Far Cry New Dawn does fulfill a specific niche, and that is if you are purely interested in the carnage, have zero interest in a narrative, and want to explore a pretty but artificial world. So many things seem unfinished or lazily implemented that one can only think that they made it this way on purpose to incentivize additional input of your hard-earned cash to circumvent the grinding.
- Beautiful scenery when you get a chance to look around
- The combat is okay
- Excellent audio from weapons
- Puddle deep narrative and characters
- Ridiculous economy
- Seems to be designed so you pay cash for things to expedite progress
I went in with minimal expectations and literally only bought Far Cry New Dawn because it was 10 bucks, yet I still feel I got robbed. I’ve beaten Far Cry 2, 3, 4, and 5, so I’d say I’m qualified to judge this game versus the others in the series, and this one is by far the worst. If you stop reading now, I won’t blame you. This is the 2nd most recent addition to the series, and it may have turned me off the franchise in earnest.
I beat this game in 21 hours, but most of it was me trying to find a silver lining. Here are my thoughts.
What is Far Cry New Dawn, and What the Hell Is Going on Here?
Historically, Far Cry is a game about beating the odds. The storylines revolve around dropping a single protagonist into an exotic land against huge adversity. In Far Cry 2, you are a mercenary dropped into a conflict zone in Africa while being stricken with malaria. In Far Cry 3, you’re a socialite on vacation trying to save your friends who have been kidnapped by a psycho island warlord. In Far Cry 4, you’re in the Himalayas, returning your mum’s ashes to a shrine, and once again are accosted by a murdering (but very charismatic) king. In Far Cry 5, you are in Hope County, Montana, fighting against essentially a Christian cult. So on and so forth.
In Far Cry New Dawn, you return to Hope County after a nuclear apocalypse has destroyed civilization. America has started to rebuild, and you are the chief security officer of a faction aiming to help communities set up the essential infrastructure they need to survive.
There isn’t any prior context; you’re shoved right into it.
This game’s antagonists are a pair of twins called Mickey and Lou, who terrorize the settlers of Hope County with their contingent of color-coded bandits (more on that later).
In the very first mission of the game, your transport is demolished, your leader is kidnapped, and most of your rebuilders are all dead, sans you. The nearby settlement of Prosperity rescues you, and you begin your quest to take back their homeland from the encroaching marauders.
With Far Cry 2 being the exception, 3 through 5 have strong narrative direction by putting you up against a larger-than-life villain who is not only intimidating but also has a sense of charm. 5 is the weakest by far, but the main antagonist is still captivating in his own culty way. To me, a trademark feature of Far Cry is that while the villains are clearly evil, I still wanted to interact with them more due to how well they were acted or portrayed.
Complimenting this external “pull” in terms of narrative, the protagonists consistently develop bonds with the community they are helping. Through interactions, dialogue, and natural progression, an internal “push” develops that compliments the “pull” to provide not only a strong compass but a desire to see the story through for the good of this fictional community. While typically not as well developed as the villains, it was still noticeable in Far Crys 3-5.
In this case, Far Cry New Dawn had none of that.
I could not care less about anyone in this game except for a boar companion called Horatio.
To start off, the twin villains are cartoonishly evil for sure, but they didn’t captivate me like the other antagonists in the series. I enjoyed their voice acting, and I suspect this irritation was due to their writing, but nothing resonated with me on a personal level. There was almost no character development or depth besides “villain bad.”
Compared to those who had come before, like Pagan Min from Far Cry 4, the Far Cry New Dawn twin villains seemed like very pale imitations and were almost what the shallowest person in the world would come up with if it came to creating a bad guy. I guess you could argue this is who they needed to be to survive, but their motivational backstory is a vague vignette or two about their dad being some sort of undisclosed gang leader teaching them his way of life. There isn’t any resolution whatsoever nor exploration into what truly makes these characters tick.
I felt it was a wasted opportunity because I, for one, was curious to find out more!
How did these two strong, albeit crazy, young women survive the apocalypse? How did they complement and build off each other to become the leaders of a bandit tribe? What happened to their father? Tell me more about the trials and tribulations of these sisters as they bent the wasteland into their personal playground! Think about how many of you readers can’t even organize your living rooms, whereas Mickey and Lou brought a county to heel!
Seemed like such a waste, and these two had the potential to be the best villains so far, in my opinion.
This lack of depth isn’t unique to them, however. Even Joseph Seed (the villain from the previous game) makes a return, but he likewise is lacking any of the presence he once had. He still elicits the impression of speaking to an eel in human form (which is great acting), but he’s just so…bleh.
Your compatriots fare no better.
I remember a scene where the guy who is supposed to be helping rebuild the infrastructure of the post-apocalypse gets killed by the twins. Yes, this is a spoiler, but you’re not playing this game for the story, so simmer down.
This is the veritable savior of Hope County up to this point, with everything built around rescuing and helping the man along. And you know what, I didn’t care that he got shot. Did not matter in the slightest.
To summarise the narrative and cast, everything felt very surface-level, disappointing, and, dare I say, “mailed in”? Cheap shock value, weird writing intended to appeal to a younger audience, and zero depth do not lend to the Far Cry I remember.
So What is Far Cry New Dawn? – Mechanics and Economy
A shameless cash grab; that’s all I can say about it.
Everything about this game struck me as an attempt to funnel as much money into Ubisoft’s pocket with as minimal effort as possible. Whoever made the ultimate decision to make the game like this should be ashamed.
The core gameplay loop is based around resource gathering and upgrading your gear to the next “tier” level because as you progress through the story, enemies will get stronger.
The enemies are differentiated by their various weaponry, from baseball bats to sniper rifles to flamethrowers to shotguns, etc. All this really has negligible impact due to the fact that the most important tactic is to match the color of your gun to the color of the enemy. The guns and enemies scale from gray to blue, to purple, and finally gold, arranged from the lowest quality to the highest.
If you are a gray gun user and fighting a blue enemy (higher tier), you’re in for a bad time. I hear you saying, “well that seems easy, forehead. Just go grab a blue gun!”
But it’s not that easy. Every minuscule step of the way requires a resource you must grind. Let me walk you through a flow chart, buckle up.
In order to even get the opportunity to build better guns, you have to first collect a resource called ethanol. This is done by raiding outposts or finding transports in the open world.
Upon acquiring enough ethanol, you need to upgrade your weapon’s bench to craft blue-tier weapons. To build a blue weapon, you need to get resources as well. Titanium, in particular, quickly becomes a bottleneck at this stage.
Then you need to move to purple weapons, which not only requires the aforementioned ethanol (but in greater quantities, of course) to upgrade your weapons bench to level 2, but you must also upgrade enough of the other stations in your home base to get the ENTIRE settlement to level 2.
This all requires, yes, you guessed it, MORE ethanol.
Purple weapons also cost much more in terms of raw material to build, so the already scarce titanium will once again need to be used alongside another scarce resource, like circuit boards! So on and so forth. This occurs across every layer of the Far Cry New Dawn progression system.
All the while, each weapon is non-customizable.
This may not seem like a big deal, but let’s say you want to use a silenced assault rifle, but you hate the scope on it; tough shit, that’s the one you have to use. This means that if you want to use different guns of the SAME category for different purposes, you will have to craft additional versions of the same weapon type.
So why is this first part a cash grab? Well, we’ve established the upgrade process is lengthy and clunky. So, if you are tired of collecting everything, you can actually BUY the resources you need with cold hard cash. Simply put in that pin number and let Pappy Ubisoft suckle you into sweet release. Hell, you can even buy the gun outright if you want!
This business model is not unique to Far Cry New Dawn. For example, another Ubisoft property (notice a trend here?) called Assasin’s Creed: Odyssey has the option to purchase resources, but that is one of my favorite games of all time. That is because Odyssey had so much else going on that it didn’t give me the impression I would ever really need to purchase anything at all.
By comparison, this game feels like the Monopoly Man wearing a Far Cry New Dawn hat. There isn’t much else to engage with except for this system of crafting, shooting, looting, and more crafting.
But hang on, it gets worse.
The map is basically the same as the previous game, albeit smaller.
Yes, the parts that are redacted are on the outskirts, but that doesn’t change the fact that they threw some new textures on the exact same framework. It’s not an issue of what they redacted; it’s that the rest of the game is so lacking when they clearly didn’t have to spend as much time world-building.
Continuing this half-ass theme, the enemies are likewise ridiculous.
In all the games I’ve played, I’ve yet to come across enemy grunts as alert or accurate as these ones. Even while stealthed and using a silent weapon, I’ve been pinpointed from 100-200 in-game meters away after an arrow I shot missed a target. This somehow alerted every guard in the encampment, and they all started sprinting toward my location.
I was able to get away by relocating, but I noticed that they kept following me, even if they never fully had caught sight of me. These games typically have a “detection meter” that fills up as you are more visible, and even with that meter never reaching full, a trail of baddies followed my movements through the underbrush.
What’s more, these guards are insanely accurate.
After I eventually got spotted, someone from the other side of a settlement driving a car using a pistol managed to hit me multiple times while I reloaded. Each and every unit has this level of accuracy, which quickly leads to situations spiraling wildly out of control. Cover means almost nothing, and it gave me the impression that the game wasn’t even modeling enemy projectile paths and instead was denoting, “okay, this guard shot this many bullets, the player is in their field of view, a certain percentage will register as hits.”
AI pathing had the ability to completely break down as well. Guards and allies would get stuck under vehicles, around doors, forget where the cover was, etc.
I’m not a game designer, but the experience all seemed very hodge-podge to me.
There were, of course, other aspects of the game that felt painted on as well. Vehicles, for instance, are atrocious to use, and I had to adjust the Field of View setting so I didn’t get nauseous. It is almost worth to wait on upgrading anything else and focus on getting fast travel unlocked as soon as possible so you can avoid experiencing the horror that is driving in Far Cry New Dawn.
On the topic of interacting with this open world, nothing felt immersive in the slightest, either. While traveling, you were truly struck but some odd situations that made it seem like the game was cutting corners to not only give the illusion that it is populated but to run smoothly at all!
For example, object permanence is inconsistent at best.
I was walking down an abandoned intersection to head to a quest location (because, again, driving sucks) when I saw a juicy truck full of ethanol careening down the road. Being the enterprising pissant I am, I promptly shot the driver and moved to commandeer the truck’s cargo. Just as I got in, another patrol of bandits pulled up and started taking potshots at me through the cabin windshield.
Not being one to take such an insult likely, the bandits were politely shown what it feels like to be dead.
This whole sequence took 30-40 seconds, and I moved maybe 50 in-game meters from the truck chasing down one guy hiding behind a tree.
You can imagine my chagrin as, upon turning around, the truck had promptly despawned (vanished into thin air), meaning this whole experience was worthless.
This is one small example of the game consistently making assets disappear for no reason when they aren’t in the player’s field of view. No idea why they wouldn’t prioritize keeping valuable resources on the map so you can make sure to collect them…..unless they want to make sure you have to keep toiling away for them…
Let’s say I had secured the truck in this instance; however, even then, you wouldn’t be safe because while the game despawns your valuable currency, it will also constantly drop enemies right on top of you from out of nowhere.
You can’t travel for more than 30 seconds in any direction without the sound of an approaching patrol, a predator growling, or the din of gunfire suddenly becoming apparent. Very much like the bullet pathing logic, if I had to sum up the game’s programming into a sentence, it would be: “the player has gone unmolested for a minute, insert hostile entity here and send them the player’s way.”
It feels artificial, and while it classifies as “stimuli,” I wouldn’t call it particularly fun after a while.
All these are to say that this gave me the impression that this is a game designed to extract cash with minimal investment in relation to anything that would make a game actually fun or engaging to play.
So Did You Enjoy Anything About Far Cry New Dawn?
Yes, the shooting audio experience is great, and the world is attractive.
That’s basically it.
When you actually get to use the ones you want, Far Cry New Dawn‘s guns were satisfying to use from a visual and audio perspective. It is for this reason that I made sure to play this with full headphones equipped instead of using my computer speakers.
Everything from the weapon swapping sound to the reloading animations to the actual firing of the rounds sounded really high quality and crisp. As you’d imagine, this was a huge juxtaposition from the rest of the game.
I distinctly remember, in a moment of frustration, unloading the entirety of my machine gun ammunition into the scenery just so I could hear the echoes. We all do what we can to have fun in this life, don’t judge me.
I found the most enjoyment stemming from using pistols and the bow and arrow. The pistols let out uncharacteristically large “booms” that you may not expect in a virtual setting, and the bow made a very recognizable “thunk” as it shot at targets. I made sure to always keep them on me.
The world is also objectively gorgeous. The NPCs look like mannequins, but the rest of the textures looked very appealing to me. The game has a ticking day and night cycle, which doesn’t add that much in terms of mechanics, but I did enjoy walking around and hearing things like the grass rustling, animals mewling, and the river bubbling. Of course, some twat would eventually come driving by on an ATV screaming to all heaven, but I took those moments when I could.
The colors that seemed very garish on enemy soldiers were splashed across the open world as well. Amongst the green of a gently recovering Hope County, I think the purples and pinks lent a nice contrast. The water is sparkling blue, and even the rust on structures seemed to shine.
Besides the atrocity known as driving in Far Cry New Dawn, another reason to upgrade the fast travel system is that you will get an option to airdrop above a location instead of being spawned on the ground. Taking in Hope County on the ground level is one thing; taking it in as you soar through the air with a jumpsuit is another thing entirely.
There is something romantic to me about seeing nature reclaiming structures that humanity has built, and that wasn’t lost on me in New Dawn. Far Cry games typically have a decent quality of atmosphere in the open world when you’re not being assaulted, so I’m glad to see that this was still present.
As covered above, settlement building was a bit of a slog, but I did like the little bell and whistle where if you ever upgraded a workshop, a little animation would play out showing your settlers or companions using the improved facilities; I typically like these little additions and found them cute.
Lastly, whether they did it well or not, it is fun to shoot things in a video game. The simple dopamine hit is there, and the experience of actually unloading your weapons at enemies is relatively smooth, albeit brain-dead, so I can’t take that away from them.
It won’t keep you hooked for more than 10 hours at the maximum, in my opinion, as there is nothing else supporting it, but it can be fun for a flash.
Should You Play Far Cry New Dawn?
Far Cry New Dawn does fulfill a specific niche, and that is if you are purely interested in the carnage, have zero interest in a narrative, and want to explore a pretty but artificial world. So many things seem unfinished or lazily implemented that one can only think that they made it this way on purpose to incentivize additional input of your hard-earned cash to circumvent the grinding. This has become a trend in big studios recently, and I, for one, do not enjoy it.
Why would you give players the option to spend money to skip most of the game you designed? Shouldn’t you want people to enjoy what you’ve created? In this case, it seems not.
The series has long strayed past anything I would consider innovative and is growing stale on the vine. I can’t say that it’s dying because I’m sure the franchise is extremely lucrative, but my final question to you is, “should it be?”
Personally, I will likely not play a Far Cry game again for many years because of this experience. Buy this if you want to just chill out, not pay attention, and shoot at things, I suppose, but I wish I had my 10 dollars back.
I’m rating this game 2/5. It should be 1.5/5, but I enjoy the reloading sounds too much; it does okay as a mindless shooter for a few hours, and neon pink/blue are my colors. Plus, Horatio the boar is my friend.
Far Cry New Dawn starts at $39.99; it is available from Ubisoft, Steam, and other retailers, including Amazon.
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Source: Personal Purchase
What I Like: Beautiful scenery when you get a chance to look around; The combat is okay; Excellent audio from weapons
What Needs Improvement: Puddle deep narrative and characters; Ridiculous economy; Seems to be designed so you pay cash for things to expedite progress