There are two types of people in this world– those who have played a Far Cry game, and those who haven’t. I am firmly placed in the former category, having made my way through Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4 and Far Cry: Primal. The only Far Cry game I haven’t played since discovering the series is Far Cry 5, of which this game is a direct continuation. Those who have had the pleasure of immersing themselves in the sandbox-style first-person shooter known as Far Cry will mostly know what to expect– there is nothing incredibly groundbreaking here– but those who haven’t may want to jump into the fray with this one.
Far Cry: New Dawn begins 17 years after the nuclear explosions that ended Far Cry 5. Ubisoft took a more realistic approach with this setting, researching and questioning scientists about the possible repercussions of such an act and how it would effect the world around us. As the player, you will come across people hoping to rebuild any semblance of their past lives, people who have fully embraced the raucous and blood-spattered “society”, and pacifists. There are half-standing houses with trees and colorful plants growing inside and through them, animals that have traits of more than one species and a pair of murderous twins who are the local leaders of a national gang/outfit/club.
The story, which I won’t spoil here, begins with your typical Far Cry vague sketch of a character. You pick to play as a male or female at the beginning, and also get to customize the look of your character. While interesting to play around with, I didn’t find much use for the clothing changes– this is a first-person game after all, and the only time your character as a whole is on-screen is when an outpost has been completed or while entering your home base. Whether you pick male or female shouldn’t have any impact, either, as it’s simply chosen and then forgotten. You begin on a train, and are immediately thrown off the rails, left to fight your way through mobs of Highwaymen (the faction controlled by the twins, Mickey and Lou, who can be seen on the cover art and in trailers) before you find Prosperity, a small community of survivors looking to get life back to normal. After an incident, you are looked to for help, as your player character is part of a group who travel the country to support those in need, and so begins your journey of helping to sustain a pleasant community among the wilds of a post-nuclear detonation. In this way, its reminiscent of Mad Max, even down to the Ethanol that is the main “currency” everyone is trying to acquire, and the Motocross-inspired clothing that the Highwaymen wear.
As for the setting, it’s beautiful. The verdant fields are covered in pink flowers, the guns have astounding detail, and the dilapidated houses mingling with the natural green that is beginning to reclaim its territory present a nice contrast for the boundaries of the map, which is delineated by bare trees and and a mud-brown ground. Both night and day have their own spectacles, including a permanent aurora that is bright enough to be seen in the middle of the day. The animations are on a level with Far Cry 5 and I didn’t come across any issues that pulled me out of the cutscenes (such as facial tics, clipping etc.), though some of the characters were just kind of…boring, especially when placed next to some of the more colorful cast members you meet. The animals look as good as ever, but that didn’t stop me from throwing rocks at them almost immediately.
Much like the difference between the colorful map and the dun outskirts, a dichotomy runs through much of Far Cry: New Dawn. This is seen in the personality of the twins (something I was intrigued by, being a twin myself) where one is the talker, and one is the beater; they even look at the world as an all-or-nothing– that there are problem-makers and problem-solvers. The combination of the two personalities is what makes them so formidable. I still don’t think they come anywhere near Vaas’s maniacal leadership in Far Cry 3, but they are far better at intimidation than Pagan Min from Far Cry 4 or the opposition tribe in Far Cry: Primal. Whether they make a better antagonist than Joseph Seed– yes, at least when considering this game alone (remember, I have yet to play Far Cry 5). It’s also seen in the soundtrack where there are only two stations to choose from. You have the Golden Oldies such as the Beach Boys, and you have rap like Hopsin and Die Antwoord on the other station, emphasizing the difference between the generations before and after the blast.
As for the most important aspect of a Far Cry game, the gunplay, it’s as fast and frenetic as ever. The player can choose to do things stealthily, utilizing arrows and a silencer, or if they’re feeling rather brave they can imitate Rambo and go in guns blazing. Either way works, and helps to create more of a story around your impersonal character. The shooting is snappy and aiming is easy, and the AI is intelligent enough to try to flank you or hide behind cover; friendly AI will get scared if you point your gun at them. The guns/melee weapons also have interesting variations like a hot pink assault rifle, a saw-launcher, and re-purposed objects like screwdrivers duct-taped to the barrels as bayonets and weaponized shovels.
Outposts are still prominent, but there has been more replay value placed in the fights. When you complete one, you can now Escalate the toughness of the outpost by “Scavenging” it, which will give you some Ethanol, before retaking it at a harder difficulty (each outpost has a 3-star rating that climbs each time you Scavenge it, and your rewards are commensurate with the difficulty). Each Escalation will add alarms and harder enemies, including the strongest ones known as Elites, which is where Ubisoft’s inclusion of “light RPG elements” really takes hold. These enemies can be tough to take down without the stronger weapons (which, like the enemies, also have 4 tiers– I (grey), II (blue), III (purple) and Elite (gold)), as they become bullet sponges if you are under-equipped. Once you are on the same level weapon-wise, they shouldn’t continue to be too much of a problem. There are also Expeditions once you collect some Ethanol and get your helicopter up-and-running. In each of these you are taken to a separate location (like the I.S.S. crash site or Alcatraz) and it’s your job to find a pack and get to the landing zone to escape. The problem is, after holding the pack for a set amount of time it sets off a GPS tracker, alerting all enemies to your location. Much like the outposts, these can be done multiple times with increasing difficulty in order to gain more resources. Add to this random Supply Drops that you have to fight Highwaymen for, Treasure Hunts, Fishing and Hunting and comparing photographs from before the blast to the present, and Far Cry: New Dawn should keep you entertained for about 15-20 hours, depending on how much you enjoy the Escalations.
Some of the more memorable missions include the collecting of Prosperity’s Specialists and Hired Guns. Besides the twins, most of the characters I adored were in one of these two camps. There’s Nana, a humorous aged lady with a sniper rifle, The Judge, a silent and masked hunter from New Eden (Joseph Seed’s cult from Far Cry 5 now under a new name) and my personal favorite, Horatio, a massive boar that I connected with after I saved him and he immediately returned the favor. As for Joseph Seed himself, well, he’s not exactly dynamic but he does have some interesting thoughts on the destruction he caused.
Now, when it comes to issues, I can honestly say there weren’t many. The only one that sticks in my mind is when I helped Gina at the derby; I finished the mission and went to where she sat in her car. It prompted me to talk to her, but wouldn’t allow me to. Luckily, a well-placed grenade and a revival solved the problem. I mainly wish there was more to do– there just wasn’t enough to keep me interested in redoing the Expeditions and Outposts once I was done upgrading what I wanted– but I also know that this isn’t a fully-fledged Far Cry game. My other main complaint is the two boss fights towards the end were quite difficult and took a few attempts combined with lots of running to complete– but again, this could be attributed to myself, as the bosses were Elites and I was only a level III, something I had learned earlier in the game was not a good idea.
Basically, it’s a Far Cry game. If you’ve played one before and loved it, you probably won’t find much to dislike, which is all right; Ubisoft’s colorful take on the post-apocalypse isn’t their best creation, but it does conjure some interesting experiments with the tried-and-true Far Cry formula. For those who haven’t played one, this may be the one you want to get, as it’s more a bite-sized Far Cry that still has enough activity to fulfill its purpose. If you have played one and weren’t a fan, I can’t see this one changing your mind.
Far Cry: New Dawn is available now on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC
Thanks to Ubisoft for providing InformedPixel with a digital copy of Far Cry: New Dawn for the Playstation 4.