Far Cry Primal isn’t the first Far Cry game to place players in a foreign, unfamiliar setting — in fact, it’s one of the main pillars of the series — but with the game departing so much from the previous modern installments, Ubisoft put extra effort into ensuring that its version of the Stone Age feels authentic.
“We hired historians, linguists, anthropologists … to make sure that we got as much data as possible on this setting,” says producer Vincent Pontbriand.
Like the fictional Kyrat of Far Cry 4, Primal‘s Oros technically takes place in a “real” location: the Carpathian Mountains in Eastern Europe. Narrator and protagonist Takkar’s voice actor Elias Toufexis states that as the Ice Age ended, this area became a destination for not just Eastern European peoples, but also those from Western Europe and Mesopotamia. The different cultures of the various tribes in the game reflect this area’s role as a Stone Age melting pot.
“The Wenja tribe is originally a tribe of hunter-gatherers. They were traveling throughout Europe following the food all year long, but when they found Oros, which was full of life, they started to settle down,” says narrative director Jean-Sebastien Decant.
Instead of using all-English speaking characters, Ubisoft opted to craft a “new” language for the cast to speak this time around. Modeled largely after Proto-Indo-European, the team was occasionally forced to find creative solutions when it couldn’t find a word written in that ancient language.
“We know about twenty different roots for the verb ‘to shine’ but we have no idea how they said ‘yes,'” says linguist Andrew Miles Byrd. “So what we thought was to have some sort of expression like ‘it is correct.'”
Adding to the complexity, the different tribes in Primal speak different variations of Proto-Indo-European, with the advanced Izila tribe speaking the most developed from of the language. This meant that the actors had to learn to perform in multiple languages as naturally as they would in English.
“When an actor is performing in Wenja or performing in Izila, they’re not just memorizing lines or just going with it,” adds Byrd. “They’re learning the meaning of every word, they’re learning what the grammar of that sentence is and they have to perform it as such.”
You’ll be able to check out the world, languages, and, of course, deadly animals of Far Cry Primal when it launches for PS4 and Xbox One on February 23, with a PC release following on March 1.