When Ubisoft released a trailer for Far Cry New Dawn I, like many others, was surprised that there would be a new Far Cry game on the way less than 12 months after Far Cry 5 had launched.
But after watching the trailer, I came to the conclusion that New Dawn was a bit of a placeholder until a fully fledged Far Cry game got published by Ubisoft.
Having been given a review copy of the game, I decided to see if my assumptions were correct, or whether they had crafted a surprise gem, as was the case with Far Cry Primal.
For those unfamiliar with the premise for Far Cry New Dawn, he’s a quick (spoiler-free) primer. It’s set after the events of Far Cry 5, in the same fictional world of Hope County, Montana.
Nuclear bombs were set off, and it took several decades for mother nature to work her magic and bring some equilibrium again.
As such, this is a post-apocalyptic world, but not the Mad Max kind. Instead New Dawn’s aesthetic feels a bit more like the visuals from the confusing Netflix film Annihilation. Everything looks familiar on the surface, with thick, dense forests and bushes, but upon closer inspection has been tweaked ever so slightly.
In fact it looks as if things are far better now that mankind had to go underground to survive for a few decades.
The result is less of a barren wasteland, and more reinterpreted rural outback.
In terms of the look of the world, while not really being my cup of tea, the developers at Ubisoft Montreal, have done a great job when it comes to crafting a beautifully detailed environment to rummage around.
As with most Far Cry games, our protagonist (simply called Captain or Cap in this case) comes face-to-face with the main enemy fairly early on. In this case it’s the Twins – Lou and Mickey.
Despite Ubisoft trying to shake up the formula, these pair of villains don’t feel all that menacing, and fail to live up to the pantheon of antagonists that Far Cry titles have featured in the past.
To that end, their brand of wanton destruction makes little sense.
Also odd is the colour palette that Ubisoft has opted for in New Dawn, with neon pinks and blues dominating.
We understand that the developers wanted to try a different post-apocalyptic visual style, but all we could think about when seeing it was a hardcore version of Splatoon.
Okay I’ve been talking quite a bit about what I don’t like in the game, so let’s touch on what really works – the gunplay.
It’s one element that stood out in particular for Far Cry 5, and it’s continued in this game. Granted there aren’t as many high-powered weapons to use given the post-apocalyptic setting, but the weapon mechanics in New Dawn are sharp and refined.
I’m also a fan of the targeting system, which is particularly handy for newcomers given its pick-up-and-play-ability.
Speaking of the weapons, the big thing in New Dawn is salvaging scrap and resources in order to craft makeshift guns and ammunition.
During our time playing New Dawn, we quickly realised that there’s a lot of duct tape left behind after the nuclear bombs go off.
I need more
While the weapons gameplay is great, New Dawn still suffers from the same pains as its predecessor.
This mainly includes terrible acceleration and steering of vehicles, odd behaviour from NPCs, and most importantly the same territory and boss battle story mode we saw in Far Cry 5.
It’s in that aspect in particular why Far Cry New Dawn feels like a DLC of 5 and not a fully fledged game of its own. The fact that it utilises the same map and similar navigation functions, doesn’t help in this regard either.
The story mode is also fairly short, with regular Far Cry gamers capable of knocking things out in about 15 to 20 hours depending on how much exploring and side missions you wish to do.
This too makes the game feel more like a DLC than standalone title.
Far Cry New Dawn may be set 17 years after the events of Far Cry 5, but the fact that it’s being released less than 12 months after its predecessor means I’m a bit more reluctant to head back to the world of Hope County.
The game also does little to distinguish itself from the formula that past Far Cry games have employed, and does not live up to the New Dawn billing of the name.
Yes, the gameplay is solid, and the post-apocalyptic world is richly detailed, but that’s not enough to hold my attention, or indeed get me to come back for more.
This iteration isn’t bad, it’s simply underwhelming.