Far Cry New Dawn Review
After the explosive ending to Far Cry 5, we didn’t expect to see the franchise grace our screens again for some time, let alone take us back to Hope County. Far Cry New Dawn is a fresh step for the series, taking a chance on the post-apocalyptic side with their unique take of the “superbloom” after so many years without human interference. Players take on the role of a nameless protagonist, this time the captain of security for a traveling caravan of specialists who have been helping folks on the coast rebuild their lives. Referred to as “Cap,” the game begins as Kim and Nick Rye’s teenage daughter, Carmina, has come to ask for help and bring you to Hope County, only for the Highwaymen to devastate the train and set the game in motion.
Ubisoft made promises of RPG elements new to the series, and while there are a number of options to customize your HUD such as enemy health bars, directional damage indicators, damage counters and more, you’d be hard pressed to find much else in the way of new RPG features. Captions are a distraction more than a help, with the default text size being massive and the words displaying in slow, broken sentences. Eagle-eyed fans who enjoyed eliminating the Peggies will recognize the landmarks from Far Cry 5, and the game even offers a feasible reason for why the map is somewhat smaller than before, however, the smaller price tag is reflective of reduced size and content, especially the lacking customization options for your arsenal.
Far Cry New Dawn is a game built around purpose and necessity. To get better gear, stronger allies, and advance the story, you’ll need to collect ethanol. Prosperity has nine facilities to upgrade with ethanol, and so if you want better weapons you need to fork over the resource. Do you enjoy scopes or silencers? The option to craft these and add them to your weapon sadly isn’t here. Weapons are locked with certain add-ons and will need to be crafted as a whole piece with no customization options available. Guns may look as if they have been scrapped together with parts, but this is entirely cosmetic and, having playing Far Cry 5 extensively, these weapons are nearly identical to the previous game. You’ll also recall that wicked looking saw launcher from the trailer; this chaotic weapon is the only one of its kind I have encountered in the game, crushing my hopes of over-the-top Mad Max style weapons. In fact, if you’ve played a Far Cry game before you know exactly what to expect out of combat.
Scavenging is a way of life in the wasteland. On your journey, you will find copper wire, gun powder, and all manner of other scraps needed to craft guns, vehicles, ammo, and more. Medkits will need a combination of plants found in the wild, and downed allies will need special medicine before they can be hired again. This is where Timber, the scout, comes in. Timber is an Akita and functions much like Boomer did; highlighting targets, attacking enemies, bringing your gear, and even illuminating collectible goods. While this last part wasn’t as important in Far Cry 5 it is incredibly useful for New Dawn. Money doesn’t exist anymore so you will need to pick up every single bit of scrap that isn’t bolted down. Timber quickly became my most used ally as things like rolls of duct tape or titanium rods can easily be overlooked.
Carmina, Nick and Kim’s daughter, is the first ally you’ll encounter and despite her *ahem* enthusiasm for combat she is so hyper-aggressive that she was constantly in trouble and dying from a lack of common sense. Nana, on the other hand, is probably one of my favorite additions to the roster. A sassy sniper, Nana is pretty good about keeping her distance and popping enemies heads off, but she isn’t quite as good as Grace was. Speaking of Grace, New Dawn presents itself as a stand-alone sequel, yet leans terribly heavily on nostalgia from the previous game. Grace Armstrong, Nick Rye, Pastor Jerome, even Hurk all apparently survived the apocalypse and while it’s good to see them again, the narrative rides them a little too hard.
Some New Things
New Dawn does have a few new features that make this a more interesting outing. Expeditions are stealth-based events at distant locations where you are tasked with snagging a backpack with a GPS tracker and fleeing for your life. If you are spotted, an endless stream of enemies will come crashing down on you until you grab the bag and get to the rendezvous point. Enemy AI feels much improved, with difficulty and weapons playing into their tactics and abilities. Enemy scavengers are particularly fun to hunt as they have a high health pool, high defense, smoke bombs, and will offer big rewards if you manage to stop one. It is also exhilarating to hunt down and take on Monstrous creatures: these are elite-class animals that have been mutated to be stronger, faster, and much more aggressive.
Hunting – like scavenging – has become a way of life and is absolutely necessary to get by. While you could hunt in the previous games, New Dawn makes it feel essential. Speaking of essential, Far Cry yet again offers a number of perks to upgrade your character and develop into the ultimate post-apocalyptic badass, however, there are less perks to unlock than before with some of them being enhanceable multiple times, but you won’t know which ones until you unlock. You’ll also discover that perk points seem to be handed out all the time: killing X amount of enemies, completing a mission, finding a perk magazine, even rescuing a hostage will net you another perk point.
The game invests heavily in the concept of the post-apocalypse, reinforced with the limited selection of vehicles which somehow all handle the same from a sedan up to a semi truck, the downright brutal and sadistic stealth kills, and the heavy reliance on salvage and scrap to survive. While finding these materials will be your new income, each Treasure Hunt (like bunkers from Far Cry 5) will carry Far Cry credits, which seems to be a premium currency to buy ammo and supplies. Given the abundance of materials to scrap, I honestly couldn’t see a reason to include this option in the game; salvage is easy to come by if you work for it. I particularly enjoy sniping the drivers of ethanol trucks and stealing the fuel for myself.
I couldn’t help but feel the initial soundtrack of the game didn’t capture the essence of the experience like its predecessor did. New Dawn wants you to feel that punk-apocalypse vibe which the Highwaymen thrive off of, only offering golden classics on the radio once you start progressing through the game, but even the high-intensity combat music feels off. Ubisoft wants the music to help set the tone, but the tone does not reflect the music. The music I unlocked was more in tune with the vibes New Dawn gives off, but it doesn’t feel like enough especially considering the exemplary audio from Far Cry 5. I do concede it was a nice addition to include a “streamer mode” in the options menu which turns off any copyrighted music from playing while streaming the game. It’s a little feature, but a smart one.
Far Cry New Dawn sets out to continue the story where Far Cry 5 left off in a fresh new take on what the apocalypse means. The detail in every aesthetic is absolutely gorgeous, and the sense of isolation when out on the road feels eerie but real. The system for upgrading Prosperity means you always have something important to do and the game does a good job of putting you in the shoes of someone trained to survive, however the lack of creative new weapons, apocalyptic customization, and what feels like less content than its predecessor really hold New Dawn’s potential back. If Far Cry 5 didn’t exist, New Dawn could easily have been a new narrative on its own, but because we have something close to compare it to the only saving grace for its fewer features is it’s reduced launch price. If you had a good time in Far Cry 5 and enjoy lite survival mechanics, you’ll have a blast tearing through Hope County, but as a stand-alone Far Cry entry it doesn’t quite hit its mark.
**PS4 code provided by the publisher**
- Gorgeous Aesthetic Detail
- Fun, Familiar Combat
- Enthralling Story
- Scavenging To Survive
- Few New Features
- Less Customization/Crafting
- Shoe-horned Nostalgia