The Far Cry series has become known as a hilariously entertaining carnage-strewn sandbox where you get to run, gun, drive and fly in some of the most scenic locales on the planet. Previous installments of Far Cry had you wreaking havoc on tropical islands, a wartorn unnamed African state, a scenic country somewhat akin to Tibet and, recently, rural America. Not once has the franchise revisited a locale or theme. Until now. Far Cry New Dawn is the exception to the rule as it revisits Hope County, Montana where its predecessor Far Cry 5 took place except you explore it 17 years after a nuclear apocalypse.
All right, sight right down there before you start drawing your own conclusions of what the game looks like. The Fallout and STALKER series have cemented an image of the apocalypse as a dreary, dust-strewn, radiation pocked wasteland filled with murderous mutants aplenty. Far Cry New Dawn is the complete opposite though it still retains plenty of murderous mutants.
The game conjectures that Hope County, in the absence of humanity for over a decade and a half has become a verdant, fecund pastoral paradise albeit on that seems to be overrun with ridiculous amounts of Bougainvillea that have covered over the ruins of the old world and most of the land so that almost everything around the landscape is an almost garish shade of fuchsia. And that’s where you come into the picture in this brave new world.
Far Cry New Dawn or you why you can’t have nice things
Far Cry New Dawn is the first time the entire series revisits an existing locale covered in a previous game and shows the canon ending of how Far Cry 5 should have ended as it had two alternate endings. Rather than backing down, Far Cry New Dawn exposits that the Deputy – the hero of the previous game – and his posse took on the crazed cult leader Joseph Seed in one final battle before the apocalypse strikes with the remaining residents of Hope County fleeing to bomb shelters underground as the land settled into a nuclear winter.
Set 17 years after the bombs fell, you play as a guard for a humanitarian relief convoy out to save the residents of Hope County from an armed biker gang called the Highwaymen led by a pair of homicidal dreadlock bedecked twins who seem to have read the How to be a Villain for Dummies handbook ad verbatim and who immediately start antagonising everyone including you through a rigorous programme of mass mayhem and arson.
The moment you set foot into foot into Hope County, you’re ambushed and most of your convoy slaughtered except for a few colleagues. You manage to escape and you naturally want payback. In the Far Cry universe, that means a guerilla war where you raise merry hell on the Highwaymen’s assets and personnel, growing in skill and lethality until you are in a position to take them out mano a mano.
Looting and Crafting for Fun and Profit
The basic mechanics seen in Far Cry 5 are here with a few subtle refinements and the addition of more significant crafting mechanics as well as an RPG Lite element. You’re essentially let loose in what is left of Hope County after a nuclear apocalypse and are given free rein on what to do next in your war on the biker gang and their leaders.
There’s plenty of random NPCs dotted about the map that point you out to loot caches and enemy bases to take out. To grow in strength, influence and firepower, you’ll have to engage and commandeer enemy Highwaymen facilities dotted across the map while completing storyline missions.
Each captured Highwayman base nets you valuable fuel and other components that you can use to upgrade your home base which in turn helps to upgrade yourself and your companions to have more abilities, to take more punches and generally dish out a whole lot more pain on the enemy. One new mechanic is you can optionally cede a base back to the enemy so you can capture it back again for even more resources though the Highwaymen will add tougher guards to it, which makes it commensurately riskier.
As you wander around the map you’ll also discover points of interest as well as randomly generated fauna, friendly and hostile NPCS that interact in bizarre yet hilarious ways which is par for the course for a Far Cry game.While the biker gangs are a known element – they’re mostly gun-toting humans after all – it’s the wildlife in the game that poses a more serious and unpredictable threat seeing as the radiation has changed a lot of them into significantly more ornery and larger examples than what you’d usually expect to see.
Some are benign like white-coloured deer dotted about the landscape. Others like gigantic mutant bison and bears will attempt to eat you the first chance they get. Fortunately, they will also engage other NPCs if they encounter them which leads to the aforementioned hilarity as the Highwaymen can inadvertently end up fighting the local wildlife with very mixed results though you can take advantage of the chaos to thin their numbers.
Seeing as this is a post-apocalyptic game, there’s no such thing as a gun store where you can stock up on gear. You instead have to craft everything for yourself by collecting random gewgaws and widgets which, in sufficient number and with the provision of a crafting table create all manner of weapons from handguns to rocket launchers in a Macgyver-style fashion. The rarer or more powerful the weapon, the more widgets you need and the rarer they are to find which makes power levelling or getting the best guns in the game a bit of a challenge as these items are either heavily guarded or rare, which makes getting them all together to craft a high-grade weapon a quest in itself.
On top of the usual analogues for handguns, submachine guns, semi-auto and full auto rifles, sniper rifles, light machine guns and light anti tank weaponry, the game even has a few Mad Max-esque additions like a saw blade launcher and sling that prove surprisingly effective.
All of the weapons you make and encounter in the game are far from pristine; most of them are in banged up shape with improvised modifications such as kitchen knives for bayonets but that does not impede their effectiveness in any way though each differs in how much damage they can kick out.
On top of weapons, you can also build and acquire a ramshackle array of vehicles which range from dinky bikes to battered up Toyota Hilux analogues all the way to massive long haulers. Unlike Far Cry 5 where almost anything and everything has a machine gun mounted on it, most of the vehicles in Far Cry New Dawn are there just to get you from point A to point B. Only the best vehicles in the game get a mounted gun and before you get any ideas, there’s really only a few choppers in the game that you have to pay through your nose to earn either via in-game crafting or real-world cash so you can’t zip around like you used to. It is a post apocalyptic game after all.
Far Cry New Dawn – Enjoying the Scenery
If you have played Far Cry 5, you’ll find Far Cry New Dawn’s landscape vaguely familiar with parts of the map like the old church in town and old farms lying in ruins across the land. It’s distinct enough that it doesn’t feel like a rehash and the unique aesthetics of the game and the fact that the Highwaymen have a predilection for graffiti give the game a unique look and feel.
Naturally you aren’t wandering the wasteland on your own and you can round up a posse of buddies much like Far Cry 5 to accompany you. Several of them are familiar faces from the last game and enough time has passed that one of them is the daughter of one of your previous buddies in Far Cry 5. You’ll also get to acquire two very helpful animal companions including a gigantic warthog that can tip over trucks and squish enemy combatants into goo as well as a cute dog who can engage enemies and dig up loot for you. The rest consists of new faces including a geriatric with a sniper rifle and a ex-Highwayman support gunner with a penchant for heavy weapons with a baby in tow.
You can’t bring the whole team along but you can bring up to two of them at a time when you’re going around on your rounds in the game and seeing them interact with each other outside of firefights adds some level of attachment to what are otherwise bland gun-toting minions. Fortunately, the AI is mostly competent with some guidance and they’re fairly good at engaging hostiles which is likely what you’ll need seeing the sheer amount of angry Highwaymen the game throws at you.
The gameplay cycle is tight and intense this time around with you taking missions, getting there on foot or by vehicle and then planning and executing an assault or getting ambushed by random enemy encounters. The storyline missions serve to break up the monotony with some heavily scripted encounters that range from partaking in an arena deathmatch to defensive missions where you have to lift a siege on your home base. All this nets you a good 16 hours or so of gameplay on normal mode and more if you play on higher difficulty levels.
Unfortunately, the antagonists in the game are uninspiring at best and unlike the insane genius of Vaas in Far Cry 3 or the snarky hilarity of Pagan Min, you’re left with the juvenile taunting of the Highwaymen Twins. You’re left with little fear or emotional investment save a growing sense of exasperation that they both need a good beating for acting like prats. Luckily they’re not the primary draw to the game. You’re here for the free form gameplay and in that, Far Cry New Dawn rewards in spades.
The game is best enjoyed in a relaxed fashion by simply exploring the land and seeing where the road takes you and some of the scenic vistas on offer are impressive enough to match what was seen in Far Cry 5 with the right hardware. The soundtrack is competent but it’s somewhat uninspiring unlike Dan Romer’s work in Far Cry 5 which was both epic, sweeping and yet approachable – it’s also still playing in the Hitech Century office playlist on a regular basis which speaks volumes as to its quality.
All said, Far Cry New Dawn doesn’t exactly surpass its predecessor in scope and vision but it’s certainly an entertaining jaunt indeed that’s well worth the journey and the price of entry.
What we Liked Interesting companions with several familiar faces, a dense post-apocalyptic landscape that rewards exploration, interesting random encounters, tight gunplay and combat mechanics
What we Didn’t Getting the best hardware in the game extremely difficult, unmemorable antagonists
We Say On its own merits, Far Cry 5 shows excellent gameplay with the scenic vistas to match though the unmemorable antagonists and soundtrack make it fall a few inches short of greatness. It’s still well worth a whirl though.
Far Cry New Dawn
Developer Ubisoft Montreal
Genre First Person shooter
Available for PC, Xbox One and PS4
PC version reviewed