A while back, we took a first look at Ubisoft's Far Cry Primal, a Stone Age spin-off of the publisher's first-person action adventure series. While many players wondered why the game went back in time (especially following the exploits of the futuristic Blood Dragon), there's no question it's authentic. Instead of using firearms and vehicles, you must rely on survival instincts, makeshift clubs, spears and other weapons as you deal with enemies both human and animal.

We recently had a chance to go hands-on with a near-finished version of the game to see what it had to offer, and came away surprised by the number of gameplay elements, especially when it comes to enlisting others to join your cause.

First and most importantly, this game definitely feels like Far Cry. The action takes getting used to because of the primitive weaponry, but you're still able to zoom in and get some sweet headshots with a bow and arrows, or simply run up to someone and nail your target with a well-timed club smash. For good measure, you can also set some of your weapons ablaze, either with a nearby torch or your own supplies, adding some additional spark to your attacks.

When it comes to the campaign, the general goal is to rebuild your tribe, the Wenja, while dealing with the dangerous Ull and his powerful Udam crew. As Takkar, it's your job to build up your ranks while staying alive and eventually challenging Ull.

After scampering away from a mammoth hunt gone wrong (thanks to interference from a tiger), the first character you'll come across is Sayla, a fellow Wenja survivor who offers to help out Takkar as much as possible. Others join the clan soon after, including a crafty witch doctor and several inhabitants rescued along the way. The more people you gather, the bigger a village you can put together – making it easier to defend from incoming forces.

 

These inhabitants are part of side missions found in the beautiful open world map that Primal has to offer. Although you can stick to the main missions and try to take Ull and his tribe head-on, the more people join you, the stronger your legion becomes as you counter his actions. These missions can vary, from rescuing a prisoner by killing his captors to engaging in a hunt for particular animals, like wild boars and even a bear. On top of that, you can find bonfires to activate in the world that act as fast travel points, so you don't have to waste time wandering all the way back to the village to get something done.

One neat trick to Far Cry Primal involves recruiting animals. This is a process that takes a good amount of timing, as you'll first need to put together bait (from meat and other resources you collect throughout the game) to lure the desired creature. From there, you can slowly move in and with a quick ritual tame the animal enough to convince it to join you. These can vary, but the owl (which attacks from above and surveys the terrain ahead) and the wolf (a fast animal that strikes quickly) are your best bets at the beginning of the game. You can try your luck with a bear later on, but this takes considerable skill. 

Keep in mind your animal friends will only stay with you until they're dead. You'll want to make sure to hunt smaller animals on the side and skin these critters so you and your pets have enough strength to continue on with the next mission.

 

Takkar is able to activate "hunter vision" at any time in the game. This lets you track an injured animal’s prints, find his way to the next checkpoint and even resources in the world, ranging from plants to dust from a nearby rock. These can be used to forge better weaponry over the course of the game, which is a necessity – otherwise, your tools will either burn out from being on fire too long, or break when thrown towards an enemy.

Although Far Cry Primal doesn't feature co-op or multiplayer, it does have a strong enough single player campaign to keep the player involved. From the several hours of gameplay we experienced, there was always something fun to do, whether defending a village, overtaking a defensive perimeter from one of the nearby clans (and setting it on fire) or engaging in a hunt with something as dangerous as a jaguar.

It's a different experience from what players expect from a Far Cry game, but Primal has the goods to feel both familiar and unique – and it's definitely something fans will want to sink into when it releases on February 23rd. Order your official guide now and get all the strategies you need for exploration and survival in the Mesolithic world of Far Cry Primal.