‘Far Cry Primal': 5 ways the Stone Age-set game is different

5 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Far Cry Primal’ goes old school.

Set in the wilderness some 12,000 years ago, there isn’t a single electric light to be found, but instead only sparse fires dotting the landscape and perhaps the glow of your stony club – assuming you’re lucky enough to have found a way to set it alight.

When developing a new sequel in a popular video game franchise, designers and producers are often stuck between the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rock and the “if we don’t change enough stuff, people will say we just recycled the last game” hard place.Far Cry is taking players back to the Stone Age with next year’s Far Cry Primal, and a new peek at the game showcases what it’s like to go toe to mammoth toe with the game’s prehistoric creatures. Revealed during The Game Awards, Far Cry Primal’s “Beast Master” trailer offers a few bloody examples of how the game world’s animals can play a role in combat — and the power of having them on the player’s side. We pretend we want things that are brand new and completely fresh, but in reality we tend to get ornery when a sequel strays too far from the familiar. From mammoths to wolves and more, player character Takkar faces the challenges of the wild and uses them to his advantage while taking on foes both human and animal.

And while the sounds of some of these creatures – badgers, dholes, and the like –will be familiar, the noises made by the prehistoric megafauna are assuredly not. The fearsome roar of a sabertooth tiger or bellow of a shaggy rhino is enough to make you freeze in place, lest your movement attract their attention. And for a longer look at Primal’s gameplay, Ubisoft has released a nine-minute gameplay preview, which shows Takkar’s hunting and taming skills in action while exploring some of the game’s gorgeous world. In the role of Takkar – a tribal hunter who speaks a primeval language we understand only through subtitles – you also have a unique “beastmaster” used to tame some animals and make them your allies.

A massive wolf can serve as his companion on long treks through the forest, protecting him from and hunting down aggressive humans and animals with a fierce loyalty. As a so-called Beastmaster – no relation to the amazing/awful 1982 movie – lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) become Takkar’s combat companions, as he guides the Wenga tribe to survival and domination.

I witnessed all of this and more during an hour-long hands-on demonstration inside Ubisoft’s Toronto studio, one of several working on the Ubisoft Montreal-headed project, set for release next February. As I explored the game’s beautiful, sprawling wilderness, I threw a chunk of bait to lure a rare black jaguar, then tamed it and added it to a growing list of animal companions that I could summon at will. The demo already had a few tamed animals available, so when I started playing, I dismissed my default wolf companion and met the bear that’d become my friend and protector (you can swap friendly animals at any time via a menu). He was a big guy, and he had thick fur that made him fun to pet — Takkar’s burly hands vigorously rubs the bear’s cheeks as if to say “good job!” One of the first things we did was swim across a serene-looking river … but we soon learned that it was the home of the piranha-like bitefish.

The fierce cat held her own and acted as a perfect distraction as I waded into the fray, swinging my club two-handed and knocking my bloodied enemies to the ground. The bestiary helpfully described them as “fish who bite.” After escaping from their hungry maws, we reached the shore on the other side and came across a saber-tooth tiger.

On more than one occasion during my time with the game, I was lining up an enemy with my bow when my bear leapt in and mauled the poor sap to death before I even could even get the shot off. From the perspective of narrative, it’s not about some outsider coming to a strange land and reluctantly overthrowing a dictator, but instead a human in his natural element using skills honed over a lifetime to survive and perhaps even thrive in his world. At another Udam camp, I used my bow to pick off lookouts on the periphery of the settlement, then commanded my owl – which can act as a sort of feathery reconnaissance drone – to drop beehive bombs in the midst of the enemy warriors. I couldn’t help but reflexively press myself into the back of my chair whenever a giant cat or brutish, Neanderthalian face rushed toward the camera.

It all adds up to a welcome bit of risk-taking – especially compared to Far Cry 4, which, while fun, felt very much like a clone of the hugely successful Far Cry 3, just set in a different place and with different characters filling the same roles. Primal, by comparison, keeps enough of the Far Cry DNA to be instantly recognizable by fans as a game within the series, but seems to be boldly striving for something new, something we haven’t seen before in this or perhaps even any franchise. Present in 28 countries with 26 studios and a distribution network that spans more than 55 territories, Ubisoft has won over gamers worldwi… read more »

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