Far Cry New Dawn Review: Smart Gameplay Makes Up For Lacking Story

Far Cry New Dawn has awesome gameplay, even if the story isn't that engaging Ubisoft

The world as we know it has ended in Far Cry New Dawn. Electronics are virtually useless, gas is running out and society is collapsing. Don’t worry, because there are still plenty of guns and explosives!

Far Cry New Dawn takes the traditional Far Cry gameplay formula and mixes it up just enough to feel pretty fresh, but not all of the gameplay changes are necessarily positive ones. The biggest disappointment is the story, which never picks up enough to get you invested in any of the new or returning characters.

Everything starts with Prosperity. This base of operations is where many of the familiar faces from Far Cry 5 have taken residence after returning aboveground once the dangers of nuclear radiation died down. Throughout your adventures in Far Cry New Dawn, you’ll return to Prosperity to strengthen its defenses and make powerful upgrades to things like craftable weapons, health and NPC allies.

New Dawn's Outposts can be captured again and again to maximize your valuable resources Photo: Ubisoft

While Far Cry New Dawn will feel immediately familiar to a returning Far Cry 5 player, there are a few key differences. The biggest and best change is with Outposts. Players still clear enemies out of Outposts to claim them as their own and earn rewards for doing so, like always. However, now players can choose to abandon those Outposts in exchange for Ethanol, a crucial and limited resource in the post-apocalypse. Outposts become repopulated with enemies, while also becoming stronger and more challenging. Players can return to the surrendered Outpost and claim it again, earning even more rewards. This gives an incentive to keep flipping Outposts and returning to fuel (literally and figuratively) your upgrades at Prosperity.

Another key difference is Far Cry New Dawn’s shift to what Ubisoft is calling a “light RPG”. Enemies now all have health bars above their heads, and are divided up into four categories of difficulty. Weapons are also divided up into the same categories, so a level 2 weapon will tear through level 1 enemies, but will not be as strong against level 3 baddies.

This largely doesn’t impact gameplay much, until the end. Almost all story missions have level 1 and 2 enemies, with some featuring one or two level 3 opponents as a challenge. The final mission has max-powered enemies, and requires you to have a full line of the best weapons. I was fine with the weapons I had going through most of the game, but had to do some minor grinding to be able to craft weapons good enough to finish one of the final missions, which was a bit annoying and threw off the pace a little.

The final major difference in Far Cry New Dawn are the Expeditions. These short missions take players out of Hope County and across the rest of America to pick up rare supplies. These missions all have similar gameplay (get in, get the package and survive until you can escape), but offer a nice variety of locations to explore what you haven’t seen yet. Expeditions are a nice way to change the pace up a little, and offer fun breaks from storming Outposts.

The world of Far Cry New Dawn is both familiar and foreign at the same time Photo: Ubisoft

New Dawn not only plays familiar, it may look familiar to Far Cry 5 veterans. Many may be disappointed to know that major portions of the Far Cry 5 map are being reused for New Dawn , but even if things are laid out similar to how they were before the bombs dropped, everything has been updated to look unique and different. Roads are torn apart, buildings are crumbling. Nature has reclaimed many familiar buildings and monuments. One of my favorite things about exploring Far Cry New Dawn’s take on Hope County was seeing how something like the prison had been reworked into an evil forced labor camp or how the landscape around the rivers and lakes had been altered.

While Far Cry’s gameplay continues to shine, New Dawn’s story doesn’t quite match the same level of quality. So many familiar faces from Far Cry 5 all show up here, but the new villains Mickey and Lou aren’t that present. They do some evil stuff, and you want to end their reign of terror, but their backstory isn’t interesting enough and there isn’t enough time given to flesh out the characters to give them a human side. A dramatic moment at the end should have been filled with emotion, but it was more filled with relief that the story had reached a conclusion.

Far Cry New Dawn's enemies have different levels of difficulty, but never felt challenging until the very end Photo: Ubisoft

A Far Cry 5 spin-off wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the deranged cultists found in the original, and the Peggies from Far Cry 5 are still somewhat intact in New Dawn. Joseph Seed is still leading a group of people, except now they have actual superpowers. It’s kind of weird, but these abilities do make for some fun gameplay, especially the double jump move.

Far Cry New Dawn is like a really ugly race car. It is fast, fun, and is filled with so many moments of action gaming perfection. The gameplay tweaks, especially to Outposts and with the addition of Expeditions, keep it feeling fresh after playing Far Cry 5. Moment to moment gameplay is also still some of the best in gaming, with a great blend of easy to use stealth controls and run and gun mayhem. The world, while somewhat of a repeat from last game, kept me looking forward to finding the next landmark to see how age and nature had left it. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t interesting enough, or aren’t given enough time to make any of this great gameplay feel especially impactful. If there were a more engaging story here, Far Cry New Dawn could really have left a major impression. Instead, it lays a strong framework for the next Far Cry experience to hopefully deliver something more meaningful.

Far Cry New Dawn is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC on February 15.

So what do you think? Are you excited to head back out to Hope County in Far Cry New Dawn? What gameplay change are you most interested in exploring for yourself? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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