Walking through a moonlit forest, I see a glowing orange light in the distance. Curious, I head towards it. But then I notice that it’s heading towards
me. It’s a bear, and it’s on fire. I leap out of the way and the beast thunders past, roaring in pain. It disappears into the undergrowth and I hear human voices approaching, echoing through the trees.
NEED TO KNOW
What is it? Far Cry, but in the Stone Age.
Expect to pay £40/$60
Developer Ubisoft Montreal
Reviewed on GeForce GTX 970, Intel i7-950, 16GB RAM
Hiding in the shadows out of sight, I watch a group of hunters from a rival tribe chase after the bear. I follow, hidden, until they corner it. A fight breaks out and the bear—which is still very much on fire—mauls the hunters to death. It’s one of those beautiful, absurd moments of colliding AI, and I can’t bring myself to finish the weakened bear off despite its pelt being a valuable crafting material. Far Cry Primal is a very silly videogame.
It’s also one you might have played before. Ubisoft have taken the structure, systems, and general feel of the previous two games and transplanted them into the year 10,000 BC. There are no guns, obviously, but you soon find yourself settling into a familiar routine of hunting, crafting, and missioning. Even so, it’s amazing how neatly the Far Cry formula fits into such a wildly different setting.
The setting is Oros, a fictional valley somewhere in primeval Europe. It’s a lush, beautiful expanse of grassy plains, redwood forests, sleepy villages, and cascading waterfalls. Hazy sunlight pours through gaps in the trees by day, and moonlight drapes the world in a pale, ghostly luminescence at night. It’s also
teeming with wildlife, and feels more alive than any previous Far Cry setting.
The air is filled with the strange calls of ancient, long-extinct birds and everywhere you look there are animals including the distinctly prehistoric saber-toothed cat and wooly mammoth. In terms of world-building, atmosphere, and evoking a rich sense of place, it’s one of Ubisoft’s best open-worlds.
You play as Takkar, a hunter who’s fighting to restore his scattered tribe, the Wenja, to its former glory. Ubisoft worked with linguists to create a convincing prehistoric language, and as such the entire thing is subtitled. One notable departure from previous games is the lack of a central villain, and with no Pagan Min or Vaas Montenegro to drive the story forward, it feels a little thin.