Far Cry New Dawn Review: Finding Beauty In The Apocalypse
Describing Far Cry New Dawn as just more of the same wouldn't be inaccurate, but it doesn't give the full picture. While technically this new entry in the long-running series does take place in the same Hope County as Far Cry 5 and feature a handful of returning characters, it's much more than just an expansion.
This is a full-fledged sequel that totally transforms the region, expands on what you can do, and introduces a fresh new perspective that doesn't take itself anywhere near as seriously as its predecessor.
Basically, Far Cry New Dawn is a combination of the best parts from Far Cry 5 with just enough bright, new, colorful ideas to shake things up a bit.
Welcome Back To Hope County
When Far Cry New Dawn was first announced at the Game Awards late last year, a lot of people were understandably confused. Since it featured the same Hope County from the last game, as well as recurring environments, assets, and even characters, the big question in everyone's mind was whether this was an expansion or a new game. The answer is sort of both.
Far Cry New Dawn is a standalone direct sequel to Far Cry 5 and Ubisoft is only charging $39.99 since it's not a totally new game. But what you get for that price is something that has almost as much content as a full Far Cry release.
Far Cry New Dawn is a combination of the best parts from Far Cry 5 with just enough bright, new, colorful ideas to shake things up a bit
In New Dawn, you take on the role of either a man or woman that's the head of a security detail for some shipment that gets attacked. You're in the process of leading a caravan of survivors to Prosperity, the home of the Good Guys in the post-nuclear wasteland. The caravan gets intercepted by The Twins and their army, everyone is killed except for you and a young woman named Carmina, and you're tasked with helping her get back home and regroup.
What follows are three Acts, approximately two dozen main missions in total, and a pretty by-the-numbers story about the struggle for survival and fighting off attackers.
If you played Far Cry 5, there are plenty of references and returning characters that connect the two stories, which is nice, but on its own, New Dawn didn't impress me much from a narrative perspective. I also felt a bit uncomfortable with the fact that The Twins were some of the only minority characters in the entire game and they're cast as the deranged, psychotic villains hell-bent on murdering your entire village of people for no real reason.
The main story can be completed in about 10-15 hours, depending on how distracted you get by the slew of other activities. If you want to go all-out and do every challenge, outpost, expedition, side mission, and more on all the difficulty levels, then you could easily double your time investment, or more. Throw in a buddy for some co-op mayhem and things can get out of hand extremely quickly.
And that's a big part of what makes Far Cry so much fun still. The framework from past games (especially Far Cry 5) is all intact for New Dawn, but by giving Hope County an irradiated coat of new paint, then blossoming a beautifully colorful new landscape over the top, it all feels pretty fresh.
The new cast of companions are all great additions (especially Timber, the best video game dog of all-time, obviously) and I always found myself eager to hunt them down and unlock them to come along on missions. Since they all have their own specialty, it's beneficial to have a large roster to pick from so you can bring the right one for the given situation.
The End Of The World As We Know It
In Far Cry New Dawn, you'll mostly be doing lots of the traditional Far Cry things. That means liberating outposts, completing side missions, uncovering hidden stashes, upgrading your base, and slowly unlocking new weapons, vehicles, perks, and more. This is still very much a Far Cry game clearly built atop the structure of Far Cry 5.
If you liked Far Cry 5, you'll probably like Far Cry New Dawn.
And honestly? It totally works. If you liked Far Cry 5, you'll probably like Far Cry New Dawn. If you thought Far Cry 5 was a bit melodramatic and serious for its own good (I kind of felt that way), then you'll probably really like the pink splashes of personality in New Dawn.
Typically speaking, I'm just not the type of person that's much of a completionist in these sorts of games, but I found it incredibly hard to resist the urge to do everything that popped up on my map in New Dawn.
The excellent thing here is that everything has a reward attached that makes it worth your while — even if it's just crafting materials.
For example, clearing Outposts often unlocks differently themed attire to put on your badass hero, which can lead to some ridiculously satisfying outfits (shown below).
Same Dog, New Tricks
Going beyond the surface level differences though, New Dawn lives up to its name in some ways by actually doing some new things for the series, primarily through the introduction of Expeditions. These are quick missions you that transport you to a totally new area outside of the game map.
Expeditions ended up being so fun I wished there had been more of them to do.
For example, there are Expeditions that take place at a run down amusement park, an aircraft carrier, and even on Alcatraz island. The locations are all super creative and each time you finish one, you unlock a harder difficulty version with new enemies and obstacles. With seven to pick from, there is some good variety, but the Expeditions ended up being so fun I wished there had been more of them to do.
The Expeditions play out a bit like heist operations in that you need to get in, secure a package, get out, and meet the chopper at the extraction point. Obviously, stealth is very viable for these missions, but running in guns blazing is a ton of fun as well.
Co-op works just as well as you'd expect with elegant drop-in, drop-out features. I'm guessing there is voice chat, but when we tried it, we just used Discord on PC. When you're in co-op you can't use any of your other companions, unfortunately, so I had to leave Timber behind. He's really just such a good boy.
Far Cry New Dawn ran wonderfully. I never had a single crash, UPlay was a breeze, and I was even able to redeem some of my accrued UPlay credits for in-game skins on vehicles and weapons without any problems.
Usually none of that is really worth mentioning, but Ubisoft deserves some credit here for delivering a rock-solid game that's packed with things to do.
The only bug I ever ran into (Timber, the dog companion mentioned earlier, got stuck under a flight of stairs during the mission to rescue him) was quickly resolved by just reloading my save and trying again.
For this review I played on a PC with a GTX980Ti, 32GB RAM, and an Intel Core i7-6700K CPU. Not bleeding-edge, but more than capable, and I never had issues playing at the highest settings with a steady framerate that hovered right around 60fps on a 1440p monitor. A GameSkinny colleague that I tried co-op with, Jonathan Moore, was running his game in 4K on high settings with a framerate right around 52fps without issues. He's got a slightly more powerful setup, but not by much.
- Beautiful environments
- Expeditions are fun and varied
- New companions are great additions
- Tons of things to do solo or in co-op
- Forgettable story
- Ultimately this is still Hope County again
If you were expecting Far Cry New Dawn to reinvent what it means to explore an open world sandbox, then you're looking at the wrong game franchise. As far as iterative sequels go that simply expand on their predecessor to offer something nuanced and new in just the right ways, it doesn't get much better than Far Cry New Dawn.
Ubisoft's bright, bombastic, and beautiful brand of the apocalypse is one that I couldn't help but want to keep exploring beyond the lackluster main story — even if I do get a minor sense of déjà vu when looking at the map.
[Note: A copy of Far Cry New Dawn on PC was provided digitally via UPlay by Ubisoft for the purpose of this review.]