Farcry Primal is the latest release in the Farcry series from developers Ubisoft. I had been following the hype and media releases since it was announced and can honestly say that this game was one of my most anticipated releases of this year.
I picked it up last Thursday after returning home from a brief holiday and after 30-something hours/three days I feel like I have put enough time into it, to give it an honest review. I feel it’s important to point out I picked up a copy of the PS4 Collector’s Edition, which came with a few extras. One of which is a phrasebook for the language used in the game. (this will become more important, later in the review)
I really wanted this game to be amazing. I really did. I have greatly enjoyed all of the previous Farcry games (with the exception of Farcry 2) and was ready to be wowed by Primal. Instead, I have come away with a feeling that can only be described as ‘Meh’.
Visually, Primal is gorgeous. Whether trekking through streams, forest and brush following the blood-trail of an animal you have injured in a hunt, climbing through a dark cave utilising a burning spear as a makeshift torch, looking for a cave painting, or wandering north into the frozen tundra to score some Mammoth hide, the environments are a work of art. Combine this with a birds eye view of your surroundings (literally), and there have been a few screenshots that I have just had to share with those around me and say ‘Lookit! Pretty!’
In terms of gameplay, the combat and crafting side of the game is easy and enjoyable. Just as I did with Farcry 4’s resource and upgrade system, I spent a lot of time running around looking for that one skin or plant to complete an upgrade or build a new hut. After watching trailers and viewing the weaponry available in the game, I expected the bow and arrow to be my favourite method of hunting, but am quite surprised to say that I favour the spear over anything else. Its ability to be thrown a fair distance for outstanding damage, as well as be used up close, makes it, in my opinion, the most versatile weapon in the game. And besides, there really is nothing better than scoring a headshot on an enemy with a thrown spear while riding into battle on a Sabertooth Tiger.
You read that right, Far Cry Primal’s ‘gimmick’ you might say, is Tameable Beasts. Apart from the material hunting, this is where the collector in me, has forced me to spend the majority of my time. I mean, really, its fucking tameable beasts! Just the thought of sending my pet bear into a camp of unsuspecting Udam to wreak havoc makes me smile. And the developers knew what they were doing, giving each animal a certain skill or ability which makes it perfect for certain jobs. If you’re out hunting at night, bring your Sabertooth. As the Apex Predator, all other predators will give it a wide berth. Want to whittle down a group of enemies? Send your Jaguar in to take out the straggler and not alert his friends. The beast’s different abilities ensure that I’ve been utilising a wider variety of prehistoric pets instead of relying on just one.
With all of this said, you would think that I am really be enjoying Primal, right? Sadly, no. No I’m not.
The biggest problem with Far Cry Primal is, as stupid as this may sound – I just don’t care. I don’t care about the tribe and their fights with the Udam and the Izila. I don’t care that there may be a group of Wenja for me to go rescue and play the hero for. I can’t connect to Takkar or the tribesman as characters, and I think that’s because of the language barrier. I understand what Ubisoft tried to do here, and the effort they have gone to, to create/resurrect a dead language is really admirable. They have done this so that we, the player, feel that the world is more realistic. And that’s true – it would be a bit off-putting to hear these prehistoric cavemen yelling at each other in plain English. And sure, the cut-scenes are all captioned in English, but the random encounters and chance meetings out in the world? Nope. You have no idea what they are talking about. You’ll hear someone yelling at you and wonder, friend or foe? It has had me pausing the game a lot to reference the phrase book that came with the Collectors Edition, to try and work out what they are saying, or situationally, what I am walking into. And even with the cut-scenes, I am either too busy reading the subtitles to pay attention to what’s happening, or too busy watching the action to read and understand why I was just pissed on by a caveman with one arm. The story behind why I am doing everything I am doing has been lost in the translation, and while this is 100% subjective, I personally don’t have the time or the patience to learn a new language, that I feel would be necessary to really enjoy this game.
And when I take that into account, I can’t help but think that this game, that I really hoped would be engaging and fun and leave me wanting to burn time playing, is really just Farcry 4 without guns and more importantly, without the engaging story to go with it. Sure, the Tameable Beasts are new, but everything else (including the map apparently) I can do and see in Farcry 4.
And have more fun doing it (Thanks Pagan Min!)
Far Cry Primal
Visual Design - 4/10
Sound Design - 4/10
Gameplay - 4/10
Replay - 2/10
Personal Enjoyment - 2/10