Far Cry New Dawn (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 12.03.2019

Review for Far Cry New Dawn on PC

As day follows night, Ubisoft are back with the next instalment in the Far Cry series. It's the typical development cycle the company operates on with most of its major franchises, with New Dawn released approximately a year later. This new spin-off follows on narratively from the events in Far Cry 5, of course set in fictional Hope County, Montana. Spoiler Alert! Obviously the ending of the latter featured a nuclear holocaust after the doomsday cult led by Joseph Seed had been crushed. New Dawn kicks off 17 years into the future as the remnants of humanity are emerging and rebuilding - when, lo and behold, a new threat has emerged in the shape of psychopathic twins Mickey and Lou. Time to gear up for another all-action adventure to take down this new threat.

Far Cry has such a distinct template at this point that it is so hard to actually know where to take a view on the series now. On the one hand, the problem with having an almost formulaic approach to making games is that it dilutes the sense of variety in each sequel. On the other hand, though, it's a well-known approach that doesn't take learning a whole new set of mechanics and feels familiar to its many fans. It's ultimately a judgment from each individual buyer as to whether they feel Ubisoft alter its products enough to justify yet more outlay. What can be said is that New Dawn is at its core a fun experience for a smaller price point than a mainline Far Cry instalment reflecting its status as a spin-off.

As mentioned, the events of the story follow on from the previous adventure after the fall of the Seed family, and the collapse of society through nuclear destruction. In many ways, one of the starring aspects of the previous game was that the Seed family, and the cult they were growing, felt like a menacing group of individuals, which was also a complex one; tying into Joseph Seed's motivations around religious mysticism. New Dawn brings back many familiar faces, with a few of them making up the concluding chapters to this fun-contained tale (without spoiling anything); but the main antagonists - namely twins Mickey and Lou - feel inadequate when judged in comparison.

Screenshot for Far Cry New Dawn on PC

Their background and motivations are explored in a little more detail in the final hours of the adventure, but they never feel like the kind of characters that match up to the series more memorable villains. For the most part they seem to inhabit the role of narrators to a lot of chaos and destruction, without explaining what it is all for. Albeit they are excellently cast by Cara Ricketts and Leslie Miller who do their best to bring their personalities to life. Their bands of roving Highwaymen certainly act as classic "action movie" lackeys and during the latter stages, prove to be a tough opponent to take down when they start to group up together.

Unfortunately, like other classic movie henchmen, they can also be ridiculously dumb on occasions, displaying some hilariously blind and brain-dead AI at times, which leaves them scratching their heads and staring into space even as the player is sneaking up in front of their eyes. At the same time, they switch to powerful psychics at the merest sound of some shots. It's true to say the AI is inconsistent.
The main goal that the protagonist (a silent customizable character) seeks is to rebuild the one haven in Hope County, the fort of Prosperity and its inhabitants trying to make a life in this new world. To do this of course requires embarking on all the classic Far Cry tropes; capturing forts for ethanol to upgrade the various facilities in the base, along with recruiting several specialists who can accompany the player into battle, all the while looting everything in sight and culling several species of animals for their skins.

Screenshot for Far Cry New Dawn on PC

The above maybe reads in a slightly dismissive way to some fans - this is not the intention. Ubisoft deserves a massive amount of credit for just how polished it has nailed down this gameplay loop at this point. The action in here is as exciting as ever. There are not a massive number of bases to capture, but of the ones there are, all feel unique in layout and strategy needed to take them. Additionally, adding some replay value there is now an option to abandon the fort and allow the HIghwaymen to regroup and strengthen their defences before taking it again under harder circumstances.

There are also new missions called 'expeditions' which take place in bespoke areas outside Hope County. These are very fun; acting almost as a single-player version of capture the flag, the player must collect a package in a heavily armed base and escape. The problem is once collected the package is armed with a GPS that alerts all enemies to the player's presence. The result is a mad dash to escape on a chopper while emulating some '80s action flick. What Far Cry deserves huge credit for is allowing the freedom to do almost anything during action. Other titles will railroad animations and set-pieces with quick-time events, but Ubisoft leaves almost everything in the actual control of the user, and this is to be commended. Want to use a chopper on a kamikaze mission into a base with C4 strapped to it? This can be done. Sneaking through the base undetected? That's fine.

Screenshot for Far Cry New Dawn on PC

Indeed, when it comes to the few structured set-piece moments, these are arguably some of the best moments in the adventure. The story is around 15 hours long, but it does not outstay its welcome. The later hours are particularly fun with memorable missions including a breakout in a prison that can either be tackled stealthily or in "Rambo" fashion. Or there's a ridiculously fun destruction derby style mission that is straight out of Mad Max or another dystopian series. Speaking of dystopian worlds, obviously, the world is set in a nuclear wasteland. However, the unique twist here is that nature has largely recovered successfully and repopulated the land with diverse and flourishing flora and fauna. It's a twist on the usual colour palette of brown and grey that makes up so much of this kind of setting in gaming. It also helps New Dawn look ridiculously pretty, with vistas that span for miles bathed in glorious sunlight or rivers and forests teaming with life.

What all this doesn't do is help immerse in the feeling of devastation and chaos that would realistically be happening under such circumstances. Ultimately, look too close to the environment and locales and it feels too much like the world of Far Cry 5. Gunplay is as smooth and satisfying as it was in that as well, and the amount of content in terms of guns, vehicles, and explosives, certainly matches the predecessor. There are some new additions to the arsenal that are particularly fun, including the buzz saw weapon which is practically impossible to get bored with.

Screenshot for Far Cry New Dawn on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Far Cry New Dawn is a ridiculously well-polished and fun to play action game (AI issues aside), with an enjoyable if largely mundane story and villains. It's so hard to negatively criticise too much. It would be unfair to judge this individual game against the wider approach of Ubisoft that some could argue needs to evolve more going into the future. The freedom that this sandbox gives to just shoot things and have fun is clear to see, and on PC the world looks incredible, filled with vivid colours, rich explosions, lush grassland and shimmering blue rivers. The real question following this conclusion to the Hope County arc and all its DLC is where Ubisoft will go next with this franchise. Ultimately it is impossible to separate New Dawn from feeling like an expensive DLC for its predecessor.

Developer

Ubisoft Montreal

Publisher

Ubisoft

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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