reviews\ Feb 22, 2016 at 11:52 am

Far Cry Primal Review

Seriously, don't f*ck with the Badgers

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Far Cry Primal Review

The Positives

  • Far Cry Primal is, despite being a spin-off from the core series, still very much a Far Cry game. You'll still perform stealthy takedowns, snipe with your bow and arrow, tag enemies before you take over an encampment, hunt animals for their resources and craft new items to continually be a better predator. However, Primal's setting that does away with modern technology and guns make all of the above feel a lot more raw and completely visceral.

  • Where Far Cry 3 and 4 had you hunting animals to craft a bigger wallet, a seemingly silly version to go shark hunting, Primal's crafting feels a lot more natural, again, due to its primitive setting. Naturally you'll have to use resources around you to craft better weapons and gear.

  • Lastly, the setting also works in relation to the player character. No longer are we silly frat boys or grieving sons turned into gunwielding warriors, we start out as one.

  • Even though the game still features fantastic bow combat, the refined melee combat is the true star of Primal. Every hit has weight, especially charged hits, which also plunge your character forward a bit. Weapons can also be thrown, some with even greater effect. Spears for example aren't great melee weapons, but are incredibly deadly when thrown, usually resulting in one-hit kills. Chaining these together, such as smashing an unsuspecting enemy with your club, then hurling your spear at the next, just "feels" good. Ubisoft did a great job at making melee combat the star, in a series that's always featured gunplay.

  • A big part of Primal is its heavy focus on taming wild animals, and then utilizing them in combat and exploration. The first of which is an owl, which is a companion you can always summon with a press of a button. The owl is fantastic at scouting the area around you, marking enemies, and even attacking them. It won't destroy an entire encampment per se, but it will make it easier for you to infiltrate it.

  • Then you have the bigger beasts like panthers, jaguars, bears and even saber-tooth tigers, which can all be tamed assuming you have the right skillpoints invested, and this is where the true rampage begins. Each beast has various specializations. For instance, the Jaguar can pounce on unsuspecting enemies without raising any sort of alarm. Once you tame a beast, you always have them at your disposal, giving you the ability to freely switch between them depending on the situation you find yourself in.

  • The wild animals also deserve a special mention, since they're not only a danger to you or other humans around you, but themselves as well. Wolves will hunt other smaller animals in packs, eagles will swoop in to pick up their unsuspecting meal and fly away with it, mammoths will enrage and trample over any animal that spooks them, and saber-toothed tigers, well, they just don't give a shit and will attack pretty much anything and everything. Oh, and badgers, man, do not f*ck with the badgers.

  • The game's narrative revolves around building up your tribe of fellow Wenja warriors. While you start with humble beginnings and a cave, you'll soon build up an entire village with upgradeable huts, as you save or recruit other Wenja scattered around map of Oros. Some will be recruitable as part of main missions, while others will simply need to be saved from other warrior factions, or even various predators. As you grow your village, you'll also gain the ability to craft new items, and get new skills.

  • Since crafting is such a major component of the game, and affects nearly every aspect of it, I'm thankful that the developers put in the option to disable the "gathering" animation. That allows you to simply hold Square or X and run over any resources or even bodies, to pick them up, without pausing to do so.

  • Oros is a large and fantastic map to explore, arguably even prettier than Far Cry 4's Kyrat. It's filled with lush flora so that simply running through it, you're never left with a dull sight. Dusk is especially beautiful when the sun sets and the rays shine through the trees and shrubbery.

  • When nightfall hits though, Oros gets a lot more dangerous. Animals are even more vicious, now with glowing eyes to make them seem that much creepier. But of course since fire is the only source of light in that time period, night time gets incredibly dark, pretty much forcing you to light a torch in order to see your surroundings.

  • Speaking of fire, it's a much bigger deal in Primal, than it was in the last two games, though not nearly as overstated like it was in Far Cry 2. You can light various structures on fire, and the fire will certainly spread and cause chaos, forcing your enemies to panic. All of your weapons, from clubs, spears and even arrows, can be lit up in order to cause more damage, or light up various structures.

Far Cry Primal Review

  • I'm happy that Ubi took out the mechanic of needing to climb a tower in order to uncover more of the map. It didn't really fit in the previous games, and it wouldn't have fit in here either.

  • There are a ton of skills to unlock this time around, most of which are tied to recruiting other famous Wenja into your village. The more you upgrade their huts, the better skills you'll have access to.

  • I also need to praise the devs for the consistent framerate for the console version. Sadly, we live in an age of unoptimized titles that are plagued with framerate issues. Thankfully though, Primal was on point, without a single hitch, no matter how gorgeous the environment was, or how chaotic taking over an outpost was.

The Negatives

  • Even though the setting provided a necessary backdrop for the characters and ultimately made the main player character much more believable, I didn't find myself caring too much about the Wenja tribe and their growth, despite it being the game's core mechanic.

  • Both Far Cry predecessors also featured fantastic villains, and even though they didn't get as much screen time as they probably should have, their constant banter to you through radio comms always made for hilarious and twisted moments. Primal doesn't really have any means of doing that, given its time period, but even one of the main villains doesn't seem as menacing.

  • Taming beasts, despite being a great mechanic, is a little too easy. By the time I was able to tame a saber-tooth tiger, I expected the game to throw some sort of curveball in my way, and not make it as easy as simply throwing a piece of meat and holding the Square button. It was, in fact, that easy.

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Mike Splechta GameZone's review copy hoarding D-bag extraordinaire! Follow me @MichaelSplechta
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