I’m going to best honest with you here, I didn’t like Far Cry 5. The game was fine don’t get me wrong, but it made it more obvious than ever that the Far Cry series, one of my favourite franchises of all time, was becoming stale and too samey. I came in to Far Cry New Dawn fearing I’d feel the same way I did about Far Cry 5 (FC5), but much to my surprise, that feeling of dread was quickly overpowered by unbridled joy. Far Cry New Dawn is excellent; it’s fun, it’s vibrant, the narrative grabs you in ways that FC5 failed to, and its gameplay – while being familiar – introduces new systems and mechanics that alleviates much of the aforementioned staleness.
Far Cry New Dawn is a return to form
Far Cry New Dawn takes us back to Hope County (the fictional Montana county in which FC5 was set) seventeen years after the nuclear bombs hit. The survivors of the nuclear fallout have sought refuge underground, and as years passed, they began to create a harmonious community in which survivors could live in peace. Joseph Seed and the Project at Eden’s Gate cult that had terrorised the people of Hope County have since moved elsewhere in the county and no longer terrorised the innocent. All seemed well, until a new group of bandits known as the Highwaymen appeared, led by two twins known as Mickey and Lou, and it’s trouble in post-apocalyptic paradise.
Desperate to rebuild their fallen home and fight back against the Highwaymen, Carmina Rye sets out to find Thomas Rush and ‘The Captain’ (the custom created playable character), who have been helping rebuild the United States from West to East. Things go awry however when Thomas’ train is destroyed by the Highwaymen, killing everybody on board except Carmina, The Captain, Garrett, and himself. Without the men and women at your disposal, the plan to take down the Highwaymen and rebuild becomes far harder, but as The Captain, it’s up to you to do what’s necessary to help out the innocent folk of New Dawn.
Far Cry New Dawn’s story is great and remains arresting throughout the entirety of the game. The story may be a bit tropey and predictable, but it does have some really surprising moments, such as the reunion with the infamous Project at Eden’s Gate cult, and its leader Joseph Seed. For the sake of ensuring you enjoy the narrative, I won’t be spoiling Joseph Seed’s nor his cult’s role throughout the story, but what I can say without a shadow of a doubt is that it is particularly awesome and refreshing to see the characters shine in a way in which they didn’t in FC5. Mickey and Lou also succeed in being heartless, maniacal antagonists, a fact that becomes truly evident when you see them laughing in glee as they torture and kill people throughout the game.
In one scene, Mickey and Lou come to Prosperity and warn The Captain that they will be coming back surely to destroy the town, before forcing a child they’d captured from Prosperity to hold a live grenade in his hand. Moments like these really emphasise how psychotic the twins are, which only fuels your hatred toward them and the Highwaymen bandits they control. Far Cry New Dawn’s story is brilliant, and it’s sure to keep you entertained.
The people of Hope County are struggling
In terms of gameplay, Far Cry New Dawn is what you’d expect from a Far Cry game. You make your way through the world, killing enemies and doing what you need to do in order to take down the threat. Far Cry New Dawn has you attempting to rid Hope County of the Highwaymen and the Twins, while at the same time building up the peaceful homebase of Prosperity. In order to rebuild Prosperity, you’re going to need plenty of ethanol, which is the fuel source of this post-apocalyptic world. Collecting this ethanol, whether it be from Highwaymen-driven ethanol trucks or the Outposts they occupy is crucial, as this resource is what you must use in order to upgrade Prosperity. For example, using ethanol to upgrade Prosperity’s Healing Garden will net you better medkits that regenerate health for longer periods, while upgrading the workbench will allow you to craft better ranked weapons
Yep you read that right, Far Cry New Dawn introduces tiered weapons, as well as tiered enemies. In order to take down the higher ranked enemies, you’re going to need access to higher ranked weapons, so farming for ethanol is essential if you want to progress. Capturing Outposts is the best way to obtain ethanol, and after you’ve captured an Outpost, you have the option to scavenge it in order to gather more ethanol. Scavenging the Outpost however leads stronger to Highwaymen to come and reclaim it, meaning it’s up to you if you want to have more of that sweet, sweet alcohol at the expense of your controlled outpost. Each outpost has three levels of difficulty, making them inherently replayable and constantly rewarding.
Expedition missions are another example of rewarding and replayable missions that you can dive in to in Far Cry New Dawn. Expeditions are missions that take you to diverse locales outside of Hope County, ranging from areas such as dry and dusty Colorado to a carrier ship overrun by Highwaymen. These missions have you finding and extracting a package in exchange for resources that can be used to craft weapons and ammo. While most of the resources can be looted throughout Hope County, Expeditions offer fun and intense firefights that see you frantically trying to escape via helicopter with the valuable package. At the end of the day, Far Cry New Dawn’s gameplay is masterful, doing what the franchise does best while at the same time sprinkling in new gameplay systems to keep the game feeling fresh.
The Twins are downright evil
The harder difficulty Outposts are great challenges
Although the area of Hope County you explore in Far Cry New Dawn is the same area you may have already seen in FC5, it’s actually a fair bit different, with the nuclear bomb creating a beautiful and vibrant Hope County gleaming with colour, in part due to an event known as a ‘super bloom’. The county is now littered with vibrant, neon pink-coloured flowers, and the vegetation of Hope County is unkempt and overpowering, as it has grown over the rundown landmarks and locales of the once lively county. Far Cry New Dawn is simply beautiful, and this bright and colourful setting is a much welcomed change in comparison to the morose colour palette of FC5.
I also feel the need to give a shout out to the music of Far Cry New Dawn, both the licensed songs and the original score in fact. Licensed music is used in the car radios as well as some missions, and additional tunes can be retrieved by finding music players strewn through Hope County, with artists such as The Monkees, KC and the Sunshine Band, and even Die Antwoord featured on the soundtrack. The original score is also epic, with certain missions feeling elevated in hype by the brilliance of the score. Let’s be real though, who doesn’t want to fight off hordes of Highwaymen while listening to ‘That’s the Way (I Like It)’.
The post-apocalypse has never looked so pretty
If I’m being honest, I don’t have many gripes with Far Cry New Dawn. However, I do have a few minor issues. Firstly, I feel like that the animals of Far Cry New Dawn are a missed opportunity, as more often than not they are just palette swaps of the animals from FC5. You’d expect a nuclear fallout to morph the wildlife of Hope County slightly more than just coating their fur in tinges of green and making them harder to shoot. The lack of mutated creatures wasn’t an enormous problem of course, but I can’t help but feel like an opportunity was missed. Secondly, I feel like the Twins were underutilised as the main antagonists, as they didn’t feature enough in the story as much as they arguably should have. When Mickey and Lou were on display, their brutality and lack of regard for those who aren’t part of the Highwaymen makes them antagonists you can’t wait to see the end of, which ironically makes it all the more upsetting that they don’t appear as much as you’d like them to.
Lastly, Far Cry New Dawn’s ending was that despite offering plenty of interesting and exciting moments, it feels kind of rushed. The abrupt ending had me thinking that something more was to come, and when it never did, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. There is a possibility that the choices I made led to a less cohesive conclusion to the story, but due to the game not allowing the replay of missions (another feature I wish the Far Cry games would finally implement!), I can only go off the ending I was given.
I wish we got more time with the Twins
As someone who felt that FC5 was a sign that the Far Cry franchise was becoming a bland and uninspired husk of its former self, I can happily say that Far Cry New Dawn is a much needed breath of fresh colourful air. It utilises the tried and true formula of a Far Cry title, while also implementing interesting new additions to the game such as tiered enemies and weapons, as well as replayable Outposts and Expeditions that scale in difficulty and always reward you. Far Cry New Dawn may be seen as a standalone DLC to FC5, and even by some accounts that is accurate, but don’t let that deter you in picking it up. Its excellent gameplay, engaging narrative and likeable characters make it a far better Far Cry game than FC5 ever was. Heck, it may just be the best Far Cry title since Far Cry 3.
Reviewed on PS4 Pro | Review code supplied by publisher