Something went wrong. Try again later


This user has not updated recently.

5048 127 27 34
Forum Posts Wiki Points Following Followers

Farcry Primal was such a missed opportunity

I just finished Farcry Primal. That's notable because I actually started the game in February 2016, when it launched. Based on my achievements I seem to have dipped back in during 2017 and 2018 before putting it down for about 5 years (I may have picked it up very briefly in the intervening years but not played enough to get an achievement) and then finishing it in 2023. Why did I bother? Well I was on the last mission (putting games down during the last mission is pretty common for me because I hate final boss fights) and I saw it in my library and just thought "why not just complete it?" I loaded it up, looked up a guide to find out why the last mission had frustrated me (you're supposed to destroy the big bad's cover but the game doesn't make it clear you can actually damage that cover so I was trying to pot shot her when she came out to shoot instead, which doesn't really work) and knocked it out quickly. Then I finally saw the final cut scene was extremely underwhelming.

Like every single cut scene in the game.

Farcry Primal is a great idea executed about 80% well, but that last, missing, 20% is a real doozy. Even 7 years after release there's no other game that looks or feels like it. To some degree it's just a reskin of the Farcry formula, but that skin still feels fresh. There are so few games set in prehistory that Primal's setting really does feel like stepping into another world. Ubisoft's artists did an incredible job, even if they reused a bunch of Farcry 4's map. The land feels raw and untouched, teeming with wildlife and resources. I did an early game escort side mission marked as an easy escort and while I was off making quick work of the enemy tribe with my saber tooth sidekick a bear just ran up and mauled the villagers I was protecting, and I cursed and chuckled at the randomness of it. Primal feels like this much of the time. The settlements are primitive, the world itself hostile, and the combat looks brutal and ugly. Your animal companion will sometimes just pick up enemy bodies, arrows still sticking out of their flesh, and ragdoll them around for the fun of it. Life feels unbelievably cheap and the game reveals humans as the savage animals we really are beneath our trappings of civilization and culture.

I even give some credit to Primal's combat. Yes the primative weapons like bows and spears feel a little bit too much like Farcry's modern guns in their range and reliability. Yes the melee combat kind of sucks and there just isn't a lot of weapon variety. Yes once you get a strong animal companion the fighting can feel like it's on autopilot. It's not objectively great and it's not different enough to really stand out, but at times it really does feel like a brutal, primal struggle, and the sight of angry cave men rushing at you with clubs can be jarring. You can also forgive the lack of enemy AI and tactics when you're dealing with literal neanderthals. Farcry's patented fire works well here, it's always fun to drop a bee or berserk bomb on enemies and watch them react, and even though there's not much gameplay to it I will never tire of seeing a giant cat take a hapless enemy down. It's not great stuff but it's good enough.

So with a great world to explore and basic gameplay that is at least functional, all Farcry Primal needed was one more hook to make it a really good, if not necessarily classic, game. doesn't have one. Primal puts you in an awesome savage world, gives you that Farcry formula of bases to unlock and tons of Ubisoft side content, and...that's basically it. The main storyline sucks. It starts out very well with a mission that introduces you to the game's bloody, brutal, world and then it peters out to a series of boring missions with characters who it's impossible to care about, Everyone speaks in subtitled primitive grunts and basically has nothing to say. There's some great animation on the insane shaman character but he lacks personality. The pair of big bad bosses are cartoonish caricatures of evil, motivated only by cruelty and fanatic devotion to their tribes and primitive fates. Your tribe, the Wenja, are called softbloods (a term that doesn't make any sense) and comes off as a group of bland, hapless, losers elevated only by your character's strength. It all falls flat because the writers seem to believe that cavemen didn't have personalities or relationships or culture. They just hunted and gathered.

But a game doesn't need to have a great story. Primal could have focused on survival elements or base building and character progression. These elements also feel flat. There's some basic resource gathering for upgrades and to craft your ammo but it all feels perfunctory. The base building and upgrades feel shallow enough that they might exist solely to be listed on the back of the case. The skill tree seems robust but a lot of it is just very basic upgrades that don't really make the game play differently. Now I can craft more arrows at once, further downplaying the resource gathering stuff? Thanks...I guess.

That missing 20% is some kind of structure to drive the game. Without it the whole thing feels kind of formless. It's an easy game to dip into and out of because there's nothing compelling beyond the basic gameplay. It's kind of built like a sandbox game but the sandbox is ludicrously shallow. Ubisoft generally structure its games around some central storyline or villain. Heck the last 3 Farcry games have all had the villain on the cover, demonstrating how central they are to those games' appeal. Farcry Primal has flat villains, a seemingly intentionally simplified story and as a replacement offers...basically nothing. It's just an open Farcry world with not much to do. You can argue that this is a spinoff game, but unlike something like Blood Dragon or New Dawn it was not a budget release. And those games each had their own hooks, whether it was Blood Dragon's Michael Biehn performance or New Dawn's RPG elements. Far Cry Primal needed something on that level and it just doesn't have it.

So what you end up with is an incredible setting, a functional if unspectacular gameplay system, some really cool window dressing like the beast taming stuff, and no hook to keep you playing. It's a recipe for a game that took me 7 years to finish even though there are aspects of it that I love. And when I think about this game that I apparently put 20 hours into it's all the in between moments that come to mind. Sun breaking over an untouched landscape as I head towards a bonfire. The first time I went swimming and picked up blue flowers. Riding my animal companion across a field. Being ambushed by a bear while trying to take an outpost. All cool moments that would have added up to something special if the game had a reason to keep playing other than just to be a virtual tourist in a primitive world.

As I said at the outset Farcry Primal was a great idea. Almost every setting in video games has been done to death and this is a realistic one not based in science fiction or fantasy that hasn't. They came very close to getting it right, but in the end the game's weak structure lets it down. I'd love it if Ubisoft took another crack at it again, this time maybe deepening the survival and crafting elements while also putting in a story strong enough to make you care about what's happening. It doesn't seem likely. Oh well. I guess we're getting like a dozen battle royale games I'll never play instead, so we have that to look forward to.