Far Cry Primal provides a distinctly different setting when compared to Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4, but builds on their foundations. Here’s our full review.
Far Cry 4, though well received, was criticized for being too similar to Far Cry 3 – especially when compared to the sci-fi spinoff that was Far Cry Blood Dragon. Both games feature a power hungry bad guy, with you taking the role of an unsuspecting visitor who is quickly thrown into the middle of all the turmoil. They also both feature similar scenery, with lush mountainscapes and plenty of wildlife.
The wildlife is still here in Primal, but includes some very exotic new additions. Going back in time to the year 10.000 BC, saber tooth tigers and mammoths now live side by side with you and your people, a prehistoric tribe. In this setting, firearms have no place – nor does political intrigue, although power struggles do play an important role. In the absence of modern weapons, you now wield clubs, spears and bows as your weapons of choice. There are additional weapons, but the most important ‘weapon’ comes in the shape of the animals around you.
Learning how to tame and then control the animals is part of how you can develop your character, and pretty soon you’ll be controlling a wolf that you can take with you into battle. Improve your skills even more, and saber tooth tigers and bears can be controlled as well. This kind of progress doesn’t come naturally, but ties in with the central premise of the game. In Far Cry Primal, your main goal is to strengthen the position of your tribe, by growing your village and conquering other tribes within the game world.
Upgrading your village brings rewards, such as new characters that can teach you new skills. These include hunting and fighting, but also the skills involved in taming the mighty beasts that inhabit the lands around you. As such – the game is less story-driven than Far Cry 3 and 4 were, and perhaps less emotionally gripping because of it. Crafting, hunting, discovering and conquering play a more central role here and your animal companions help you in many scenarios and ways. Aside from the obvious force that a bear brings to the fight, you can also enlist the help of owls – who will tag enemies from above and can also drop tiny explosives on them.
Most of what’s above describes “what’s new” about Far Cry Primal, but there is also plenty here that reminds us of previous games in the franchise. You’ll be capturing outposts, hunting animals for crafting materials and upgrades – at times it feels you’re playing a re-skinned version of Far Cry 4. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because Far Cry 4 is an excellent game and its mechanics work well in Primal, but it does stop Far Cry Primal from being great in its own right. That’s a shame, because the new setting and especially the way in which you can interact with the wildlife are real assets to the game. If you love Far Cry then you can’t go wrong with Primal, but if you were hoping for something radically different then this may not be your thing.