Far Cry Primal has the potential to be legitimately interesting. It's “definitely a Far Cry game,” as we declared in our hands-on earlier this month, but it's set in the Mesolithic era, so you'll be playing as a primitive human hunter—a caveman, basically—armed with rocks, clubs, bows, and a pseudo-magical ability to tame and command animals. It also means that your motivations for killing will be different than in previous games in the series. As Creative Director Jean-Cristophe Guyot said in a recent developer's blog, “It's not war, but survival.”
“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," he explained. "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.”
It sounds almost like a kinder, gentler Far Cry, unfettered by the plagues of politics, greed, criminality, and insanity. But the ESRB descriptor suggests that the game will in fact “get pretty raw,” as Kotaku put it, and I don't think they're wrong. I'll let the relevant bit speak for itself.
“One cutscene depicts a character being held in a fire while screaming; another depicts Takkar tapping a hole in another character's skull as the man screams. Some scenes depict corpses in various states of mutilation: heads and torsos on spikes; ears cut off and kept as trophies; headless bodies lying in pools of blood. Certain scenes or camera angles can depict male genitalia under garments or in shadows; some female characters are depicted topless. A handful of scenes depict characters engaged in sexual activity while clothed; grunts and short moans can be heard, though no explicit details are seen.”
That last bit about the absence of explicit sex is probably why, despite the incineration, trepanation, mutilation, and decapitation—on top of the run-of-the-mill murder and mayhem—Far Cry Primal has been rated M. It comes out on March 1.