Thursday 3 March 2016

Far Cry Primal

Despite its name of simpler times, Far Cry Primal had me on a rollercoaster the entire time. Not by its narrative, but rather its design. The game was only announced a couple of months ago and here we are with the release of a brand new full price Far Cry, just a year since Far Cry 4. At first I was afraid, I was petrified, thinking I could never live without guns by my side. After playing the initial first few hours I was amazed and thoroughly enjoyed Far Cry Primal, possibly more than any other game that has launched this year so far. But then it all grew a bit too thin making me feel like this could have been incredible, but ended up feeling just good.

Out now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and developed by Ubisoft Montreal, Far Cry Primal is set in 10,000 B.C.E. in a land called Oros. You play as a tribesman of the Wenja tribe called Thakkar. The game begins with many of your tribespeople being wiped out and you must travel through the land of Oros recruiting new members as well as finding current ones to rebuild your village. It’s a simple storyline that never really feels like it’s building up to a crescendo moment and it never does. There are two main tribes and you must defeat both.

The gameplay however is excellent even if everything is spread a little too thin. The resource gathering from Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 makes a return, but everything has been expanded upon exponentially. You will spend a vast majority of your time in the world gathering sticks, rocks, and plants as well as hunting animals for their meat and hides. It’s thrilling just exploring the stunning looking world and see the natural world feel so lived in. Some predators hunt in packs and having a wave of them rush in your direction can be quite scary as you either face them or try to outrun them.

Weapons are limited as expected but there is enough variety to combat that you never really miss the guns. The bow has always felt good in Far Cry games and here is no exception. If you want to be a little more powerful in full-on fights, then you have a spear which is pretty much a one hit kill. You can pick up your spears and arrows from enemies further enhancing the gathering aspect of it all.

The world itself is massive and due to the lack of vehicles, fast travel locations are littered throughout the world. There are 31 bonfires and outposts to liberate and these very much feel like the outposts from previous Far Cry games which is kind of disappointing.

When you are left to your devices and wander off into the world, things slowly diminish into a familiar structure, albeit with less variety to your activities. The more simplistic style of play is refreshing at first and what would have felt incredible for about 8-10 hours is stretched out to over double that and it eventually becomes a slog. This is honestly kind of heart breaking. I still vividly remember those exciting moments early on in the game.

The first hunt, the first encounter with a group of enemies, the first major foray into the world, it all felt incredible. But that first couple of hours of discovery and immersion is stretched like an animal hide to cover the cracks of the Far Cry template that is honestly starting to wear thin. I loved Far Cry 3, I loved Far Cry 4, and I even loved Far Cry Primal for a fair amount of time but familiarity breathes contempt and I think I’m done with Far Cry as it currently is.

Far Cry Primal hunts but only gathers 3/5.


 Jason Redmond

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