Upon its unveiling, Far Cry Primal had many fans concerned. Sure, it provided a unique setting for casual and dedicated gamers alike, but the stone age isn’t exactly a time period that screams innovation. Quite the contrary, in fact, as such an environment meant the removal of modern amenities as guns and vehicles – both of which have played an ever-crucial role in every past iteration of Ubisoft’s Far Cry series. Not this time, however, as players were informed that they’d be surrendering their AK-47 for a wooden club.
While the initial shell shock has subsided for dedicated followers of the franchise, I’ve been fortunate enough to score ample hands-on time with Primal in all of its pre-release glory. As someone that’s been in the industry for over half a decade, Ubisoft was kind enough to invite me to its Toronto-based studio to play four hours of the game, which included campaign elements, side missions and the massive world of Oros to explore.
Scepticism was certainly present going into the endeavour following my initial hands-on play session, but I was quickly swept up in the beauty of the immense in-game world that the newly introduced protagonist Takkar finds himself calling home. Of course, the aforementioned Takkar isn’t the only thing that resides in Oros, as it’s a land crawling with creatures and cavemen alike. Fortunately, the former are hardly a problem for a titular character that’s affectionately referred to by others as “The Beast Master.” As I sat down to start the game, I was met with a recollection of watching the main character riding a saber-toothed tiger during the game’s second trailer. This would quickly become my sole mission.
As with any well-made game, the ability to ride a giant prehistoric cat isn’t something casually lobbed at the player from the get-go. No, this is a crowning achievement that must be earned through character levelling and story progression, which is exactly what four hours of sitting in a chair at Ubisoft Toronto allowed me to do. I have to admit that my intentions were selfish, as every decision being made or side mission accepted weren’t done with the hope or intent of bettering the lives of my tribe – they were simply stepping stones to my ultimate saber-toothed prize.
Establishing a camp, taking on rival tribes, and levelling up Takkar ensured that I captured territory on the expansive map of Oros and the appropriate skills to traverse it. Before too long I was able to tame some of the fiercest predators in the game, so I hopped on my brown bear (which I affectionately branded Baloo) and set off to tame Far Cry Primal‘s flagship feline. I haplessly wandered towards a place where the developers told me I would find the cat, and as I swam across a river on the back of Baloo I saw it in all of its now-extinct glory. Also mauling a goat.
I abandoned my bear friend mid-float and began paddling through the water like Michael Phelps on an off day. At long last the end-game was in sight, and I knew it wouldn’t be much longer. I reached land and immediately got the attention of the tiger, lobbing a hunk of raw flesh at the cat’s feet as a peace offering. I was in luck, it took the bait, and I slowly approached it before being prompted to hold the ‘Square’ button to tame it. As the PlayStation 4 controller gave way to my input, I made eye contact with it. The reticle on-screen reached full circle and it was mine. I’d done it. I had tamed a saber-toothed tiger.
Approaching the beast, I walked up alongside it and was prompted to mount it. I climbed onto the back of the fierce form of transportation and began my journey across Oros, all in a bid to see what kind of trouble I could get in. I sprinted full force across the world before realizing that I had a mission that tasked me with hunting down some sort of poisonous berry that was killing local wildlife, and since my tribe needed animals to hunt in an attempt to stay alive this seemed like a high priority task. I figured with my saber-tooth in tow the mission would be a piece of cake, but I had underestimated the power of Primal‘s wildlife – something that turned out to be a fatal undoing.
After tracking down the berries I realized that an entire herd of woolly rhinos had taken up camp in the area, and they loved those berries. Thinking it a good idea at the time, I lit a club on fire and hurled it at a nearby berry bush, and one of the bushes went up in flames with little effort – but then it started spreading uncontrollably. Understandably unimpressed with having their home engulfed in flames, the rhinos started to freak the hell out. And then it happened. One ventured too close to the flames and ignited itself. It then began running around the area, spreading fire everywhere. There are few things as soul-destroying as hearing the wails of a distressed rhino that happens to have been set ablaze, but apparently it attracted the attention of a cave bear which promptly came over and started pursuing myself and spooking the remaining woolly rhino clan into igniting themselves.
At this point I figured it was best to take an early bow and run from this horrifying situation, to which I quickly did so on the back of my fanged stallion. And as I turned around to watch Oros burn, I lost track of where it was I was going and stumbled off of a cliff. Evidently, falling from drastic heights akin to a mountain-side cliff can prove fatal, and they did. I hit the ground with a sickening thud, killing both my wildcat and Takkar in a rather gruesome fashion. I can’t help feeling that perhaps I deserved that, but my friend certainly didn’t.
At that point the demo time ended, and I forfeited my controller. I had achieved my goal with comedic results, but I was starting to realize that I wasn’t ready to leave the world of Far Cry Primal. My still unnamed saber-toothed companion and I still had much more to do in the harsh and unforgiving landscape of 10,000 BC, and I’m genuinely eager to throw on a pelt, grab a spear, and head back to the land of Oros. Fortunately, it won’t be much longer until I’ll be reunited with my pal, and I’ll try to get something special sorted out for when I see him again. Like a name.
Far Cry Primal will arrive for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on February 23, 2016. The PC version will arrive on March 1, 2016.