Far Cry: Primal wants to shake things up. For once, we’re seeing an established IP trying something far removed from why it became a success in the first place. The change to a Stone Age setting could be just what the series needs while it takes a break from modern times and guns. In fact, taking the guns away from Far Cry could allow the series’ strengths to shine.
Even the way the game was revealed is new for the series. Gone are the E3 demos or year-long waits (or longer). Instead, after a rather dull live stream of a cave painting (which we ignored until it became something to actually talk about), Ubisoft just went ahead announced the game and showed it in action via a new trailer yesterday. The biggest surprise though, was that it will be coming in February next year, just four months from now.
Development has clearly been going on for a while. Hell, at this stage, it’s probably just being polished and checked over. We had a similar late ‘reveal’ for Fallout 4 and it’s great to not have to wait for a year or longer to get our hands on a game. That being said, if every game followed this reveal/release model, games journos would have sod-all to write about most of the year.
One thing wasn’t particularly clear during the reveal though. Was this a full-sized Far Cry entry, or a pint-sized standalone expansion like the much-loved Blood Dragon? There was no mention in the email bumf I had with the new announcement, but a quick click of the preorder option on the game’s official website showed that this was clearly a full-sized effort. Well, I hope that’s why Ubi were pricing preorders at a rather hilarious £54.99.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was more of a Blood Dragon-sized effort though from the trailer. I mean, how are Ubisoft going to have a whole first-person Far Cry game without guns? Do they have enough ideas to keep that going over the course of let’s say 15+ hours?
Well, if you generally played Far Cry 3 and 4 with a stealthy approach, you already know that they absolutely can. Sure you can play Far Cry like every other shooter on the planet by running in all guns blazing. And why not, you’ll still have fun. But since Far Cry 3, the series has excelled at first-person stealth, especially when you’re getting up close and personal.
Silently prowling the perimeter of an enemy base and picking off guards one by one with machete attacks or using your bow and arrow to clear sniper towers one beautifully judged arcing arrow at a time. As you’d level up, you’d become even more deadly, being able to grab one enemy and then throw their own knife at another soldier or even chaining together knife attacks over a short distance to tear through a camp like a murdery wind.
It’s easy to imagine Far Car Primal’s setting feeling right at home by removing the guns altogether. One of my favourite Far Cry 3 memories is stalking though a base and approaching the final guard, only to have a tiger appear out of nowhere and maul the hell out of him first. You know those sabre-toothed cats are going to be all over that kind of action, not to mention sneaking up to pounce on you too.
Other Far Cry tropes are going to be easily translated to the setting too, such as hunting the local wildlife and searching for items to craft and build new and improved weapons. Hunting missions will probably play more of a central role, instead of ‘notice board’ side missions. Hopefully, there will be more to them than just throwing spears and stabbing.
Given the emphasis on melee, I think there will need to be some work done. We can’t just have a strike button and have done with it when taking on human enemies. We’ll be needing blocking and parrying options at least and hopefully a range of swift and strong attacks to mix things up a little.
When taking on beasts like mammoths and large cats, stealth will play a large part and as already discussed, I think Ubi are in no danger of screwing that up. But what about open combat for when stealth fails? Not to mention I don’t one-hit stealth kills are going to be a thing against mammoths.
Improved physical movement for the player is a must for evading attacks. What could this involve? Well, a quick 180-degree turn option for fleeing is going to be pretty handy! Sideways dodge rolls would be great to dive away from stampeding mammoths or the claws of a cat’s pounce. Being able to climb up any tree or rocky surface would be a neat addition too.
Improved climbing abilities could also really open up the game’s exploration side. Ubisoft has a great chance here to have their most varied landscapes yet and we’ve only had the briefest of glimpses during that reveal trailer. The post-ice age setting means the environments are at their lushest they have been in years after the melted ice unearthed some incredibly fertile ground for nature to reclaim the planet. It all depends on how large the world of Oros is going to be and if we’ll see seasonal changes.
With nothing of note to compare it to on the last few console generations, Ubisoft’s decision to base a game back in the Stone Age has to be applauded and it certainly warrants our attention more than another military shooter and it’s instantly more interesting than another Assassin’s Creed. As gamers we’ve played pretty much everywhere and everywhen, but this feels like a first – not accounting for 1991’s Chuck Rock, naturally.