Far Cry Primal is out on Xbox and PlayStation today, and with it comes a promising story about restoring your once powerful tribe to their former strength. As a newcomer to the land of Oros, you find your people scavenging for scraps and hiding in order to survive from tribes of fire-breathers and cannibals — without any home, without any strength.
Early after this introduction, Primal puts you to work in order to restore your village. The only problem? It doesn’t actually put the fate or design of the village in your hands. Primal made the decision to keep this process passive through upgrades and tiers.
In Primal, the village is set as the main hub while you play through the game. Here, you’ll pick up most of your missions from the various main characters in the story and collecting a variety of crafting materials that you can use out in the field. While in the village, you’ll also be working to upgrade the dwellings of these main characters in order to unlock new abilities and storylines. But you never truly feel attached to these settlements as the game expects you to. And while attacks will happen on occasion through main story missions, you never truly feel like your people are in danger.
As a fan of the franchise, I booted up Primal hoping for a few changes to the typical Far Cry formula to be present. Sure, they certainly exist within combat, but it’s hard to wonder why a few changes didn’t carry into the rebuilding of your own village as well.
With Fallout 4 coming out late last year, settlement building became a game within a game for many. Gamers spent hours building giant replicas of AT-ATs from Star Wars, large fortresses guarded by legions of turrets and even bars for their people take a load off in. Honestly, the settlement tool changed everything — and while it’s something that players could skip over if they wanted to, it certainly provided a unique outlet for those who were interested in spending hours working with it.
So I couldn’t help but wonder why Far Cry Primal didn’t take the hint when they set out to build a story around restoring your people to their former glory.
The village itself expands slowly over time as you complete missions and finish upgrades on your specialist’s huts — working to accommodate all of the new arrivals and upgraded equipment you’ll be collecting through your journey. But every hut has a set series of fixed upgrades and a fixed position, which keeps your involvement in the village’s development passive. Throughout my entire time playing Primal, I wanted to interact with the people I was working so hard to save and I wanted to build the perfect village to keep them safe. But hell, I couldn’t even walk in the various huts to give my brothers and sisters a high five without having a quest that prompted me to do so.
This sort of passive interaction is something we’ve come to expect from the Far Cry franchise over the past few installments, but it could be the redemption of the next project the development team is working on. By allowing players to construct their own settlements (or in Primal’s case, villages), Ubisoft could have really added some value to one of the main focuses of the franchise. But hey, there’s always downloadable content.