Far Cry Primal Review – Boredom is a Dangerous Beast

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Developer: Ubisoft Montreal; Publisher: Ubisoft

Reviewed On: PC

Core i5-6500 3.2GHz; 16GB DDR4 RAM; GeForce GTX 1070 8GB

 

I didn’t have high expectations going into Far Cry Primal, and a lot of the things made me stand corrected. A Far Cry with no guns and explosions? I thought upon the game’s announcement. Doesn’t sound all that exciting. And indeed, the age setting of Far Cry Primal does a lot to detract from the fun of Far Cry we’ve gotten used to. Sure, the change of setting brings some variety into the somewhat stale series, but the typical Far Cry gameplay formula suffers from a lot of repetition. Many elements that fit the series perfectly receive a big photos, but many of them serve to bring more annoyance than anything. I will go into depth on each of my major complaints as I go along with this review, but Far Cry Primal is the game to skip out on if you’re invested deep into the series.

To start with some positives, Far Cry Primal looks absolutely amazing. The Dunia engine is not the most demanding in games, but it renders dense forests with incredible levels of detail. Travelling through the south regions of the game world, I grew to appreciate the dense vegetation brought to life in Primal. In some ways, the setting benefits the quality of the environment, which has been made more varied and incredibly dense. As a result, the game looks stunning, especially if you have powerful hardware to back it up. The screenshots captured do not come close to reflecting the image quality seen on a screen, although demonstrate the graphical effects of this detailed game. Far Cry Primal sets a new standard for first-person shooter environments, and adds a new ceiling for future Ubisoft titles to look up to.

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The dense forest is absolutely gorgeous

As it is, Far Cry Primal appeals largely to fans of the now long-running franchise, and attempts to diversify the regular shooter formula. It fails multiple times in attempting to do so, and the setting hasn’t been built upon enough to call it a fully-fledged sequel. Far Cry Primal sets the world in 10000 BCE, and as you would expect, the guns are gone. So are the cars, the explosions, sniping, and many other elements I grew to like in the Far Cry franchise. What the setting brings instead is tons of gathering, animal taming, dull melee weapons, along with traditional staples of not only Far Cry, but quite largely every Ubisoft game released within the past 3 years. Traditionally, Far Cry Primal also requires time to grow powerful and progress further, requiring completion of forgettable story missions and checkmarks worth of side activities.

At start, I’ve had to do some extra work within the game’s interface menu, and as soon as it is available, I would first recommend doing exactly that. Far Cry Primal’s user interface and HUD are the most cluttered I’ve seen out of a video game. Some can say it is nice of Ubisoft to offer extensive options in game’s screen, however it is an absolute necessity to turn half of these off. The worst offenders I’d recommend disabling are Gathering Animations (they drive you crazy after about first 50 times), Tooltips (the game is super easy to learn) and the Found Items Readout. These tweaks take away a lot of clutter as you gather materials and proceed with missions, and Primal offers the options to shut down many other elements of the UI.

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Primal’s map gets quickly bloated with bonfires and camps

Far Cry Primal follows the usual pattern set by its predecessors. You set bonfires ablaze to reveal sections of the map (i.e. radio towers minus the climbing), liberate outposts to make the region safer, complete side missions to unlock skills and so on. There is nothing surprising about Far Cry Primal at all, and it never showed me anything I haven’t seen before. I’d go as far as to say that Far Cry Primal is more of a cut-and-paste of Far Cry 4 than 4 was of 3. Where Far Cry 4 brought some subtle changes to improve the game experience, Far Cry Primal follows exactly in its predecessor’s steps, right down to the random events. Defend members of your tribe, save a captured member of a tribe, kill animals. Sound familiar? It is because Far Cry 4 had all of that, albeit with some name differences.

Far Cry Primal reuses a lot of assets from its predecessors, and in fact, it feels way too much in this entry. Back to when Far Cry 4 was judged for copy-pasting a lot from Far Cry 3, the game at least tried to bring a lot of new elements and mostly succeeded with offering new tools and mission variety. To Far Cry Primal’s case, it doesn’t even try to offer anything distinct. Few hours in as the world opened up, and I might as well have been playing Far Cry 4 over again, or as I like to say, the less fun version of it. All character animations remain exactly the same for any activity and even the grappling hook remains stuck in the series’ DNA. Who would have thought that people at that time knew enough to make a claw with attached rope to climb hills. Wow, progress. Indeed, many attributes seem to be there for the sake of it, but thankfully this makes Far Cry Primal a lot more entertaining than Early Access survival games.

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Stabbing people is still fun

The skill tree is even more confusing than ever, and Far Cry Primal is filled with even more useless skill points. 2 Points for gathering +1 skin from each animal? what a waste I thought, but as usual, anything earns you skill points fast. Each of the main characters you meet offer different abilities that help your character survive the harsh world. Well, I shouldn’t say help survive. Far Cry Primal is far from a survival game, no matter how much it wants to say with its setting. Aside from the Hardcore mode and Perma-Death options available through the Apex edition, Far Cry Primal is a joyful adventure through a dangerous world. Endless gathering adds nothing meaningful to the experience and feels like a chore after a brief period of playing. What’s worse is that you can’t avoid it either, as tools and weapons require materials to be crafter. Along the note, weapons in Far Cry Primal absolutely suck, with an awful melee system to come along with the issue. Since guns are no longer there, Primal replaces them with a bow, spears and a club. Now, instead of shooting the enemy in the face, I have to bash them in the head with my stone club. Stone age people are really that boring.

Far Cry Primal is therefore focused on a few ranged weapons and the melee combat, however the latter received very little attention during development. Primal’s melee combat is really simplistic: bash, bash, bash; which feels incredibly clunky and awkward. It quickly gets repetitive and there is a lack of development along the progression curve. Faithful to the series, Far Cry Primal starts with a weak character, and the player only feels really powerful at the mid-point. So, to have any actual fun, its down again to crafting and experience. The ranged weapons are very limited, and only the double bow feels any powerful. Far Cry Primal also offers players a variety of different tools, which all somewhat mimic the diversity in Far Cry 4. The binoculars are now replaced with a flying owl, which is just a tedious way of scouting the enemies, and natural bombs have very little impact compared to something as fun as a brick of C4.

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What else is there? Since the main character feels rather weak, Far Cry Primal introduces a beast-taming system, kind of similar in what we saw with the Shangri La in the predecessor. Except now, the player can tame virtually any type of animal, which can later be used to aid in attacking enemy camps. While I’m on the complain train, Far Cry Primal’s animals absolutely infuriate me. They’re all over the place because of the wild setting, and I can’t even remember the number of times I was going to my destination only to be attacked by a bear in the forest. And since I didn’t have guns, I had to bash it to death with my club, which of course got me killed first. Dense forests are filled with wild life, and only after tedious crafting, I was able to have powerful weapons. Wild life cam be useful, but when I ran into 3 bears that day, it’s more of an inconvenience.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the story, and that is because I really couldn’t care less for it. Far Cry Primal features the same premise – your character becomes totally invested in helping free the region through various means, and at least in this title, the reason to defend one’s own people represents a goal that’s more clear. The developers have created a brand new language to fit Far Cry Primal’s setting and each of its 3 tribes gets a slight difference in dialect. I personally found this to be really cool, but with that said, neither the characters nor any of the main missions happened to engage me. Far Cry Primal’s characters are of course crazy, although the third time hasn’t worked out to be a charm for the series. The characters are just poorly written and lack any real sense of personality, and their crazy traits just annoy more than anything. Villains are not likeable either and their reasons to hate you are poorly explained. From what we gather at the start, everyone hates your tribe for living in the region, and that’s the entire plot.

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Frankly, I couldn’t care a bit about my tribe and story missions fell in line with simple objectives like kill, destroy or hunt. The most outstanding pieces remain the drug scenes, and these were some of my favourite parts of the whole game. To Primal’s credit, it diversifies these missions significantly, making them more interesting than those in Far Cry 4. Despite these moments, the rest of the story is stagnant with favours and endless crafting requirements. I’ve probably spent more time looking for materials so I could get the next mission from the character than actually completing missions, although Far Cry Primal is quick to reward with materials from the stash. Still, I couldn’t care less for upgrading my village other than crafting new weapons and tools.

Far Cry Primal takes time getting used to, and I will even admit that the game grew on me as I became more powerful. Far Cry Primal takes longer to complete, largely due to many crafting restrictions, but once all my weapons were level 3, I could easily deal with large enemy numbers. And the Heavy Takedown skill is just as helpful to learn as before. The map really opens up, and most of it is accessible at the very start, though you need to get powerful to beat many outlying camps. Far Cry Primal still reflects the comfort zone of the series, and although it switches things up with an ancient setting, it is very familiar. However, I’d like to point out that with this title, Far Cry feels completely stagnant and Primal feels boring for at least first 5 hours. Developing your character and improving tools diversifies your options of approach, but you still can’t snipe everyone in a camp, I miss having a sniper rifle. Now that Far Cry Primal has lowered in price, it is worth picking up for the fans, but it feels a lot like an expansion that’s really stretched rather than a full sequel.

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The Verdict:

Far Cry Primal is yet another addition to the series, and hasn’t surprised me at any point during my 30+ hours playing it. Ubisoft attempted to innovate by setting the game in a pre-historic setting, but a lot of it only serves to the detriment of the game. Character progression is a lot slower and revolves around constant crafting, which makes Primal even more dull at the start than its predecessors. Although the game eventually gets better, Ubisoft’s usual open-world design is still there, and with Primal, the developers step even further away from a good plot or any plot at all. If you really enjoy the formula of Far Cry games, then this is just another one but with a different setting, and unfortunately, its even more aggressively boring.

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