Far Cry New Dawn: Review
After finishing Far Cry 5, I was left with a feeling of slight disappointment. The Father was a compelling antagonist from everything we had seen leading up to the game, but the ending fell flat and felt very unsatisfactory. Certain gameplay mechanics, such as cutscenes starting, seemingly out of nowhere, pulling you out of whatever you may have been doing in the open world, were frustrating to say the least. When Far Cry New Dawn was announced at The Game Awards, I was very intrigued to go back to Hope County about 20 years after the end of Far Cry 5. This was a chance for them to provide closure to an otherwise flat ending, as well as provide fans of the series more reason to enjoy the open-world action that Far Cry is known for. What New Dawn turns out to be is one of the best installments in the entire franchise.
Spoilers for Far Cry 5 ahead:
Far Cry New Dawn picks up about 20 years after the nukes went off at the conclusion of Far Cry 5. The world that you now inhabit is full of blossoming, post-fallout foliage, along with monstrous beasts that can prove more deadly than any armed Highwaymen you come across. As the game starts you pick either a male or female character, though it doesn’t make much of a difference as the character is voiceless and you hardly see them since it’s an FPS. You’re part of a group led by Thomas Rush whose purpose is to restore U.S. cities. Carmina Rye, daughter of Nick Rye who you may remember from FC5, seeks out your assistance in building up her settlement known as Prosperity. The premise of the game is to build up Prosperity and protect it and its people from the villainous gang of marauders known as the Highwaymen, led by twin sisters Mickey and Lou. En route to Prosperity, your train is ambushed by the Highwaymen which sets the series of events in motion.
After the attack, the world begins to open up as you complete a few main story missions. The open world is similar to what we’ve seen in previous games, however the addition of minor RPG elements make it so you feel compelled to fully explore all it has to offer. In order to build up Prosperity you will need to secure ethanol and complete side missions that will unlock the well-known “guns for hire” roster of NPC companions you can use on your missions. In order to acquire ethanol, New Dawn provides you multiple opportunities to secure the valued resource. Supply drops pop up randomly, which are a tense race against the enemy to secure the important items. You can stop foes who are driving ethanol tankers on the road and bring the tanker back to Prosperity or any other cleared outpost. However, the most efficient procurement method is taking down outposts, which will lead to a solid cache of ethanol. Also, if you complete outposts without setting off an alarm or alerting the enemies, you are given bonus materials.
A fun element that New Dawn has added to the common outpost feature is the ability to scavenge them. The entire game runs off a tiered difficulty/strength premise where you have beginner, amateur, expert, and elite levels that are all color coded — white, blue, purple, and gold respectively. Each outpost you encounter starts at the beginner level with one alarm and minimal enemies. After you’ve completed the outpost on the beginner difficulty you can scavenge it to receive an immediate stash of ethanol, but the Highwaymen take back the outpost at the next difficulty level. With each time you conquer the outpost you are given more and more resources, allowing you to successfully fortify Prosperity.
Far Cry New Dawn improves upon virtually every element in the series. The crafting is as good and in depth as it has ever been. Rarely did I ever travel in a vehicle because the plants you can pick up and the animals you can hunt in the open world are used for crafting anything from explosives to med kits. Expedition missions provide you the chance to take a helicopter ride to an area outside of the map for a resource acquisition mission. Just like outposts, once you complete an expedition mission you can attempt it at the next difficulty for a higher payout. One of the best features is that, other than limiting animal skins you can hold to five, there is no cap on how many resources you can carry. For a game that focuses so much on crafting it’s very refreshing to not have to worry about managing an inventory. Easily the best part of crafting is the different weapons you can create and the challenges that come along with them. Just like enemies and outposts, the weapons are tiered exactly the same. As you build up Prosperity and acquire more resources, you’re able to rank up your weapons workbench to craft the higher tiered weapons. With each weapon class (handgun, smg, assault rifle, shotgun, launcher, bow, sniper, flamethrower, and the incredibly fun to use saw gun) you are given challenges to score a certain amount of kills under each tier. These challenges yield perk points, which are used to rank up your skill tree, getting rid of the XP system we knew from previous installments.
The perk system is easy to use and gives you the chance to build up your character to fit your play style. Other than weapon challenges, you can gain perk points by completing the ten treasure hunts, hunting challenges, and using different guns for hire to gain kills with them. The perk system, overall, made it easy to get lost in the open world just to rank up your character. Additionally, this system encourages you to try the different weapons that the game offers. Trying out each weapon is recommended as they are wonderfully designed, combining modern weapons with a post-nuclear feel. I still chuckle at the sight of a sniper rifle using a spray paint can as a silencer, but it’s the perfect touch that adds to the colorful world. The best part about the perk system and the challenge system is the ultimate transparency it provides. You are allowed to plan ahead on how you want to build up your character, or you’re welcome to tackle the main story right away.
One of the many strengths of this game is the main story. As always, the writing is top of the line mixing humor and drama in a way that we’ve come to expect from the team at Ubisoft. The Father makes another appearance and, without spoiling anything, I do believe the added time we get with him rounds him out as a character; which is something Far Cry 5 failed to do. The true stars of this game are the twin sister antagonists, Mickey and Lou. Voiced brilliantly by Cara Ricketts and Leslie Miller respectively, anytime they show up on screen there is an ominous tension in the air. From the first moment you meet them to the inevitable, yet thrilling, final confrontation, you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what they’re about to do next. Adding to the stellar voice acting are convincing facial animations. It’s downright terrifying during some scenes where the twins stare directly at you as you wonder what they’re about to do, or after you’ve just watched them do something heinous. Even as evil as they come across, their story is incredibly well told. Through flashback scenes you’re able to see how they turned out the way they did and can understand why they chose that path. It could very easily be recency bias, but Mickey and Lou stand out as some of the best that the Far Cry series has offered.
For fans of the Far Cry series, New Dawn is something you need to play. The improvement on what were previously frustrating mechanics, coupled with a well-told story make it worth the $40. Even after completing the main story, I’m still interested in going back into Hope County to finish off the remaining side missions, which is something I couldn’t say after completing Far Cry 5.