automatic weapons, your ranged attacks will either be with bow and arrow, or make use of throwable weapons like spears. Getting up close and personal is another option, with your spears and the blunt force of a club able to kill an enemy quickly. During a heated battle, it’s just a case of landing your blows, but Far Cry has always emphasised a stealthier approach to its combat, with silent takedowns, the whisper quiet bow and arrow and the ability to throw stones to distract guards all letting you thin the ranks before you have to resort to melee combat.

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Of course, Ubisoft have fallen back on a number of quite familiar world building techniques, with tall bonfires taking the place of climbable towers, in order to reveal the nearby world to you and your map, and both the Udam and Izila have camps and outposts dotted around Oros. Approach them however you wish, but beware of the animal horns which replace the electronic alarms of previous games, and can call in reinforcements if an enemy reaches them.

While there is that familiar structure, the first few hours of Far Cry Primal don’t really feel like they’re retreading that ground. Chances are capturing camps and lighting bonfires will become more noticeable deeper into the game, but from the animal taming and closer quarters combat to the ancient languages and the purity of the wilderness, Primal feels refreshing and new.


Come back a little later today to see Far Cry Primal in motion, with all its animal taming glory.

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5 Comments

  1. Looking forward to the video. I watched a preview a few months ago and found the game to have some distinctly different mechanics instead of what I was initially expecting which was Far Cry 4 re-skinned.

  2. Looks soooo good. I wonder if you get to offer Ann Darrow as a sacrifice to Kong?

  3. My problem with this is the same as I had with blood dragon. I know you’ve said that this feels fresh but after far cry 3, I was quite bored by the end of 4, even though it’s a great game in its own right. I just don’t think I can take any more far cry action.

  4. Thanks for this great piece, I’m increasingly wanting to be pre-order it.

    When it was announced, I thought, “oh, more Far Cry, ok, already?”. Now I can see it’s very different, and could easily drop the Far Cry name and be just ‘Primal’.

    • There’s still plenty of Far Cry underneath, and you’ll see the “towers” and encampments plenty, but from the first 3 hours, I felt it had a bunch of nice ideas that help to make it feel a bit new and more interesting.

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