Far Cry: New Dawn, by design and setting alone, feels more like an expansion than that of a brand new experience. Far Cry 5 was always going to be hard to top, given its wonderfully daunting locale, its precise and varied gameplay, and its stellar cast of characters. Whilst New Dawn tries to build upon those factors, its short length and its somewhat questionable delivery, pulls it far from where its predecessor merrily sits. There’s fun to be had in Hope County, don’t get me wrong, just don’t come into this expecting the quality of your first trip.
The game takes place seventeen years after the events of Far Cry 5. (Spoiler warning for those that have yet to finish Far Cry 5) Joseph Seed has dropped nukes and laid ruin left, right, and center. Now as such, everyone is living afresh. Though, life isn’t quite as straightforward as that. Those lush, vibrant locales from the Hope County before? Well, they’re still present, but not quite as brochure worthy. It’s an interesting approach on Ubisoft’s part, and I’ll confess, the post apocalyptic settings suits Hope County nicely.
New Dawn begins with your introduction to the sisters, the latest crazies to join Far Cry’s long list of iconic evil doers. These twins have taken control of Hope County, together with their loyal tribe of ruthless murderers, otherwise known as the highwaymen. In a nutshell, this nefarious bunch will take from whoever they want, whenever they can, and however they please, killing anyone that so much as looks at them the wrong way. Characters from Far Cry 5 make a return, but I’ll refrain from spoiling their whereabouts and motivations.
Nevertheless, the stage is set straight away, and much like how any given Far Cry game functions, you’ll be working to restore hope whilst these ass hats constantly intersect. Hope County is a mixed bag of splendor and desperation, with wonderful life and constant deprivation going hand in hand throughout. The game wastes no time at getting you into the thick of it. The train that you arrive on is attacked, and you’re forced help as many people as you can, and escape with your life intact. I’ll admit, it’s a pretty decent starter.
Soon after, however, it hits you. Following such an explosive intro, New Dawn rapidly feels like a refresher of everything you went through this time last year. New and familiar faces will constantly throw Far Cry 5 references at you from start to finish. Whilst this is pretty much a given, seeing as the county’s current situation is a direct result of the actions in the predecessor, I couldn’t help but feel as though New Dawn relied too heavily on what came before it. The constant material grabbing is daunting to say the least, and truly taxing.
The game doesn’t deviate on its formula neither; outpost clearing, guns for hire, and plenty of in-game events such as rescuing prisoners, all make a lofty return. Treasure hunts are also back. Though, a new feature is present too, or to be more specific, a new way to progress in Hope County. Pure Ethanol. Make friends with it. Why? Because the whole game is structured around the freakin’ stuff. Practically everything is locked behind it. Leveling up, crafting better equipment, vehicular acquisition, increased health, assistance, everything.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the system were a bit tame, but boy howdy, it becomes one hell of a grind later on. Far Cry 5 worked so well because it was so fluid and various, there was never a shortage of things to do (testicle festival, anyone?) and see. Here, on the other hand, it just feels so by demand. Farming for this resource is mandatory, especially if you’re looking to improve your base areas. These areas are dotted around the hub base, otherwise known as Prosperity. These areas allow you to upgrade pretty much everything in one place.
You’ll need to play many of the game’s unique offerings to collect the gear that you need. Much like in Far Cry 5, you’ll be able to pick up materials throughout Hope County. Though, there’s a bit more emphasis on scavenging this time around; duct-tape, gears, CPU chips, and lots of other necessities. I guess the developer truly took liberties with that post apocalyptic setting. I did quite enjoy it to begin with, as the game initially opens up nicely. However, it doesn’t take too long at all before that damned grind-wall starts to make an appearance.
Story missions will often demand that you meet some requirements, typically upgrading an area in Prosperity. When you hit this, it feels like a proper pace breaker and really drags the game out. You’ll feel less like a liberator, and more like a liberator’s accountant. The outposts have been given a bit of a rework for New Dawn. You’re free to overtake an outpost in anyway you see fit, be it through all out warfare, or through means of stealth. Once captured, you can choose to farm a dollop of ethanol, but in return, there’s a price.
The highwaymen will regain control of said outpost, and become more resilient as a result. It’s a neat twist, for sure, but again, feels like filler. There’s four color-coded tiers in New Dawn; grey, blue, purple, and gold. This system feeds into everything to represent strength and rarity; from its cars and its guns, right up to its enemies. Once you indirectly give an outpost back to the enemy, you’ll see a shift in represented color, signifying their increased strength. This means greater numbers, fiercer gunplay, and more alarms to defuse.
You can keep doing this over and over, with the difficulty of any given outpost raising as you farm your resource, but it gets old, faster than it should. There are some other ways in which you can gain more ethanol, such as through random airdrops and stealing trucks. The former is quite Battle Royale-esque and has you fighting for acquisition, whereas the latter consists of stealing an ethanol truck and driving it back to your base. Doing this alone can be quite tricky, which is precisely where that ever so helpful guns for hire comes into effect.
You’ll come to see some returning faces here, but all of ’em are useful in their own way. Nana, the little old lady, makes for a kick-ass sniper. Horatio, however, is a friendly boar that can put a band of enemies on their behinds in no time at all. They’re all there to call upon whenever you need them, but be warned, should they fall, you’ll need a very specific resource to revive them, so it pays off to loot often. When you’re not tackling the game’s impressively smart and divers enemy variants, you’ll probably be ADS with its wildlife.
You can expect the pissed off wolverine, some annoying devil fish, and more on this front, you know, the usual. The wildlife is typically everywhere, making Hope County feel hostile at all times. Though, be on the lookout for mutated animals. These legendary creatures are as tough as old boots, but drop some good skins that you can sell at the shops and at traders for loot and for upgrading. On the topic of upgrading, much like how you can upgrade items and buildings in New Dawn, you can also go on to upgrade your perks and your weaponry.
Once you’ve learned how to build some killer weapons, you can then merge more resources with them to upgrade base DPS. This comes at the cost of some ethanol (surprise, surprise) but the extension of added power does feel quite gratifying later on. Perks, however, are tied to your challenges. New Dawn doesn’t hold back here. There’s heaps of challenges to take on, each of which will grant you with perk coins that can be used to upgrade your player; lung capacity, increased melee damage output, and other useful additional extras.
The more you put in, the more you’ll climb towards being a walking tank. The game’s color system will help you to judge your scale of capability. Rule of thumb? Enemies of higher stature will slap you about like you’re wet paper. The aim of the game is to bulk up as you journey through its story, and once you have, you can return the favor. We all know how satisfying it can be to beat down an enemy that’s been giving us grief. That’s consistently present. The action is nonstop, with heavy fire and explosions parading all over the place.
That’s the sum of the game really. You’ll work through Hope County doing a range of activities, all whilst fighting back against the sisters and their highwaymen. The game’s handling is sharp and responsive, no different to how it functions in Far Cry 5, which is a good thing. This commendation extends not only to ground movement and gunplay, but to the game’s vehicles too, including flight, of course. Safe to say that if you enjoyed the handling of Far Cry 5, there’s no reason you wont like the handling of Far Cry: New Dawn.
On the visual and audio front, New Dawn excels. It’s great to see how different Hope County looks in comparison to Far Cry 5’s Hope County. The whole map looks like it’s been shaken on its head, but still manages to stand out as captivating, mostly thanks to how diverse it locations are. Voice work is spot on, as are all the sound effects that are present. Guns sound powerful, vehicles have their own distinct noises, and everything from treading on different terrains, right up to hitting bodies of water, sounds exactly how it should.
It’s just a shame that the game’s very skeleton is quite thin. Despite its heavy and unnecessary grind, the actual story missions are super short. I completed the game in two sittings, and if it wasn’t for the constant ethanol hunting, I would have done it in one. Longevity can be found in reaching max completion, which most of the achievements are tied to, but for me, Hope County just isn’t worth a return trip to mop up these additions. It’s a very fun journey in its own way, I’ll say that about it, but it could have been much, much better than it is.
Whilst it’s lacking in story content and comes with a questionable mission structure, there’s much to like about New Dawn. The gameplay remains fluid and responsive throughout, with no shortage of memorable moments born through its nonstop action, as well as its broad variation of unique opportunities. That said, once the game’s grind-wall kicks in towards the end, you’ll start feeling less like a liberator, and more like a liberator’s butler.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.