Far Cry Primal: Beasts of a (Prehistoric) Nation

Far Cry Primal Hero image

Some have said that man is the most dangerous animal of all. And while we’ve certainly proven that point over the millennia with our propensity for war and suffering, humans weren’t quite on the top of the food chain at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum.

That’s where the world stands at the time of Far Cry Primal, which takes place 12,000 years ago in Mesolithic Central Europe. The biggest thing holding man back isn’t his fellow man – not quite yet, anyway. Oh, sure, there’s more than enough to fear from human tribes in the land of Oros, whether it’s the cannibalistic Udam or the slave-driving Izila… but they can’t rip you limb from limb at a moment’s notice. Here’s a look at just a few of the fang-baring beasts you’ll take on as you become Takkar the beastmaster in Far Cry Primal, which hits Xbox One and Windows PC on February 23.

Wooly Mammoth

We often think of the mammoth as some fantastical creature as elusive as the dinosaurs. But did you know that it was still tromping around the Arctic permafrost as civilization was dawning in Mesopotamia 6,000 years ago? Had these gargantuan relatives of the elephant held out just a little longer, it’s possible that we’d have seen mammoth-drawn chariots! And if you think that’s unrealistic, keep in mind that the mammoth is a whole lot quicker than you’d think – as you’ll discover in Far Cry Primal.

Most of the time, they’re surprisingly docile as they munch on leaves in peace. If they notice you, though, that serenity will be crushed with a sudden, brutal stomp. Since they’re not technically predators, you won’t be able to tame them – however, you can ride atop young mammoths, which allows you to stampede rival tribes and provides a high vantage point to rain down poison-tipped spears. The mammoth might never be at your beck and call in Far Cry Primal, but you’ll get to experience the next best thing.

Saber-toothed Tiger

Unlike the mammoth, the saber-toothed tiger didn’t actually roam prehistoric Europe – it was confined to ancient North and South America. Before you unleash thousands of angry emails to the developers of Far Cry Primal, however, keep in mind that they’re well aware of this fact. They wanted to deliver a Stone Age fantasy heretofore unseen in gaming, though… and that meant including all of the mega-fauna that players would want to encounter in a Mesolithic setting.

The Far Cry Primal developers say that this will be the hardest beast in the game to outmaneuver, and it’ll take some time to tame. Despite its name, the saber-toothed tiger wasn’t actually closely related to the tiger at all. Today, its closest living relative is the clouded leopard – a feline that also sports choppers of unusual size.

Dire Wolf

No, dire wolves aren’t just the companions of House Stark on “Game of Thrones.” They’re also an ancient lupine beast the size of a modern gray wolf –  the largest wolf in the world. The dire wolf embodies the “seven minutes of hell” embedded into Far Cry Primal’s night cycle, and you’ll need to stand watch and make sure they don’t overrun your encampment.

Once tamed, however, dire wolves serve as invaluable hunting partners. By the time of Far Cry Primal, the wolf had already been domesticated to become the dog, but in the game, you can see how this process began – and why the wolf served as such a valuable partner to humans as they embarked on the road to civilization (cats, of course, won’t become domesticated until several thousands years after the events of Far Cry Primal… and some would argue they still haven’t been tamed!).

Cave Bear

The cave bear actually went extinct about 12,000 years before the events of Far Cry Primal, but again, the developers want gamers to be able to live out prehistoric fantasies – and thanks to depictions in the media, including the book and movie “The Clan of the Cave Bear,” this hulking ursine beast is one of the most well-known ancient critters. As a foe, this one might well be unparalleled when it comes to intimidation – there’s a reason why archeologists have discovered what amounts to cave bear worship in prehistoric shrines. This one’s definitely a lot more terrifying than your average bear, and it won’t be easy to tame. And when you’ve got the cave bear on your side? It’s the perfect Stone Age tank to serve as a diversion, as no human foe is going to focus on you when they’ve got several feet of angry bear staring them in the face.

Owl

Finally, we get to an animal that’s not extinct – but it’s one that plays one of the most pivotal roles in Far Cry Primal. In a world before GPS (or even something as simple as a stone watchtower), Takkar needs a tool to help him track the enemy in any direction. The owl is the perfect companion to scout the world of Oros… and since it’s nocturnal, it’ll provide that extra edge when predators creep up on Takkar’s camp at night. It also serves as a kind of prehistoric drone, dropping bombs and diving down to attack unsuspecting foes, both man and beast. It’s unlikely that the owl could have been quite this helpful 12,000 years ago, but again, this is history mixed with a dash of fantasy.

Of course, that’s just a fraction of the more than two dozen beasts you’ll find in Far Cry Primal. Some are more intimidating than others, but as you’ll discover, any one of them can be lethal without the proper preparation.