There’s something moreish about the design in Far Cry games. The world feels massive, immersive, and packed with things to do. Far Cry 3 nailed that formula, Far Cry 4 implemented upon it, and Far Cry Primal continues that trend albeit with limited weaponry and choice. That doesn’t mean the game is limited in things to do but repetitive tasks keep this game feeling great.
The best way to describe Far Cry Primal’s problems is an animal hide in primal times. You take the skin from one animal and tie it up, stretch it thin, and then wear it as armour to protect yourself from the weakness underneath. Far Cry Primal feels like it’s trying to cover up the cracks of that Far Cry template.
In Far Cry Primal, you play as Thakkar that is tasked with uniting his tribe in the land of Oros. It’s a simple plot that never becomes any deeper really and its honestly better for it. It gives you a set up and then lets you run free in the massive and beautiful world.
For the first few hours, Far Cry Primal is incredible. The world is stunning, the animals are plentiful and the lack of guns actually improve the overall atmosphere of being in the wild. The crafting from Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 return and is built upon much more. You will spend a lot of your time gathering resources in the wild from rock structures, plants, and animals in order to improve your character’s inventory as well as upgrade the huts in your village.
It’s a slow progression that feels satisfying. The only problem though is that slow progression continues for nearly 20 hours. Everything slowly descends into familiar repetition as you complete the same couple of activities to gather more population that offers bonuses for population growth up to 300 but any meaningful requirement for upgrades stop after the population of your tribe reaches just 40.
The most pleasant surprise of Far Cry Primal though is the satisfaction gained from the actual combat. My biggest concern going into Far Cry Primal was that the lack of guns would skew the combat into dull and frustrating gameplay; instead, the flow is incredible, feeling slower but more impactful and every moment of attack matters as you fight with your bow and arrow, spears, clubs, and more in order to take on whatever dangers you may face. There are 31 locations to clear that take the form of bonfires and outposts. The bonfires are much smaller and will only have a couple of enemies patrolling the area. Their additions seem solely to create more fast travel locations due to the lack of vehicles to get around the world.
One of the biggest additions to Far Cry Primal is beast taming. This aspect of the game is fun, requiring you to bait any predator and sneak up to it to tame it. There are also legendary beasts to tame which are challenging and sometimes frustrating encounters as they simply run at you consistently. There are times where you can set up traps but they never last that long and only offer a very brief reprieve.
Far Cry Primal is equal parts surprisingly good and structurally disappointing. The core gameplay is fine-tuned to an impressive degree but the features themselves are spread too thin and once you’re past going through the motions, you will likely find it a struggle to do everything if you’ve played a lot of Far Cry 3 and 4 like I have. I still think of those opening hours however and how much I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I just wish it all stopped sooner than it actually did.