Sometimes, the only way to move forward is to take a step back — and that certainly seems to be the idea behind Far Cry Primal, which transplants the series’ tried-and-tested gameplay to the antiquated setting of the Stone Age. Now, it’s time to see whether the spin-off is a worthy addition to the franchise.
First announced last October, in some ways Primal is to Far Cry 4 as the memorable Blood Dragon was to Far Cry 3. However, whereas the latter was a downloadable title that didn’t match the length or depth of a standard installment, Primal is a fully fledged retail release.
As a result, expectations are much higher, but everything we’ve seen pre-release looks to suggest that Ubisoft Montreal has put together a compelling take on the Far Cry series. With critics now weighing in, here’s some insight on whether Primal lives up to the hype.
Game Rant (Riley Little)
“Those looking for something new from a series that seems to surface every two years or so will get a game that feels genuinely fresh with Far Cry Primal. Even then, fans will be met with a very familiar formula established within its unique setting.”
Videogamer (Simon Miller)
“Far Cry Primal is a very fun video game (which sounds like a sentence a child would write), but it is a video game you’ve played before. Think how much a new setting means to you – and how much you enjoy Ubisoft’s take on the open world genre – and the answer to whether you need this should be very clear.”
EGM (Matt Buchholtz)
“I sat down, ready to be immersed in Far Cry Primal’s world — surely an epic to be painted upon cavern walls — but instead found Ubisoft’s newest release to be confusing and conflicted. The battle between creating a Far Cry game and delivering the “caveman” experience is at the heart of this identity crisis, and the two philosophies often worked against each other, dulling sharp ideas and crippling brand tenets.”
IGN (Luke Reilly)
“Far Cry Primal’s strengths instead lie in its reliable gameplay systems. The main thread of “go here, fetch this, kill that” missions lacks variety but I also won’t deny how quickly I became fully hooked on Primal’s well-worn cycle of conquer-hunt-discover-upgrade.”
Destructoid (Kyle MacGregor)
“While these flashes of brilliance do exist, the experience doesn’t feel as new or thrilling as it probably should. Despite sporting a dramatically different environment and an all-new chest of toys to interact with the world, it still feels an awful lot like the past few Far Cry games. At its core, it’s very much a Ubisoft-brand open-world game with outposts to conquer and plenty of optional side-missions to distract you along the journey.”
Gamespot (Mike Mahardy)
“When it uses the Stone Age setting to elevate the combat and reinforce the brutality of nature, it thrives. It fosters a give-and-take relationship with the wilderness, granting you the means to survive, but also the threats you have to overcome. That focus on primitive times can become a hindrance at certain points, with limited tools and repetitive combat, but in the end, Far Cry Primal stays true to its callous setting, fleshing out every layer of the captivating world it creates.”
It seems that Primal will please anyone looking for another dose of Far Cry — but it’s not as much of a departure from the series as its setting might suggest. Depending on your own personal preference, that could be a good or a bad thing.
Despite some rough edges and elements that don’t add a great deal to the experience, most reviewers agree that when the game is at its best, there’s plenty to enjoy. Primal might not be an immediate must-play, but it’s sure to find a receptive audience with the absence of FPS titles released in the early part of the year.
Far Cry Primal is set to release on February 23, 2016 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The PC release is scheduled to follow on March 1, 2016.