Last summer, I played through all of the Far Cry games (Far Cry: Classic, 2, 3, Blood Dragon, 4, Primal, and 5) with a great appreciation and joyful experiences from most of them. Far Cry New Dawn is the first game in the series that directly follows the events of any other title, and was sort of a “surprise sequel” in that it was announced just two months ago out of nowhere. Now, it’s here and I played through everything it has to offer. Is this game a great successor to one of my favorite in the series, or does this mean a New Dawn of mediocrity is shining upon this franchise?
As mentioned, this game picks up after the explosive events of FC5, in which the game ends with nuclear war. 17 years later, Mother Nature has taken back the world (metaphorically) and formed lush, beautiful areas full of dense vegetation and vibrant colors splashed across the landscape. Following in the footsteps of Blood Dragon and Primal, New Dawn uses assets of the previous numbered game in order to build the world and fill it with everything it has to offer… literally, New Dawn uses the map of Far Cry 5, most of the weapons, some of the vehicles, and even a few of the characters as well.
Except, everything is a little bit different. The map is smaller due to radiation zones imprisoning the perimeter, the weapons have ranks due to… I don’t know, monetization or fake difficulty, and there are no airplanes because, well, there would be no point. There’s not much going on in the game aside from some random events that take about 10 seconds to either put an end to or get around (at most, 3 enemies will pass you on the road and cause a mini shoot-out) which is hardly anything to keep you playing after you beat the game.
The campaign itself is the first story since the first game that I found just ridiculously unfascinating. The protagonist in the initial title was at least a character, while this guy (I couldn’t tell you his name or even a nickname with a gun to my head) has literally nothing to offer. He’s a Jesus-figure that comes in to save the world yet there is nothing special about him at all. Everything about the person we play as, we’re told via characters we don’t trust (the villain of the last game) and that’s all we have to go on. As with most Far Cry games, the story doesn’t really revolve entirely around our character, though, which would be easier to say if our character wasn’t damn Superman.
The real meat of the story revolves around the Twins and New Eden, both of which offer antagonistic forces to the population and each other. The Twins are two young, murderous, power-hungry ladies (like all Far Cry villains now) who want to take over the world? That’s what I think, but who knows? And then New Eden, of course, is just Far Cry 5 Part II to keep the story going and to milk whatever else they can out of the pretty great villain (which is the one thing that I really loved about this game). So that I don’t seem completely negative about my experience, let’s focus on Joseph Seed for a paragraph.
The main antagonist in FC5 was Joseph Seed, a sort of prophetic cult leader who promised his followers that if they said “yes” to him and his ways, they would be accepted by God as his children, yada yada yada. Anyways, by either divine intervention or ridiculous coincidence, his Armageddon came to pass and the world exploded in nuclear flame. Well, he survived and retreated into the mountains to try to understand exactly what God wants from him. In this game, he’s much more tame and likable, offering story missions that show his compassion and understanding that, maybe, being right wasn’t actually a good thing. Maybe he was a villain this entire time. It’s touching and really the only reason I’d recommend picking this game up. Now that we got that out of the way…
One of the things I hate most about this game is the previously alluded to “fake difficulty.” If you’ve ever played a video game with a boss you have to beat, you’ll probably be familiar with the term “bullet sponge;” an enemy that can take dozens to hundreds of bullets in order for them to die. It’s like their health is the summation of all their perished minions and it’s our job to drain every bit of it. What’s even more ridiculous is when the boss is the same species as the grunts, and there’s no reason for an increased amount of health aside from… you guessed it, fake difficulty. In this game, pretty much every enemy is a bullet sponge. Headshots aren’t headshots anymore, and you have to have the right “rank” of weapon to kill the right “rank” of baddie.
A Rank 1 weapon will dispatch a Rank 1 enemy pretty easily, but use a Rank 1 sniper on a Rank 3 baddie and the bullet to the head will only bruise. Or, my favorite: use a Rank 1 bow on a Rank 4 Elite and your arrow will hardly even tickle. Far Cry. A game series that offers amazing gameplay right off the bat in every title because you can march into ANY area and take out everybody with bow and arrows. Now, you can’t because a) Ubisoft wants this game to feel more challenging and rewarding or b) they want you to spend actual money to buy better weapons so that you can play Far Cry New Dawn as if was, well, a Far Cry game. As a Far Cry fan, that’s what I did. And yes, it was an absolute blast using the best bow in the game at the start but it made the game easy and unrewarding. It’s a lose-lose scenario playing this game as it offers poor choices all around.
One other element that I did like, though, was the inclusion of Expeditions. These extra missions were fun because the game would take you away from Hope County to a distant area so that you could capture the enemy package (materials and Intel, I’m guessing), fight off endless baddies, and escape in a hail of gunfire. It’s a lot of fun. What’s lame about it, though, is that they totally missed the opportunity to revisit areas from Far Cry 1, 2, 3, and 4. Being able to see what parts of those maps look like post-apocalypse would have been simply incredible. Instead, we go to places that we have no connection to at all and, frankly, don’t give a damn about.
To recap thus far, the story is a chore to wade through, the “rank” of weapons and enemies takes all real fun and difficulty out of the game, there’s nothing special about our protagonist, everything feels recycled, and the “extra” things to do are just disappointing. But wait, there’s more. There is no dynamic weather, just a day-night cycle. There are two types of collectibles, one of which just adds new songs to the Survivor Radio playlist (which actually kicks ass), and another just allows you to view what a location looked like in the game that immediately preceded this. We know what it looked like, we just spent 30-40 hours there last year. I think the part of it all that bothers me the most is that all of these problems can be circled back to one word: “lazy.”
Why are bad guys bullet sponges? Well, maybe their DNA was altered by radiation. There are animals that this obviously happened to, who have incredible amounts of health, are covered in greenery, and look like they’re made out of Earth itself. They have the same “Elite” crown floating above them as a label as the Elite Highwaymen…why isn’t the same logic applied to both? Laziness. Why are there weapon ranks? Fake difficulty and a facade of gameplay length…laziness? A lack of dynamic weather, which was an element that people had a problem within the last game; a problem that could have easily been rectified in this game, but nope. And perhaps an element that Far Cry does better than ALL other first-person games: the takedown. There’s only one in this game: a simply silent takedown that lasts too long, and the animation is always similar. The game sometimes mentions “Chain Takedown” or “Sidearm Takedown” on screen, but those prompts never worked for me even when I tried to get them exclusively for an hour at a time. Why is this? It rhymes with “this game isn’t as impressive as I would have hoped, but what did I expect in a game that was announced two months before it’s release?” and “laziness.”
This game didn’t deliver much to me while I was playing it and it offers next to nothing for after you beat it. It took me 14 hours and 46 minutes to get to the end of the campaign and exactly one hour more to get the Platinum trophy. Nearly 16 hours of gameplay means that this is the third shortest game only beating Far Cry Classic and Far Cry Blood Dragon, the latter of which is debatably the greatest thing in the entire franchise. Now, you have the third shortest game only because of fake difficulty and fake game length, missions that are nothing but busy work, and really nothing to do after you hit 100%. New Game Plus would be decently interesting but with the ability to unlock the best guns at the start of your first playthrough, what’s the point in NG+?
All in all, I’m disappointed. I haven’t pre-ordered and purchased a Far Cry game since December 2012, and I’m not that happy that I did with this one. Thankfully, it was only $40 but I think it should’ve been less than that even, by about 50%… or free for FC5 season pass holders. There’s not much else here that I want to discuss, I think I’ve made my disappointment clear and I was having a great day before I decided to write this. I hate being negative but I like reflecting on things, so when I decide to play all of the FC games before FC6, I can remind myself which games would be better left unplayed.
As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!