Far Cry Primal is a lot like Far Cry 3 and 4 except it is set 12,000 years ago so instead of a ludicrous amount of guns and grenades, you have spears, arrows and clubs. And sabretooth tigers. What I mean is that the overall structure is similar in that you explore, forage, kill the wildlife and take over bases and territory while undergoing a variety of missions in a very loose narrative. If you have played previous Far Cry games, you will already know what you are doing.
What sets Far Cry Primal apart though, is the setting. Which is superb. You play Takkar, a member of the Wenja tribe. At the beginning of the game you stumble upon the Oros Valley which is a huge and wild place consisting of mountains, forests, grasslands, swamps and lots of hungry animals. The valley is dominated by two particularly nasty tribes -the Udam and the Izila. The Udam are big and tough and eat people, while the Izila are painted blue and like to set people on fire. So you and your scattered tribe are definitely the good guys.
As is the norm with Far Cry (and most games), you start off weak and fairly useless and gradually work your way up to becoming a one man killing machine. In Far Cry Primal you aren’t just out in nature with a gun and are occasionally attacked by a random animal, you are part of the food chain and very much at risk. The survival aspect works really well in Primal and you can find yourself wandering along happily collecting wood and flowers when you are suddenly attacked by a pack of dogs. You may then flee and jump in a lake only to be eaten by a crocodile. The landscape and valley of Oros is alive and gorgeous. Mammoths and sabre tooth tigers remind you where and when you are while you marvel at a beautiful lake and the grazing woolly rhinos nearby. At night, the animals get particularly vicious and at first the sun setting sends you fleeing for a reassuring campfire.
One thing that really makes Far Cry Primal different however, is that you gradually build your tribe with members of the Wenja you find wandering about. These include specialists that give you special skills. One such skill is the ability to control animals and this brings a whole new element to the game and how you play. You can scout out an enemy camp with your owl, which can also drop angry bees and a bomb that makes the enemy go nuts and attack each other. If you have a leopard you can get it to sneak attack lone baddies or you can use your bear or sabretooth tiger to attack one group while you charge in from a different direction. You can also ride some of the creatures, which is pretty handy given the size of the world you are in. Once I had the hardest and most scarred sabretooth in the valley I just stuck with it. That was just my preference though, as I had grown attached to the fluffy fella.
The enemy are all pretty mean and the AI is generally pretty good. The weapons at your disposal are fun and satisfying to use. The world and characters are brilliantly animated. There is no denying that Far Cry Primal is a superbly made and incredibly fun game to play.
There are only two negatives for me. One was that I got a bit bored exploring caves. These can be deep and complex and while some are fun, others are just confusing and have one specific route. This is really minor and not even an essential part of the experience. The other was that the baddies are ok as are you. Which sounds like an odd complaint but I recently played Far Cry 4 and the main enemy, Pagan Min was a superb psychotic and there was a reason why the main character (you) played the role he did. In Primal, you don’t really have much personality, you are just a good warrior and the baddies are fairly average with fairly average boss fights.
These are minor quibbles though. Far Cry Primal is a great game and a lot of fun. I highly recommend it if you want an FPS with a unique slant. I am already missing my cave and sabretooth buddy. Here is a trailer: