After darting across the trees, I found myself the perfect spot. In the sea of green and pink, a lone enemy camp stands alien to the surrounding nature. Grabbing my binoculars, I scoped the area, careful not to miss a roaming guard or a sleeping enforcer. Once I was satisfied with the enemy locations and their possible routes, I ordered my ally, an old sniper, to stand guard in this very spot. I might need some help if I find myself in trouble. I then proceeded to creep into the camp, downing guards with my trusted blade and shooting the heads of those that it can’t reach. Those too far can take a well-placed bullet between their eyes. After a few minutes, the outpost shaves the pink in favor of the blue.
One such situation can be said found in Far Cry New Dawn, Ubisoft’s latest spin-off of their Far Cry franchise. The same can also be said with regards to any Far Cry game since Far Cry 3. This time, we just get new bright colors, some more weird stuff. But the question is: is Far Cry New Dawn a must-have game?
In A World of Bright Colors
Far Cry New Dawn is again set in Hope County, the main setting for Far Cry 5. 17 years after the nuclear sendoff, the people of Hope County emerge from their vaults and underground bunkers to rebuild civilization with twigs and leftover materials of yore. Following the proven and tested formula of all Far Cry games: everything starting smooth and great goes FUBAR down the line. Raiders known as the Highwaymen, led by twins, Mickey and Lou, invade Hope County and turns the recovering region into their own playground. Think Mad Max.
Anyhow, a group of survivors led by a man named Rush, heads over to Hope County to retake it and support the people in rebuilding civilization. Unfortunately, the merry group then gets ambushed by the twins themselves, forcing the player, the Captain, to pick up the pieces and to go deal some nasty but tasty revenge.
As the Captain, the player takes on the role of the “agent from far away land fated to save the local denizens”. Whoah, hold it there. Doesn’t this sound too familiar?
Gunplay and Progression
As with the other Far Cry games, once played, you played them all. Which in itself is not innately a very bad thing. In gameplay, this is very obvious as Far Cry New Dawn is based on Far Cry 5’s engine. It mostly follows a lot of the established concepts and mechanics found in the main installment, aside from some minor changes and tweaks here and there.
Guns in this game got an overhaul to reflect the changing times. Gone are the upgrades and the attachments from Far Cry 5. Replacing them is a system of rarity. Tier-2 guns work too well on Tier-1, but act as pea shooters against Tier-4 commandoes. Guns can be assembled once the resources and the necessary upgrades are met. A very important change is of course the lack of gun customization. Once assembled, guns already come with attachments so there’s no way to configure them. However, I find it weird that the assortment of guns in post-apocalyptic USA wound up to be incredibly reliable. Probably due to the amount of screwdrivers, tape, and tarpaulins, attached to their barrels. The only unique gun featured in this game is the Saw Launcher. Although impressive, I readily ditched it for the more traditional .50 cal sniper rifles and high-powered machine guns.
Far Cry New Dawn also carries over the perk system featured in Far Cry 5. Perk points can be acquired by doing challenges (kill X with shotgun), found as items in the form of hidden magazines, or releasing prisoners transported around Hope County. Skill growth depends on how the player wants to tackle the game. If you want stealth, you can get the skill that improves take down and silences movement. If you opt for the more explosive approach, gun ammo capacity would be the way to go. Others might go for the more creative route such as attaching booby traps to cars, then using them to ram enemy gates for a more dramatic entrance.
Companions (Guns for Hire)
Amidst the depressing predicament of the Hope County, the player still finds the weird and the strange. Companions make a comeback, but this time literally minus one. Instead of the two that you can bring in Far Cry 5, probably due to balance issues, you can only bring either one person, dog, or a boar. To find them, the player must do their personal quest first, after then they head over to Prosperity, the base camp, to support the revolution against the Highwaymen.
The companions themselves have their own unique personalities, can also be upgraded and leveled-up. For example, I’ve been using “Nana”, the old sharpshooter of Hope County, as my mainstay companion. She’s prone to killing enemies with just one shot from her silenced ramshackle rifle. Aside from the quick quips, she’s also one loving grandma constantly voicing her desire to destroy her enemies. Guns for Hire can be commanded to stay put or go to a specific place to provide fire support.
While “Nana” is just one of the eight Guns for Hire, I did find it hard to use the others as I found her to be an effective asset in taking down camps. Others such as “Hurk”, make a comeback with their unstymied eccentric personalities. The heartfelt reunion is completed with the return of the bugs and the AI problems. I often found myself questioning the intelligence of these “Guns for Hire” as they stand erect on burning grass, fail to ride vehicles, and get killed for the dumbest of reasons.
Capturing Bases – Ever Get the Feeling of Déjà vu
Part of Far Cry New Dawn’s grindy nature is that the player must capture bases in order to acquire much needed resources. These resources would then be used to upgrade Prosperity. Each enemy camp is a pinked-up version of their Far Cry 5 counterparts so there would definitely be some feelings of “wait I’ve done this before”. Of course, the option to recapture the enemy camp is also present but with a twist—the forts get stronger everytime you “scavenge” them.
In Far Cry New Dawn’s world, Ethanol and pre-apocalypse parts are deemed as valuable resources. These camps are used by the Highwaymen to store their stockpile of Ethanol. So adding one to one, if the player captures these places, one can acquire the supplies stored within. Scavenging them would then level-up the enemy guards that would move in to retake the place, but would also reset and increase the resources acquired once retaken. It goes that this is Far Cry New Dawn’s way to pad the game. The smaller-sized map doesn’t offer that much and having to defeat camps three times to acquire the maximum rewards adds much needed play time.
Of course, capturing these camps without making a ruckus provides additional rewards. Also, liberating bases gives players a chance to acquire pieces of unique clothing. So if the player wants to speed up the upgrades, grinding or redoing camps is the way to go. One thing to note is that by “sacrificing” camps to the enemy, the ability to fast travel is also hindered, especially during the early stages of the game.
A new feature in Far Cry New Dawn are the expeditions. These are various small maps that can be visited for a challenge and additional loot. If finding resources are a trouble, these expeditions offer short-bursts of adventure and mayhem partnered with substantial rewards. They can be accessed via the character screen, given the player has upgraded the home base’s helipad.
Locations include a derelict aircraft carrier, a bayou carnival, and Alcatraz. The objective is simple: grab the package and run. Once airlifted into the area, the player can plan the approach. Either go silent until you get the package, or start breaking hell and slaughter those that bar your way. In both cases, once the package has been acquired, an extraction timer starts. It also raises the alarm, signaling the arrival of relentless waves of enemies until timer runs out and the player climbs back into the chopper.
These bite-sized adventures are a good addition to the game’s limited and already tiresome main map. Hope County is beautiful, but not “explore for 40+ hours” kind of beautiful. The varied locations make for a fresh feel and you’d be left wondering why they didn’t just make it a bigger map to explore.
Far Cry New Dawn can be deemed as an expansion of Far Cry 5, because it actually is. Although Ubisoft calls it as a spin-off, given that it departs from the morbid religious extremism depicted in the main game, New Dawn picks-off from the story of Far Cry 5. If you want to have some closure as to what happened to the ending of that game, then you can find them here, in a “spin-off”. If you’ve come for the story, you have to grind for it. For those wondering, it took me about ten hours to finish the game’s campaign with most of the base camp at max and all companions acquired.
As a shooter, New Dawn is mechanically great. Far Cry has always been a go to game if you just want to have lame-ass shooting fun. Guns feel like they pack quite a punch and the continuous grind doesn’t seem that much troubling. What is evident however, is that it is now considered or called as an “RPG” due to its display of damage numbers, introduction of rarity in weapons, and the skill tree. But hasn’t it been like this since ages ago? Leveling has been introduced since Far Cry 3 and technically, whenever enemies are damaged, numbers are calculated, just not simply displayed as with this game. So in a nutshell, it’s not much different from the previous iterations.
For microtransactions, the Far Cry New Dawn has a system that would allow players to buy resources or some guns and vehicles in exchange for coins. Coins can be acquired thru real-life money or by finding them inside treasure vaults (albeit in measly quantities). Personally, I think it is a waste to buy digital resources in New Dawn. The game is already short on its own and shortening it with additional money (on top of the game’s asking price) is already ludicrous and downright a very foolish move. It is grindy, but is not F2P-type grindy.
If you love to give yourself more Far Cry 5, Far Cry New Dawn is a no-brainer. It’s more of the same thing. Not inherently bad as Far Cry has always been one of those shooters that have polished gunplay and interesting mechanics to use them with. However, too much is not good. Especially if you’ve played tons of Ubisoft games in the past few years. It feels the same and the DNA of their tried and tested formula can be found in every game Ubisoft makes. Feels odd to have vibes of Watchdogs or Ghost Recon Wildlands in a Far Cry game, but you get the point.
Far Cry New Dawn is a competent and decent shooter, but the color overhaul and the drastic changes in setting doesn’t equate to something new. It sadly has the effect of “ugh, this again” instead of “wow! This again!” Certain features have been added to plug that underlying feeling but I feel that it isn’t enough. Ubisoft has already done something similar in the past that feels new and is even now, considered a prime example of spin-offs done right. Might be a game called “Blood Dragon”, perhaps?