The game starts out with Carmina Rye explaining how the world ended and how people have slowly been making things work in this new world, but with the advent of people like the Highwaymen, looting anything and everything as they desire, help is needed and that is where you come in. As the Captain, your role was the security of a group of people that had been travelling up and down the east coast of America, helping people restore some sense of a normal life and now you are heading to Hope County. Your reason for going is pretty great, helping people out and the position that the Captain finds themselves in, as you can choose your gender again, make sense, once the opening sequence plays out. As this is a direct sequel to the events of 5, if you have played that one, then you will see a lot of familiar places and a few faces, as you help restore this little part of the world, assuming you care to.
The games biggest hook this time around, is the upgrading of the base, finding people that can help at stations and getting them the right things to make them work, it’s a solid cycle, giving you more of a reason to explore the world than anything else. With each section, like the Armoury, Medical or Cartography (that is the study of maps), you unlock more upgrades or items to assist you, for example that is guns for the armoury section, which now have levels to them. In order to upgrade things, you need to scavenge for supplies all around the place, the problem with this system is that the numbers can be quite exorbitant at times, requiring searches of multiple locations to find the right number of supplies. Things like ammo are now crafted with copper wire, which is everywhere, but unless you loot everything you can see, you can run out of supplies in which to craft with.
Weapons and vehicles are using this crafting system as well and while you can scavenge things from around the world, adding them to your collection, finding and collecting the resources to build your own is the best way and fastest way of obtaining them. If you have played any recent Far Cry game, the shooting is going to feel quite familiar as it is as tight and responsive here as it has been in recent games, driving is still as awkward as ever, being confined to the first person view and while the vehicles might be similar to 5, the addition of armour plating make them all feel more dangerous. The odd thing with the vehicles, excluding the fun Carmila (the plane) is that there are a lot of motorbikes with side cars in the game, I don’t recall ever seeing one in the previous game, so it makes me wonder, how did so many bikes find their way to Hope County, after nuclear bombs dropped.
Now, it is almost a sin at this point to not talk about the baddies of a Far Cry game and while the Twins do a solid job of presenting a threat, they never feel like they can follow through, thanks to the game making them feel worse than they actually are. Case in point after you first upgrade the base, the twins will shoot some fireworks into the sky, letting you know they are around, it turns out they have some kids hostage and want to tell you that they are not happy with you, the Captain, causing them pain. While on of the Twins is clearly dangerous, given her perpencity of randomly snapping and beating people to death with awesome looking bike helmets, the other is way more so, with her threats and plans. The issue is, once they leave, you have a single mission to check in with a scout, which triggers their promised attack, leaving you to defend Prosperity from their relentless attack. My problem with this and the Twins is that I never felt threatened by them, the enemies would charge at the gate, they would be shot before they got there, the trucks that would plow into the walls, letting enemies rush in and if one did, they might plant a bomb. What happened that first time, two people and a dog got up the wall and into the grounds I was protecting, but they were killed quite quickly, however the game decided that a lot more people got in and blew stuff up, the cutscene was quite odd, but then the game returned to how everything looked post upgrade.
The inconsistency also carried across to missions and random encounters, thanks to the games reliance on levels, which while making sure things scale better than past games, means that it blocks out of some stuff early on. As before, the vehicles and weapons have levels, but so do the enemies, most of the earlier ones you come across are low levels, which makes it easy to take them down, but as the idea of Far Cry is to explore the world and do things how you see fit, to now come across enemies that are 2 or 3 levels above you, only to have yourself utterly destroyed by them, goes against what the series has been about for years. The idea of having levels is actually rather clever, as it keeps the challenge alive, no matter how long you play for, but it is not implemented correctly, and the game suffers because of it. The other gameplay issue comes from the lack of variety in things to do, the game boils down to run somewhere, collect all the junk, capture an enemy stronghold, upgrade your base and then do it some more.
One part that I did like was the enemy bases that you can capture, the mechanics of still sneaking in, taking out all the baddies, without being spotted are still there, made a little more challenging with levels and such, but it is what you can do afterward that mixes things up. Once the base is yours, you can salvage it, meaning you strip it of all useful items, then leave it and head back to your base, though if you do this, it will give the baddies a chance to move back in and when they do, they will increase the number of foes and protections around the place. This also means you can take it back a second time, and a third if you wanted to, which is something that works very well, but it also proves the baddies have no spunk as they won’t try to take back a base you are using.
Where the game shines though, for me at least, was in its presentation, the game looks amazing, there are times when I stopped and just enjoyed the views I was being show, it was just that good. Now as the map is the same as Far Cry 5, there are a lot of places that exist in both, Prosperity being one of them, but while it could have been easy for these places to be ruined shells of what we know, they actually have multiple levels of detail attached to them, some look mostly ok, some are just ruined shells and others have signs that people have been using them to survive. The world itself is far brighter and inviting than almost any other game in the series, thanks to the abundance of colours like pink and white, with some of the wildlife embracing those colours to fill the world in a nice way.
Characters from the last game also make a return, some in exciting ways, like Grace, where are some are the same people, just older and while it is easy to see they are the same character, they honestly don’t look like they survived the nuclear apocalypse. There are some ancillary folks that do look like that, but you rarely interact with them, unless you are looking for treasures in the wild, even the Twins look fine for growing up in the new world. Sadly, there is one character that I did not want to ever see again, as one of the Seed’s is back and they are as boring now as they were in the last game, something I hoped would never happen. The game feels the same as the last game, thanks to the amount of nature sounds in it, creatures doing what they do, people responding to attacks by shouting and what not, it is all good, the only odd side with the audio is the music. The underlying score is fine, but as you wander the world there are a dozen or so cassette players lying about, blasting their music, but also when you approach bases, you hear it, the music choices aside, it just never feels right, the world went to crap, but people were able to salvage music players, not important things, just music players.
Far Cry New Dawn is a game that I can easily recommend to series fans, as it takes what we know and adds a little more to it, all the while giving us a new reason to return to an old place. The levelling system is a great idea, but because it adds arbitrary restrictions to a series that has been known for player freedom, more so when Far Cry 5 was built upon that idea. Getting a chance to revisit Hope County and some of its citizens was fun, but some returning characters did not need to show up again, but now I hope this is the last time we them.
Review copy provided by Ubisoft Australia