Far Cry Primal: the Good, the Bad, and the Eyeball Soup
Setting Changes Everything
This is actually something that Ubisoft as a whole has proven with both Far Cry Primal and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. While many games in their portfolio offer similar mechanics in different locations, Oros and London revamped gameplay in each of their respective games. In many ways, the setting of Far Cry Primal was a character itself, threatening the player and offering new possibilities in their quest for survival.
Oros is a living, breathing world that entices and ensnares. It provides all of the tools necessary to emerge victorious to those willing to work for it. It transforms the gameplay that Far Cry is known for and puts more pressure on the player. Scavenging to keep yourself in constant supply of weaponry, herbs, and meat. Hunting for survival as well as avoiding becoming prey yourself. There’s even the use of animals to get around in the absence of vehicles.
Making a world that’s more alive helps to put the core mechanics at the forefront. Something that can certainly be of use in Ubisoft’s future endeavors.
Give Us Someone to Care About
Even in an action-packed game, characters help to keep the experience grounded. Being able to do as you please certainly is fun, but not having anyone interesting as a slight distraction can lead to the game growing stale. Having people to care about or, at the very least, a protagonist worth being can really help to flesh a game out.
Far Cry Primal nailed its survival focused core mechanics. Yet, with the lack of people in the game worth caring about, those mechanics were left to carry the weight of the game. Watch_Dogs suffered similarly with its hard to like protagonist and forgettable enemies.
Ubisoft has proven that they can provide worthwhile characters, it just needs to make it a priority in all of its titles. Having a truly great idea suffer from the lack of a single element is not a good thing. We need more characters like the Frye Twins and Aurora, and less like Takkar and Aieden going forward.
Less Can Be More
A look at Far Cry Primal’s full arsenal shows that it is much lighter than what you’d get in Far Cry 3 or 4. A couple of bows, a few bombs, spears, and clubs make up the bulk of your weaponry, leading to little in the way of direct assault options. While this may seem like a negative levied against the game, this encouraged more use of your surroundings.
Luring enemies into a pack of predators, lighting fire to their homes, sicking your pet on them, and more are options to help you take enemies out. There is also a stronger need for stealth due to the lack of high-powered weaponry, which provides a much more methodical option to players. Of course, it isn’t forced and you can still find the means to run in without a care in the world.
That shift of focus away from just obtaining the best possible weapons helps other elements of the game shine as well.
Immersion Through Language
At first, the lack of an understandable spoken language within Far Cry Primal was a bit difficult to deal with. Ubisoft has always used English even when the games took place a long way from home. For this latest game, Ubisoft Montreal worked with expert linguist to create the three tribal dialects on display in the game, and it works wonders.
That lack of understanding helps with the sensation of you being in a place you don’t belong. Having a random enemy yell “hey! you!” would’ve totally pulled players out of the Stone Age experience. Hearing this unknown language causes you to hide and check exactly who’s speaking first. It’s a constant reminder that you’re in a hostile world, and your lack of understanding will become a useful defense mechanism.
With Ubisoft constantly pushing for accurate renditions of new locations, language may prove to be one of its strongest tools. It was an amazing new element to deal with that they should definitely capitalize on more in the future.
If There’s No Pagan Min, You Need Something Big Up Your Sleeve
For some, Far Cry 4 was little more than a re-skinned Far Cry 3. One thing that the former had going for it, though, was easily the best villain the franchise had ever seen. Far Cry 3 may have had his Vaas Montenegro and all of his “definitions of insanity,” but the sequel gave us Pagan Min. This enigmatic individual kept you on your toes as you dealt with his violent outbursts and soothing speech.
He was Far Cry 4, and Far Cry Primal sorely lacked what a villain like him brings to the table. His demented nature, and offsetting tone added a bit of order to the overarching chaos. Trying to figure out just what his deal was became a driving force, even when other enemies were easily looked over. Masterful voice action, intriguing design, and a sort of omnipresence lifted the entire experience.
Far Cry Primal had cool animals and the Stone Age, but with no Pagan Min to work towards, it fell a bit flat. There was no alternative to such a strong character either, and that was very unfortunate. You can’t just go and give one of the best evil geniuses ever then never deliver again. Not cool.
The Context of Violence
Far Cry Primal may very well be Ubisoft’s most brutally graphic game. The Stone Age was a lot more… well, primal, and that equals a lot more visceral combat. Piercing eyes with stone shards, impaling enemies on spears, watching wild beasts rend flesh from bone – all of this is included in Far Cry’s latest entry, and it never even bats an eyelash.
The graphic nature extends outside of the combat as well. Brutality is part of life for the tribes inhabiting the land of Oros. One scene actually has players drink a concoction that includes the eye’s of Takkar’s enemy. You can see them roll about the cup as you take your sip.
What makes this stand out, though, is that none of it is used for the sole purpose of shock value. It fits the world in which it occurs. This is the beginning of time, when it was kill or be killed, and beasts lived by the same code as man. In this way, the over-the-top gore comes across as normal and immersive. It’s used to engross players in this believable world, rather than just provide “wtf?!” moments. Ubisoft Montreal did a great job of confining the raw brutality (blood and eyes included) within a world where it makes perfect sense.
If you’d like to read more on Far Cry Primal, and get more details on its mechanics and features, be sure to check out our wiki. You can also read our review to see what we thought about the whole experience.