So I just finished 100%-ing Far Cry Primal. Which is a decent indicator that I liked it.
Now I want to talk about it!
To begin with, I’ve pretty much never cared about the Far Cry series at all. I think near the beginning I tagged the original Far Cry as something I wanted to try, probably because it was a first person shooter, and I was willing to give most of those a shot. And I have memories of it looking really cool, but for whatever reason, I just never got around to it. I also remember preparing to try Far Cry 3, because everyone was raving about how amazing it was when it came out, but again, never got around to it.
At one point, I did play it (briefly) because my wife was playing it and needed some help on a few co-op missions, and I was immediately turned off. It seemed almost gratuitously bland, generic, and boring. And I’m really not the kind of person who tries to insult video games or goes looking for bad things about them. And although Far Cry 4 and 5 looked way more interesting, and the fact that they do crazy spin-offs like Blood Dragon or the Vietnam one or the one on Mars is really cool, I still wasn’t really lured in. (I was admittedly interested in checking out the one on Mars, but then I took a look at the synopsis and it admittedly turned me off.)
And then there was Far Cry Primal.
Like the others, I had been peripherally aware of it since it came out. A friend of mine had bought it and played it and loved it. And at some point it was put on sale, and my wife liked it enough that she snagged it, and finally got around to it last month. And so I kept seeing her play it, and thought it actually looked pretty cool.
Then I saw one specific thing that kind of just drew me in, and it’s weird because it is I’m sure a thing that many people would say is stupid to have THAT much of an impact on me, and it was a pretty small feature of the game, but you can tame AND PET giant prehistoric cats. Also wolves and bears, and a badger. Also an owl, but you can’t pet the owl, which sucked.
And that’s what made me think: I should try this game.
So after beating Metro Exodus, I fired it up and got to it. And I was pretty much hooked right away. It has a pretty simple and straightforward narrative, and the world really lends itself to that. So let’s get into it, the good and the bad.
In Far Cry Primal, which takes place in 10,000 BCE somewhere in Europe, you play as Takkar, who belongs to the Wenja Tribe. You and your brethren have been hunting for a long time, following a trail of other Wenja who managed to find their way to the land of Oros, to settle and prosper. When a saber tooth tiger attack leaves you the lone survivor of your group, you make it to Oros alone…only to discover that things have not been going well at all for your fellow Wenja. Your tribe has been hounded, murdered, and scattered to the wind by a pair of rival tribes: the Udam and the Izila. The Udam are barbarous and cannibalistic, the Izila are more advanced and worship the sun. Unwilling to let this stand, Takkar begins gathering the scattered Wenja, constructing a new village, and taking the fight to the rival tribes.
And that’s basically the plot.
It’s an open world, first person shooter (sort of), and it’s a lot of fun. You’re given pretty much free reign of the map, which seemed like a good size, although maybe a little too big. Now, let’s get into the pros and cons of the game.
For the most part, the game plays and handles pretty well. It seems mostly solidly built. I didn’t really run into many glitches or bugs.
The world is very beautiful and well-crafted. And there were so many neat little details they worked into the environment.
Probably the most impressive thing is the fact that they INVENTED an entirely new language for this game, and stuck to it. Every single character talks in this language and does a great job. (ALMOST every character does a great job. There was one notable exception. See below.) It really helped the immersion and it’s just all around impressive that they committed to this and made it work so effectively.
The village building. This is an awesome concept and I loved upgrading buildings, recruiting new people to help or come live in the village, and getting to do missions specific to the village.
The hostile factions. I felt like they could have been a lot simpler when coming up with enemies, but the Udam and Izila are pretty interesting. Especially the fact that the Udam are suffering from a widespread disease. That was an interesting detail.
The tameable creatures. That was just a really cool thing to do and it was a lot of fun to have a wide variety of prehistoric creatures accompanying me across Oros.
I don’t really have a good sense of how long it should take to beat a game, but I did everything and it took me just over 30 hours. From where I stand now, that feels pretty good.
The spear. Holy crap, one of the most satisfying in-game weapons I’ve come across in a long time.
The map feels a bit too big largely because after awhile, the missions start feeling repetitive. There are big main story missions, then there are side missions, which are finite and fixed, and then there are kind of in-the-moment missions that crop up randomly. These missions seem to be a good way to boost your village population.
Caves. I fucking hated the caves. They were just a huge pain in the ass to navigate and get through, and were just all around frustrating. This feels like less of a genuine complaint though, because you don’t need to explore, I think, even a single one. They’re optional.
Navigating the world. This comes in two parts. The first is a broader sense. There were a lot of times where a more practical and ubiquitous application of the mantle mechanic would have erased a lot of frustration. Roaming the world, I too often found myself trying to get up onto something and just not being able to, despite the fact that it really seemed like I should. In a more specific sense, I too often ran into situations where I was trying to get to something, and trying half a dozen different ways up there, and just kept thinking, “OKAY, FINE GAME, WHAT FUCKING OBSCURE, UNNECESSARY, RIDICULOUS PATH DO YOU SPECIFICALLY DICTATE THAT I TAKE TO GET THERE?!” I get that there are going to be some unique locations that are hard to get to, but this was happening too often. This also largely would have been mitigated by a more practical application of mantling.
You can’t sheath your weapon. Minor gripe, but this was just annoying. And the game came out in 2016, it really had no excuse.
You can’t name your tamed beasts. Why not!? I thought this would have been an extremely obvious choice, not to mention probably decently simple to put in. I was really disappointed when I learned I couldn’t name my pets.
I wish there was more interaction with village-building. That was one of the absolute biggest things that drew me in. I love building up villages or bases or settlements, whatever you want. I poured like 50 hours into This War of Mine almost exclusively because of the fact that you gathered resources to fix up an old building to survive in.
The plot felt a little…messy. It was hard in some cases to differentiate between a plot mission and a side mission. I thought this might just be an effect of it being a Far Cry game, but my wife, having played a few others, said it wasn’t. It was unique to Primal. I’m not sure how to fix this, but I guess: do whatever it was they did in the other Far Cry games. Maybe it was just a side effect of creating a fundamentally different setting and story.
The slingshot. You don’t have to use it (except for an achievement), but holy fucking shit was it an awful weapon. It was SO awkward to use because you had to hold down on the D-pad to use it, which meant either not being able to move, or not being able to aim. I hated it, a lot, and never used it even a single time more than I had to to get the achievement out of the way.
It never rained! They programmed in snow, why not rain!? That would have been amazing.
Urki the Thinker. THIS. FUCKING. CHARACTER. At first, when I initially came across him, I could not BELIEVE how ATROCIOUS the voice acting was! The voice actor was talking in an OBVIOUS modern, American Southern accent, and it didn’t help that he was a fucking moron. It was just grating on my ears and I hated hearing him talk SO much. Eventually, I looked into it, because I was like, “There was no fucking way they let this slide on accident. SOMEONE should have caught voice acting THIS bad!” And, like I figured, I was a joke reference to I guess another character in the series. I suppose I can appreciate that, but dear lord I FUCKING HATED this character!
You might look at that list and see that the CONS section is longer, and conclude it might not be that great of a game. But for context, I’d say that the vast majority of my problems were minor. I ran into them largely because I was doing EVERYTHING. And even then, they didn’t really disrupt the gameplay THAT much. If anything, the game’s biggest problem is that it does start to wear thin after awhile, but I’m not sure that this is Primal’s fault at all. I think it’s just a fault of modern games. Gaming companies, especially Ubisoft it seems, have become obsessed with open worlds and huge maps, and yet they refuse to spend the appropriate amount of time actually filling those maps with a variety of interesting things to do. It gets repetitive, it’s just padding after awhile.
Although admittedly I think that just works for apparently a lot of people. I mean, it must if they keep buying the same stuff over and over again. But it would be nice if quality had a bit more emphasis in the quality-quantity ratio.
The only thing that makes me sad about this is the fact that there was no real DLC, (I know there was one where you play like, a mammoth, which just didn’t sound great or like a genuine continuation of or expansion on the story), no further development of the story or world, (this game seems like it was practically optimized for DLCs, like just add on another section of the map with some unique missions, environments, and creatures, maybe a new weapon?), and apparently there’s no Far Cry Primal 2 in the works.
Why the fuck is it the more generic games keep getting expansions and sequels, but the actual good stuff doesn’t?
Anyway, go play Far Cry Primal if it sounds like something you’d be interested in. It was a lot of fun!
Also, on an unrelated note, I hopped over to FFNet to see if there was any FC: Primal fan fiction (there was almost none, but this story shows a lot of promise), and I realized that for whatever reason, the Far Cry section doesn’t have the ability to search by World, which a lot of game sections that are based around series enjoy. In this case, you’d look for fan fics based on individual games, since they aren’t direct sequels to each other. So I sent a message to FFNet and asked them to fix that, and they said yes and did it! Quickly too, I was really surprised. So if you or someone you know writes or has written Far Cry fan fiction, now you can (probably) assign it to the proper game!