As you explore the land of Oros in Far Cry Primal, one thought kept coming back to me: goodness this looks great. The beauty on full display in Ubisoft’s latest Far Cry title really helps to sell the game, as many will find Primal lacking some content overall. However, content-scarcity aside, Far Cry Primal keeps me coming back. The visuals alone make it worth playing, but when you look deeper, Ubisoft have put together a great addition to the franchise, and its setting can take all of the credit.
Set in the Stone Age, you take the role of Takkar, a member of the Wenja tribe looking for his fellow tribemates. You venture into the valley of Oros, which is set in Central Europe, where you immediately realize that living in Oros will be no walk in the park. Among the hills, forests, valleys, and rivers of Oros, Far Cry Primal sends many dangers your way – much like you’d expect our ancestors 10,000 years ago to be required to overcome.
Take Sayla for instance. She is a member of the Wenja, and one of the first characters you meet in Far Cry Primal. She is devastated over the fact that she wanders alone, away from the rest of the Wenja, after her village was wiped out by the Udam. Still haunted by their cries, she cuts the ears off of her fallen Udam enemies and strings a necklace with them to silence those screams. Her motivation to bring the Wenja together and crush the Udam are motivations you see all throughout the game: protect your own and destroy your enemy.
Much of the contention, however, around Far Cry Primal has been its, well, primitive story, as IGN mentions, among others, in their review. Players today are used to their games having incredibly convoluted and esoteric storylines, and Ubisoft has given the industry its fair share of those. Yet, while Far Cry Primal’s story is basic, as well as its story missions rather simple, it doesn’t feel out of place. You actions as Takkar are the story, and while it’s simplistic in nature – build village, hunt, gather, defend village – it can be surmised that Stone Age life was rather simplistic compared to society today.
This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want more narrative, but Far Cry Primal does a fair job of portraying events in Stone Age life rather well without one. The world around Takkar feels alive, thanks to the visuals but also helped by the masterful sound design. The environment feels primeval, teeming with creatures and enemies alike on all sides. And because of Far Cry’s Stone Age setting, while the mechanics feel as if they belong in one of the series’ major releases, overcoming obstacles and enemies with nothing more than a bow, a spear or a club makes the game feel fresh and new. Additionally, there’s nothing more satisfying in Primal than watching a column of enemy tribesmen flee before the might of your Sabretooth ally you’ve unleashed upon them mere seconds before.
Far Cry Primal runs incredibly well, which is great news for PC gamers. I’m playing the PC version on an AMD FX-8320 CPU with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 and 16 GB of RAM. When using the Ultra preset I see framrates hovering in the high 40s – low 50s, though when I knock it down to simply high settings I’m getting a locked 60 frames per second. And the game looks stunning at even high, though it really does shine if you’re able to run the game on full ultra. The downside is the graphics options don’t exactly have a lot of information for the discerning gamer, and is missing some features most PC players would consider standard.There is no option for Ambient Occlusion or Texture Filtering, and while you can choose between FXAA, SMAA or run without Anti-aliasing, there’s no way to know which level of anti-aliasing you’re using (2X, 4X, etc). However, it is nice to have a full Field of View slider with actual numbers, as well as support for Nvidia’s DSR, giving players the option to play in resolutions higher than their monitor can natively support.
All-in-all, Far Cry Primal is a great addition to the Far Cry line up. Takkar and the Wenja make great company to meander through the Stone Age with. And, while many might pan the lack of a full-on story or the repetitive “hunt, gather, explore” gameplay, Far Cry Primal more than makes up for that with stunning visuals, incredibly sound design and a setting that is a breath of fresh air in today’s gaming climate. The game doesn’t stray from Far Cry’s tried and true system, but the setting and primitive weapons really help to set Primal apart from its predecessors.
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[Images via Ubisoft]