FAR CRY PRIMAL (2016) – ENTER THE LAND OF OROS AND DISCOVER YOUR PRIMAL INSTINCT IN THIS PRE-HISTORIC MASTERPIECE

Far Cry Primal is a 2016 action-adventure game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is a spin-off to Far Cry 4, and the tenth overall installment in the Far Cry series. It is set during prehistoric times and follows the story of Takkar, an unarmed hunter who enters the land of Oros but will rise to become the leader of a tribe – the Wenja, using his special gift of taming animals and holding the title of “Beast Master”. Primal adapts the traditional Far Cry formula to its prehistoric setting, replacing modern firearms with primitive weapons like spears, clubs, and bows and arrows, and allowing players to summon animal companions (beasts) during battles. Everyday survival is a key aspect of the gameplay, as players have to watch out for both natural predators and rival tribesmen.

The game is set in 10,000 BC during the end of the Upper Paleolithic and beginning of the Mesolithic period in Europe. It takes place in the fictional Oros valley in the Carpathian Mountains of Central and Eastern Europe ,an open world filled with different types of flora and fauna especially prehistoric life. There is prehistoric wildlife such as woolly mammoths, dire wolves, cave bears, cave lions, woolly rhinos, brontotherium, Irish elk and saber-toothed cats along with forms of modern creatures like brown bears, badgers, and deer. As the game is set in prehistoric times, the traditional gunplay and vehicle gameplay featured in the Far Cry series were removed, and the player can only get access to melee weapons such as spears, clubs and ranged weapons such as bows and slings. The player cannot purchase weapons and must craft them using the materials scavenged in the world such as wood and stone.

However, to replace the vehicular combat abilities, Takkar is given the ability to control various beasts and use them to scout, hunt and even ride into battle. Besides facing natural predators, the player must also compete with other hostile tribes occupying the area. By attacking and seizing bonfires and camps, the Wenja tribe will move in and begin patrolling the nearby region, and the player will gain fast travel points as well as camps to rest in. Non-player characters will also task the player to rescue tribe-mates and perform other tasks which improve the village, as well as provide free crafting materials. The game also features a dynamic weather system and day-night cycle, which affects the gameplay.

At night, more predators are present, and many become more aggressive and dangerous, whereas at the day, the player can gather food and scavenge other resources such as tools for hunting. The player can also make use of fire as a tool for personal protection or hunting at night. The night time gameplay is one I enjoy as it truly creates an atmosphere of fear as the still waters have deadly crocodiles and bite fish while the long grass holds jaguars, wolves and the deadly sabre-tooth tigers.

In terms of the human combatants, the Wenja are hunted by two tribes in particular – the Neanderthal-like Udam tribe who live in the northern mountains, prize warfare and hunting, and frequently kidnap Wenja to cannibalize them. With the help of Tensay, a Shaman who becomes an ally whose missions allow Takkar to become a “Beast Master”, Takkar discovers that the Udam are eating Wenja flesh in hopes of gaining immunity from a terminal genetic disease, the “skull fire”, that is wiping out their tribe, then tracks down and apprehends the Udam commander Dah to learn more about the Udam’s techniques. Several Wenja reject Takkar’s decision to give shelter to an Udam warrior at first, and take him to a cave to be executed by drowning, until Takkar himself arrives in time to rescue Dah and chastise the tribe for disobeying him, earning Dah’s gratitude and help.

The other is when the agrarian, ritualistic Izila, another, more advanced tribe that lives in the marshlands of southern Oros, begin capturing Wenja prisoners for slavery and human sacrifice to the Sun goddess Suxli, Takkar invades their domains to rescue them, coming face to face with their leader Batari. After he refuses to become Batari’s slave, a war begins between the Wenja and Izila. Takkar then infiltrates the camp of an Izila commander named Roshani (Ali Momen) and captures him, allowing him to live in exchange for sharing Izila technology in both warfare and agriculture.

So let me discuss one of the best things about Far Cry Primal – the ability to control animals. Beast Master skills are abilities that allow Takkar to tame and control animals he encounters in the wilds of Oros. They are unlocked by recruiting Tensay the Shaman, then improving his hut and completing quests for him. There are 14 beasts that can be tamed in the wilderness of Far Cry Primal – in addition to three beasts that can be acquired by taking on legendary hunts. When you first unlock the Tame Wildcats and Tame Apex Predators abilities, these are the creatures I would advice taming first:

Jaguar: The Jaguar is perfect for players who are focusing on stealth, as this lithe jungle cat can silently take down enemies for you.
Cave Lion: The Cave Lion, while not as stealthy as the jaguar, is just as valuable, since it can automatically mark and tag nearby enemies. This makes infiltrating outposts and bonfires much easier when using this feline companion.
Cave Bear: The brown bear is a formidable ally of a beast, both because it can sustain and deal a high amount of damage, but also because you can ride it.
Sabretooth Tiger: Similar to the brown bear, Takkar can ride the Sabretooth – the big difference is that this fearsome prehistoric cat is by far the fastest predator in Oros. This means riding a Sabretooth will get you around far faster than on a bear.

Feeding your animal companions with meat sourced from prey brings them back to full health, with the same doing wonders for Takkar, too. Only a scarcity of meat would prevent you feeding your animals and yourself, but over the course of Primal it was more difficult to prevent my inventory sack becoming overloaded than it was to keep it stocked. That, of course, might change dramatically come final release. The chances of your companion making a successful kill are, invariably, dependent on the awareness and strength of your target. The wolf will dismember the native deer-like creatures with little difficultly, but even the bear is unlikely to succeed against an alert sabre-toothed tiger. One human is easy enough for your animal friend to handle, but if the attack alerts others from a tribe, it pays to call the animals back immediately before the arrows and spears flowing in from all sides do some permanent damage.

Disappointingly, you can only have one animal in play at a time, although you always have the option of calling in an owl to help. It acts like a high-altitude military drone, casting its telephoto eyes down upon the terrain in an attempt to seek out enemies, routes of infiltration, and resources to gather. Once the initial scouting run is complete, you can instruct your owl to—with better accuracy and fewer innocent casualties than any missile—dive out of the sky and tear to shreds whomever you’re pointing at. To prevent the death-from-above tactics being too powerful, the owl comes with a cooldown timer that prevents the constant spamming of its abilities.

Far Cry Primal is a case study in how a game’s setting can drive its every layer, from the tone of its story, to the dangers of its world, to the brutality of its combat. That setting is the Stone Age. Takkar searches throughout the game for the lost members of his Wenja tribe. They’re scattered across the Oros Valley, a dense wilderness of forests, swamps, and frozen caves, complete with mammoths and sabertooth tigers. As Takkar, you’ll build up a new Wenja village with a multifarious cast of characters. This reconstruction sets up Primal’s progression system. By recruiting the aforementioned Wenja–such as the shaman Tensay or the warrior Karoosh–you’ll unlock new items, weapons, and abilities. When you look past the facade, it’s essentially a new skin for the franchise’s traditional upgrade structure. But it lends character to what could be a lifeless system. As you build up your tribe from within, you encounter members of other groups, the majority of whom have plans contrary to your own. The identity of each of the game’s three tribes, and the political dynamic between them, sets up conflicts in a natural way.

A day/night cycle also adds more tension to the world: predators are more abundant and aggressive in the darkness. Even now, after dozens of hours in this valley, I still feel anxious as the sun goes down, hoping I have enough animal fat to ignite my club and ward off hulking carnivores. This focus on survival permeates Far Cry Primal. In the northern wastes, the cold becomes a factor, making each bonfire a glowing beacon of safety as you fight to stay warm. In Primal’s lush swampland, avoiding danger means avoiding the water, where underwater predators abound.

As a solitary hunter with simple tools, you’re also less equipped to defend yourself than the protagonists of Far Cry 3 and 4. Gone are handguns and grenade launchers–here you have spears, clubs, and slingshots. They not only bring a slow, measured pace to combat, but also add to Primal’s overall identity and tone. You’re a lone wanderer here, not a walking armory. However, the combat does become repetitive considering you can only use clubs, slings, spears and bows. There aren’t even swords as you’re still in the stone age. The plot also could have been more complex with perhaps one or two other tribes.

Far Cry Primal is, however, a huge, sprawling source of great gaming joy, and wisely, Ubisoft resisted the temptation to shoe-horn in any dubious multiplayer modes. Any worries about the lack of modern weaponry are quickly banished by the array of available arms. Takkar has a club, a spear and a bow, all of which are available in different iterations, can be set on fire and are fully upgradable. He gets the Stone Age equivalent of grenades, in the form of bags of bees that leave enemies flailing or bags of rotten matter that induce them to lay into each other or fire bombs which burn enemies from above when dropped by the owl. There’s one gadget – a grapple – which proves invaluable when negotiating mountainous territory, and provides a centrepiece for a few puzzle-solving side missions. The gameplay is pleasantly varied – there are plenty of sequences in which Takkar has to employ stealth, or use his hunter’s vision to track prey and effectively operate as a Stone Age detective.

JAY’S VERDICT

Immerse yourself in a ruthless open world where only survival matters. Hours of engaging game play awaits all those who dare enter the unforgiving world of Oros.

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