If you enjoy living in forests, hunting sabre-tooth tigers and murdering absolutely anything that moves, then good news! Far Cry Primal is the game for you, and it’s coming out on February 23. Usually a semi-annual franchise, Ubisoft’s open-world hunting spree is also deviating from its typical fall release window, but make no mistake — this is a full, $60 Far Cry game.
Moving to February isn’t the only thing that’s changed for the series, with Far Cry Primal stripping away the guns, grenades and motor vehicles that have existed in every previous instalment. Instead, you’ll be wielding arrows, spears and a variety of other pointy death-tools, allowing you to reign terror down on the various animals and humans that inhabit the Stone Age.
This makes it hard to gauge just how closely Far Cry Primal will resemble former entries. With the number of ranged weapons reduced and the focus shifting to melee and stealth, will the gung-ho approach still be viable? Some of my fondest memories from Far Cry 4 involve loading up a flamethrower, heading out into the dense woodland and burning everything in sight, and while I might sound like a psychopath, I’m not. I’m just concerned that Primal will abandon what makes this franchise so great.
Thankfully, weapons aren’t the only focus, and you can infiltrate enemy outposts, complete missions and scout the lay of the land using everything nature has to offer. Taming animals like owls, sabre-tooth tigers and cave lions will afford you their skills and give you multiple ways to tackle each objective. Owls can fly up high, marking enemies on your radar and even swooping in for the kill themselves, while tigers make ferocious AI companions, sending even the most fearsome warriors fleeing before your very eyes.
At the moment, it’s hard to tell whether the game will rely upon your animal friends, or if they’re superfluous. Far Cry has always been about freedom, player choice and flexible mission structure — carefully planning each move like you’re plotting the world’s greatest surprise birthday party is part of the thrill. I can only hope that the same applies here, and we aren’t forced to take one particular gameplay path in order to succeed.
The mechanics may possess substance, but that’s nothing without a pinch of style. Fortunately, the footage we’ve been treated to so far looks gorgeous, and one big advantage Far Cry Primal has over its predecessors is a lack of industrialism. You won’t find any drab roads, metal rails or brown buildings here — instead, we get lush forests, gorgeous vistas, flowers, fireflies and bursts of color. Nature is in control, and that provides the biggest visual treat the series has offered us thus far.
Sadly, you won’t be able to experience any of this beauty with another player.
Ubisoft have confirmed that multiplayer — both co-op and competitive — will be excluded from Far Cry Primal, an odd move for a franchise that arguably revolves around its open world buddy-cop hunting sessions. Shooting up hordes of tigers, attacking enemy outposts and exploring dingy caves with a friend was immense fun in Far Cry 4, and it’s disappointing to see this shareability get thrown away.
Seriously, how many games let you hunt a herd of mammoths, using your magically tamed cave-lion as a distraction while you sneak in for the kill from behind? Sure, you could upload a video to Twitch for the world to see, but nothing beats your friend being with you, live, in the moment.
“The Stone Age is the perfect setting for a Far Cry game,” said Jean-Christophe Guyot, creative director at Ubisoft, upon the game’s announcement. While I disagree, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad one either — I just hope the limitations of the time period don’t negatively impact the diverse combat, exploration and hunting that have turned Far Cry into a wonderful open-world action series.
Luckily, we don’t have to wait long to find out if this is the case. Far Cry Primal launches on February 23, 2016 for PS4 and Xbox One, while PC players will get it on March 1, 2016.
To make those 7 days a little more bearable for PC users, why not check out the required PC specs to ensure your setup is up to the task.