Ubisoft’s stand-alone Far Cry expansions have generally experimented with new settings that may not warrant a full title on its own right. Ubisoft is continuing the trend for 2019, delivering an apocalypse themed follow up to Far Cry 5. Set in Hope County twenty years after the nuclear blast that leveled the United States, the survivors of Hope County and the cultists of New Eden are forced to work together to fight off the highwaymen led by ruthless twins Mickey and Lou.
Far Cry New Dawn does its best to link itself with the events of Far Cry 5. After playing the previous game, it’s nice to see old characters twenty years later. The plot tries to be serious at times, but it appears the writers are starting to embrace the franchise’s over the top nature and do away with any real moralizing. The game still has its quirky cast of characters, but a few of them fall flat for being a little too one dimensional. Far Cry New Dawn is much like a summer blockbuster: don’t take it too seriously and just enjoy the ride.
Mechanically speaking, Far Cry New Dawn feels like a more polished take on Far Cry 5. The map has only received some slight cosmetic changes, with new treasure hunts and missions added to the game. Many of the weapons from Far Cry 5 make their return, albeit with a more post-apocalyptic look.
The perk system has been cleaned up significantly. A few perks have been merged together and some new ones have been added. Most importantly, earning perk points is significantly easier in Far Cry New Dawn. The number of challenges has been increased and extra perk points can be earned from finding perk magazines at the end of treasure hunt missions and rescuing civilians. Players can now stick with a playstyle that suits them best and still get enough perk points for their build. Alternatively, challenge hunters can also max out their perk points early. Best of all, hunting and fishing challenges require significantly less kills to complete, especially the pesky bird hunts.
The gun play continues to be enjoyable in Far Cry New Dawn. The game is on the arcade side of the spectrum, but players should not expect to tank a ton of bullets without going down. The developers have opted for a clearer RPG like approach to weapons this time around, with weapon mods being dropped. Unfortunately, we don’t get more guns beside the new saw launcher, so the loss of the mod system stings. Weapons and enemies are separated by tiers, so players will be discarding guns over time in favour of shinier toys.
The merchant system has been overhauled to make room for a crafting system. Instead of hard currency, players will get a variety of crafting materials in exchange for their meat and pelts. The crafting system is basic and doesn’t feel much different from the old merchant system in practice.
Progression is tied to the town of Prosperity’s level. As players save specialists who can help improve the town and complete story missions, the town increases in levels and better facilities are able to be built. Players will need to raid ethanol trucks, capture supply drops, and take over outposts to get the ethanol needed to upgrade facilities. It’s a bit of a grind to max out all the facilities, but most are nice extras rather than must have upgrades.
Far Cry New Dawn ticks off all the boxes in the Far Cry level and mission design check list. It’s all there: the sniper missions, the rail vehicle shooting, the hallucinogenic drug fueled trip, the stealth mission, and almost every other shooter trope out there. Everything is generally done well, but no mission is ever unique enough to really stand out from the pack.
New to Far Cry New Dawn are expeditions. These are similar to Far Cry 5’s arcade mode, except all the missions are made by Ubisoft. These missions follow the same rhythm of assaulting or sneaking into a base, grabbing a supply package, then fleeing to a hold out zone until your extraction arrives. The missions seem a bit repetitive in theory, but it provides more content to augment liberating outposts and gives players some new scenery.
I’m still waiting for a true co-op experience in Far Cry. Far Cry 5 was an improvement, allowing co-op for all missions. Unfortunately, Far Cry New Dawn doesn’t build on this, as the second player still can’t save their mission progression.
Being built on Far Cry 5, New Dawn’s controls are pretty much the same. The UI is simple and well designed. The number of key bindings is kept to a minimum and stick with the standard FPS layout. Menus are easy to navigate, with some changes made specifically for PC users.
Unfortunately, the PC version of Far Cry New Dawn suffers from many of the flaws as Far Cry 5 during the initial release. While this was fixed in a later patch, the issue with Far Cry 5 messing with Windows’ microphone volume rears its ugly head once again in New Dawn. The PC key bindings options are still messy, with vehicle binds overwriting ground bindings, and vice versa.
Far Cry New Dawn does a good job of turning Far Cry 5’s slice of Americana into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. While players are sure to recognize major buildings from the previous game, the artists have created a map where nature is slowly reclaiming the land. The weapon design is spot on, with all the firearms being held together with zip ties, pipe straps, and anything else salvaged from the wreckage of Hope County. The only weakness is the number of NPC textures. There is little variety. Seeing the same handful of NPCs milling around the world breaks the feeling of immersion and makes the world feel dead.
The audio experience in Far Cry New Dawn is very good. The voice acting is solid, which is what we’ve come to expect from the Far Cry franchise. The sound effects continue to be excellent. The new soundtrack is a mix of classic video game scores, hip hop, and electronic music. There are a lot of copyrighted music in the soundtrack, so Ubisoft has wisely added an option to play only music safe for streaming in the menu.
Far Cry New Dawn offers a more polished take on Far Cry 5’s mechanics. It’s good enough that I wish they would go back and implement the changes to challenges and perks in 5. While the loss of the mod system and the reappearances of some old issues with Far Cry 5 is lamentable, Far Cry New Dawn is still an enjoyable ride. For what it’s worth, the game has slightly less content, but it’s at a reduced price.
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