As I stepped out into the shockingly colorful and lively world of Hope County, Montana I couldn’t help but feel a sense of familiarity. The Far Cry series has rarely strayed outside of its comfort zone of choice-based shooting. For all the weapons and items you can utilize, the moment to moment gameplay rarely changes. Enter Ubisoft’s newest venturer – Far Cry New Dawn – an indirect sequel to Far Cry 5 that’s set 30 years after the nuclear bombs dropped.
Recently, I got a chance to sit down and spend a couple of hours exploring Far Cry New Dawn and its twisted take on the end of the world. Here’s what I learned exploring this hazardous wasteland.
For the unfamiliar, New Dawn is set after a nuclear exchange that left the world devastated. 30 years later, nature has reclaimed the world from humanity and pockets of civilization have begun to rebuild. Enter the ruthless band of marauders known as the “Highwaymen.” Led by two twins, this group begins to extort and terrorize the people of Hope County.
The player assumes the role of a silent specialist who is being brought in via a train to help pushback this force. Like Far Cry 5, you can play as either a female or male, neither of which have any distinct advantages over the other. Your characters outfit can once again be customized with a variety of different clothing options and hairstyles.
We only got a glimpse at the core story of New Dawn during our playthrough, with most of it revolving around trying to help the weird residents with weird tasks. It’s generally enjoyable and Ubisoft Montreal has done a solid job of showing us how the end of the world affected some of the characters from Far Cry 5. Surprisingly, we never got to see the twins during our preview and I worry Ubisoft will once again spend barely any time letting their villains actually appear on screen.
Speaking of antagonists, one surprise return was The Father from the previous game. While we won’t spoil what happened, the trippy mission we were sent on was certainly a standout moment during the preview. In fact, Far Cry New Dawn is at its best when it embraces and fleshes out returning characters from Far Cry 5. Not everyone made it and discovering who has survived was certainly engaging.
There’s also a new cast to fight alongside as the Guns-for-Hire/Fangs-for-Hire system returns. Even though we could only see a few, the sniper rifle-wielding grandmother and giant boar were our favorites to roam the wasteland with. All of them have their strengths and weakness, so it’s up to the player to determine who best suits their needs. Plus, your dog will ride shotgun with you in the car, which is always a welcomed addition.
Gunplay is largely the same, with our hero using the typical arsenal of bows, assault rifles, shotguns, and pistols. There’s also a new stealth weapon that fires sawblades which ricochet off surfaces into other enemies. Ammo was scarcer this time around, which forced me to constantly scavenge off corpses. This may be a product of us only playing a small portion, but it felt as if there was a bigger emphasis on searching for goods.
Weapons received the biggest overhaul, as Ubisoft Montreal implemented a rarity system for all of the firearms and enemies. Like games such as The Division or Assassin’s Creed Odyessy, players will now have to focus on having upgraded gear. This allows you to deal significantly more damage to enemies. During our time we didn’t get to try any of the higher tier items, so we are not sure if they have any special attributes beyond being stronger.
Even though the idea of a rarity system gives Far Cry New Dawn a sense of progression, we worry it might compromise what made the other titles so great. Previously, you were able to explore any region and take on any foe. While some engagements were harder than others, they weren’t impossible for those willing to plan ahead. By introducing an RPG system, this freedom of exploration could be removed. By forcing players to consistently manage and improve their gear, it could have the unintended effect of slowing New Dawn down.
This title also introduces supply drops that are periodically dropped from a plane that flies over the map. Taking a cue from Dying Light’s gameplay, players have to race against the clock and beat the Highwaymen to the supply crate. Getting there early is important because these crates offer a ton of supplies, including Ethanol which is a key resource used to upgrade your home base.
You can also use Ethanol to unlock special Expeditions which take place all across the country. Acting as bite-sized missions, these task players with obtaining a special package from a Highwaymen stronghold. Not only do these provide a challenging experience, but they serve as a great way to see how the nuclear fallout afflicted the rest of the country. These quests also get harder on repeat playthroughs, adding to the challenge and giving New Dawn some extra replayability.
There are going to be seven Expeditions when New Dawn launches and the one we got to try revolved around infiltrating a beached aircraft carrier. It’s a pretty standard Outpost at first, but once you grab the package everyone knows where you are. What follows is a chaotic scramble to the extraction helicopter as waves of angry marauders come pouring out. Expeditions are easily the standout mode shown off during the preview and we cannot wait to see where else they take us.
Far Cry New Dawn is a game that’s looking to branch out and take risks with the franchise’s solidified gameplay. Despite having some concerns about the Light RPG mechanics, we look forward to seeing how the system works when the full game releases in February. If you’re a fan of the franchise this is certainly one for you, especially if you enjoyed Far Cry 5.