Regardless of reusing the same map for a standalone title, Ubisoft Montreal still offers Far Cry: New Dawn plenty of diverse elements compared to its predecessor with a promising amount of fun in a short amount of time.
Developer – Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date – February 15, 2019
Platforms – PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
The Far Cry franchise isn’t foreign to the idea of a spin-off following their flagship titles as we’ve already seen with both Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and Far Cry Primal. What did come off as a surprise however, is when studio Ubisoft Montreal announced the next break-off game. The studio didn’t hold back the ending of the Far Cry 5 by revealing that the then-coming title will be set in post-apocalyptic Hope County, Montana.
Far Cry: New Dawn is a fresh breath back into the universe for one of 2018’s most sold titles as well as the game’s world and its second take with humanity after a short nuclear winter. 17 years after the conclusion of Far Cry 5, Hope County went through the cycle of darkness, rains, and arid winds to rebirth the world with greenery and blue skies. While reaching the end of the story’s campaign and completing the remaining achievements under 30 hours, New Dawn still is one fun yet short experience.
To rip this band-aid off now: the story for New Dawn is as you would expect from the franchise. You play as an unnamed and mute character that goes by the name “Captain”, where you along with Thomas Rush are inbound for Hope County on your cross country task to rebuild society following the ‘collapse’ of America. Reaching Hope County, your train gets attacked where you first meet the twin antagonists Mickey and Lou.
After the altercation, you escape with Carmina to Prosperity which is the only safe haven for those who don’t join the twins’ faction. Once reaching the settlement, you discover that Carmina is the daughter of Kim and Nick Rye from Far Cry 5. To finish the job you initially came to do, you must liberate Hope County from the Highwaymen by getting help from adventurous faces that are scattered around the map along including Nick who’s been captured.
After making enough noise, the antagonizing faction attempts to raid Prosperity and the camp barely fights off the Highwaymen. Left with no other direction to turn to if the twins return, you go looking towards New Eden for help to fight off the new world raiders. Despite the history the ‘Peggies’ held before the bombs dropped, Rush believes that teaming with them could truly bring an end to Mickey and Lou.
Despite the role of the antagonist being shared between two characters, they are not as impactful as Joseph Seed or Far Cry 3’s Vaas. Mostly to fill the void of “who runs the show”, they do their part to further the story, but only strive for destruction and power results with them playing a main role falls flat. On top of a lack luster ending, which won’t be spoiled in this review, story is the weakest layer of this game.
For the gameplay aspect of our return to Hope County, the most noticeable change is the new tiered enemies, similar to The Division. Where the hostile’s health bar is projected over their head and certain leveled weapons are necessary to have a fair firefight. Though core gameplay is still there, the concept of progressed enemies help create an extra challenge over the different classed enemies we’re more familiar with.
Outposts are back again and this time with a twist: once liberated, you can salvage the camp for more resources, but the Highwaymen can regain control of the base with higher tiered enemies. This makes recapturing the outpost much more difficult, and also gives a bigger payout when finally obtaining.
Outposts when seizing to control rewards the player with ethanol which you can use to upgrade Prosperity. From better leveled Guns for Hire to more health to crafting better weapons & vehicles, this gives players a reason to return to outposts multiple times to complete each section. One upgradable hub in Prosperity that also deepens fun gameplay is the Expeditions which take the player to different parts of the United States after the ‘Collapse’. Varying from an abandoned carnival in Louisiana to a space crash site in Nevada, this brings new locales to the Far Cry series and is a good excuse for horde mode as well.
Smaller tweaks to gameplay are noteworthy such as no longer fighting fire off your arm every time enemies throw it into the mix which became a big nuisance in Far Cry 5 and usually got you killed. And what many have been anticipating to be patched into the previous title: your dog companion can now ride with you in your vehicle which only adds onto the immersion when playing in the Montana wasteland.
Strafing away from the traditional way of leveling up by killing masses of enemies from stealth to open gameplay, players are rewarded from challenges in New Dawn which branch off between hunting, using certain weapons & their respected tiers, and exploring. Perks are nothing new either with most returning elements such as unlocking features like the fishing rod or the grappling hook to holstering more weapons.
There are some more survival-based perks that you will unlock about halfway through the game from story-related events that do bring game changing elements to the table. One being the ability to double jump. On top of others like being invisible for a short time and a berserk perk which restricts you to use your bare hands.
Crafting also plays a major role since this is the first time humanity retouch the surface of the Earth and having to rely on creating your own weapons, tools, and ammunition. Ranked enemies also applies for what you craft like firearms and vehicles, and even takedowns.
New Dawn’s iteration of the Montana setting is as breathtaking as the previous Far Cry title. Unlike most post-apocalyptic adaptations where many expect more grim and dull wastelands filled with ash and grey skies; Hope County is the complete opposite as it is decorated with green grasses, pink flowers, and colorful skies.
Returning to familiar landmarks in the game’s world adds immersion as you revisit the now rundown and bandit inhabited areas like Fall’s End and Rye and Sons Aviation. Highwaymen graffiti has to be one of my favorite parts of the game’s visuals seeing the detail in design and overall aesthetic to give off atmosphere of enemies nearby. With varying illustrations that overlap each other and the use vibrant magenta or cyan helps make these pop to the eye.
Player models with realistic looking skin that reacts correctly to light is one in particular that I anticipate with the game’s Dunia Engine. Cutscenes truly presents this when up close to characters and accuracy in ambience is also appreciated towards assisting this even more.
Despite Far Cry: New Dawn holding pretty close to last year’s Far Cry 5, it’s still a fun and enjoyable title that is worth grabbing. Even with a cheaper price tag of $40 dollars, there are enough changes that even out to what is being charged. Varying from great visuals, to a decent story and expansive gameplay system, players who enjoyed the series’ prior title will happy with this standalone title.