When Far Cry New Dawn was first announced, I was dead against it. As I wrote in my piece on Far Cry 5 I think its ending is the best in any game, and to sully that with a continuation really rubbed me the wrong way. SPOILERS for Far Cry 5: it ended with a nuclear apocalypse, and this game is a direct sequel set in the aftermath; a post-apocalyptic Far Cry game, with new villains but returning characters, including “The Father” Joseph Seed. I came around though, because it seemed to be handling it quite well; Joseph seemed well integrated, the new villains being a pair of twins (seen above) eager to let everyone know that the new order is survival of the fittest and the abundance of bright colours and violence gradually won me over, and so here we are. I loved Far Cry 5 and I still do, so let’s see if this is a worthy sequel, shall we?
Seventeen years after the nukes fell, a man named Thomas Rush travels America by train, helping out settlements and generally working to rebuild society. You play his create-a-character Captain of Security, who ends up stranded in the woods near Hope County, Montana after the aforementioned train is attacked by a gang of Darwinian Bandits called “The Highwaymen”. The Highwaymen are a huge gang with chapters all over the remnants of the U.S., but this one is lead by two twin sisters called Mickey and Lou (seen above), a constant thorn in the side of “Prosperity”, a camp run by Kim and Nick Rye, with help from their daughter Carmina. In order to turn the tide, the Captain is sent to make contact with New Eden, a technology-averse group with seemingly superhuman powers living to the North, lead by The Father; Joseph Seed. The exact nature of New Eden and how they factor into things will remain a secret for spoiler reasons, but it’s at the point they’re introduced that the game really kicks into gear. Of the new characters, most of them are exceedingly dull. Rush in particular has nothing of note going on at all, the only interesting thing about him being his Task Force 141 jacket, which raises the question of whether Far Cry exists in the same universe as Modern Warfare, which I’m sure isn’t the only thing Ubisoft wanted me to take away from his presence. His skills at rebuilding settlements are only paid lip service, and he has very little impact on the plot overall. The new Guns and Fangs for hire aren’t a patch on the old ones, except for Pastor Jerome, who returns from FC5, and new character The Judge, who has some cool implications story wise but never speaks or does anything other than kill people with a bow. The new, non-twin antagonist is barely developed and ends up as an anti-climactic boss fight that, again, I won’t spoil, and the Twins themselves are just okay. They fill that archetypal Far Cry antagonist role of getting up close and personal for monologues twinged with the threat of violence, and their brutality combined with all the dance music, graffiti and ragtag goons reminded me of Far Cry 3, but they’re not a patch on previous villains. Speaking of which, Joseph is very much the star of the show, now a old man living in self-imposed exile, sitting in the dark at the upper end of a life-threatening river Colonel Kurtz-style. He’s mellowed out but still has an edge to him, and his story progresses in a natural continuation of Far Cry 5, with some degree of closure. It made me come away from New Dawn thinking that, while not necessary, its story does at least add something to FC5, and stayed true to a character I’ve become very fond of.
Gameplay wise it’s basically Far Cry 5, but with a few main differences. Firstly the game has a Borderlands-style RPG flavour to it, where enemies are graded on four levels that determine their damage and difficulty. Despite sounding drastic, it actually doesn’t make that much difference, and fighting enemies is just as viable an option as it was in FC5. The ability to perform melee takedowns on higher level enemies is linked to perks and so can be acquired any time as long as you have the perk points, and weapons have to be crafted, and are graded on the same scale. A higher ranked weapon will do more damage, and each rank offers a more powerful version of New Dawn’s unique weapon; the Saw Launcher. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a gun that launches saw blades. They ricochet around decimating anything in their path, it’s great. The game places an emphasis on crafting materials, the most important of which being ethanol, required to upgrade everything in Prosperity, and earned by liberating camps. Camps can now be abandoned, which grants ethanol and gives the location back over to the Highwaymen and ups the difficulty, but you get an increased amount of ethanol for clearing it out again. Finally there are expeditions, in which the Captain is flown out to various locations in other states to steal a bag of materials from the Highwaymen and escape. They feel like the kind of thing you get in Tom Clancy games; little stand-alone areas that offer a chance at the same gameplay in locations different to the main game. I mean that as a compliment, they’re good. Speaking of which, though parts of Hope County are barren, grey, irradiated death traps, the majority has been hit by a nuclear super bloom; retaken by nature and covered in plant life. It’s a good look not often seen in post-apocalyptic stories, and it sets it apart. Hope is no longer split up into Holland Valley, Whitetail Mountains and Henbane River, so I’d only realise where I was when I’d stumble onto a location from Far Cry 5, dilapidated, covered in flora and/or re-purposed for post-apocalyptic needs. I really like that aspect, it makes exploring and finding places natural, rather than being guided towards them for fan service.
Overall, Far Cry New Dawn is a good time. It doesn’t need to exist, and it could well have been a disaster, but I enjoyed it, and have no real caveats in saying so. The new characters are generally weak and underdeveloped, but it does good work with The Father, and that’s enough for me. It’s not as good as Far Cry 5, but it’s still a fun game with some good character moments, and I enjoyed it.
By James Lambert