Survive the primal world of Far Cry Primal

Survive the primal world of Far Cry Primal

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com. 

There’s a silence to the air, interrupted by the distant growls of wolves. The sun is setting in the sky casting pink across the mountain side encampment. The hunter approaches from the brush, mostly silent except for the soft pant of his breath. He’s a stern man, devoted to his singular goal of protecting his village. A modern time traveller might think him boring, but there’s little room to falter in the primal world of the Mesolithic Era. 

Crouched, the hunter watches from the distance as three members of a warring tribe, the Ull, wielding spears and bows patrol the perimeter. His pet sabertooth tiger paws at the grass by his side. The hunter notches an arrow in the bow and takes aim letting loose a volley and striking down one of the men. The others, alarmed, charge forward in the dark as the tiger breaks into a sprint to protect his master. Ignoring the men and his own beating heart, the hunter ignites an arrow piercing the roof of one of the straw huts. Fire erupts, a blazing inferno in the night illuminating more shadows running in the hunter’s direction.

When it wants to be, “Far Cry Primal” can be intense, a cat and mouse game of survival and wit. Taking a departure from the devil may cry, let’s blow up buildings and jump vehicles off cliffs of past games in the “Far Cry” series, the game has no guns or grenades or vehicles. It doesn’t even take place close to the present, instead exploring the primitive landscape of 10,000 B.C. And, largely, the diversion is a success building on the strengths of past games and learning from a few of its weaknesses. 

Make no mistake, this isn’t “Far Cry 5” by any means. It still plays like past games in the series for better or worse (gather all the plants, hunt all the animals, kill the baddies and liberate areas), and the map owes a lot to its predecessor “Far Cry 4,” but running around the jungle with my pet sabertooth hunting wooly mammoths , that hardly seemed to matter. The story is simpler compared to past games: the Wenja tribe fights for survival against two warring tribes. But, it fits the setting and the approach. There’s a larger focus on survival and hunting. Gathering resources like wood and animal pelts upgrade the Wenja village and your character, unlocking new equipment and better gear. 

To make up for the lack of firepower, you can now take control of and tame beasts. Controlling an owl allows you to view an enemy village from above, highlighting enemies and dive-bombing unexacting archers. Taming animals like the sabertooth tiger or brown bear offers allies in the fight against enemies and hunting animals. I can honestly say I felt sad when my sabertooth tiger, Landshark took one too many spears to the face and keeled over. Raising a club above my head, I vowed vengeance, sprinting toward his killer with a death roar. “You killed him! You monster! You monster!”

With the smoke of the village behind me in the horizon, I spent the next three in-game nights hunting alone, killing elk in a fugal state. My character was not taking the death well, I decided. There was a void left by Landshark, an emptiness that the hunter turned into rage as he took the war farther north. The world can be kind of lonely, which is mostly true of “Far Cry” in itself, but with this game, it adds to the sense of desperation, melancholy, and survival. 

“Far Cry” doesn’t want to be an easy world to live in. While it lacks the bite and sense of desperation of more open ended survival games like “Ark: Survival Evolved” or the sense of exploration and creation like “Minecraft,” “Far Cry Primal” exceeds in its world building and the mood it creates. 

Coming across a brown bear in the woods, I named it Smokey, and together we started a couple forest fires. 

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