Platforms: PS4, PC, Xbox One
Genre: FPS Outpost-Liberating Simulator
Remember Breaking Bad actor Michael Mando’s iconic turn as Vaas in Far Cry 3, when he uttered what is now one of the most legendary monologues and antagonist introductions in gaming history: “Did I tell ever tell you what the definition of insanity is? Insanity is doing the exact same… ****ing thing… over and over again expecting… shit to change.”
If that’s true, then Far Cry New Dawn is the very definition of insanity, and not in a good way. But first, here’s a primer on the game. It acts as a sort of direct sequel to 2018’s Far Cry 5, which is a first for Ubisoft’s first-person shooter franchise.
Taking place seventeen years after the nuclear explosion in Far Cry 5‘s infamous ending, it’s also notably the first time the franchise is exploring a post-apocalyptic setting.
Is This A Post-Apocalyptic Mod For Far Cry 5?
Unsurprisingly, Far Cry New Dawn did nothing to alleviate my suspicions that it would look like a reskinned Far Cry 5. Not only does it recycle the same map (Hope County, Montana), it feels mostly similar. The only visual differences this time around are a plethora of vibrant and colourful flowers littering the map, and places that you’ve visited in Far Cry 5 showing signs of derelict and abandonment.
If you’re expecting a decrepit post-apocalyptic wasteland like the ones in Bethesda’s Fallout games or 4A Games’ Metro series, look elsewhere. Far Cry New Dawn is only ‘post-apocalyptic’ in the sense that currency is now literally fuel in the form of ‘ethanol’, and the fact that weapons look to be constructed from duct tape and other junk.
Sure, it’s cool to discover a location in Far Cry New Dawn and realize that you’ve been here back when it was intact and unravaged by unchecked vegetation. That happens quite a lot.
However, the excitement wears off after a while, leaving behind only a feeling of déjà vu and the tinge of disappointment that comes with realizing that you’ve just spent $40 on what could probably be accomplished with a mod.
More RPG Mechanics Equals An Annoying Grind
In terms of gameplay, it borrows almost everything from Far Cry 5, albeit on a smaller scale but with more RPG mechanics. Far Cry New Dawn introduces a new micro-managing gameplay mechanic, where players must collect ethanol in order to upgrade the different facilities in their home base called Prosperity, each of which comes with their own benefits and advantages.
For instance, upgrading a certain facility will mean better weapons to craft while choosing to upgrade another will mean more health. The problem begins when upgrading the facilities the Prosperity is tied to story progression, forcing players to stop whatever it is they’re doing and farm for ethanol.
The only way to obtain ethanol in Far Cry New Dawn is to liberate enemy outposts, a mainstay gameplay mechanic present in every game in the franchise. Like in previous games, outposts are finite in number, while players will need truckloads of ethanol to upgrade the facilities in their home base.
The game fixes this limitation by allowing players to essentially un-liberate the outposts they already own by choosing the ‘scavenge’ option. By doing this, the outpost will once again be populated by enemies, and players will obtain another shot at liberating the outpost to obtain more ethanol.
Every time the player scavenges an outpost, it will also increase in rank and difficulty, which does change things up a bit.
This endless cycle of obtaining ethanol to upgrade the facilities in the player’s home base is basically the meat of the game, so much so that it becomes an exhausting grind near the endgame.
Repeatedly liberating the same outpost over and over again left me teetering on the brink of insanity, and I knew then that Vaas was right all along.
The enemies in Far Cry New Dawn don’t exactly make it easier too. Enemies and weapons come in four different ranks of varying difficulties. A Rank 1 weapon will do significant damage to a Rank 1 enemy but will be ineffective against those with higher ranks.
As a result, enemies are often bullet sponges, especially if you haven’t been upgrading the right facility to obtain higher-ranked weapons, which in turn requires ethanol and that in turn requires players to liberate outposts. Keep in mind that unlocking higher-ranked weapons only means that they are now available for crafting, which then requires a bunch of other resources to complete.
The vicious cycle never stops. Vaas was right.
Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
To be frank, Far Cry New Dawn isn’t all bad. The Far Cry formula is still fun in short bursts (when you’re not doing it a thousand times), and liberating outposts still allow for a wide variety of approaches, be it stealth or guns a-blazing.
The Guns For Hire (and Fangs For Hire) system makes a welcome return in Far Cry New Dawn, with several new choices and familiar ones as well. This was what I liked most about Far Cry 5, so I’m genuinely glad that it returns. For those who don’t know, these are class-based companions who follow the player around and provide support in combat.
Each of them has unique traits and advantages that will complement your playstyle. This includes Nana, an old grandma who is also an expert sniper, picking enemies from afar.
Personally, I liked using the animals, and this time around the game provides you with a dog and a wild boar (while Far Cry 5 had a dog, a cougar, and a bear).
Despite its inclusion, I was disappointed to learn that this feature has been scaled back somewhat in Far Cry New Dawn, as players are now only limited to one companion at a time. I also missed the companion who could provide air support and even deliver air strikes, who is sadly not present in this game.
Besides that, the new Expedition missions are a blast to play through, as they momentarily transport players from Hope County to exotic locales like Alcatraz, an amusement park, a crashed space station, and a huge ship. The objective for each mission is relatively simple, requiring the player to retrieve a package and make it back to the extraction point alive.
Besides providing a nice change of scenery, these Expedition missions also provide a break from the monotonous cycle of just liberating outposts, saving me and other players from succumbing to sheer insanity.
There’s A Story? I Didn’t Notice.
No one plays the Far Cry games for their story. Even if you do (and I’m judging you), the plot in Far Cry New Dawn is just plain barebones and offer nothing new. It’s basically the same template established by Far Cry 3. The game introduces a ‘menacing’ villain and the player keeps disrupting their plans until they personally intervene.
The most interesting thing about the game’s plot is the return of Joseph Seed, Far Cry 5‘s main antagonist. He plays a part in Far Cry New Dawn‘s story, and so do his cult, New Eden, and the protagonist from Far Cry 5. I won’t spoil anything, though I should warn you not to expect much. In fact, it’s safe to keep your expectations close to zero.
Far Cry New Dawn‘s main twin antagonists, Mickey and Lou, are just one-dimensional sadists who are evil for the sake of being evil. The only time Ubisoft even bothers to flesh them out is in a brief flashback scene near the end of the game, and that’s it.
To make matters worse, at least Far Cry 5‘s New Eden cultists had the religious extremism and white supremacy thing going for them. The enemies in Far Cry New Dawn are known as the Highwaymen and they’re indistinguishable from any other group of raiders from any other post-apocalyptic game or story.
Better Off Replaying Far Cry 5
Even if you’re a fan of the franchise looking for their next fix of Far Cry action, I’d suggest replaying Far Cry 5 or Far Cry 3, whichever suits your fancy. Far Cry New Dawn doesn’t go far enough with its post-apocalyptic setting and isn’t anywhere near as weird or exciting as you would expect. It’s not a bad game, but it’s just more of the same.
However, if you’re happy just revisiting Far Cry 5 in a slightly different skin and altered mechanics, then Far Cry New Dawn could be for you.
If you don’t mind going insane, that is. Listen to Vaas.
- Same old explosive Far Cry action
- Returning gameplay mechanics from Far Cry 5
- Fun recognizing locations you’ve visited in Far Cry 5
- Repeatedly doing the same thing (liberating outposts) to the brink of insanity
- Bullet sponge enemies
- Too grindy near the endgame
- Looks and feels like a re-skin of Far Cry 5
- An uninspired and bland story with boring antagonists
Final Score: 60/100
Far Cry New Dawn was reviewed on a PS4 Pro, via a review copy courtesy of Ubisoft.