Far Cry Primal - PS4 Review

Far Cry is a series well-known for its violence, but also for its heavy use of firearms. This makes the newest offering in the series, Far Cry Primal, something of an unusual entry into the series as there is not a gun in sight. That being said, a lot of the things the series is known for - both for better and for worse - are on full display here. At the end of the day however, I found myself enjoying the title a great deal, despite some issues here and there.

First and foremost, I am going to address my biggest gripe about the game - but the story is just paper thin. I loved the effort that went into trying to create an authentic sounding language for the tribesman to speak in, it just winds up falling flat because they very seldom have anything to say. There are two reasons for this. The first is the relatively flat, open world nature that Far Cry is so well known for. This means you can tackle story quests in a relatively loose order of your choosing, but the end result is that these events just feel tacked on and not really structurally important to the narrative.

Perhaps of even greater concern is the lack of an interesting villain. The opposing tribesmen that you are dealing with lack the sort of leader or foil that Pagan Min so brilliantly provided for us in Far Cry 4. While I would not go so far as to say the story in Far Cry 4 was anything special in and of itself, it did provide one of the more memorable antagonists in video game history, but we lack even that to help anchor the storytelling in Primal.

If you enjoy open world games and everything that entails (lots of seemingly random quests of scant actual importance, areas to explore, resource gathering, etc) - then there is a great deal to like here. Between the prior Far Cry, Assassin's Creed games and even Watchdogs, it is safe to say that Ubisoft has found their comfortable niche that they do really well - like Square Enix and RPGs or Arc System Works with 2D fighting games. It is simply what they are known for, and by and large Ubisoft has their formula down pat, even if they are not regularly taking risks with it.

Combat plays out a few different ways, with ranged attacks, melee and the option for limited stealth. Human enemies try to overwhelm you with numbers, while the creatures you encounter in the wild sometimes pose hulking threats in and of themselves. While a deer or monkey may try to run away, a cave lion or brown bear is libel to turn you into its next meal. However, as frightening as these beasts may be, the also open up the window to perhaps the most entertaining new aspect of the game - beast taming.

Fairly early in the story structure, your character winds up experiencing a vision that gives him control over an owl that you can see through the eyes of, and later in the game even use as an offensive weapon (think dropping poison or bees nests on enemies). Awesome for trying to take over more difficult enemy encampments. However, you can tame some of the more dangerous predators in the wild as well, and even ride them if your mastery skills get high enough. I cannot count the number of times I ran back into a difficult fight, just to restore my sabertooth  tiger. I fed it almost any time it was wounded, and used the pet option on it far more than I should probably admit. I got attached to him over most of the creatures, all of which have slightly different skills and abilities ranging from sheer strength and swiftness to special abilities that might help recover resources or see more of the minimap. This was without a doubt my favorite innovation for the game, despite the fact that really, these are pretty standard fare AI companions.

There are plenty of solid progression hooks that kept me playing above and beyond my irrational affection for my big kitty cat. The leveling system provides lots of different abilities that can be unlocked. Finding new tribesman gives you new skills that can be unlocked as well. The tribe you build up, complete with population increases, automated resource gathering and the option to build up and improve the huts of the aforementioned key tribesman was actually pretty addicting as well.

Far Cry Primal takes a familiar formula, and while it falls somewhat flat from a narrative standpoint, the setting is actually a surprisingly good fit. The brutal world comes to life with excellent visuals and a steady framerate that is complimented by a new language and appropriate music. The beast mastery was a great twist on what Far Cry usually presents, but it also left me wishing for just a few more chances being taken with the gameplay. Exploration is a lot of fun and I enjoyed finding new areas and unlocking new perks in my village. I do however wish that the main story itself and the antagonists were more interesting, as the game itself is solid fun but also somewhat forgettable when everything is said and done.

Game Information

PlayStation 4
Ubisoft Montreal
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
Xbox One

Article by Nick