Far Cry New Dawn

R589
8

Score

8.0/10

Pros

  • Hope County looks beautiful
  • RPG Lite mechanics breathes new life into the game
  • Not as grindy as Far Cry 5
  • Bliss is back as Superbliss!

Cons

  • Too afraid to let Far Cry 5 go and become its own story
  • Feels more like an expansion to Far Cry 5 than a full on sequel
  • No more angelic choirs

Far Cry 5 caught me by surprise. Before it arrived, I had become discontent with the franchise as a whole. Its predecessor ended up as yet another stale release in Ubisoft’s annual franchise cycle. Far Cry 4 did not offer anything to be excited about beyond an admittedly intriguing villain. Far Cry 5, on the other hand, was the exact opposite. It offered an exquisite locale and four excellently written and designed villains. Each of whom were linked by more than just their end-goal: blood and unquestioning faith. A year on from that excellent title and Ubisoft have released a sequel in the form of Far Cry New Dawn. A sequel that has a lot to live up to.

Ubisoft announced Far Cry New Dawn at the Game Awards 2018 and slated the game for release in early 2019. They also announced that it would be a direct sequel to Far Cry 5, and take place in the aftermath that was the canonical end of the game. Many fans, including myself, found this particular announcement to be quite drab. How new could this title be considering it takes place in the same locale? Is this meant to be an expansion or a smaller standalone adventure like Far Cry Blood Dragon before it? What makes this new title different? So many questions! Fortunately we received an early review copy of the game and subsequently put it through its paces.

This is a new world, and it is ours [Story] 

At the end of Far Cry 5, the world literally went down the gutter. Two of the game’s endings gave credence to Father Joseph Seed’s warnings, and how he had been speaking the truth all along. Nuclear bombs drop all around the world, turning everything into a nuclear wasteland. These endings are considered canon by Far Cry New Dawn’s standards.

From the onset, it is clear that the world has moved on from the highly religious and cultist extravaganza that influenced the events of Far Cry 5. Instead, it is now a beautiful wasteland replete with lush fauna and flora. How the world became more green and beautiful in just seventeen years is another story altogether. One that is linked to the copious amounts of Bliss that grew in Hope County. Regardless, it is beautiful and the new villains really do fit it perfectly. With that said, it must be noted that the Father still exists and that both he and his massive group of cultists have taken over the starting island of Far Cry 5. They have shut themselves out from the world, only to come out at night to harass the Highwaymen. New Dawn’s brand new antagonists.

Thanks to world building, which is leagues better than that of Fallout 76, players are subject to interesting tidbits of information during their play-through of the game. As you play, you will learn of the state of the world both before the events of Far Cry 5, and after. One of the main revelations is that the world around Hope County was already in active conflict. Thus a nuclear war was inevitable, regardless of Joseph’s seeds cultist beliefs! After the bombs dropped, however, no one could prepare for what followed: nuclear winter; super bloom unlike any other; and the founding of the Highwaymen by Twin Sisters Mickey and Lou. According to the game’s lore, the Highwaymen started conquering America one state at a time. They were, however, apposed by a rival group led by Thomas Rush – who pushed back from the other side of America in a bid to restore the broken world.

By the time that Far Cry New Dawn takes place, Thomas Rush and you – his right-hand man or woman – are near Hope County. Unfortunately, their train is intercepted by the Highwaymen. It is in these opening moments that you learn of and about the seemingly maniacal sisters, Mickey and Lou. It is also revealed how the super bloom that followed the relatively brief nuclear winter has turned Hope County into a bright and colourful version of its former self. Thereafter you meet up with Carmina Rye, who sets you on your extended journey to take Hope County back form the Highwaymen.

Despite an intriguing narrative, Far Cry New Dawn will always remind you of Far Cry 5. A symptom made worse by the new game’s reliance on plot points from the previous title. It is not a sequel, per se, but it acts like one in pretty much every sense of the word. Its closest comparison, of course, lies with Far Cry Blood Dragon – a wonderful Far Cry 3 spin-off project that started out as an April fools joke. However, that game exists in its own world, with its own wacky backstory and trippy universe rules. In contrast, Far Cry New Dawn features none of that. Instead, it is a sequel, marketed as a spin-off, that is meant to be a standalone experience.

As a result, Far Cry New Dawn follows a similar structure to Far Cry 5. Hope County is in a destitute state, slowly falling apart as a ruling entity is trying to take it over and suck it dry. Similar to previous Far Cry titles, the Highwaymen prove to be nothing more than just another opposing force. However its leaders, the Twin Sisters Mickey and Lou, are quite intriguing. While they still follow the same “crazy bad guy” trope that Far Cry has made its own, they prove to be quite the formidable duo to be reckoned with.

Another asset that helps enrich the narrative is how everyone has a story to tell. From the humble beginnings at Prosperity, the base of operations for the player and their friends, through to the very end of the game. No matter where you go or which specialist you pick up, you will be met with random quips on the world around you. Specialists will even go so far as to tell each other stories about the time before the bombs. There are also notes scattered around the playable areas that expand upon the lore. It is something I truly appreciated because this is meant to be a sequel; and players want to know what happened.

While Far Cry New Dawn delivers a new and compelling narrative that ties the two games together, it still follows Far Cry 5’s example of structuring. In order to progress, you need to upgrade Prosperity. This is not unlike the strange Resistance level of Far Cry 5, but it does appear to work better in the new title. During the game, you must upgrade Prosperity by finding a set number of specialists and by doing a few upgrades. You must do this in order to progress through the title. While the most significant example of this gating element comes at the very start, I must note how the game constantly pressured me to go back to upgrade Prosperity more in order to progress forward.

Once you upgrade Prosperity enough times throughout the story, the game pushes you toward New Eden. New Eden is an island fortress where surviving Father Seed transformed his Project at Eden’s Gate into a fully functional and well-organised region of Hope County. It is here that you enter a pivotal part of the game as it opens up and even more challenging forces come into play. Better still, you must look upon the former Peggie and make a choice between two evils. This is a Far Cry game, after all.

The only currency left in this world is power [Gameplay]

In terms of gameplay, Far Cry New Dawn comes with a lot of bells and whistles out of the box. Especially when compared to Far Cry 5. A key change comes in the form of the new role-playing game (RPG) mechanics that Ubisoft injected into the game. The company dubs it RPG Lite – mechanics that reward players with resources and experience, which they can use to redeem perks or craft better gear. This particular change also means that enemies in Far Cry New Dawn always feel challenging, as their difficulty scales with character progression.

Character progression in Far Cry New Dawn is exactly like it was in Far Cry 5. The difference now, however, is that it feels like it is on steroids. It features the same perk system as before, including a menu layout that looks eerily similar. However, players can go into detail on the menu in order to identify how the new RPG Lite mechanics come into play. These include crafting systems, resource management, and challenge-locked perk points. Perk points are admittedly easy to obtain. I played the game on the normal difficulty, and it never proved extraordinarily challenging to unlock new abilities and perks.

Similarly, crafting also returns in Far Cry New Dawn. This time around it appears to have received a major overhaul. Even so, it is not as robust as something you would find in games like Monster Hunter: World or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. However, it is still enough to keep players out and about in order to scavenge for the right materials.

To craft new vehicles or weapons, players are required to find the correct resources. These include tape, tools, scrap, springs, and plain old ethanol – the game’s greatest and most important resource. Thankfully, resources are simple. Many of the things that need to be crafted (like vehicles and weapons) require a small amount of the different aforementioned resources. Honestly, the crafting system is a terrific addition to the game. It removes an issue that Far Cry 5 had whereby most resources ended up becoming too abundant. In Far Cry 5 there was simply not enough nuance in the crafting for it to remain interesting. That is not the case at all in Far Cry New Dawn

It must be noted that character progression is tied directly to crafting. To gain better levels of gear, players need to upgrade Prosperity and the respective part of it that unlocks higher level upgrades. The way it is structured means that character progression relies directly on how well upgraded the base is. For example, unlocking the garage will net you tier one vehicles that can be crafted. Gaining more specialists and upgrading it again with more ethanol, will allow you to craft tier two and eventually tier three vehicles. The same premise goes for any other craft-able object in the game.

Far Cry New Dawn also features outposts. Only this time, they are also categorised into tiers. Most of them start out in the first tier, which means that they are occupied by few Highwaymen that are easy to dispose of. Once that is done, the outpost is liberated and the player now controls it and its ethanol stock. After this is accomplished, you are given the option to either scrap the outpost, salvage it for all the resources it has to offer and leave it abandoned; or alternatively to keep it running and outfitted with friendlies. While keeping the outpost has obvious benefits (like fast travel points), the reasons to abandon it and take its resources are twofold: one, you get extra resources and ethanol; and two: Highwaymen move back in and upgrade the outpost to a new tier. Once this stronger outpost is liberated, players can get even more resources as rewards.

Upgrading gear and having a decent strategy on when to abandon outposts or hold on to them are the keys to surviving in Hope County. Regardless of how well you think you are doing, there always seems to be stronger Highwaymen around the corner, ready to mess up your day. Taking on Highwaymen who have higher levels than you will prove extremely challenging, even with a strong weapon. So it is best to bide your time, gather some resources and level up before taking them head-on. Something I learned early on during my time in Far Cry New Dawn.

I also appreciate the fact that Ubisoft tried to reduce the grind that was the side missions in Far Cry 5. Every specialist you want to recruit has a unique mission, with their own dialogue. While these missions were also in Far Cry 5, there seems to be double the amount in New Dawn. In my time with the game, I had straightforward missions where I needed to break certain companions free, while others involved high stakes convoy attacks, defends, and even County-spanning races.

The biggest issue I have with Far Cry New Dawn is the fact that no matter where you go, or what you do, you are constantly reminded of the Hope County that was featured in Far Cry 5. The game may be a sequel, but it is one that is hesitant to let go of its predecessor. There is even a mission that you pick up right at the beginning of the game, that tasks you with finding iconic spots and comparing them with old photos of Hope County. In a way, the game never lets go of its roots, and it is this odd nostalgia that truly prevents the game from shining on its own.

You must be truly terrified [Performance & Visuals]

As a fan of how splendid the world of Far Cry 5 looked, I must confess that I had a really hard time getting used to Far Cry New Dawn. In my hands-on preview, I mention that I was constantly reminded of my time with Far Cry 5, and how this game just made me miss it more. That remains true in the full release of the game. Perhaps more so than before.

From the onset, it is explicitly obvious that the world is different from the game that came before. Gone are the days where you would drive down the main road, enjoying the view of farmlands and pine forests, and be met with beautiful sounds of a cult choir on the radio. In its stead, Far Cry New Dawn features lush foliage that has taken over crumbling buildings, Highwaymen who are always ready for a shootout, and has a much more modern take on its soundtrack; which includes ambient punk, electronic, and hip hop tracks. While I thoroughly enjoyed this, I have to admit that I missed the Far Cry 5 soundtrack dearly.

The world has clearly moved on from what it was like in Far Cry 5. Thanks to notes, character conversations and tapes that can be found throughout the world of Far Cry New Dawn, you learn of super bloom and how it practically changed the entirety of Hope County into rainforests and lush wastelands. It is unusually beautiful. Similarly, the Highwaymen also look incredible. Their bright armours contrast beautifully with the green environments and their violent nature. I also particularly love how the Twin Sisters are stark contrasts of the Seed family members in both aesthetic, and personality.

It is just such an overwhelming shame that I kept being reminded of Far Cry 5. A literal example of this are the loading screens. Although the main menu is extremely different compared to Far Cry 5, the moment you load into the game, you are met with loading screens that not only look similar, they also sometimes feature the same locations! Not only that, but I booted up Far Cry 5, and the loading times feel eerily similar. At least it felt like the Xbox One handled the game with aplomb. Again, I have to wonder if this game should have simply been an expansion versus a full release?

It all went horribly wrong [Conclusion]

As much as I enjoyed Far Cry New Dawn, and I really did, I remain somewhat divided about it. One side of me wants to say this is the perfect sequel. It is, after all, an actual sequel – one of the first sequels to grace this franchise. Another part of me, however, wants to say you would be better off getting Far Cry 5, which boasts a truly intriguing story with pretty much exactly the same gameplay. Perhaps the answer is to play both, in the way that Ubisoft have planned it.

I really like Far Cry New Dawn. It is a very good sequel. The story, once you get past the progression locks, takes you to an all-new Hope County that is replete with lush green forests and beautiful areas. It also boasts a good pair of villains whom you must go up against; but they are sidelined by being forced to work with the main antagonist of Far Cry 5: Father Joseph Seed. Therein lies the main issue with this release: Far Cry New Dawn intentionally lets you work together with a character that was so iconic, that Ubisoft was seemingly too afraid to part ways with him. I absolutely get it. The last iconic villain was killed off in the second act of Far Cry 3. Why would they make that profound mistake again?

With that said, I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Far Cry New Dawn. I may have my reservations about its reliance on past plot, but it still serves up a compelling narrative that keeps you going well and beyond the RPG-Lite and upgrades system. Like Far Cry Blood Dragon before it, Far Cry New Dawn is a great spin-off that might, one day, stand out as one of the best in the franchise.


Time played 25+ hours
Difficulty Normal
Platform Xbox One
Acquisition Review code courtesy of Ubisoft

About Edward Swardt

From Superman to Ironman; Bill Rizer to Sam Fisher and everything in-between, Edward loves it all. He is a Bachelor of Arts student and English Major specialising in Language and Literature. He is an avid writer and casual social networker with a flare for all things tech related.

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Score
80 %
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