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How Far Cry Primal is exploring new territory for Ubisoft’s FPS series

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How Far Cry Primal is exploring new territory for Ubisoft’s FPS series

Creative director Jean-Christophe Guyot gives us the lowdown ahead of launch

Next week, players will face the harsh and unforgiving wilderness of the Stone Age in Far Cry Primal on PS4. This gorgeous, open-world adventure follows a desperate hunter in his quest to find his lost people.

To celebrate the upcoming launch of Far Cry Primal, we reached out to Creative Director Jean-Christophe Guyot to learn more about Ubisoft‘s latest project and how it differs from previous entries in the series (spoilers: it’s quite different).

Describe Far Cry Primal in one sentence.
Jean-Christophe Guyot:
In the prehistoric world of Oros, you will learn to hunt and tame the mega fauna as you climb the savage food chain in order to become the apex predator.

If I never tried the Far Cry series before, will I be lost when I start Primal?
Jean-Christophe Guyot:
Each instalment of Far Cry stands on its own, so you’ll be able to enjoy Far Cry Primal regardless of whether you’ve played previous Far Cry games. We definitely hope you get lost in the savage and majestic world of Oros.

What separates Primal from the rest of the series besides its unique setting?
Jean-Christophe Guyot:
Dropping players at the bottom of the food chain with only rudimentary tools to start their journey enabled us to explore a very different angle for the Far Cry experience. Nature is savage and dangerous, the night is scary, and hunting animals plays a large role in surviving the Stone Age, not to mention the defence of your territory against other tribes.

The player’s toolset is completely fresh with an emphasis on crafting and includes the ability to tame wild animals and use them for combat and hunting.

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How has the design team approached such a drastic shift in tone, from modern ballistic weapons to Stone Age tools?
Jean-Christophe Guyot:
Far Cry is all about creating interesting dynamic situations in the world and giving the players a lot of toys to approach these in any way they want.

Because of these mechanics, our approach was to make sure the world was more dynamic than ever with systems colliding in unexpected ways. First of all, we introduced the mega fauna, giant animals that have since disappeared from the surface of the Earth. Second, we have two different tribes fighting for the place you want to claim as well.

In order to hunt the beasts and take down the enemy, we’ve given the player a whole new toolset that ranges from brutal weapons like spears, clubs, and bows to throwable traps — and a new taming system that will empower the player to command wild beasts.

Want to stalk your enemies? Have a feline by your side who can silently take down your targets. Want to rush in with raging brutality? Send in your giant cave bear to attract the enemy’s attention. There are 17 different beasts to tame, including the infamous Badger.

What has the setting allowed the development team to do that was previously impossible either technically or from a design perspective?
Jean-Christophe Guyot:
The beast taming and the density of the wildlife really come to mind. But the emphasis on surviving a dangerous world is also something that works well with the setting.

Far Cry 4 had a mystical element to its story. Will we see anything similar in Far Cry Primal?
Jean-Christophe Guyot:
One of the characters you will meet in Far Cry Primal is Tensay, a crazy Shaman who creates mind-altering decoctions. You will have several opportunities to taste these and witness their effect. Apart from the refreshing and exotic aspect, we also wanted to explore how a shamanistic tribe would approach the mystical connection with the world.

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How do you create relatable and interesting characters that are so far removed from our modern reality?
Jean-Christophe Guyot:
It all comes back to thinking from the Stone Age perspective and looking for those aspirations and themes that translate well into modern narratives. For example: recovery from loss, fighting to ensure that the people you love survive, and draw strength from those people. These are a few elements that we give to the player as they embark on their new journey.

How did you decide which animals to include, and which to leave out?
Jean-Christophe Guyot:
It was always about giving players great opportunities to play and interact with the world and have fun. Many animals were on the table at first, and then we thought about them in terms of gameplay.

The main interest of the mega fauna animals in terms of gameplay comes from the new behaviours we’ve given them for this purpose. For example, when faced with a threat, the Irish elk starts by fleeing, but eventually if it’s injured too much it’s going to turn berserk and fight its attacker. This can lead to a surprising turns of events for the player or for a pack of enemy AI that was chasing it. The Giant mammoth will come to the rescue of younger, smaller ones which can also lead to a very cool chain reaction. And so on.

Did the development team take any creative liberties with the worldbuilding and creature design?
Jean-Christophe Guyot:
When it comes to world building we try to be as authentic as possible. So we met with a lot of specialists to learn about the Stone Age. Of course there are also a lot of things we don’t know about and gaps to fill but we aimed to make our world feel real and primitive.

The domain where we wanted to take some liberties was gameplay. Even if the general themes are in line with the period, we pushed the boundaries to give the player more fun things to experience. For example, humans were taming wolves to help them hunt mammoth — they probably never tamed a sabretooth tiger.

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What challenges did the team face when writing the AI and behaviors for these animals?
Jean-Christophe Guyot:
Having animals like the elder mammoth which is around twice the size of the regular mammoth forced us to adjust the navigation systems used by the AI, and we also had to adapt the structure of the flora and trees to make sure they had enough space. Other than that, the mega fauna animals — like all entities in our game world — are systemic AI. It means they are fully part of our gameplay ecosystem and will adapt naturally to their environment regarding dangers, other animals, fire, threat, navigation paths, etc.

And of course they will react to the player’s actions. That’s the plus of having a systemic approach to your gameplay — you can let the mega fauna live its life in your world and adapt to it naturally.

How does Primal pace players in an open world? How much of the content is directed and how much of it is emergent/open?
Jean-Christophe Guyot:
Everything that happens in the world in terms of systems colliding with each other is not directed, and I must say that players will spend a lot of time watching crazy things happen as they interact with or observe the world and the world’s ecosystems. We of course have great cinematics which are scripted, but even the way we set up the narrative is up to the player to tackle at their own pace.

What is your most memorable moment in Far Cry Primal?
Jean-Christophe Guyot:
One time I was walking at night and a band of wolves came for me. Suddenly they stopped and ran away. I thought, “Wow, I’m really getting the hang of this.” Suddenly I hear a roar and a giant, rare cave bear was behind me. Wolves were running because of the bear, not me!

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22 Comments

  • i didnt realise it was out next week. where are the reviews?

    • AAA studios put review sanctions on games, sites won’t beable to publish reviews until a given time (usually 24-48 hours before release).

  • A third person view would certainly be welcome under ‘new territory’.

  • Question: halfway thru the game are we going to jump to present day & revert to typical FC gunplay? That the stone age setting is just our character on a d rug trip or hooked up to a simulator like in Assassins creed?? Or is the entire game going to be set in the Stone Age?
    I really, really hope there’s no twist to this..

    Think the gameplay of far cry 3/4 is well suited to this idea, minus the guns obviously. Expect it to be quite similar to 4 especially in its reliance on crafting & open world.

    Not looking forward to being reunited with the honey badger..

  • I personally look really forward for Far Cry Primal.
    At first I admit I was a bit skeptical because I think it was relatively soon since the release of 4 so a concern would be that you haven’t had enough time to make the game. However I have enjoyed most if not all Far Cry games so I will definitely get this one. May not be on release day but soon, very soon.

    By the way, I love that the setting is Stone Age.

  • I’m getting tired of all the mind altering drugs and scenes in this series now.

    Can’t we just have an experience in a pre-historic world without all the hippy ****?

    • “I’m getting tired of all the mind altering drugs and scenes in this series…”

      Yes. A thousand times, yes. Disappointed to read the inclusion of this in Primal, promoted as some kind of positive. Maybe tho I’m out of ouch w/rest of fanbase/developers. It worked just OK in 3, made some kind of passable sense, but in 4 it really was a stretch & really boring to boot.

    • Totally agree with this. Did everything possible to avoid doing them in FC4

    • I know right? It really breaks the immersion and ruins the experience for me.

    • You totally nailed it, I hated those “Junkie” missions in FC4, they were absolutely pointless and boring. Ubisoft should keep them to a minimum, or better drop them completely, in FC Primal.

    • This seems to be a repeating feature in a lot of Ubisoft games and yes its starting to drive me nuts. I stopped playing assassins creed because of these ridiculous drug induced episodes that made no sense what so ever. Lets hope that shaman guy doesn’t warp our world too much. Also on a side note I hope uncharted 4 doesn’t have any of these kind of scenes either, they seem to rely on them more and more as well.

    • I thought it was a nice variation on the campaign. For an entire game to remain interesting with just that basic set of weapons remains to be seen, though..

  • I couldn’t get into any of the far cry games, I never even heard of them until I got farcry3 for PS+. But I’m really interested in this game. I like the prehistoric setting.
    I might not get it on release day though.

  • Do arrows shoot straight or does gravity pull it down? I prefer it be like how it is in the last of us. Shooting arrows was fun on that game.

  • I pre-ordered mine copy, can’t wait to hunt.

  • 3 days until release and loads of PS4 live streams of this game

    Digital customers punished again.
    Disc customers get to resell their discs and get some money back, also potentially losing a sale to a new game in the process.
    Digital customers pay premium price and get to play the games 3 days AFTER a lot of disc customers!!

    Why not reward us digital customers and make the digital releases 3 days early? That way we will be playing the same time as the disc based customers.

    • because that’d be incentivising(?) digital sales and they don’t like doing that….

      (I agree with you)

    • jes + no

      1= not al peopel on disk have the game !
      2= launch u games on wensday ore friday = so we can enjoy in the weekend
      3= block streams of games stil not out =
      a-frustrating
      b-spoiling you game huge !!!

      them play in France – Spain – Uk …..
      I HOPE UBISOFT YOU LAUNCH MONDAY TO AL OTHER GAMERS + RELEASE DIGITAL VERSION TO ON PSN .

      reward digital = i do not tink so
      a- price = not good
      b- always play later

  • I enjoyed every Far Cry on PS since the second but this one honestly doesn’t interest me very much. Taming animals was nice as a varied backup to your classic loadout but as a ‘main weapon’ it doesn’t seem very interesting, especially at the cost of that classic loadout.. Spears, clubs and bows as your only weapons really put me off on this. Hopefully the story and atmosphere will do it for me. Only just pre-ordered because there are so few new releases, so they got the release timing right. If it wasn’t for that, I would’ve waited for a pricecut..
    (Also really expect to see your character’s legs in the next one, even COD does it now and it feels really outdated not to in a FPS. The entire engine and controls are starting to feel a little outdated too imo..)

  • revieuws are in , them are not al good

    if you let other gamers stream + first revieuws = never a smart move .

  • Before I buy this, is it worth the 60€ people?

  • Although I like the concept of the game set in 10,000BC, with it being yet another Far Cry game, I feel as though it’s the same if not similar gameplay mechanics, storylines (i.e having the whole hero cliche) but with a different lick of paint. Would I get this? Probably not.

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