I am playing through Far Cry Primal and writing down my adventures, while also providing commentary on the game’s depiction of life ca. 12,000 years ago. After a brief stint in Tutorial Land, I rescued a young woman named Sayla before setting out to find our missing shaman, Tensay. In a vision quest, I was proclaimed “Beast Master” and am now on my way to find and tame a white wolf.
It’s slowly getting darker and the game warns me that the night can be even more dangerous than the day. Many open world games have a day-night cycle, but few actually bother to make the night very much different from the day except for lighting effects. Perhaps inspired by survival games like MineCraft and Don’t Starve, this game actually tries to make night a more hazardous time than the day. Of course, you can find and set light to bonfires, which not only reveal a large part of the map, but also offer a place to sleep if you want to skip either the night or the day. You can also sleep back at the village.
In any event, undeterred by the darkness, I follow the quest icon to find the wolf I’m looking for. The game doesn’t make it easy for me. I find a den, but the wolves are dead, killed by Udam. I use my owl to find out where the white wolf could have gone and locate it soon enough, but there are live Udam in my way. I sneak up on them, manage to set the vegetation on fire, and kill the two that remain with my club. I then soon find the white wolf and the game explains that I have to craft bait (from meat) and then throw it towards the wolf. Approaching it slowly, I hold the X button on my controller to tame the animal.
As I said in the previous article, the game vastly simplifies how animals can be tamed. Dogs are the oldest domesticated animals in the world and date back to perhaps 40,000 years ago. That means that dogs essentially developed alongside modern human beings from early in the Late Palaeolithic onwards. It was long thought that dogs evolved from wolves, but they are now thought to derive from a related, but now extinct species of Eurasian canid.
The traditional idea about the origin of dogs was that their ancestors, attracted by the smell of cooked food, approached human beings and then were slowly tamed as people gave them scraps and cared for them. Another idea is that humans found and took care of puppies. Experiments with foxes have shown that it isn’t very difficult to domesticate a wild canid. Like humans, dogs are gregarious and thrive in smallish communities, so it makes sense for dogs and humans to have enjoyed living together. Dogs are not just man’s best friend, but oldest man’s oldest friend in the world.
If you’re worried about losing your new best friend in the game, fret not. Should your tamed wolf die in battle, you can ‘resurrect’ him via a special menu (hold right on the directional pad). You can feed the animal to heal any wounds. The white wolf is also a very strong and tough fighter, and you can send him out to take down enemies, both animals and humans. That latter ability is to come in handy very quickly.
My plan was to return to the village to see how things were going there. But along the way I happened across a small band of Wenja. They needed my help to reach a new camp. Normally, I loathe escort missions in games, but these are actually quite fun. You follow the Wenja along on their path to their new location and have to defend them to the best of your ability.
Of course, it isn’t long before we are attacked by the Udam. My wolf takes many of them down in short order, while I pick off others using my bow and arrow or rush in close to beat their skulls in with my club. Battles are nasty, brutish, and short (to paraphrase Thomas Hobbes). We fight a few of these battles. My wolf tends to be wounded slightly after every battle, but it’s nothing some food can’t cure, of which I have an ample supply. Soon, we reach the new Wenja camp. I managed to get all of them here save one, who was struck down by Udam before I was able to intercede. I net some more experience points and able to add another skill to my list of abilities.
Perhaps this is a good point to mention the clothing worn by the people in the game. Everyone I have seen so far wears animal skins. However, archaeological evidence shows that humans had succeeded in weaving textiles more than 30,000 years ago. It’s certainly possible, likely even, that animal skins were still worn, but it is slightly strange that the developers completely ignored the use of woven fabrics. But perhaps I will run into them later. (Curiously, when I visited the shaman, his cave did contain clay pots. Fired clay vessels didn’t exist in Europe until the Neolithic era, although the idea that clay could be fired to make it harder was already known as witnessed by some Venus figurines, and elsewhere in the world pottery was used from about 10,000 BC onwards.)
With the Wenja save in their camp, some population was also added to the village. Time for me to get back there, I thought. I could have fast-travelled to my location (by simply selecting the location on my map), but decided to do the prehistoric thing instead and walk back to base. I again ran into a bear and foolishly believed that I could take it on with the help of my wolf. But no such luck: my wolf was killed quickly and then the bear destroyed me in an instant.
Fortunately, death is not the end and I woke up near a bonfire that I had set fire to earlier. I summoned my wolf again and together we continued our trek home. Once there, I spoke briefly with Sayla. She said that I needed to collect more materials to start building huts so that more Wenja can come and join us. Huts also unlock further missions and give access to new skill trees for me to pump my skill points into. I don’t have enough materials to build Sayla’s hut immediately, so I instead go over to Tensay.
As luck would have it, I do have enough materials to build the shaman’s hut and immediately proceed to do so. In the game, it’s a simple matter of tapping a button. The finished hut consists of a wooden frame covered by animal hides. It makes sense that hunter-gatherers would have built simple structures like this.
Contrary to popular opinion, hunter-gatherers don’t necessarily live a perpetually nomadic life, preferring to settle where there is food and water, and moving only when necessary, except if they rely for their subsistence on herds of animals that frequently move elsewhere. Early farmers, for example, were often more nomadic than contemporary hunter-gatherers, as they had to keep moving to find fertile land, whereas hunter-gatherers could stay longer in one spot. Some hunter-gatherers who lived off shellfish in the Mesolithic were (almost) entirely sedentary.