Far Cry New Dawn takes what should be a slam dunk and instead scores a soft layup. Set 17-years after the insane ending of Far Cry 5, Far Cry New Dawn drops players into an irradiated Hope County beset by a whole new set of problems.
Sadly, not the new setting, characters, mechanics or weapons can save Far Cry New Dawn from being a mediocre DLC re-packaged as a full title. That’s not to say that it’s not worth playing Far Cry New Dawn. It is, but not for the RRP and certainly not when it’s being billed as a standalone game in its own right.
I did enjoy a lot of Far Cry New Dawn, but having played Far Cry 5 less than 12-months ago meant that this follow-up comes too soon and with too few additions and changes.
Far Cry New Dawn Review
The ending to Far Cry 5 was ripe for a follow-up. The unexplained detonation of a nuclear weapon, being trapped in the bunker with Joseph Seed and the nature of his foresight could all have been mined for narrative context. Instead, Ubisoft doesn’t touch any of it.
You won’t find out how and why the bomb went off. You won’t find out much about Joseph Seed and the Deputy’s time in the bunker and you certainly won’t learn anything new about how Seed knew what was coming.
Instead, Far Cry New Dawn side-steps all of this and simply hits the reset button. Hope County is now under the control of The Highwaymen, lead by the Twins. This group is basically indistinguishable from the Peggies of Far Cry 5.
Now, instead of cultists, you’re fighting Mad Max extras with the same old weapons. Actually, I tell a lie. You do get access to the sawblade launcher, which is objectively awesome, but not cool enough to carry the whole game. There are plenty of other new and improved mechanics included in Far Cry New Dawn, it’s just a shame that none of them elevates it beyond being repackaged DLC.
First of all, the new escalating Outposts system is a master-stroke. Being able to scavenge an Outpost for additional materials and having it return to enemy control is brilliant. As is the fact that when you do this, the difficulty scales upwards. It makes taking back the Outposts both worthwhile in terms of game mechanics and gameplay value.
Taking on a one-star Outpost is ridiculously easy. Even kicking The Highwaymen out of a two-star Outpost isn’t hard, but when you get to three stars…hold onto your butts. There are tonnes of additional baddies and they’re all leveled up to the point that anything but the best weapons do nothing.
Also included in these higher tier Outposts are Enforcers. These buffed out Highwaymen are the strongest in the game. Not only do they take a lot of punishment before dying, but they can also kill you just by looking in your direction. Not literally, but it certainly feels like it when you’re starting out.
Escalating Outposts tie in with the new RPG-lite approach you’ll find in Far Cry New Dawn. Your home base, Prosperity, can be upgraded as you progress the story and collect the requisite Ethanol. Inside you’ll find a number of workbenches and other useful shopfronts.
Each of these is tied to the current level of Prosperity and its upgrade level. This is in turn, tied to your progress in the story. Essentially, you can’t access the best weapons in the game until you’ve played most of Far Cry New Dawn and even then you’re still locked out until you can collect enough crafting materials.
Oh So Crafty
Crafting makes a return to Far Cry New Dawn, but it boils down to collecting everything you see and hoping you have enough for the next major upgrade. Other things available in Prosperity include vehicles, explosive crafting, a health garden, maps and Expeditions.
Expeditions are a completely new experience in Far Cry New Dawn which see a French-Canadian helicopter pilot drop you into a brand new area. You’ll need to carefully recover a backpack full of supplies and escape with it before The Highwaymen catch you.
These levels are great and full of tension. However, there are simply too few of them. Being able to escalate them is a nice touch, but as they don’t push the narrative forward, they lose their replayability. Then, you’re back to the main game, pushing the story forward or scavenging for supplies.
When it comes to the narrative, the villains, The Twins, are a huge step backward. The fact that they’re women notwithstanding, Far Cry 5 gave us Joseph Seed, a whole new kind of villain. The Twins? They’re simply the same type of madness Far Cry has wheeled out time and time again.
And so are there Highwaymen. The Project at Eden’s Gate had a cause and a purpose. They stood for something and had a plan, The Highwaymen just want to kill for fun. Yawn.
That brings me to a broader issue with Far Cry New Dawn, the story is rubbish. Like I mentioned earlier, there’s no follow on from Far Cry 5 and even though Joseph Seed plays a significant role in Far Cry New Dawn, he’s mostly used for exposition. He doesn’t command the same presence as he did before. He’s been reduced to simply moving the story forward.
It’s a sad end for such an interesting character.
Not Bad. Not Good
Far Cry New Dawn does introduce some great new mechanics, but nothing that vastly changes the experience. It gives players a smaller map, less to do and a far less interesting story and asks them to pay nearly full price for the privilege.
Mechanically, Far Cry New Dawn is faultless. The gunplay, scripted and emergent gameplay, open-world and visuals are top-notch, but there’s just no real reason to play the game. It’s a real shame because Far Cry New Dawn is bursting with potential but it feels like it was played safe.
For the full asking price, I certainly can’t recommend Far Cry New Dawn, especially not with its weak narrative and uninspired take on the post-apocalypse. You’re best off waiting for a discount on this one and even then, only if you’re a huge Far Cry fan.
Far Cry New Dawn was reviewed on PS4 using a digital code provided by Ubisoft.
Game Title: Far Cry New Dawn