Far Cry: Primal Hands-On | Calling All Beast Masters

I recently had the opportunity to play Ubisoft’s fifth main installment in the Far Cry series: Far Cry: Primal. With gorgeous graphics, an interesting setting, and what promises to be a captivating story, I was eager to get some quality time with the game.

So here’s my Far Cry: Primal Hands-on.

Far Cry: Primal Hands On

I spent around 3½ hours playing through the first couple of hours of the game, and then a later mission/stage of the game where I was provided better weapons and a more experienced player character. All in all I’d say I spent around 50-60% of the time exploring the world of Oros. Far Cry: Primal is set 12,000 years in the past, and as the lore goes, the land of Oros was once covered in ice, which has now melted and given way to a new age of beasts, fauna, and mankind. You play as Takkar, a hunter who’s stranded and has been separated from the rest of his tribe.

Far Cry Primal Hands On World of Oros
Far Cry Primal Concept Art

The world of Oros is massive. I was told the map was as large as Far Cry 4’s, and I tried to spend as much time as I could exploring. Now this proved to be a tad of a chore because there of course are no cars, no buggies, no gyro-copter, and no wing suit; I fear that getting around the world in Far Cry: Primal may become a bit tiresome.

I was excited to play around the mind-meld/animal control aspect of the game I’d seen so much about – Takkar learns the ancient (and magical/supernatural) art of animal taming, giving you the ability to control a variety of wildlife from honey badgers to saber-tooth tigers. As you can imagine, different animals posses different skills and are best utilized in specific situations. These animals, once tamed, become your best friend in the game, as they hunt with you, defend you, and generally do your bidding. Your first “pet” is an owl, acting as your eyes in the sky as you make your way through the treacherous land. The owl can be called to help scout ahead, tag enemies, and is the only animal you manually control; the others merely follow you and can only be commanded. In addition to the owl, you can only control one other animal at a time, and fear not – dead animals can be revived.

Far Cry Primal Hands On Animal Taming
I was not ashamed to pretend that my wolf was actually a badass Direwolf

If your animal friend takes too much damage, you can heal it by feeding it a piece of meat (which you have to acquire via looting carcasses), and as you progress in the game and level up the “Tame” ability, you will be able to control stronger, faster animals and eventually become the ultimate Beastmaster. I loved the NPC buddies of Far Cry 4 who you could call to back you up in the heat of battle, and so I wasn’t surprised to find that I enjoyed animal taming even more. Often times it was just me and my wolf exploring the vast wilderness…and that was perfectly fine by me. I can’t wait to jump back into the game and learn to tame more powerful animals.

As is the case with most preview events, I didn’t get to play much of the game’s story so I can’t say much about it, but the more time I spent with Far Cry: Primal, the more I became enthralled with the game’s narrative. Throughout the game, not a word of English is spoken, forcing me to rely on the subtitles. At first I thought this would be too jarring, but the more I played the game, the more immersed I became. Ubisoft enlisted the help of linguists to essentially create the language for the game, which speaks to the intricate level of detail the team went through in producing Far Cry: Primal.

The game’s combat feels very similar to that of the last iteration, albeit there are no guns whatsoever. You can craft crude bows, spears, or clubs with which to defend yourself — and not just from the wild animals. Roaming the land of Oros are rival tribes, most of which are cannibals who will attack you on sight. Fire, much like in previous games, was my best friend; I’d burn an entire expanse of land just to kill a few rival tribes.

Far Cry Primal Hands On

Bonfires replace radio towers in Far Cry: Primal, and will be an essential way of traveling around the world; each bonfire you capture allows fast travel between others in your control. Many weapons such as your arrows, spears, and clubs can be set ablaze to cause even more damage and mayhem. In Far Cry: Primal, there’s more than one way to skin a Saber-tooth.

Graphically, it’s gorgeous — the lush landscape and vegetation, the detail of the animals, the beauty of the night time sky and sunrise…it’s all pretty breathtaking.

I felt like the sheer amount of stuff in previous Far Cry games were a bit much…between the hunting and scavenging, racing, radio tower destruction, outpost sieges and liberation runs, and hallucinating. There was just so much going on that the story fell a bit flat. It doesn’t look like that will be the case here. For the first time in a Far Cry game, I feel as though the mechanics of foraging and crafting is finally given some adequate context because in Far Cry: Primal, that’s your way of life…everyone must do so in order to survive in the hunting and gathering society.

Is this Far Cry 5? Or is the game along the same veins of Blood Dragon? Those are some questions I had before playing the game. Much like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Revelations releasing in between Assassin’s Creed I and II, it follows that Far Cry: Primal is an intermediary game between Far Cry 4 and the inevitable upcoming Far Cry 5.  Make no mistake, however, Far Cry: Primal is a fully-fleshed out game that promises near endless hours of play time.

Far Cry: Primal hits PlayStation 4 (Amazon pre-order link) and Xbox One (Amazon pre-order link) shelves next month (February 23rd) and PC the following month.

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