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Far Cry Primal Review – A Bold Old World
Since its inception, the Far Cry game franchise has been putting players in exotic open world locations such as tropical islands, African planes and Himalayan Mountains. Far Cry Primal seeks to change this formula by earning its name and taking its world to a less contemporary setting.
Far Cry Primal puts the players in the shoes of Takkar, a member of a nomadic tribe called Wenja, who is trying to save his tribe and survive in a place called Oros.
The land of Oros is set in prehistoric central Europe, at a time when the ice-age had come to an end and stone-age was in full swing.
While the game has its lighter moments, most of the Far Cry Primal’s story is about survival and is spent gathering resources, dealing with primitive wildlife, expanding the tribal village and protecting the Wenja from enemy tribes which include; the savage, blood thirsty cannibals called Udam and sun worshiping arsonists called Izila.
Whereas the previous Far Cry games relied on a charismatic antagonist to drive their story, it is not so In Far Cry Primal. This time the game’s narrative is less focused on a singular villain and more reliant on plight of the Wenja tribe and motivations of fellow tribesmen.
In the wake of Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon expansion’s success, many gamers wondered why Far Cry 4 did not receive a similar; stand-alone expansion and there was a perception that Far Cry Primal was just that; a glorified expansion for Far Cry 4.
While it is true that certain sections of the game are clearly inspired from the Shangi-La sections present in Far Cry 4, Primal is no mere re-skin of the old concept and features gameplay and content worthy of a separate game.
The core-mechanics and basic gameplay elements that have been part of Far Cry franchise remain the same. Running, jumping, crouch-walking, ranged and melee combat, as well as the use of healing items and choosing weapons out of weapon wheel in Far Cry Primal feel similar to how they functioned in Far Cry 3 and 4.
The game also retains progression formula of the Far Cry series, where the story missions are sequentially littered throughout the open world map and the map itself is unlocked by exploring new areas and liberating outposts.
Giant bonfires replace the tower mechanic from previous Far Cry games, as lighting them acts as a beacon that marks your territory and adds to the Wenja village population. Claiming a bonfire or an enemy outpost gets rid of nearby enemies and unlocks fast travel points and nearby side missions.
Where the game takes its departure from the established Far Cry formula is in its reverence for the pre-historic, Stone-age culture and aesthetic.
Gameplay in Far Cry Primal is overhauled to suit the Hunter-Gatherer culture by giving more emphasis on surviving wildlife, increasing your tribe as well as a cycle of scavenging, hunting, crafting and melee combat.
Even though the Far Cry series has always been about exploring exotic environments, as expected from its theme, wild life plays a much larger role in Primal’s gameplay than previous Far Cry games.
Exploration is now a much more deadly prospect with your survival at stake from dangers ranging from enemy tribesmen to predators like wolf packs, lions and bears, as well as contextual aggressors like snakes and alligators.
Far Cry Primal features a meaningful ‘Day and Night Cycle’ where exploration at night not only presents players with low visibility and more aggressive predators, but it also presents opportunity to encounter unique animals, plants and collectable items.
Another significant part of Far Cry Primal’s gameplay is hunting. Players can not only kill animals like they did in previous games but also use the new ‘Hunter’s Vision’ to identify different resources and tracking their prey by looking for scents, foot prints and blood trails.
Hunting animals rewards players with meat; which not only can be used for creating healing items but also the materials necessary for crafting.
The role of crafting has been increased from the past Far Cry games as exploring and scavenging for bones, wood, stones, flowers, animal skin and meat can allow players to craft healing items, village shelters as well as make and upgrade weaponry.
The absence of modern technologies in the stone-age has necessitated that weapons like fire-arms and explosives, that have been a staple of Fry Cry franchise, are no longer available for use.
Instead, Takkar can equip melee weapons such as clubs, spears, and knives as well as ranged weapons like slings and bows, each of which can lose durability with use and can be upgraded to fortify their strength and damage.
In addition to shooting arrows and throwing clubs and spears, Takkar can also craft and lob primitive bombs of different variety, such as the bee based sting bombs, poisonous berserk bombs and combustible fire bombs.
Fire actually plays an important role in the game as it is not only used to attack but also has defensive uses.
Takkar can make use of fat to ignite his weapons which can be used to add fire damage to normal attacks, burn path blocking vines, set up path campfires, scare off predators as well as for passive abilities like; seeing in darkened environments and surviving the chill of cold areas.
Although Far Cry Primal has less weapon variety and customization than previous games, its combat is more flexible as it not only incorporates melee and ranged weaponry, but also makes use of Takkar’s “Beast Master” skills.
The new Beast Master ability allows players to craft bait, use it to lure beasts and then tame them to add to Takkar’s arsenal for his beck and call.
From wolves and lions to bears and sabretooth tigers, there are more than 15 different types of beasts that can be tamed in Far Cry primal, each with their own attributes and strengths.
A beast can be called at a location and commanded to attack a target. If used strategically, companion beasts can lead to situations where Takkar can clear whole outposts without even lifting a finger.
Thankfully this mechanic does not break the game by overpowering the player. No matter how speedy or powerful, every beast can get wounded, which can eventually lead to its death if not promptly healed.
In case of death, Takkar can choose to use resources to revive it in the Beast menu or tame another beast. In addition to his Beast Master ability, Takkar can also learn and upgrade 7 more ability types throughout the game.