Review – Far Cry: New Dawn
Creeping through neon pink flowers, my canine companion marks out an upcoming outpost. Already, you can hear the rap duo Run The Jewels being blasted across the facility. After a few well-planned shots with a sniper made out of some piping and firing off a couple of sawblades into the chests of some spray-painted bikers, the outpost is all mine. Celebration rings out while the soothing sounds of The Turtles courses through the speakers. This is but a common scene in the post-apocalyptic sequel to Far Cry 5, Far Cry: New Dawn. It keeps in line with previous Far Cry installments in bringing us the same first-person, base liberating, gun-wielding action we know and love from the franchise, albeit with some slight modifications.
Although New Dawn is Ubisoft’s first direct sequel to a Far Cry game, it does follow their releases of games which are too large to be considered DLC. This includes such games as Blood Dragon and Primal, where they take the mechanics (and sometimes, the landscape) of the previous games and with some changes, release a new game in the gap between regular installments. Blood Dragon had an awesome 80’s sci-fi coat of paint and retro light-dragons, while Primal was just cavemen in Far Cry 4’s map. Far Cry: New Dawn brings in enough new ideas and creative design choices to keep you interested if you liked Far Cry 5 to begin with.
The story begins seventeen years after the finale of Far Cry 5 as you attempt to protect and build up your home-base while fending off attacks from a gang of psychopaths called the Highwaymen. As with most the games in the franchise, you play as a newcomer to a downtrodden people who task you with being their savior and set you out to liberate some outposts.
New Dawn tries to mix up the formula a little: after you liberate a base you are given the option to scavenge it for more ethanol, which you’ll need to upgrade your base. This also invites the Highwaymen back in at an increased level with a higher reward. Crafting has made a form of a comeback from its time in Far Cry: Primal. This time around, it has been streamlined to a handful of ingredients used for everything, from crafting weapons and ammo to upgrading your base, although for those special items, you may need to hunt a crazed animal or summon up some real courage and attempt some fishing.
The weapons list is interesting, to say the least. With each upgrade of your workbench, you can craft a new set of makeshift weapons, the highlight of which being the Saw Launcher, which lets you target onto multiple enemies and fire spinning death-blades to bounce around lopping off limbs. The usual FPS weapons are all here, but with a makeshift makeover so they look cobbled together from old scrap. There are a couple of special weapons that have dodged the MacGyver look, like the Unicorn Flamethrower that douses enemies in a colorful fire of death with a delightful twinkling sound.
One of the most entertaining new mechanics is tackling expedition missions, which are exciting ways to build up the resources you need to get those top-tier weapons. After recruiting a smart-mouthed pilot, he offers to fly you around to outposts in new locations, like abandoned theme parks and crashed space stations. You are tasked with sneaking in, retrieving a package, and fighting off the waves of enemies while waiting for your pilot to arrive. Like the bases, once you have completed a location, you can go back and play it again at a higher difficulty to stock up on even more circuit boards.
Despite the apparent apocalypse, much of the wildlife has also survived and the radiation has had some unusual effects on the animals. When roaming the wasteland, you will find higher leveled creatures that will take some heavy gear and most of your ammo if you dare to stand a chance. If the stress of the apocalypse is too much, however, you can take some time out and go fishing in the irradiated waters. Results may vary.
The soundtrack isn’t as impressive as the Far Cry 5’s gospel choirs singing twisted hymns, but it is still full of licensed songs ranging from big rap and electronic artists for the Highwaymen, to golden oldies and country covers for the survivors. Having the heavy, fast-paced music echoing through the base as you blast away enemies is thrilling and adds a great deal to make the world feel more inhabited.
Ubisoft has kept the companion mechanic from Far Cry 5, where you can choose an NPC that you meet in-game and ask them to tag along to provide support. Each character has their own set of skills and their own witty dialogue, some of which is probably the best writing in the game.
Ubisoft failed to take the criticism of the villains from the previous game. Their new antagonists, Mickey and Lou, the millennial Kray-twins of the Highwaymen, are forgettable at best. Though they have a high bar to surpass, we are still waiting for that unhinged villain that can match Far Cry 3’s Vaas in sheer menace. At the very least, without giving too much away, they did add a little bit more depth to one of the (apparently many) survivors of Far Cry 5.
The storyline is not a great selling point and could have been handled better, but it is good enough to provide an adequate narrative to keep the game moving and doesn’t take itself too seriously. For those that know and love the franchise, New Dawn should be a welcome addition as it attempts some new ideas while not sacrificing any of what you love in a Far Cry game.
Everything from the bright and lush flora to the radioactive aurora borealis in the sky is visually stunning. Sadly you are often left talking to a dead-eyed NPC with terrible facial animations.
The standard Far Cry shooter controls are as you’d expect, apart from the wingsuit which will only open at a certain height and usually not in time. Driving is strange and awkward, but that’s why they have autopilot.
Still boasting a varied and dynamic soundtrack of licensed songs that go amazingly with the action. The music produced for the game wasn’t memorable, but it did succeed in reflecting the attitudes of the different factions.
Ubisoft tried out some new things and some pay off. The story isn’t great but from the new expedition missions to retaking outposts, there are a lot of different ways to keep the fun going without the need for a multiplayer mode.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Far Cry: New Dawn is available now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Reviewed on PC