It was 12:37 a.m. when I began writing this. My computer screen displayed, and had for many hours, a rather generic triptych: A Google Doc, a Skype chat, and a moving wallpaper.
A wallpaper is what the the third window looked like, anyway, to someone lacking the intimate knowledge of the fine art of horrific game reveals that I accrued over the last 12 and a half hours. That's how long I had spent watching this video, a live feed from the Ubisoft YouTube channel teasing a game announcement.
The slow reveal commenced at 12 p.m. ET on Monday afternoon with a simple, teasing tweet from the Ubisoft account linking to the livestream. "Survival is timeless," the text read. I did not know yet know how true this would be.
Learn to stop worrying and love the stream.
Clicking through to the stream revealed an unimpressive etching upon a cave wall set to a slight yet ominous score and lit by the flicker of an off-screen flame. At the beginning, any excitement and anticipation begat by Ubisoft's mysterious set-up for this obtuse image barely trickled down to me.
Why was I there?
I stuck around to watch it for the same reason anyone else did: I was anxious for something new and different to happen. A game reveal, whether or not it is of one I would play, is inherently exciting, even if the buzz is fleeting. There's also the obvious professional interest.
But the glacial pace at which my brief satisfaction was being dispensed was a difficult price to justify. For more than an hour I watched, multitasking all the while, unable and unwilling to devote full attention to something that appeared to be a placeholder for the real event.
Ubisoft, though, already had me in its clutches, and the publisher knew it. An hour in, it became apparent that this was not, in fact, the screensaver equivalent of a countdown clock. It was something much more.
The camera was slowly tracking backwards away from close-up on the caveman to reveal additional drawings. The time-lapse above occurred over the course of two hours, and it would take several more for the movement to stop and the entire image to appear on-screen.
Unlike me, as I watched this camera movement and wondered for how much longer I would be required to do this, the caveman was not alone. He lived in a fully populated world that was growing, albeit at a snail's pace.
I still had zero idea what this world was referencing, or for how much longer this subtle pull would occur. But periodic check-ins to see what the painting looked like soon gave way to impulsive updates. Eventually I had the window open at all times, watching the flames paint the expanding canvas.
My body was rejecting the livestream, but my heart couldn't bear to let go.
Some might say that this slow burn was all for naught, considering the conclusion was spoiled early on. Far Cry Primal is not a game I would normally be interested in, yet the livestream mesmerized me.
All I could think about when I eventually went to sleep, 14.5 hours later, was what the game would truly look like — or rather, how it's ultimate unveiling would appear. Would there be triumphant music? Would there be a trailer? A release date? Would Ubisoft whisper the news into my ear directly? If not, could it? I was very open, after so many hours spent with them, to that last method.
I spent more time over the last day with "Ubisoft Announcement — COMING SOON" than with my family, or my friends, or any human being. I refused to stop watching, even when the full wall was on display without new additions for hours. In fact, I'd argue that the video became more impactful then. What was once a filmed portrait became animation in its own right. Nightmare-ish cutaways occurred at near-random, closing in on select drawings on the wall in a dramatic fashion.
When I closed my eyes, which happened often as I dozed off during the stream's thirteenth hour on-air, I saw the flames. I heard the low growls of the prehistoric creatures even when my computer is muted. I called my cat Ubisoft by accident.
I finally took a real break from my viewing because my body would not let me watch any further. My body was rejecting the livestream, but my heart couldn't bear to let go. I checked back in the next morning to find that the camera had somehow zoomed back in to its original focus upon just the man. I was disheartened to have missed the six hours that led to this point, but I continued to stare anyway. I felt a warmth of connection and of familiarity. The feed and I were well-acquainted.
After a full 24 hours of airing the painting tease, a trailer for Primal played yesterday at 12 p.m. ET. The video's premiere meant cutting away from the world that I had grown so fond of. You can see it for yourself below.
The reveal of the game, in which you play as a hunter during the Stone Age, explaining the prehistoric imagery I'd become obsessed with, did not provide the excitement I had initially hoped for. Instead, it brought the pain of a last, far too short goodbye.
The new Far Cry's objective is to survive against some of nature's greatest beasts. I can say with confidence that I have already won.
But the reveal came with its own harsh letdown. I had become devoted to the bizarre simplicity, the pointlessness, the repetition and ambiguity of the reveal. Watching the livestream had removed me from my linear timeline. I had no worries in those hours, and no needs. I was alone with the flickering shadow on the wall. To watch the Ubisoft announcement as it crawled ahead in real time was to absolve yourself of life's cruelties. All else faded away. There was only the cave.
With this minimalist video feed, Ubisoft fashioned itself a Platonic ideal.
What did the slow burn reveal truly represent? Was it madness? Delusion? Far Cry Primal?
The answer is yes. The answer is: Learn to stop worrying and love the stream.
Survival is truly timeless.