Over the past 2 years, Ubisoft has slowly been turning their games around. Case in point, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey which finally metamorphosed the franchise into a proper RPG. Something similar seems to be happening with Far Cry New Dawn as it takes inspiration from its Ubi cousins. Does it work for the open world action adventure, let’s find out.
Far Cry New Dawn
Graphics Performance & Sound
Yes, we normally start a review with Story. But everyone and their grandmother know most Far Cry games are not about their story. Its all about the villains and the locations when it comes to Far Cry, and while we will get to the “Villains” in a while, let’s talk about how the Post Apocalypse Nature Boom Hope County looks like.
The game is bonkers beautiful.
I mean the last time, I was ooh-aahing through a game visually was God Of War. The apocalypse suits New Hope. Especially on the PS4 pro, I had taken about 10 screenshots in the first half hour of the game; and that never happens, I mean never. The popping neon of green, pink and yellow mixed with the ruins of modern society just makes for visual set pieces of the highest quality.
After Far Cry New Dawn, I am officially going on record with Jay, that every game needs a Photo mode from now on. It’s like the Instagram version of the old school map editor.
Beauty Takes Time
On the other side of this very detailed imagery are the huge loading times. Especially the first time load, when you had closed the game, and are logging in anew. I literally prepared a toast in that time once. Once you are in the game though, I rarely saw any issues. The frame rate was decent, even when the action got a little hectic. There were no issues with textures (something I had noticed a lot in most Ubisoft games) either. Just don’t go into an expedition if you don’t intend to finish it or else its just a waste of time.
The background score and the radio songs are average but don’t stand out. Voice work though is a disappointment. Old patrons of the site will remember how I enjoyed the ambient banter of NPCs in Far Cry 5. This time around, however, not only are you limited to just 1 Gun For Hire at any time, but even the roaming NPCs just act like drones, simply repeating their lines from the beginning even when interrupted by hooligans.
Story & Narrative
So, normalcy returns to Hope County. Well sort of. Set 17 years after the conclusion of Far Cry 5, you play as the captain of security of one Thomas Rush. Rush is leading an expedition throughout the USA, rebuilding society and doing a damn good job of it, until he is called to help Prosperity, a community rebuilding on the ashes on Hope County. But before he can save the day, you run into the twins.
The Twins Mickey and Lou, are the primary antagonists and like each one before them, they make themselves known right at the start of the game. Unlike most Far Cry villains with one trait dialled up to 1000, the twins tend to temper each other’s nature.
One of the twins straight up wants to kill you, the other one doesn’t want you to become a martyr.
But if you asked me which one, I couldn’t tell. They are supposed to be crazy, how crazy well they killed their own father. But that’s all alluded to, and without that tense standoff with Joseph Seed or that uncomfortable dinner with Pagan Ming, Mickey and Lou are just twins, leader of the Highwaymen, who wants Thomas Rush for…reasons.
If you look beyond the twins though, the supporting cast is full of deeply layered characters. Take Kim and Carmina Rye for example. The mother-daughter duo struggles to keep Prosperity alive sometimes running into loggerheads with each other, including when it comes to New Eden lead by none other than Joseph Seed. For anyone who has played the last game, it’s easy to see why the mom distrusts him while Kylie thinks they are a viable option.
Which brings me to an important aspect of Far Cry New Dawn.
IS IT NECESSARY TO PLAY FAR CRY 5 BEFORE NEW DAWN?
Short Answer: Yes.
Long Answer: No, if you want to understand how the game plays. But to truly appreciate the history of Hope County and the dilemma that New Eden causes, one needs to have played the last one; which would give credence to Carmen Rye’s inhibitions to joining hands with Mr Seed.
For a franchise which made its name on independent entries, it attempt at a sequel has a surprising over-dependence on its predecessor when it comes to narrative.
Gameplay & Mechanics
Far Cry New Dawn depends on the same core mechanics of shooting, stealth and exploration that the entire franchise is based on. None of this is perfectly implemented though, and the cracks show up more at harder difficulties. Iron sight is tough, spotting enemies is difficult, wild animals are unstoppable beasts, diving is not accurate and grappling is finicky. But they seem to all hold together well enough for you to get through missions without rage quitting.
Rank Is Everything
This is mostly because you are not doing the same thing for very long. This variety in mission types is more tightly bound to progression than last time, which means that instead of playing the kind of things you are good at over and over again, this time you will find yourself doing something different from time to time so that you can make overall progress.
Story missions move further and further away on the map and have stronger enemies. To reach those locations, you need faster, stronger and higher ranked transport. To fight such enemies you need better-ranked weapons, which could only be crafted using titanium which is found in locked safes all over the map. To tackle these enemies you also need to upgrade your skills, for which you need perk points, which are available through completing challenges or by solving various treasure puzzles. You also need stronger ranked allies for which you need to recruit NPCs by helping them recover weapons/tools and/or mow down enemies. But to craft those stronger weapons, medkits, explosives and vehicles you need to upgrade your Home base, which can only be upgraded through Ethanol, and the biggest source of Ethanol, are the various bases/outposts which you can take over by killing all the enemies either by stealth or by force. Its all tied into each other and makes a large gameplay loop revolving around your rank.
Why do the ranks matter?
because enemies are now ranked too, and a level 1 rank weapon is doing no damage to a rank 3 enemy. Even the takedowns have gone the assassination way, and if you haven’t unlocked the rank 3 takedown skill, well too bad. All enemies now also carry a health bar on their head (humans, birds, fishes, animals no exception), so no more guessing how much bullets an enemy takes, and more of numbers flying out when you do shoot an enemy. Anyone else smelling Destiny, Borderlands, Anthem and Division?
That does clash a bit with how Far Cry is normally played. It’s not the free-flowing jump away, land anywhere starts shooting and cause havoc scenario any longer, and it makes you think before taking that zip line now. Don’t know how I felt about that one, but its there.
The primary experience of Far Cry New Dawn is geared for the single player. There is the story campaign, the challenges, the expeditions and the open world to explore to your heart’s content.
All of this content can also be tackled with a co-op partner, and while your partner does not need to have unlocked a mission if it has already been unlocked for you, the story progression does not carry over for your co-op partner. Fortunately, the character progression is not affected by this, so any perks/challenges completed during co-op sessions remains with the player.
Far Cry New Dawn is a direct sequel to Far Cry 5. And yet its more of a departure from the franchise than any other game before it. Transforming itself into a proper first-person shooter from the action-adventure romp that has been its signature. Perhaps, that’s a reason why the experience feels jarring but fresh just one year removed from its last iteration. Not everything in Far Cry New Dawn is perfect, in fact, nothing is. But it all just holds together and is fun enough to make you fire it up every day. The turn towards progression is a little jarring at first, but long-time RPG players are gonna settle into the loop quickly enough.