Aesthetically Impressive But Lacking Depth
When Ubisoft announced last year they’d be following up the success of Far Cry 5 with a direct sequel, more than a few people said in jest that this would be nothing but a lazy sequel. With an overhauled progression system and a psychedelic aesthetic overhaul, New Dawn feels like it should be one of the more exciting and innovative titles of the franchise. Unfortunately, once you break through this fronted facade, the same tired Far Cry formula is here with little done to address the numerous problems carried over from the previous games.
The story begins with a brief introduction to the world after the events that transpired at the end of Far Cry 5. While you can jump straight into this one without playing the previous game, given the numerous references and recurring characters that crop up here, it’s advisable to play through that one first to really get the most out of this. That game ended with a nuclear explosion decimating Hope County and humanity’s future bleak as pockets of survivors huddled underground, waiting out the nuclear winter.
You emerge to find the world reclaimed by nature, full of lush shrubbery and brimming with wildlife. A new threat looms on the horizon in the form of The Twins, two opportunistic sisters who arrive in Hope County and immediately cause chaos, disrupting the newfound peace across the area. Brought in to help thwart this threat, you play another silent protagonist and, along with a group of formulaic characters, launch yourself head first into the action.
The Twins are the new antagonists this time around
After a brief prologue that’s used to get you accustomed to the gunplay and general traversion of the world, the game opens up, with the overarching goal being to restore balance to the County and kill the Twins. For the most part the story serves as little more than background noise to push you toward the next objective with a whole smattering of side content and collectables to engage in along the way.
While the same world from Far Cry 5 is showcased here, albeit on a slightly smaller scale, the overhauled inventory system and RPG mechanics do add some much-needed variety to the game. The bulk of content you’ll engage in revolves around upgrading your base through finding and selling different materials. The 100+ different locations dotted around the map can be explored for resources which in turn can be used to upgrade different areas of your camp. Springs are used to build vehicles, cogs and duct tape are collected in exchange for crafting weapons while Ethanol is really the bread and butter of the game and the most valuable resource to collect. This actually works surprisingly well, giving you a reason to go and explore previous locations from Far Cry 5 to get better gear to make it easier to complete some of the later missions in the game.
There’s a pretty good variety of missions offered here too
Ethanol can only be obtained through taking part in Outpost liberating and stealing oil tankers. These two gameplay elements have been a staple of the series since the early Far Cry titles and instead of remaining as side content, are featured heavily through the game here with a few nicely worked tweaks. When liberating these outposts, killing all the enemies gives you a set amount of ethanol (usually 100) with bonus amounts granted for stealthily taking out guards or not raising alarms in the process. To add an extra element of strategy, you’re given the option to “scavenge” the camp which allows you to abandon the outpost altogether in exchange for resources with stronger levelled enemies coming in and taking over.
All of this progression, combined with tougher wildlife to beat out in the open, should make New Dawn a refreshing, invigorated entry in the Far Cry universe. Unfortunately, Far Cry continues to be a series hounded by the same issues every game to the point where it cannot be ignored any longer. Despite charging £5 less than Far Cry 5, the gameplay is virtually unchanged and the game length a fraction of its former. Expect to chew through this one in around 15 hours or so tops, with the same mechanic of being hounded by set piece driven action every 5 minutes with little time to enjoy the visual splendour.
Most of the game revolves around you finding resources to upgrade your camp
Enemies continue to be hounded by poor AI and decision making too, exascerbated by close quarters combat which is really, really bad. Early on there’s a mission that sees you manning the walls of your camp and defending it from an onslaught of armoured thugs. Even on the hardest difficulty, this isn’t particuarly challenging but it’s particularly noticeable if you decide, like me, to jump off the wall and go face to face with enemies instead
From here I was somehow able to stealth kill most enemies as they ignored my presence completely, with the few that were alerted stood by idly, killed by a few well-placed blasts from a shotgun. Mid to long range combat in Far Cry is, and has always been, a pretty decent challenge but short range continues to really drag this series down.
The general gameplay loop is unchanged for the most part too, despite the implemented RPG elements and the added inclusion of Health bars. There’s also feedback on enemy hits too, via a large damage counter that pops up on screen. This gives the game a somewhat arcadey feel this time around but given the emotionally charged story at the heart of this one, it all feels a little tonally inconsistent. While you can turn these visual cues off, given they’re in as standard it does feel like a deliberate aesthetic choice.
Aesthetically, New Dawn looks amazing and the bright, vivid colours are a great addition
If Far Cry New Dawn was released as a £15 or £20 DLC follow-up to Far Cry 5, it would be fantastic. It would give the game a reason to pull so many elements from the previous entry into this one and give some leeway over the issues that have plagued the series for years. Expecting consumers to pay full price for a game that’s simply been given an aesthetic overhaul and a few tweaked roleplaying elements feels unjustifed for what you receive here. Although I’m loathe to use the word lazy, especially given how hard developers work on these games every year, it’s hard not to feel this way at the end of your experience with this one.
If you’re a little fatigued with the usual Far Cry formula and are looking to try something a bit different, steer clear of New Dawn. Despite its pretty visuals and reasonably well implemented RPG mechanics, this is largely an unchanged Far Cry experience. The enemy AI is woeful, the game suffers from the same poorly paced story beats as Far Cry 5, while the gameplay loop is almost virtually unchanged. However, if you’re looking for more of the same, you can’t really go wrong with this one. A little short in length and light on content nonetheless, New Dawn is simply a DLC add-on flaunted as a full priced stand-alone game and it just doesn’t do enough to justify this.
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Verdict - 5.5/10