But Far Cry Primal, out now on Xbox One, is no normal Far Cry adventure. This is 12,000 years in the past, back when a simple walk in the woods could turn fatal – and quickly. If you make a mistake, you won’t have the immense firepower of an AK-47 or a sniper rifle to bail you out. With that in mind, we’ve decided to put together this handy survival guide to prepare you to take on the role of Mesolithic beastmaster Takkar as he leads the fight of the Wenja tribe to take back its homeland in the land of Oros.
Embrace the Mesolithic Lifestyle
The first thing to remember is that you must be a predator in Far Cry Primal. If you’re squeamish about chucking a spear straight into a mammoth’s eye, you’re not exactly cut out for the Mesolithic lifestyle. Remember: You must be the hunter – or you’re the hunted. And with all the stomping, roaring, and growling beasts of Oros in Stone Age Central Europe, you won’t last long if you try to play as a pacifist.
When you’re up against towering mega-fauna like the mammoth, you’ll need a plan of action before you engage. The best choice, at least at the start, is probably to sneak right on by. But when combat’s the only option, you need to be resourceful. Stone Age man was a lot more ingenious than we think; their brains were bigger than ours, in fact! Use those smarts to set a trap or burn the surrounding grass so that you can escape – but the mammoth can’t.
Against smaller foes, it’s best to strike from a distance, since a single shot from an arrow can potentially take out your target. But be vigilant! Just because your arrow volley isn’t initially fatal doesn’t mean it’s not successful. Use Takkar’s hunter vision to track the bloody paw prints or hoof prints of your foe – you may find your quarry has tried to escape and succumbed to the bleeding, leaving a carcass ready to skin.
And if you don’t think you’re up for the challenge, run. We recommend that particularly when it comes to the sabertoothed tiger, which is one of the most clever, deadly predators in the land of Oros.
The Night Is Dark and Full of Terrors
Surviving the night is one of the biggest challenges in Far Cry Primal – developer Ubisoft Montreal rightly calls it “seven minutes of hell,” and it gives a decent sense of what our ancestors faced every night when the sun went down.
You can even the odds, however, by quickly bringing some of the animals over to your side. Meet Tensay, the Wenja shaman, as soon as possible in order to tame the owl – and you’ll have a trusty, soaring companion that you can call at a moment’s notice. Sure, you’ll have to put up with Tensay’s mystical ramblings and be forced to go on vision quests (read: ingesting foreign substances), but the reward is well worth it.
Once you’ve got the owl on your side, you can scout ahead to see if any menace lurks beyond your encampment. And as you gain skills, you can upgrade your feathered friend so he can attack foes, and even drop primitive firebombs, to help clear the path for Takkar to explore when the sun goes down.
From there, Tensay will guide you on the path to tame more beasts – towering ones like the cave bear that will provide a suitable tank-like companion in combat. Takkar’s skills as a beastmaster might be a bit extraordinary for the Stone Age, but taming wild beasts like the wolf, the horse, and the aurochs helped bring humankind to the top of the food chain, and was one of the sparks that led to the dawn of civilization. We certainly couldn’t have done it alone, and you’ll get some sense of that partnership between man and beast in Far Cry Primal.
Takkar Is No Lone Wolf
The vicious, cannibalistic Udam tribe has scattered the Wenja to the four winds after a brutal attack, and it’s Takkar’s job to reunite what remains of his kinsfolk and make a home in the land of Oros. When you see Wenja held hostage, don’t neglect them; they’re the key to rebuilding the tribe. And when you come across a settlement held by the Udam, don’t simply pass it by without a fight. Taking back settlements unlocks more of the map and adds fast-travel points, making your journey across Oros a whole lot smoother.
And while Tensay might be the most important Wenja at the start of the game, you should also track down other specialists as they become available. They’ll provide Takkar with valuable new skills to battle the Udam and the beasts of the wild – and a terrifying power from the south.
Think Like the Animals
Sure, the cannibalistic Udam might be armed with clubs and arrows just like Takkar – and since they’ve got a taste for human flesh, you know they won’t bat an eye at bludgeoning any Wenja they come across. They’re also bigger and stronger (and may have just a touch more Neanderthal blood in them than the other tribes of Oros). However, they’ve got one big weakness, and it’s one that you can use to your advantage: They’re human.
We’re around humans all the time. We know how they think and what makes them tick. Most of us don’t go wandering through forests teeming with wild boars, though… and it can take some time to figure out the habits of some of Oros’ fanged and clawed predators. It’s important to learn which animals will bound away as soon as Takkar makes even the slightest rustle in the leaves – and which will accost him with a terrifying flying leap. Instead of simply holding down the sprint button as you rush to reach your next destination, take the time to observe your surroundings. Lie low in the grass and observe a mammoth family. Take in the sights from the safety of a cliff and look at how sabertoothed tigers move about.
Essentially, the best advice is to live like our ancestors did 12,000 years ago: observe, learn, and be prepared. Far Cry Primal gives just a small taste of what that daily battle between life and death must have been like in the Stone Age.