Annualized Games Can Learn a Lot From Far Cry Primal

By: Chris Giordano (@chrisgiordano_)

Far Cry Primal does not disappoint. I wrote a post about why I’m so excited about the game, especially as an anthropology major, and it has lived up to every expectation I could have imagined. I’m about 12 hours in, and I am completely loving it. I really don’t like using the term “dumbed down,” but that’s really the only way I can describe it. And I’m not using it in a negative way either. The core Far Cry mechanics are there. Primal is just dumbed down to adjust to setting, and it is fantastic.

Recently, Ubisoft announced that they will not be releasing an Assassin’s Creed game in 2016, surprising considering it may just be their most popular franchise. I see this as an extremely good thing. Annualized games are starting to reach a point where they need to drastically iterate. Maybe not as extreme as Primal did with the Far Cry series, but enough that it can feel fresh, new, and exciting. This is a good thing for Ubisoft as it is apparent that they are trying to shake things up and diversify their games. Many developers of annualized games can learn from this.

Source:  Ubisoft

Source: Ubisoft

Who would have thought that killing an enemy with a spear could be so rewarding?

I’m not talking about annualized sports games, either. Releasing a new FIFA, Madden, and NHL game every year is redundant. End of story. Paying $60-$80 for a new squad and smoother physics is just not worth it. Sorry EA. But I digress. I’m talking about franchises that come out every year, usually in the same month. We all know a Call of Duty game releases the first week of November. A few weeks before that, we get a new Skylanders game. There’s a new Forza that comes out, exclusive to Xbox, every September. The debate about annualized game is extremely long-winded, with arguments from both sides saying that they are either beneficial or killing the industry.

My point here is that these annualized games, and I’m sure there’s much more that I haven’t mentioned, can learn something from Far Cry Primal. I feel as if developers are scared to break the mold of these games that made them so popular in the first place. But after we get the same game year after year, the fatigue sets in. Seeing the same explosions, stealth missions, and guns with little variation in each new Call of Duty installment isn’t very rewarding anymore. But Primal exceeds because of these drastic changes. No longer having a sniper rifle or a machine gun to rely on changes the gameplay. It becomes much more of a challenge to capture an outpost or enemy base. And for me, that is where Primal succeeds. All Ubisoft really did with the game is stay true to the setting and adjust their core mechanics in order to make it as realistic as possible. The gameplay is the same as the past. But it feels different. It feels new. And it’s a whole bunch of fun.

Fans have been crying out to the developers of Call of Duty to go back to their roots and give us a game from one of the World Wars. I would be ecstatic with something like this, if only because Call of Duty has been playing the “advanced” and “futuristic” card now for way too long. The Exosuits in Advanced Warfare were fine, but the small changes that were made to Black Ops III didn’t make it feel any different. If Call of Duty were to create a game set in France during the Battle of Normandy, or Hawaii the morning of Pearl Harbour, and stayed true to the setting with realistic guns and armory from the time, then I would be blown away. Especially considering the graphic fidelity and the power that the Xbox One and PS4 have, they could make an amazing game without changing their core mechanics.

Source:  Nintendo

Source: Nintendo

Slap the name Forza on it and make it extremely pretty, and you have a winner.

This is extremely farfetched, but imagine a Forza game inspired by F-Zero. Create a futuristic city, design the cars to look a little less realistic and a little more “super,” and fans will eat it up. There is no need to change the way the game feels. Keep the system you have! Just put a completely different skin on it.

Change the setting, and adjust everything based on that. Annualized games can learn from that in order to avoid fatigue and feel new without changing the mechanics. That is why, in my opinion, Primal succeeds. It was a pleasant surprise to see every aspect of the game relate back to the 10,000 year old timeframe the game is set in.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!