BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — What's a "Far Cry" game without machine guns and off-road vehicles?
That would be "Far Cry Primal," a Stone Age-set edition of the action series that features wooden spears and wooly mammoths. "Primal," which is set for release Feb. 23, trades the modern-day locales and munitions depicted in the previous four installments of the Ubisoft franchise for a primitive tale about Takkar, a hunter who rises up to lead his tribe.
"'Far Cry' has always been about survival," said creative director Jean-Christophe Guyot. "We wanted to expand on that. We've already gone all around the world, so we wanted to refresh the formula. It's man versus nature. We wanted to try to capture what it was like to survive as a man in the Stone Age. You start naked, and you have to climb the food chain."
Guyot said the developers worked with documentarians, linguists and movement coaches in an attempt to create an interactive experience faithful to what historians know about the Stone Age. After hands-on time with an early version of "Primal," here's a glimpse at some of the changes coming to the biggest departure yet for the "Far Cry" franchise:
BEAUTY AND THE BEASTS
Besides the prehistoric setting, "Primal" is notably veering away from previous "Far Cry" entries with the new "beast master" ability, which allows Takkar to tame and control such critters as wolves and sabre-tooth tigers. The animals all have their own unique characteristics. For example, a bear is a tank-like sidekick who moves slowly but can take a beating.
Takkar won't have bullets, rockets or grenades at his disposal, but the Wenja tribesman is a wiz with bows, clubs and spears. His various weapons provide him with different tactics, whether that's quietly shooting enemies from afar with arrows or pounding them up close with a two-handed club. For a more fiery approach, most of Takkar's gear can also be set ablaze.
While previous "Far Cry" protagonists relied on high-tech binoculars for reconnaissance, Takkar employs an owl who can scope out prey and other possible encounters as it soars overheard. With the press of a button, players can assume control of the stealthy bird to highlight points of interest — or simply drive the creature's talons into unsuspecting adversaries.
In keeping with the developers' quest for authenticity, the characters encountered throughout "Primal" don't speak a lick of English. Instead, the dialogue is all captioned on screen. Guyot said the voice actors representing the game's trio of fictional tribes recorded their lines using different versions of a language that linguists call Proto-Indo-European.
DO IT YOURSELF
"Primal" is greatly expanding on the option from previous "Far Cry" games to upgrade weapons and craft elixirs with resources gathered across the land. In addition to lighting weapons on fire with animal fat, Takkar can concoct stuff like a snack that masks his scent from predators and stink bombs that inspire the human opposition to go totally bonkers.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.