Ubisoft dropped its Far Cry New Dawn standalone expansion almost a year after the release of Far Cry 5. It’s not entirely a new game in the series but has enough of its own charms to make it feel somewhat fresh. Place a customizable silent protagonist (either male or female) into the heart of a fictitious post-apocalyptic USA setting (the result of the Far Cry 5 ending) and you have a reason to partake in all the killing, crafting and hunting all over again. New Dawn doesn’t stray too far from its predecessor’s quirks keeping things well familiar, but if you rinsed out Far Cry 5 then this serves as a neat after dinner snack.
Ubisoft isn’t selling Far Cry New Dawn as a full-priced game. The map appears smaller and the story bested in a shorter time-frame. What you do have in Hope County are a number of activities which form around building up a base of operations called Prosperity . The idea is to acquire Ethanol as a resource for upgrading various helpful facets of the base, like weapons crafting, but also rescuing or enlisting the assistance of key NPCs. Some will man stations at the base and others will act as AI companions, or Guns for Hire who assist against the new opposition called the Highwaymen. This gangster group is led by the twin characters Lou and Mickey who rule with an iron fist.
Without going into any spoilers here the story works well as closure from Far Cry 5 but playing the previous game isn’t a necessity. Players can hate on the twins and their minions quite effectively from the opening moments.
What is quite different by design in New Dawn is the overt ranking system which puts makeshift weapons into grades which in turn reflect on their effectiveness against similar graded opposition. It works but is rather regimental. Players can attack enemies with any weapons but the grading system basically acts as a warning that you’re going to have a hard time of it without the right color coded weapon.
Stealth is still a massive part of the gameplay for those who choose as is simply wandering the lands looking for enemy outposts to clear out. Civilians need rescuing and wild animals attack at every opportunity. The persistent open-world offers actions happening without the player input which provides neat random moments.
Going back to the Guns For Hire characters and it (once upgraded) they change the game considerably. The old lady Nana character for example is an expert sharpshooter who effectively acts as a player enabled cheat. With the right commands she is able to take out anyone from a far including clearing out the toughest of outposts – once scavenged become repopulated with tougher enemies. This nets more ethanol and is an optional action if desired.
Wandering the lands of Hope County on foot, by air, boat or ground vehicle feels great, with handy navigation options and the ability to shoot anyone when behind the wheel. It can get rather hectic though as tougher highwaymen and animals start patrolling when your character progresses the story.
Visually, New Dawn is similar to Far Cry 5 with pleasant visuals all-round set within a distinctive day and night cycle. However, post nuclear fallout, a distinct splattering of pink is a common theme you can’t escape from. Performance seems quite fair with a range of options on PC at least to tinker to get the best fps for a wide range of systems. Maxed out at 4K, and with HDR options enabled brings out the best visuals making for a nice looking game. As an open world experience, some glitches occur as expected, but probably the biggest issue lies with the poor AI who seem to act a little too disengaged at times.
Audio again is of a very high standard, with great performances from the NPCs. Not a word uttered from your character outside of grunts and groans though which fits but does make for a dry experience in some instances. Cleared an outpost, good, I’ll just stand here and grin. Music is top-quality although an acquired taste no doubt, fusing licensed tracks with Ubisoft’s own compositions.
In terms of longevity, enough content is available for completionists to scour the map and hunt down everything. The story and some side missions like the all new expeditions which require an item collected and returned whilst under heavy attack and which occur outside of the main map will dip into double figures play-time. No map editing or Arcade this time for post story messing about. New Dawn doesn’t include any multiplayer either although Hope County is playable in co-op which is a neat option.
Far Cry New Dawn is a pleasant return to the story of Far Cry 5. The twins are somewhat cliche characters, lacking true menace for hardened gamers – unlike the memorable Vaas character from Far Cry 3. It’s a neat package overall with lots to see and do but falls well within the painting by numbers remit of the series in recent times. If it’s more of the same you’re looking for with a lick of pink paint, then there’s fun to be had here. If Far Cry 5 was enough for you, then you won’t find anything more here to peak your interest. Cool game overall, but somewhat too familiar to really raise the pulse and get the juices flowing.