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Far Cry New Dawn Review - A Literal Apocalypse?

VO: Dave Thibault WRITTEN BY: DT
Far Cry New Dawn may not be a brand new era for the series, but this Far Cry 5 spinoff still has a lot to offer. Can Far Cry succeed in a post-apocalypse or do the microtransactions continue to stain the franchise.

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Far Cry New Dawn Review

War … War never change... wait wrong series. Far Cry … Far Cry slightly changes. An FPS series known for travelling to exoctic locations, climbing towers to uncover the map and clearing outposts, had its format turned on its head in last year’s 5th game, with a non-linear approach and missions now offered through exploration rather than towers. Now New Dawn takes another major step with the series by introducing RPG elements into its format, but it also takes a few steps back. At its budget price of $40, does this new entry offer enough to warrant a return to Hope County? Welcome to MojoPlays, and this is our review of Far Cry New Dawn.

Unlike previous Far Cry titles that are largely self-contained stories with the odd recurring character, New Dawn is a direct follow up to the previous game “Far Cry 5”. At the end of that game (Oh sorry Spoilers if the marketing didn’t already do that) Hope County was engulfed in a nuclear apocalypse, and the main villain survived. New Dawn takes place 17 years after those events, where instead of barren dead wasteland the world is instead undergoing a superbloom of new plant life. And Hope County with its absurdly high number of doomsday preppers manage to start over with a new peaceful life.

That is until a powerful gang of raiders known as The Highwaymen come to the county and take its resources by force. You play as a different silent protagonist dubbed “The Captain” whom is travelling with an armed envoy in the hopes of driving back the Highwaymen and rebuilding America. And just like the last game: things don’t go according to plan, and you come face to face with the game’s main villain … or in this case villains.

Our villains are the ruthless twin sisters Mickey and Lou. Their actresses Cara Ricketts & Leslie Miller both deliver great performances, with fantastic chemistry between the two of them almost to the point where it feels like they’re the same person with a creepy mental connection. And most importantly; their unsympathetic personalities really gives you a drive to keep on fighting. That said, their characters are rather two dimensional. Their whole backstory as to why they’re bloodthirsty conquerors basically boils down to “because their father was like that”. It isn’t exactly nuanced writing here, especially in the face of Joseph last year. Despite his rather misguided performance.

Speaking of Joseph Seed, he returns in this game too and while I won’t spoil too much about him, his performance is much better this time around, mostly because his personality fits better into the path his character has taken.

Which brings us to the overall structure of the game, unlike Far Cry 5’s non-linear story structure, New Dawn takes a more traditional approach. You start the game with Carmina Rye as your main ally, the daughter of Nick & Kim Rye whom players helped deliver as a baby in the previous game. From here she takes you to Hope County’s main home base “Prosperity”, and it’s up to the player to build up Prosperity strong enough to drive back the Highwaymen.

You do this by obtaining Ethanol, the game’s primary currency for base expansion, which you mostly earn through capturing outposts, with bonuses if you take these bases without triggering alarms, or don’t get detected by the enemy at all. You can also earn Ethanol by raiding Highwaymen supply drops that conveniently appear near you location, or by hijacking their fuel trucks and delivering the goods to your base or outposts. That said if you run low on Ethanol, the game does have a unique risk/reward factor to get more. You can choose to scavenge any outpost of its remaining Ethanol, and doing so will make the Highwaymen retake the outpost with stronger enemies, but if you retake the outpost again you’ll also get higher rewards. This brings us to the biggest change to the Far Cry format: The light RPG mechanics.

All of the games weapons, vehicles, enemies and wildlife predators are split into 4 Ranking. In order to obtain higher ranked guns and vehicles you’ll need upgrade Prosperity’s Garage and Weapons Bench respectively, while enemies will naturally rank up the further you progress into the story. Higher ranked enemies wear more layers of body armor, as well as helmets which can make headshots tricky to pull off. And as you may have noticed from the footage, numbers will appear whenever you shoot them to indicate how much damage you’re doing, you can choose to turn this feature off if you don’t like it, though I never found it to be an issue.

As for weapons, you’ll need to obtain different parts in order to craft them. Rank 1 weapons are easy to obtain as they can be crafted with common materials, though as you unlock stronger weapons you’ll also need more rarer materials. This loot can be obtained by scavenging the many ruined buildings throughout the world or … yeah … with in game microtransactions. The game has a premium currency which can purchase selected weapons and vehicles, loot packs, as well as skill perks. Thankfully I was able to clear the game without dropping a cent, and by the post game I had more materials than I knew what to do with, so the microtransaction thankfully don’t hurt the games progression.

Speaking of weapons, they’re pretty flashy this time around. The first weapon you’ll obtain is the Saw Launcher, a silent weapon that shoots circular saws at enemies. I don’t want to spoil its other unique feature but I would like to recreate for you my reaction the first time I fired it: “HOLY SHIT! THAT WAS F***** AWESOME!” Yeah it’s pretty cool, unfortunately it’s the only unique weapon in the game. While there are upgraded versions of the Saw Launcher, the rest of the weapons are your typical pistols, shotguns and rifle etc. Though be it with some unconventional parts attached to them for upgrades. And hilarious descriptions.

As the game is a direct sequel to Far Cry 5, New Dawn is a repurposed iteration of 5’s map. Although the majority of Jacob’s region as well as parts of Faith’s region are largely inaccessible which is disappointing. That said the landscape has seen a massive change in the last 17 years, (Nuclear Bombs will do that) as many of the landmarks now lie in ruins or have been repurposed to fit the Highwaymen’s twisted needs. The game even takes advantage of this overhauled map through one side mission where you’re given a set of photographs that were taken of landmarks before the war, and you have to use your memory of Far Cry 5 to find their locations, yes it’s another feature that Ubisoft ripped from Breath of the Wild, but I ain’t complaining, I wish more open world games would do quests like this.

The Prepper Stash Treasure Hunts are back too and they are better than ever, highlighting some of the game’s most memorable moments through the use of puzzle solving or more difficult platforming sections this time around. Plus each of these hideouts often contains diaries or audio tapes of what happened to some of characters from “5” that don’t appear in New Dawn, this isn’t just limited to side missions too, as random houses also contain diaries that further expand on the franchises world building between the two titles. There aren’t as many missions in this game as “5” hence the $40 budget price, and I was able to complete the main story as well as most of the side quests in about 12 hours, with another 4-6 to clear post game content.

Once again don’t have to experience the game alone, as Co-op with a second player returns, though only on the hosts save file but with both players collecting any loot obtained. I played through a significant amount of the game in co-op, and where it worked best was in the outpost missions where my wife an I coordinated with each other the best course of action to take some bases. But some story missions aren’t designed to handle 2 players as they often require the player to get into a specific vehicle with only one seat available. If you don’t have someone to play Co-Op with the Guns For Hire system returns as well, series regular Hurk returns with his Rocket launcher, and he’s joined by some new faces. There’s Carmina Rye who’s basically an all-round partner, Gina who uses a heavy machine gun to mow down hordes of enemies, though my personal favourite was Nana, an elderly woman who uses a silenced sniper rifle and delivers some hilarious quips while taking down bad guys. Basically the best grandma I never had. Unfortunately there’s no way to allow for two guns for hire in your party at the same time like the previous game, which is very disappointing.

Another disappointment is that there’s no planes you can fly this time around, Though helicopters are still available. There’s also no Arcade mode, that has been replaced with The Expeditions, which take you to locations scattered throughout the United States such as aircraft carrier in Florida, or Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco. While their locations are very well designed and offer unique locations when you’re tired of the overgrown forests, they unfortunately lose their novelty quickly due to repetition, as their missions are always: find a GPS-rigged bag filled with lots of loot, (not sure why you can’t just break the GPS tracker) then get to an extraction point and hold out against enemies until the chopper arrives to get you out of there. Nevertheless, clearing these missions offer vast amounts of resources ensuring that you’ll never run out of anything necessary.

Still my time with New Dawn reminded me why I loved Far Cry 5 last year. The desire to venture out into the world and slowly explore each and every structure or hideout I came across, was so enjoyable that I would easily get sidetracked to find out more of what happened here. I did run into a handful of bugs, including the odd restart when my character suddenly couldn’t move. And while the story itself is a bit more straightforward this time around, there was one particular WTF moment towards the end of the game that felt really out of place.

Overall I did enjoy Far Cry New Dawn immensely though not without a few reservations, while there’s less content than the previous game, and the Light RPG mechanics makes it feel more like an experimental game than a total package. There’s a lot to be enjoyed here and it’s finally great to see the tale of Hope County get some proper closure. So If you enjoyed the last game but hated the ending, I would still recommend this for you. And given the $40 opening price I can still say that it’s worth venturing into Far Cry’s Montana one last time. Still, given the opportunity, I think we need to end this title in the proper internet way.

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