A cave bear swipes at me as I race from one captured outpost to the next. Along the way I force myself to stop and scoop up some hardwood from trees, some flint from stones and some plants of varying colors, despite the fact that I do it so often it feels more like a chore than a game mechanic.
I arrive at the outpost, launch my owl and drop some bee hives on the brain damaged AI pacing back and forth in predictable patterns around their soon-to-be captured fort. Once the owl has finished its work I wait in the trees because despite the fact they haven’t laid eyes on me the enemy is screaming “Wenja!” and sounding alarms. The owl that is supposed to aid in stealth routinely has the opposite affect and now it’s all-out war.
If those two paragraphs were boring to read blame my source material. Far Cry Primal is another exercise in fetch quests, outpost capturing and mindlessly outwitting horrid AI. Trust me when I say you’ve already had more fun reading about it than I did playing it. Still, I took one for the team and played this through to its whimpering conclusion so I could inform you of all its many failings. You’re welcome.
In essence if you played any other Far Cry, you’ve played this one. It’s Far Cry 4 reskinned and without guns. The missions are essentially the same, you still fight and skin animals, you still capture outpost after outpost, the AI is still terrible and the main missions nearly indistinguishable from the side missions. At least Far Cry 4 had some interesting, albeit at times over-the-top characters, while Primal gives us a wordless, soulless cardboard cutout of a caveman to play with. Add to this that most of the games conflict is strictly from mindless tribal squabbles with little in the way of explanation and you’re often left struggling with any real motivation for continuing to slaughter your way through the land of Oros.
In yet another example of an open world that really doesn’t seem it as all the lands blend together the game really feels more like you’re replaying the familiar landscape of Far Cry past than it seems like anything new or fresh is waiting to be discovered. Developer Ubisoft also continues on with it’s troubling belief that giving us dozens of useless collectables to search for is a substitute for hours worth of substantive gameplay. It’s not and you wont even bother looking for the various trinkets if you’re unfortunate enough to find this game in your console.
The Far Cry series was in need of some innovation, some fresh mechanics and a unique story. Primal accomplishes none of this. Changing all the characters to grunting cavemen and leaving everything else the same does not an innovative approach make. Stale is not a strong enough word for how this game plays. Shiny graphics can’t save an experience that fails at being compelling or fun and I am reminded once again that developers during this console cycle seem to truly feel that because a game looks amazing people will think it is. Games aren’t food that you eat with your eyes and they aren’t swimsuit models, there has to be more than looks to make the experience compete and this one isn’t.
I am not one of those “being cynical and hating everything makes me smart” gamers, and you probably know that if you have read any of my reviews or listened to me on YouTube, and believe me I take no pleasure in destroying a game like this. I recognize that tons of effort and hard work are represented in today’s games and I don’t diminish the effort of creative people or designers carelessly. But this entire game feels like a lazy cash grab and while I try not to disparage developers needlessly or ignore their efforts I likewise feel offended when a developer tries to separate gamers from their 60 bucks for a substandard product. And that’s exactly what this is, a blatant cashing in on a previously successful title with little or no thought to delivering the consumer something new, exciting or something with a deep and thought provoking plot.
Stunningly the game seems to be a tremendous seller for Ubisoft and while what that says for the discernment of the average game buyer saddens me what’s even sadder is that they will likely be encouraged to pump out another reskinned Far Cry a year or two from now.
Let’s face it none of the Far Cry entries were going to win any writing awards but the story behind this one sunk low enough to run the whole franchise aground. I have ridden this series out for 5 entries now, some of them quite fun in a simplistic gun battle way, but this is where I get off. If Ubisoft pumps out another title in the series they’re not going to be getting my 60 bucks. You, hopefully, still have a chance to save 120 bucks by not only forgoing the next one, but by not buying this one. Hopefully this message has reached you in time!