It's safe to say that Far Cry Primal is a World apart from Far Cry 4. Yes the pun was intended. Far Cry Primal does a lot of things right where Far Cry 4 went wrong and it seems rather ironic that Far Cry Primal seems light years ahead of Far Cry 4. I’ve ben asking myself: why is that? What does it do so well that Far Cry 4 neglected?
Gameplay and setting
Far Cry Primal is set in 10,000 BC in the fictional setting of Oros Valley, Central Europe. When I first heard about this Stone Age setting I felt underwhelmed to say the least. I’ve never really been a fan of books, games or movies from this period so why would I devote my game time to it? How wrong of me to judge. Far Cry Primal feels electric and it felt electric from the get go. Takaar is the main protagonist who is a part of the Wenja Tribe. Taaker feels strong and fearless from the get go as one of the first tasks are to create a bow. That only meant one thing: we became the Predator and the hunt was on; no messin’, no overly baked introductions; straight in to the action. Taakar’s hunting skills are somewhat refined from the outset with his heightened senses. In laymen’s terms Taakar's ability allowed us to easily detect threats and items of interest pressing R3. I wondered if this made certain quests too easy but again I was wrong. Seeing the objects were only viewable if they were in a certain radius and within a level viewing plain. That’s right Taakar can’t see though rock, around corners or through hills which meant I had to move fast if I was going to keep, say, a Goat, within my senses.
I love animals! I really do. Far Cry Primal oozes the notion of Man (or Woman) Vs. Nature and it forces you to make kills to upgrade your arsenal. This is no different to what it was in Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 but Primal felt real. Killing was an objective within the first ten minutes of the game whereas I felt the pace was a little slower in Far Cry 4. I kept telling myself to stop being a wuss when taking down my first few Mammoths and I soon sank in to a consistent rhythm. Stealth is everything in Far Cry Primal. Ubisoft did a fantastic job when capturing the atmosphere and tone. Usually I’d think there was a lot wrong with a bearded man (Taakar) creeping through bushes and trees but in Far Cry Primal that very action is one of my favourite elements of the gameplay. Taking out an outpost of enemies and capturing is a ton of fun too. I very quickly learnt that I was wrong to judge Far Cry Primal before playing it.
Far Cry Primal adopts an element of companionship; not just with your fellow Wenja Tribes folk but with animals and beasts alike. By cleverly planting Bait Traps then approaching the animal Taakar can tame an animal. Naturally, Taming is a skill that is learnt and is not a given ability from the start but you knew that right? For me I thought taming was a great twist to the series and it’s something we’ve seen in other titles like Metal Gear Solid V of recent. What do you think about this? Taming also adds a welcome balance from slaying which is something I believe Ubisoft did on purpose and I love it.
Graphics: Do you care?
Actually I do care? Far Cry Primal had to be believable and the world had to seem like a real living and breathing Flora and Fauna system in order for it to work. I can report that Far Cry Primal looks stunning. The colour palette is awash with balanced tones of orange, brown and green which may not seem overly sexy but it looks great. For a woman who is naturally attracted to brighter colours I fell in love with the softer colours of Oros Valley (fictional world in Far Cry Primal).
I’ve heard many of you discuss how graphics are not as important as story and to a certain extent I completely agree. If we removed some of the textures from Far Cry Primal would it have made a difference to the overall gameplay? I can’t really say for certain but I believe some of the immersion would have disappeared. Speaking of Immersion I played far Cry Primal with my Turtle Beach P12 Headset on and the sound is great. Okay the sound that was there was great. Ubisoft seem to have neglected the true nature of what the Stone Age would have sounded like as I felt there was a lot missing. I expected to hear a lot more animals off in the distance or perhaps the sounds of animals grazing nearby but there wasn’t. I’ve grown to want more from a game in terms of sound and I felt this could have been improved using more layers of sounds.
Lions & Tigers & Bears oh my!
Yes to all three. Oros is absolutely full of wildlife. Animals and beasts killing one another, chasing one another and stalking outposts; you can expect to see it all. As with all Far Cry games there’s a risk of running in to Unexpected Encounters when meandering from mission to mission which adds a lot of fun and opportunities to gain experience points.
Oros Valley is huge which leaves and Mammoth playing field for a variety of missions. You certainly get your monies worth in terms of things to do. Whilst this is great it can also be a downside as I found myself getting lost at times. Missions spring up out of nowhere and I started to think that I’d never finish the game! My approach in any game is to barrels through the side missions first before tackling the main goals. I took this approach in Far Cry Primal with great success. I’d sank four hours in to side missions before even addressing the second mission of the main campaign! Conclusively, you can play Far Cry Primal however you want though. I love flexibility.
Day or night the threats within Far Cry Primal exist and can often be unexpected and deadly. Whether you choose to hold your spear, bow, club or slingshot you need to be ready as animals move extremely quickly. During face to face attacks I found the Spear to be the most deadliest weapon in the arsenal as it allowed maximum agility of Taakar's movements. Choice is very important in Primal which I think is another redeeming feature of this latest instalment. Having experienced Far Cry Primal I now realise at just how subordinate Far Cry 4 feels. In addition, the same can be said for menu navigation. Far Cry Primal offers a much more streamlined experience in which I don't feel like I'm drowning in options. Crafting, levelling up and general appearance of the menu's feels more user friendly compared to Far Cry 4. Again, this is another feature that I felt really satisfied with.
Should you buy it?
Far Cry Primal redeems the series by taking this new direction. Far Cry 4 was dubbed as Far Cry 3.5 due to the similarities of environments, gameplay, colours and missions. Far Cry Primal feels totally different in all of the right ways. Far Cry Primal’s strength is Gameplay over Story which suits me as I found myself getting completely lost in it. Okay so there are some flaws in the lack of sounds and over burdening of side quests but Far Cry Primal is a solid 8/10.
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