Far Cry Primal hands-on: A refreshing addition to the series

I just want to keep playing the game


Far Cry Primal took my familiarity with the world and gameplay that Ubisoft had previously offered in the Far Cry series and managed to create a brand new experience. Even in situations that left me thinking, “Huh, this is really, really familiar” it wasn’t a thought that came with annoyance, but with excitement. As a history buff, seeing such an authentic approach to the Mesolithic world is refreshing. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with giant cave bears, wooly mammoths or saber-tooths?

All in all, the game definitely left me wanting to play more.

I should note, I did encounter a couple bugs here and there. I played a pre-Alpha build of the game – so bugs are to be expected, especially with such a huge world. There are tons of programs running at once and interacting with each other, to think that a pre-Alpha build would be without bugs is too silly to even think about. In my experience with the game, none of the bugs were game breaking and even if I had encountered them later on in the game’s development – I still wouldn’t think much of them.

I look forward to see how Far Cry Primal progresses, I’m extremely interested in seeing how the story will develop. I wonder if the story was crafted around the world or if the world was crafted around the story. Either choice would alter gameplay.

Far Cry Primal is set for worldwide release on February 23, 2016 for PS4 and Xbox One. It will ship on PC in March 2016.



The pre-Alpha demo for Far Cry Primal was held on PlayStation 4 consoles. That being said, there were tons of controls to remember across the DualShock 4 controller. So many, that at times I felt overwhelmed. Granted, this might be because I played Far Cry 4 on PC, which would leave me unfamiliar with using a controller in a Far Cry game.

Nearly each button on the DualShock 4 was utilized in some way for the game, some buttons even served a dual purpose. A brief tap of the right button on the DPAD would yield an entirely different result than holding the same button down. I often found myself hitting the left bumper instead of the trigger or vice versa.

While it might have been an annoyance at the beginning of the demo, as my gameplay time progressed it became easier to grasp the controls (I’ll admit it, I still messed up a lot).


The beasts of Far Cry Primal are perhaps one of the biggest highlights of the game. Each animal will offer a different gameplay tactic; if you want to sneak, choose a jaguar. If you want to run in and start hitting things as quickly as possible, tame a bear. You can tame a number of animals in Primal: wolves, small canines, jaguars, saber-tooths, bears, badgers and more.

What you can tame depends entirely on your level of Beast Mastery, which levels up as you progress in the game.

My playthrough had me attempting to tame a badger multiple times (it killed me every time) and finally settling on taming a saber-tooth and a cave bear. The cave bear was absolutely phenomenal. During the night cycle the gigantic cave bear would scare off packs of wolves – keeping the annoyance of having to kill them at bay and allowing me to progress with my quest.

The only annoyance of the cave bear was that he would often find his way into my field of view, making things rather tight (considerably tight when I was trying to aim at things). Make no mistake, unlike your captured beasts in Pokemon, you will not be naming your tamed beasts. With that said, Ubisoft gave us the option to ‘Pet’ our tamed beasts.

Apart from the tamable beasts, Takkar has an owl at his disposal. This owl can survey the land, attack enemies with a takedown or drop poison bombs/angry swarms of bees on them. I used the owl for one takedown, which alerted the entire outpost and had me manually killing them anyway. Granted, had I waited, the alarm might have gone down, but my play style is to go in swinging.

When it comes to audio in the game, Ubisoft hit a home run with their beasts. As I ran throughout Oros with my companions, I kept feeling like there was something chasing me wanting to fight. It took me a minute to realize that the sounds weren't from a predator hunting me down, but my own tamed beast instead.


Multiple gameplay styles are supported in the Primal. As noted above, you can use different beasts to achieve different means, as well as weapons. You can play stealthy, as a brute or as a combination of both. I tend to lean on swinging my club around (and shooting my arrows when the fight calls for it), so my cave bear did a majority of the heavy lifting.

When it comes to elephant-like beasts, as it was in Far Cry 4, it is in Far Cry Primal. Jumping onto a small wooly mammoth will leave you taking down opponents of every kind in swift swings and collisions.

One of the deadliest tactics I had was setting my club ablaze, the fire fended off predatory animals and caught fire to everything around it. Including myself and my beast, yes I died from that at least once.


If you are not a fan of crafting, you might find yourself with a nearly constantly full inventory and using rudimentary weapons in Far Cry Primal. This isn’t the game where you purchase your items, looting is extremely important and so is crafting. Luckily, Oros is filled with resources and crafting is as simple as hitting X on the DualShock 4 — once you have enough resources that is.

In the beginning of my play through in the demo, I apparently didn’t understand this concept. My bags were full and my weapons were never taken the next level, but once I allowed myself to take a moment and look away from the enticing world Ubisoft built (per a developer's suggestion), I realized I should be crafting.

Earlier this week Ubisoft invited me out to Burbank, California to experience the next chapter in the Far Cry seriesFar Cry Primal. There’s one thing that was made clear to me during the one and a half hours of gameplay time I had with Primal: Ubisoft has a calculated approach to Far Cry series and that’s a good thing.

Stepping into the Mesolithic world of Oros as Takkar was as familiar as it was alien. Primal felt and played like a Far Cry game, but every comfort from the modern-time set games before it had been stripped away, leaving us with something entirely new. There is no purchasing of gear in Primal, you have to craft every item, be it a weapon, clothing, bomb or accessory. While the demo at the event did not address the game’s plot line, it did show off the world, new skills and how players will grow their tribe and take the land of Oros from the predators (both prey and human alike).

In short, the game is exactly as the title suggests, Primal.

Skip to my thoughts on the Gameplay and overall Take-Away from the experience by clicking either of those links or continue reading to the next page below.


Like with Far Cry 4, Ubisoft has created a giant world for us to roam about in Far Cry Primal. Each region of Oros has its own environment, each populated with various animals, tribes and resources. The environment in Primal affects how you play the game, for example, if you’re in a cold climate a ‘Cold’ bar will appear in the left portion of the screen and slowly tick away if you aren’t wearing the appropriate clothing — clothing that can only be crafted by skinning rare animals. In about an hour and a half of game time, I only came across one of these animals.

As I was playing, I encountered the cold region without considering that the cold would affect me. Luckily, a developer named Dan gave me a heads up — brandishing a flaming weapon wards off the cold – as well as potential predators.

If you have played a previous Far Cry game you have experienced the panic associated with casually strolling across a portion of the map, only to be suddenly ripped apart by an alligator. I too know this fear and I got to experience it countless times in Primal, except it wasn’t a death from an alligator (that only happened once) it was mostly due to a badger that I wanted to tame. That’s right, I said tame. In Primal we get the option to tame a number of animals through Beast Mastery – it’s a valuable tool in the progressive world of Oros, one that we will get into later.

Traversing the plains of Oros led me to encounter a number of tribes, some of which painted themselves blue or used poisonous bombs or simply used brute force to keep me away from their territory. It wasn’t their territory for long – each enemy encampment or outpost I encountered, I took over with haste (and ease thanks to my amazing tamed bear.) Within the allotted game time, I took over three outposts and around two side-quests that had me killing various chieftains or members of other tribes.

Each time I took over an outpost, my tribe grew and as they grew I would encounter them throughout Oros hunting and gathering. It wasn’t revealed during the demo how the tribe member’s hunting and gathering would affect me, their chieftain, but it’s easy to imagine that they play a role in crafting resources. Otherwise, there’s no reason to waste the effort on programming them to kill and gather while I’m out expanding our territory.

The map itself opened up as I took outposts. With each outpost a new quest or point of interest would appear on the map – it definitely kept me busy. Completionists won’t be leaving any areas too quickly. On the other hand, it's typical Ubisoft fare, so your mileage may vary.