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Far Cry Primal opens with a brutal scene of an animal attack as you see Takkar try to help his companions. It’s maybe the best way Far Cry Primal could have opened, because after that initial scene, I was hooked. There are many elements that make Far Cry Primal one of the first games released in 2016 that I couldn’t bring myself to put down. Before reading, check out the trailer first.
Far Cry Primal follows the story of Takkar, an unknown hunter who later becomes the leader of a tribe of Wenja people, and you complete quests and overcome hardships to grow the civilization. It’s a story of survival as you take control of prehistoric beasts to aid you in your quests and bring relief and a safe haven to the rest of the Wenja people.
The first thing I always focus on in a video game is the story. While the narrative isn’t the center of Far Cry Primal, it’s still very visible as you make your way around the map. Although sometimes I felt like I lost the point of the main story as I had gotten sidetracked rescuing some Wenja and bringing them to my village. I would stand with my tamed wolf and think, “Okay, now what was I supposed to be doing?” But in these kinds of open-world games, if they are made well enough, narrative isn’t necessarily the center of attention. There are so many things to do in Far Cry Primal—like I can’t tell you how many times I went off to go after one objective and I found myself sidetracked going after another. And in instances like this, it doesn’t bother me that I am not sticking to one specific, strong storyline. It’s almost like an exception to my narrative rule. If I can wander around the map and spend my time taming beasts and hunting and upgrading instead of progressing through the story, I’ll be pretty content. Plus, each quest you find along the way has its own story, and possibly a piece to add to the main storyline as well.
Maybe the best part about playing Takkar is gaining the ability to tame beasts. The first beast you are able to tame is a wolf and once you have a wolf by your side, hunting suddenly isn’t as complicated as it once was with just a bow and arrow. And let me tell you, I really sucked at sneaking up on animals. But with a tamed beast, all you have to do is point to the animal and whistle at your beast and he’ll run after it and kill it for you. This helped me finally nab boar’s skin because those little things are so hard to catch.
As part of the taming beast ability, you also get your very own owl, which is used as the eyes of your expedition. With your owl, you can zero in on an enemy ahead and demand the beast go after them without ever having to get near enough to get hurt. When you’ve unlocked the ability, your own can also drop little bombs to attack enemies. I didn’t realize during gameplay that I needed to build more huts in my village in order to unlock the ability to tame more kinds of animals, so I stupidly went after a bear and tried to tame it. Let’s just say that didn’t end well. But as you grow your village of Wenja and build more huts, you get more experience, more items and unlock more abilities. And when you finally are able to tame prehistoric animals like sabre tooth tigers, you feel on top of the world and totally unstoppable.
One thing I noticed about Far Cry Primal was the impeccable sound design. There was a lot of detail put into the design of things like the crackling of the fire and the sound of the water as you swim through it. Many people probably don’t stop to listen to the sound in a game, but I like to just in case anything might stand out. It’s always refreshing to hear a sound effect and try to guess how that designer created the effect.
Sometimes in games like this, there’s a very complicated menu and a process in switching weapons or upgrading weapons, but in Far Cry Primal I found it pretty easy to do all of those things. Even in the heat of battle with an enemy, I can quickly change weapons or whistle to my tamed beast to attack the attacker. I can always appreciate a simple combat system because if it gets too complicated, I find that I get bored and don’t want to play anymore.
Weapon choices are varied and I have found that I’ve fallen in love with the club. Call me old-fashioned, but nothing beats a good hit over the head. The is great for being sneaky or hunting, but my combat style lacks planning and involves running in with guns blazing, so of course I’ll enjoy the club more than the bow. I struggle with pulling the bow out, lining up the shot and taking down the enemy accurately while being ambushed by a group of three or more. The club is much easier and gets the job done quickly—and brutally.
Hunting is a huge part of Far Cry Primal and if you haven’t found a solid method for hunting animals, you’re going to struggle. Animals skins are needed to build more huts and grow your village, which unlocks more abilities and weapons, while the meat keeps you and your beast healthy and alive. Plus, you’ll need items to create more clothing for cold areas, as I later found out. Hunting can also be really, really fun. At first, I felt horrible for taking down animals like a dhole, which looks like a cross between a dog and a hyena, but as I killed more animals, I became more comfortable with the idea of killing. I even beat on the shell of a turtle, which got me nothing. And now, my beast and I get sidetracked almost all the time during a mission and I end up hunting a pack of boar or creating an objective to get a wolf skin to finish another hut. I could hunt for hours and not get bored, it’s just that much fun. How big of an animal can I kill next? What are my limits? The Far Cry Primal version of me is very, very different than the actual me, that’s for sure.
If I had any issues with the game, I might suggest a multiplayer mode. I know this has already been explored and explained, but can you image hunting in your own pack with your friends? Or working together to rescue the Wenja? So maybe not an emphasis on the deathmatch portion of multiplayer gameplay, but on cooperative play. I would also suggest, but am almost hoping, that dinosaurs come into the mix later on. I think that would absolutely complete the Far Cry Primal experience.
Far Cry Primal does a fantastic job of not only telling the story in a prehistoric era, but unlocking a primal part of the player as well. It’s almost like your survival instincts kick into high gear as you push Takkar through mission after mission to grow the Wenja people and create a safe and prosperous civilization. And it’s a game I’ll probably be playing for the next month, maybe longer.
This game is being reviewed on the PS4.
Platforms:PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal