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Far Cry Primal Hands-On Preview – Basic Instinct

December 3, 2015Written by Chandler Wood

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We live in a world of frivolity. Social media, the next hot trend, celebrity drama… even our arguments over video games are what can be coined “first-world problems.” Yet even these problems stem from internal basic traits we all have. The need for competition. The need for survival. Our primal instincts. Things that we’ve had since the dawn of mankind, before social media, celebrity dating, and heated discussions about frames per second.

The aptly named Far Cry Primal embraces these basic instincts and places the core predispositions of humanity center stage. Removing guns from the equation creates a different feel, but Far Cry games have always been about being dropped into the outer fringes of civilization with no rules and very few of the frivolous comforts of home. Primal takes that a step further by dropping players back in the Stone Age, on the outer fringes of civilization not only in location, but also in time. In a way, it feels like Far Cry Primal is more of a Far Cry game that those that came before.

Freedom for Survival

In true Far Cry fashion, I was handed the controller and given freedom to play as I saw fit. Once I correctly disabled the inverted look controls, it felt like the Far Cry games that I have come to know and love, with one distinct difference. I didn’t have explosives or guns. I had a few clubs, a rudimentary bow, a couple spears, and a wolf. Instead of bullets, I had teeth and claws at my command. Instead of visiting radio towers to get the lay of the land, I had an owl at my command to scout the immediate area. I was the beastmaster, and though I was at the bottom of the food chain, I was intent on surviving and conquering the land of Oros through the power of the beast.

The lethality of sticks and stones should not be overlooked, but there’s a certain joy in taming a saber tooth tiger and watching him (or her, I didn’t check) tear apart an entire outpost of enemies. On the other side of that joy, there’s an emotional connection to your animals that makes you care when they perish. I had a need to feed them to heal them. I needed to pet them when they protected me from threats. The bond that is created with the animals is something special, and there are tons of animals that can be tamed and taken through the world as a companion. 

The world being crafted for Far Cry Primal is divided into four distinct areas, each hosting their own unique aesthetics and dangers. North hosts the cold of an enormous receding glacier. South is the wet marshlands, filled with crocodiles and terrifying bitefish. East is the desolate and dry wastes, and opposite of this area are lush green forests. Everywhere I traveled, the wildlife had its own ecosystem. Predators fought and chased down food that grazed innocently. I could either stand by and watch, or get involved, killing or taming the creatures as I saw fit, if I could survive the encounter that is. The world feels enormous and it’s quickly obvious that this isn’t a small side project like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Primal is a full fledged Far Cry game that retains the massive world and adventure from the numbered titles.

Cultural Immersion

Most interestingly, Far Cry Primal seeks to immerse players in Stone Age culture by creating its own unique culture for the inhabitants of the world. There is a unique language spoken by the natives. You won’t be hearing any English, even in the main story, with connection to the characters coming through basic and primal human needs for survival, competition, and bond (and of course, subtitles). We weren’t shown much (read: anything at all) in the way of narrative and story, but even the open world had this sense of primitive culture as I wandered throughout.

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Far Cry Primal reconnects with players at the most basic of levels. Throwing me into this world made survival my core instinct. Frivolity didn’t matter anymore. There’s no social media Animals are the original weapons of mass destruction, and Primal allows you to become the beast master in your quest for survival at the dawn of mankind. There’s a successful evolution in going backwards, creating a game that feels distinctly like Far Cry, yet changes the formula enough to feel like a huge step forward.

Stay tuned to PlayStation LifeStyle because we’ll have some exclusive gameplay videos from my time with the game, including hanging out with a saber tooth tiger, pissing off mammoths, and purposefully throwing myself into the jaws of a crocodile. For science of course.