Far Cry Primal Director Talks New Direction, Nature’s Big Role

During our time with Far Cry Primal last week, we had the opportunity to talk all things Far Cry with Jean-Christophe Guyot, Ubisoft Montreal’s Creative Director on the project. Sitting down, we got to discuss what makes Primal a Far Cry game and what exactly fans have to look forward to.

Hardcore Gamer: What is Far Cry Primal? How is it different from previous Far Cry games?

Jean-Christophe Guyot: So with Far Cry we always try to take you to the edge of the known world and drop you into new frontiers, and there was always this thing about man vs. nature. So, exploring new possibilities was something we’ve been wanting to do for a while. Going back in time, especially to the Stone Age, was a great opportunity, because it was a time when Man was not at the top of the food chain, hence the relationship to the food chain is really different. There is a twist of survival in the experience, a different pacing, a different profession and a different experience. It’s interesting because of the time period. We have different animals and things we want you to explore. We’re giving you new tools to play with  and the Beast Master system allows you to control different animals.

Far Cry Primal 06
Far Cry has always been about giving you these amazing set of tools and setting you loose in an open world. How does that formula translate into Primal?

Its more difficult in Primal because of the time period. You don’t have access to the regular guns and weapons of previous Far Cry games, but it’s something we’re excited about. It forces us to think outside of the box and provide you with other ways to feel empowered. So there’s the primitive tools of the time. You have to craft them yourself, improve them, set them on fire, and as you progress through the game you’ll gain the ability to tame the wild animals of Oros. As you do, you’ll regain that feeling of empowerment because Far Cry is all about you approaching tasks the way you want to. Some of the predators are better at stealth, some are better at frontal combat. For example, bears are tanks and can take a lot of damage. These are examples of how we try to recreate the Far Cry experience without the need of guns.

Vaas is one of the most iconic characters in Far Cry, dominating Far Cry 3. Far Cry 4 never really had big iconic character. Does Far Cry Primal have a character with a similar dominating presence?

It’s a bit different. It’s not just one single character, but we want to have an interesting and iconic cast of characters that are very diverse. Throughout the game you’ll encounter two main antagonists: Ull, the Warlord of the Udam, a very primitive tribe, and Batari, the Matriarch of the Izila. These characters you’ll meet and interact with them and learn about them.

Far Cry Primal 02
One of the criticisms of Far Cry 4 was that it felt like the game was held back technically and design-wise by the last-gen hardware. How has dropping the PS3 and Xbox 360 benefited Far Cry Primal?

One of the main aspects that we really wanted to build was the natural food chain. Our intention was that the world of Oros is savage. We wanted to up the amount of animals you can encounter and create a lot of chain reactions with the animals. It’s very exciting for us because the AIs collide together to create unexpected moments, especially with fire. In terms of systems, the power of the consoles enhanced the visuals, as you would expect. In terms of gameplay experience it’s having a lot of wildlife that was not present before.

And one of the criticisms about Ubisoft games is that they all tend to be designed with similar mechanics. For example, they all kind of have similar crafting systems and towers to synchronize view-points. Is Primal stepping away from the “Ubisoft Formula?”

It’s really a fresh take on the Far Cry experience, so there are a lot of mechanisms that have changed. For example, discovering the world incorporates a “Fog-of-War” element. So, you don’t climb any towers to unveil new parts of the map. The Stone Age puts an emphasis on survival. At night the world is more dangerous, there’s areas in Oros that are cold, so you need to find new clothes. There are many touches of survival that we’re bringing in. As you unfog the different areas of the map, you’ll meet different characters and open up these new areas.

Far Cry Primal 07
Breakdown the different types of animals living in Oros. I imagine there are quite a bit of new animals mixed-in with animals from the previous games?

There’s, of course, different predators and prey. What’s interesting is you get the ability to tame them. You can tame felines that are super good at stealth, canines are really good at hunting, bears are really good tanks. Each animal has their own little perks you can unlock. For example, the wolf can learn to howl whenever there are enemies around, and the bear can collect resources for you. You can tame and swap between the different animals at any time. In terms of prey we have some that run away. We wanted to have was an experience of hunting that was not as easy as with guns. It’s more about the chase and tracking. Then there’s prey that will defend themselves once attacked. The main aspect that we wanted to include are animals that we don’t have around anymore, like the sabretooth tiger and woolly mammoth.

What about multiplayer and co-op? Will Far Cry Primal be just a single player experience?

No, the game is really focused on the experience of survival in the Stone Age. We changed tons and tons of things. We have new weapons and reworked a lot of the AI. That’s what we’re really focused on.

So when can players expect to get their hands on Far Cry Primal?

Release platforms are PS4 and Xbox One on February 24, and PC is going to be a week later.

Be sure to check out our in-depth preview of Far Cry Primal here.