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Far Cry Primal review

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Farcry Primal: 5 things you need to know
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Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Fantastic wilderness setting
  • Compelling mesh of systems, story and action
  • Brilliant beastmaster mechanics
  • Utterly immersive and addictive

Cons

  • Unbelievably vicious wildlife (really, badgers?)
  • Reliant on established Far Cry structure
  • No co-op

Available on Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC

One of the great things games can do is give us a glimpse of a different world. It might not be authentic, lifelike, realistic or remotely believable. It might be a fantasy, dream or nightmare. What matters is that it feels – if only for a few hours – convincing, and that it takes you out of your mundane life.

The problem is that so many games fixate on giving you the same experience. What's it like to be a soldier, fighting out beyond the front lines, or a space marine, a criminal, a touring car driver or a warrior? We keep finding out. What's so brilliant about Far Cry: Primal is that it takes us somewhere and gives us something different. It's not just Far Cry with cavemen, but a re-imagining of the open world shooter for a world 12,000 years ago.

Watch 5 things you need to know about Far Cry Primal

Let's not go crazy. Primal isn't out to reinvent the Far Cry wheel. You don't have to look far beneath the Stone Age surface to see the well-established Ubisoft open world structure. This is still a game of exploring, taking and expanding territory, attacking enemy outposts and lighting bonfires to enlarge your area of influence, while developing relationships to give you access to new skills and equipment.

You’ll still be taking part in a string of story missions while tackling side activities and repeated, semi-random events,

Far Cry Primal

Yet, in a way, the change of setting transforms everything. More than just a shooter with Flint-tipped arrows instead of bullets, this is a bold, striking and often brutal tale of primitive warfare and survival. It’s still recognizably Far Cry, but not Far Cry as you know and love it.

Here you play Takkar of the Wenja – a fictional tribe of Central Europe, circa 10,000 BC. The Wenja have been scattered, small groups wandering the plains and mountains, until Takkar, split from his own group, discovers Oros, a hidden land of plenty.

There are other Wenja here – tribesmen and women to be bought together – but also rival tribes looking to conquer: the fire-wielding Izila and the brutish, man-eating Udam. What’s more, while Oros has fruit and leaves to gather and goats, deer and more to hunt, it’s also home to a range of ferocious predators, including wolves, big cats, wild dogs and bears.

Can Takkar survive and bring new hope to the Wenja? Well, that’s where you come in.

Far Cry Primal 5

Oros is a land of majestic wild beauty, with its own regions of forest, marsh and mountain, and where craggy rocks, waterfalls, rivers and high terrain make for a landscape every bit as breathtaking as Far Cry 4’s Kyrat. That’s a good thing, because you’ll spend a lot of time exploring it, first looking for food and the simplest resources, then fighting for your people against the Udam and Izila, taking over their outposts and bonfires or helping out your fellow Wenja in emergent skirmishes and rescue missions.

You’ll strike at first with a simple bow and stone-headed club, picking off targets with carefully-placed headshots then rushing in to slay the final foes. You’ll also use fire and violence to keep the local wildlife at bay. In Oros, you’re in the food chain, like it or not.

The story missions focus on two things: the war against the Izila and the Udam, and gathering the specialists you need to put the Wenja back on top. Sayla, the gatherer, you’ll meet early on, but then you’ll track down Tensay, the Shaman, who teaches you to tame and master Oros’s wild beasts.

Karoosh, the warrior, can train you in battle and help you craft new arms and warmer clothes. Wogah, the crafter, can help you gain new tools to make your weapons more effective and ammunition easier to come by, plus a new means of exploring the game’s steep vertical spaces.

Far Cry Primal

Each specialist brings new gear to craft and new skills to use, the range growing as you complete the story missions or gather the materials needed to update their village homes. And as you recruit and save your fellow Wenja, the numbers start flooding in.

Far Cry: Primal doesn’t leave you guessing whether you’re doing well or force you to keep checking the handy Village status screen; you can see the Wenja growing in confidence, their hunting parties spreading, the camps being occupied and defended. It does an incredibly good job of making you feel a part of your tribe.

Of course, you’re not just a normal part. While your fellow tribesmen and women will grow to respect you as a warrior and leader, what makes you legendary is your developing skill as a beastmaster, particularly as you upgrade your skills in this area. By throwing out bait, approaching calmly and doing your best beast-whispering act, you can tame different birds and beasts, who will then follow you around or scope the landscape for you.

Those with teeth and claws will fight for you automatically, or can be commanded to attack specific enemies. Your trusty owl, meanwhile, replaces Far Cry’s usual camera or binoculars, flying over and highlighting your foes, but also attacking unprotected enemies with a brutal surprise claw attack. Build your skills, and your owl can even drop Primal’s primitive gas bombs, making them a more effective pet than, say, Harry Potter’s Hedwig.

Far Cry Primal

Now, Ubisoft often comes in for flack for mistaking a mass of complex systems for great gameplay, but Far Cry: Primal is one of those games where story, atmosphere, reward cycles and systems all see to come together in one hugely compelling whole.

You work hard to rescue or fight alongside the other Wenja, both because they’re your tribe and because the benefits stack up for you. You work to find and recruit the specialists – then upgrade their lodgings – because doing so will make your tribe more powerful and give you new tools and skills to deploy.

You also want to spend time finding and taming the local beasts, both because they’re lovable (in an oddly brutish way) and because you’ll discover that each one has abilities and characteristics that will help you take outposts by stealth, cut down overwhelming forces or simply keep the other wild beats off your back.

Just when you think you couldn’t love anything more than your stealthy rare black puma, you discover that the bear isn’t just a great bezerker, but a critter you can ride into battle. And as for the sabretooth tiger? It might not be a great family pet, but just look at those jaws and claws.

Far Cry Primal 9

The combat, too, is exciting. Both the Udam and Izila field a range of different troop types, including shock troops, sharpshooters and nasty fire-wielding, mask-wearing thugs, and there’s a clear escalation from the easy missions to the medium and hard ones, forcing you to use your brains, not just rely on headshots and brute force.

And while the resource gathering threatens to be a pain in the early stages, you’ll soon find that locating and collecting the good or rare stuff becomes something you do naturally while exploring, while your villagers will put the most useful stuff into goodie bags you’ll find at every bonfire and encampment.

You’ll also discover that Oros is a lot bigger than it first appears, and that there’s more to the Udam and Izila than you’ll first perceive. You’ll build your inventory and your skillset, tackle tougher missions, explore mysterious caves and equip yourself for new explorations. You’ll master spears, slings, longer bows and the vicious but demanding two-handed club. You’ll deal with greater threats but find even larger means of destroying them.

Where lesser open world games grow predictable and mechanical with time, Far Cry: Primal keeps on giving.

Far Cry Primal

So much of that comes down to skilled storytelling and rich atmosphere. Ubisoft’s artists and writers have gone to extraordinary lengths to create a mythical, prehistoric world of strange magic and often shocking violence, even inventing new languages for the three tribes, with the whole game subtitled throughout.

It wouldn’t be Far Cry without dodgy substances and mystical visions, but here they feel part and parcel of the overall fiction. Sure, this world isn’t totally convincing – healing is a little too easy, while the wildlife is incredibly ferocious – even the badgers will assault you in broad daylight.

Yet the more I strived for the progress of the Wenja, the more immersed I became in the whole struggle. The biggest disappointment for some will be the lack of co-op – one of the best-loved features of Far Cry 4 – but to my mind Primal works better as a solo saga better than it would as a team-up, baddie-bashing blast.

Verdict

Far Cry: Primal could so easily have been a weak spin-off or a throwaway blast like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, and it owes too much to the Far Cry formula to be described as a true original. Yet it builds a spectacular world, fills it with dynamic characters and gives you a role that feels meaningful and potent.

The beastmaster stuff alone is a successful twist, but Primal finds other ways to become something more than a stone-age reskin. This visceral, primeval adventure demands to be played.

Overall Score

9

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Matthew Bunton

February 22, 2016, 2:46 pm

Not liking the redesign guys it's a bit of a mess.

RockStrongo

February 22, 2016, 4:07 pm

Your opinion as a reader is irrelevant. Advertisers call the shots on this site now.
This article hasn't even been proofread - too many spelling mistakes to list.

andyvan

February 22, 2016, 7:51 pm

What exactly don't you like? We might be able to do something about it.

Dracutus

February 22, 2016, 9:58 pm

I'm getting a bit worried with the way that Far Cry is going. I played the last one ,Far cry 4 and just let it pass, but this game Far Cry Primal, I saw others play the first opening 15 mins or so, and it involves the slaying of a baby mammoth, ( I noticed Trusted Reviews cut it and didnt mention it). Well, its a prolonged death with parents looking on, if I remember rightly, and for that scene alone, I wont be buying this game. I dont like animal cruelty simulators.

light487

February 23, 2016, 4:12 am

"TrustedReviews" gives 4.5/5 for a game with extremely shallow story and gameplay that sees no major improvements from last iteration. Presentation is nice and that's all. No longer "trusted" for me for game reviews.

Mark Brown

February 23, 2016, 9:13 am

Go cry to mommy because the history books show something scary.

Ian Cooper

February 25, 2016, 3:43 pm

This is a mature rated game that covers life in a hunter/gatherer society, and from a game series that has often featured brutal violence. What were you expecting - a flower arranging simulator?

Dracutus

February 25, 2016, 4:18 pm

Amazing, I point out that this is the first game that in my opinion seems to revel in prolonged animal cruelty, and sure enough I'm getting trolled. I have played games for a very long time , a lot of them with brutal violence..it does not bother me. BTW, this is not history , I know that because it says "press X to interact" and as far as I know no bird can pick out enemies and beam their positions back to your brain.. hunter gatherer my **** its a game. My point is a simple one, If you want to play sicko games, there are a lot of them about, go pay them, I dont mind, but this is a more or less a triple A quality game that has crossed over a line, and takes great pleasure in displaying animal cruelty and prolonged suffering. In Far cry 4 you could burn elephants, this has overstepped the mark again. You buy it if you want, I wont be.

Ian Cooper

February 25, 2016, 4:55 pm

Far Cry 4 had the same hunting experience as this game has. Most of the animals in that game were machine-gunned to death, which involves more pain and suffering than prehistoric animals suffered at the end of a well-aimed spear.

The game is not meant to be history. No game is. It is a game with a prehistoric setting, in which no real animals are harmed. It shows the reality of animal slaughter, which is brutal. Would you rather people not see this, so that they can enjoy their meat without considering the ethical dilemma of how it was obtained? If you really value animal lives and if you're really against animal cruelty, you should welcome games like this, that portray their deaths realistically.

Heck, many of the let's plays on Youtube show players feeling sorry for the animals they kill in the game. That is a GOOD THING! Yet you would prefer they never have that experience. You are part of the problem!

No one is forcing you to burn elephants, and the game is never gleeful about the slaughter. It is treated as a fact of life, which it was and still is today - we have merely mechanized the process of animal breeding, feeding and slaughter, making it even more brutal but putting it out of sight and out of mind. So why are you here complaining about a game that does no harm to animals and which brings home the reality to people who don't have to think about today's factory farms, when you could be protesting the activities of people who make real animals' lives a nightmare?

As for who is trolling, in my opinion, it's you. If you don't like the fact that a game features pretend animals being pretend slaughtered for pretend food, don't buy it! Also, you may want to become vegan too, which would prevent REAL animals from being REALLY killed for your REAL dinner.

If you really care for animals, and if you want to be part of the solution, join the Animal Welfare Institute or Friends of the Earth, as I have, or join PETA. Protesting this game does nothing for animal welfare, and it may even work AGAINST animal welfare by helping people to ignore the cruelty of animal slaughter.

Mark Kaiser

February 27, 2016, 4:55 am

Kudos to the developers for basing a game on Pleistocene epoch, arguably the most brutal, survival, kill or be killed time in human ancestry. The setting is beautiful, and I find the everlasting things to do strangely addictive. In my opinion, the game would fare better in third person, to show the size and scope of how large the animals were back then, but still, a breath of fresh air for old school gamers with a penchant for the incredibly adventurous, and dangerously believable past.

Ian Cooper

February 27, 2016, 2:03 pm

You're absolutely right - if anything is missing it is indeed the sense of scale. From that perspective, this would have been even better as an Assassin's Creed game, although in the final analysis I prefer Far Cry, as it doesn't have any of the AC franchise's conspiracy theory junk that would undoubtedly get in the way of the experience of this era. I love AC, but sometimes all that Templar/Assassin stuff gets in the way of the history.

Sharks1989

February 27, 2016, 2:14 pm

Just bought the game last night and only played about an hour or so and while the stone age theme is pretty cool I would love to see the next far cry put you in the role of a Native American when the Europeans first showed up. I love a deep story and of course I have only played for an hour but judging by it being the stone age and the way they speak I don't see how deep "rub rock together" can get. Plus the Native American setting would be perfect for the far cry supernatural stuff. But all in all seems like a good game and looking forward to playing it further. Just please don't ruin far cry like so many other games and bring it to the future or space or the future in space.

Sharks1989

February 27, 2016, 2:23 pm

totally agree because humans in the stone age were so worried about the animals feelings and making PETA upset. I was hungry and looking for somewhere to get a pizza but could not find one anywhere. Now if this was a modern setting and you could get money by poaching elephants then maybe you would have a point but c'mon man it's the stone age and if you were a stoner in that time would you go after the biggest mammoth and get everyone killed or go after the smaller more vunerable? People were basically wild animals back then and many wild animals today sadly only go after the babies for dinner. Nature is very cruel. Did you know that Kangaroos will throw there baby when a predator is chasing them so that they can get away?

Herne

February 27, 2016, 2:43 pm

I was greatly interested in the idea of a prehistoric game but the trailers didn't appeal to me. I haven't played any Far Cry game btw. #1 issue - the graphic quality didn't appeal. To me, modded ENB'ed Skyrim looks a lot better. Too much bloom, DOF etc. And it just seems too aboriginal. I would want to play it as an rpg, but I couldn't tell if it is like that or if it tightly scripted like the ACreed games.

Ian Cooper

February 27, 2016, 4:04 pm

I would love to see your idea put into practice.

Not sure how I feel about your assertion that a game set 12,000 years ago might only get as deep as "Rub rock together". These were completely modern humans with an intellect as great as ours and with a language and culture just as deep as any modern culture. These were people who, while they had no writing and were limited by the small sizes of their family groups, could probably name every plant they came into contact with, and they knew these flora so intimately that they likely knew medicinal uses that could increase our modern medical knowledge. And they could find a stick, some twine and a rock and, with ease, fashion them into a weapon that they could then use to hunt and kill a bear. I doubt anyone today could do any of that.

Sharks1989

February 27, 2016, 7:22 pm

I love any type of history and I know I sound uneducated at my lack of knowledge in this subject but for some reason I never have gotten to deep into the stone age or to much into human evolution I guess we can say but after reading your comment It motivated me to look into the people during this time period and was surprised to see that they really were intelligent people. I guess it is just the stereotype that we see of them grunting at eachother in caves. I will now enjoy this game more by knowing this so thank you for helping me understand the people of this time period a little better. As I said I love history but I was never really into anything earlier then the Roman Empire days.

Ian Cooper

February 27, 2016, 11:09 pm

Thanks for the response. I can recommend "Before the Dawn" by Nicholas Wade for an overview of the issues that the game presents. It shows how our human ancestors were probably much like modern hunter-gatherers - with different cultural, social and political structures, but just as intelligent as us (after all, the DNA has been essentially unchanged for at least 50,000 years, possibly much longer. Complex language has been with us long before Proto Indo European, so 12,000 years ago (at the time the game is set), people were just like us in terms of intellect and speech. They probably were not as obviously Western-thinking as Takkar is in the game, and they could easily have seen nothing wrong in cannibalism or murder (both of which are taboo in our society due to Greek and Roman influences), but they were by no means stereotypical cave men.

Another good book on the issues the game addresses, and I find it an easier read - perhaps even as much fun as a novel, is "The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction" by Pat Shipman. The book shows how Takkar as beastmaster may not be all that wild a concept (as long as you only use wolves as his companions). Shipman suggests that the weaker Homo Sapiens Sapiens (that's us) may have out-hunted Neanderthals by employing partially tamed wolves as part of the pack. She suggests quite convincingly that this is how we and wolves as a symbiotic pair became the apex predator of the Middle Paleolithic, despite the existence of far more powerful predatory animals.

Ian Cooper

February 27, 2016, 11:40 pm

Thanks for your response. I heartily recommend the book "The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction" by Pat Shipman - it convincingly shows that Takkar as beastmaster is perhaps not so wild an idea as it might seem, as long as your animal companion is a wolf.

Another good book on the subject is "Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors" by Nicholas Wade. It's not quite as fun to read (Shipman's book reads like a novel), but it does give modern examples of hunter-gatherer societies, showing how people of the Stone Age might have thought about their world. They were probably no different from us in terms of how well they could think, but they probably were quite different in terms of their ethical, social and political structures.

Ian Cooper

February 27, 2016, 11:43 pm

Double post

Ian Cooper

February 27, 2016, 11:47 pm

I had written a longer response including the word "Sapiens", but Disqus's profanity filter deleted it because apparently it doesn't recognize the Latin word for "Human" is not a slur against gays! :(

Never mind - it eventually got past the filter.

GameOverAUS

March 5, 2016, 1:43 am

That idea is in Assassins Creed. atleast part of it you play as a native

ColloseusX

March 11, 2016, 7:11 am

You're a fucking low IQ retard son

apoorve katare

March 15, 2016, 4:53 pm

I love this game, played for almost 40 hours but killing using owl is worst feature of Far Cry Primal. You can hide at one place and owl can finish entire mission for you... that not fun guys!!!

Ian Cooper

March 16, 2016, 2:40 am

The solution: don't use the owl to kill.

Once I get the game finished, I aim to do it over using just a wolf.

apoorve katare

March 16, 2016, 2:12 pm

True, I don't use it. I just felt it makes game too easy, there should never be such easy solutions to complete a very hard mission.

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