One of the tricky bits about making Far Cry Primal, as Ubisoft explains in its latest development blog update, is that we don't have any actual history from the Stone Age to tell us what it was like. So instead, the game and the land of Oros will be an "earnest recreation based on what we know about the time," with an impressive amount of effort being put into making it feel "real," even though it's not.
The game is based primarily on the Mesolithic Period, which marked "the transition between man as a hunter-gatherer and as a settler," Creative Director Jean-Cristophe Guyot said. "It’s the moment where you start to own land, and start to have conflict." The actual setting is the Carpathian Mountains in Slovakia, because the developers wanted the game to include a glacier, while the story is grounded in the foundation and growth of Europe's original populations, but condenses events that unfolded over many centuries "into one moment in prehistory."
“It’s a collision of several waves of immigration,” Guyot said. “The initial one was stuck in the ice age, and there’s this concept of archaic homo sapiens that we based the Udam on. They got stuck in the mountains during the ice age, and they are starting to become extinct. They are having a problem breeding, so they are resorting to cannibalism in order to get strength from the other tribes.”
The post looks at how animals will play a prominent role in the game, as both enemies and allies, and the input of linguists to develop, and then regress, the in-game languages, in order to make them feel authentic. It also explains a bit about how Primal will be similar to previous Far Cry games. Human encampments will function similarly to outposts in recent games, and will have to be taken out in more or less the same way. But they'll be more than just rallying points for gangs of paramilitary goons.
"Throughout the story, we give you good reasons why they’re here and why they’re dangerous to you, but we don’t want them to feel like stupid guards," Guyot said. "So they have a life. We try to create a culture and religion for every type of tribe, and at some of the outposts, they’re actually playing music, fishing and doing other tasks. We want this to feel like a time period where it's not war, but survival."
All of which makes me wonder, if it's not war, how will Ubi justify the runaway slaughter that's the hallmark of the Far Cry series? Not that it necessarily has to, I suppose, but if it's taking the approach that these aren't necessarily bad guys, but just guys trying to get by, then what does that make you, when you swoop in and club their faces into a thick, sticky paste?
Far Cry Primal is set to come out in March 2016.