Video Game Reviews

Far Cry: New Dawn – A Beautiful Waste of Potential

Far Cry: New Dawn is Ubisoft’s follow up to Far Cry 5. Just like its predecessor, it’s an open-world first person shooter with some light RPG elements.

If you have not played Far Cry 5 I suggest you do so before reading this review. 

As a follow up, it is like those that came before it. It is smaller in scale than its accompanying numbered entry, but it is also crazier in a lot of respects.

However, unlike the previous entries, Blood Dragon & Primal; New Dawn is a direct sequel to Far Cry 5.  This is a good thing in a lot of ways, but in some ways the game suffered because of it.

Now, I played straight through both games without really taking the time to blink in between.

I take my hobbies VERY seriously

So, one moment I was exploding cultists in and around Hope County, and the next I was exploding road warriors in and around a post-apocalyptic Hope County.

If it sounds like there wasn’t much difference between the two, that’s because the two games were very similar. 

I’d like to take the time to get into the differences, because that’s where New Dawn excels. Of course, nothing is perfect, so we’ll also get into where this game went off the rails. Which is to say, right off the bat, because it starts with a train wreck. Like, a literal one… so it went off the rails, but not in a bad way… at least not at the beginning…

You know what? I’m just going to move on.

Hope, Risen From the Ashes

SPOILERS. Seriously. Go play Far Cry 5 if you haven’t yet.

At the end of the previous game’s canon ending, the world was destroyed in a nuclear apocalypse. Which is generally considered, you know, bad, for a myriad of reasons, one of which is that after the bombs drop, everything becomes a desaturated hellscape of burnt trees and collapsed buildings. 

Fortunately for the residents of Hope County (at least the ones that managed to get to their bunkers in time), the exact opposite happened. It wasn’t overnight, but several years after the collapse of society, to quote the great chaotician Ian Malcom…

The trees are lush and verdant. Flowers blanket the valley in a color scheme so bright that it can be hard to look at, and the animals have returned—and not as two headed monstrosities.

It’s practically a paradise.

This is by far New Dawn’s greatest strength. 

Ubisoft went way out of their way to create one of the most unique post-apocalyptic landscapes I’ve ever seen. Sure, there are the obligatory abandoned buildings and the occasional area consumed by radiation, but these were few and far between, leaving everything else to stun and amaze you as you make your way across the valley. 

One Man’s Trash

New Dawn tries so hard to lean into its genre. It has road warriors, makeshift guns, and it even has its own thunderdome. Unfortunately, it never leaves the comfort zone of its predecessor and stays, somewhat unremarkably, a Far Cry game. 

What I mean to say is that there were a lot of elements of the game that could have been amazing if New Dawn had just dove in head first instead of tentatively dipping a toe into the water. 

In the game, you can find materials around the map, like duct tape or springs, that you can use to create weapons or upgrade your settlement. This sounds, at face value, really freaking awesome, especially since you immediately use this mechanic to build the game’s signature weapon. So, early on, I got my hopes up, thinking that at some point I might be building the Far Cry equivalent of a Power Fist or a Super Sledge

What I ended up getting was a bunch of regular guns that had a post-apocalyptic aesthetic and nothing more.

I spent so much time wandering around to each point of interest on the map so I would have enough resources to make the guns I wanted… and then I immediately made those guns. After, I was left with more components than I could reasonably use.

Anyone need 2,000 rolls of duct tape?

Even upgrading the settlement was a banal affair that, after a couple of hours, left me shrugging. I mean, sure, it was helpful, but it was more like upgrading your character than actually upgrading the camp.

Precisely One Third of the Original

While you could consider New Dawn to be it’s own game, it is essentially a large DLC for Far Cry 5.

This impacted the game in numerous ways.

I felt like I never really got to know the villains beyond “they’re bad, so you should stop them.” There are a couple of good scenes with them, but they never really got a chance to stand out.

Aside from their attire, they are the most conventional evil this side of Vaas

The same could be said for all of the good guys you encounter as well.

I feel like the developers were trying to use the fact that it was a sequel to their advantage, and it kind of made the game fall flat on its face instead.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved seeing what became of the characters from 5, but most of it was just pandering to the old instead of building something new.

Diminishing Returns 

The game’s small size, and its failure to fully embrace its genre, lead to a point in my game where I didn’t care anymore.

At first, I explored everywhere and took the time to find everything. I was super pumped because of how amazing the scenery looked, and I wanted to see it all. I was also determined to upgrade Prosperity, the home base, and lay waste to everyone who got in my way.

 A few hours in, I looked at the remaining points of interest across the map and felt numb to the idea of visiting them all.

It turns out that I need a reason beyond “this place looks cool” to keep exploring, and New Dawn never gave me one. There were several treasure hunts—little puzzles, or challenges, that hid perk-points and resources—which would have been enough for me to keep exploring, but there were only a handful, and once they were gone, that just left the character missions and story beats to keep me engaged. 

Get to the Choppa!! 

There was one breath of fresh air in what had become a stagnant game.

The expeditions. 

Expeditions were basically little challenge maps that had nothing to do with the main game, save for the fact that they let you acquire the resources you needed to build top tier loot. Basically, you would get on a helicopter and travel to a location where the bad guys had set up a base. Once there, you were tasked with picking up a package and then staying alive until someone could pick you up.

Oh, I’ll clear the landing zone alright!

There were a few things that I liked about these excursions:

  • They let you see more of post-apocalyptic America
  • They had multiple difficulty levels
  • You could approach them any way you wanted
  • There was an immense sense of satisfaction as you fly away on your helicopter while the enemies still fired everything they had at you. 

Unfortunately, there were few expeditions, and once you’d completed them on every available difficulty, they sort of lost their luster. They were, however, an interesting departure from the main game, and could have been used to greater effect. 

Swing and a Bunt

Overall, Far Cry: New Dawn was a perfectly serviceable game. It was absolutely beautiful, but relied too heavily on the game that came before it. Without the willingness to come out from under its parents’ wings, this fledgling game couldn’t seem to fly on its own. This means that we got a bunch of partially-realized ideas attached to a standard Far Cry frame. Which isn’t so bad, but it’s a shame to see so much wasted potential. 

I’m giving Far Cry: New Dawn an adequate 6/10. It didn’t ruffle any feathers, and at the end of the day it was still fun to play, even if it only lasted a little while.

Here’s hoping that Ubisoft has the stones to try some off-the-wall things with Far Cry 6‘s inevitable follow-up game.    

Late to the Game Reviews, Video Game Reviews

Late to the Game: Far Cry 5 – Keeping the Faith

Far Cry 5 is an open-world first-person-shooter from developer Ubisoft. It follows the franchise’s long and storied history of dropping a protagonist into a remote—and usually inescapable—region of the world where roughly 95% of the population wants them dead.

Except the main villain, who needs you alive for monologue purposes

The series has seen great success over the years, but really took off after the third installment, when it began introducing its insane, yet oddly compelling, villains. I, myself, thoroughly enjoyed both 3 and 4, as well as their sister games, Blood Dragon and Primal.

5, however, I did not buy right away. At the time, I couldn’t justify the expenditure, and just when I was contemplating the purchase, the announcement for Far Cry: New Dawn came out, in which I learned the ending of 5. This put me off the idea of playing the fifth installment altogether. 

Well, now, a little over three years later, I’ve taken the leap and given this title a try. So, if anyone else passed on Far Cry 5 for the same reason I did, or if they were just not feeling a Ubisoft open-world —because, let’s face it, those can be overwhelming at times— I’ll let you know if it was worth it or not. 

All That Remained Was Hope

Far Cry 2 took place in darkest Africa, 3 on the Rook Islands—which were somewhat comparable to Indonesia—and 4 in Kyrat, a fictional country nestled in the Himalayas.

Far Cry 5 hits a little closer to home (for some of us) than the previous installments. Instead of dense jungles, tropical islands, or arid mountains, 5 offers you a glimpse of the Big Sky State and takes place in the fictional Hope County, Montana.

At first, I was a little skeptical of the location, given that the locals of Far Cry are usually completely cut off from the rest of the world. 

Well, worry not. 5 continued the tradition. 

You see, Hope County is completely surrounded by mountains, and the main antagonists of the game have cut off all roads and communications out of the county, making this little slice of Americana one of the more interesting locations in which to Far Cry.

We’re not counting the in-between games.

I do have to admit that this was bizarre compared with… well, most other open worlds.

Most open-worlds take place in a fantastical location, or at least a place very far removed from anywhere I’ve ever been. So, being dropped into Montana and told to go on what can only be described as a killing spree of biblical proportions was off-putting, to say the least.

That being said, it was a magnificently crafted world, and if we were judging by that alone, this game would take top billing. 

Do Not Drink the Punch

The main villain of Far Cry 5 is Joseph Seed. He‘s the fanatical leader of The Project at Eden’s Gate, which is a cult that believes that the end of days is approaching. 

You know, THESE guys.

While not as mental as Vaas or as charismatic as Pagan Min, Joseph’s brand of evangelical zealotry is intense. When you add in his “Family”—Jacob, John, and Faith—they round out to be a pretty great rogue’s gallery.

Each of Joseph’s “children” offers a different dime-store version of a religious cult. Jacob is basically a militia leader (and not like an actual militia, but the kind that builds compounds and often threatens to kill elected officials). John is the kind of cult leader that believes in self-actualization and “the power of yes”. And Faith is more of the hippy-dippy “love, acceptance, and copious amounts of drugs” cult leader.

You play as a deputy tasked with arresting Joseph and bringing him to justice. The only problem is that he has a seemingly-endless amount of followers who are completely devoted to him. So, when you do try and arrest him, he takes it as a sign that the end is nigh — because, let’s face it, it was for him — and begins enacting his vision for the future. 

This “vision” is basically to steal every resource in the whole of Hope County and then kidnap and convert everyone in their way. Of course, if being forced into a religion isn’t your thing, they are more than happy to send you away in a pine box. 

This, for me, was one of the best versions of Far Cry I’ve seen. Usually, the villain is already in power and you are trying to depose them. In this one, Joseph is trying to take over the county, and you and your ragtag resistance (mainly composed of doomsday preppers and good ‘ol townsfolk) are trying to make sure he doesn’t succeed.

A Wingsuit and a Prayer

The gameplay in Far Cry 5 is phenomenal, but gameplay for Far Cry has always kind of been phenomenal. So does it mean that it’s still good if it’s always good? 

Yes. The answer is yes.

Everything feels right in this game. The movements are smooth, even when driving or operating the wingsuit. The gunplay is great and somehow feels closer to reality than I would have liked at times. The only real problem I encountered with the actual play-action is that after playing so much Apex Legends, where the slide is so vitally important, the slow and stubby slide in Far Cry 5 felt like a joke.

I would also like to take a moment to point out how many great characters are in this game. It seems like almost everyone you run into is somehow a main character. Whether it’s Pastor Jerome tending to his flock with a pump action shotgun, or Skylar Kohrs—a woman so into fishing she’s willing to fist fight an armed cult just to catch a fish—no one is lacking in personality. 

Did I mention that one of your teammates is a bear named Cheeseburger?

My only real gripe with the game (other than being kidnapped every 5 seconds) is that I never really felt like I was exploring Hope County. There were places to go, but they were mostly places to receive missions or places to complete missions. Even when I got to those locations, I never really felt the impetus to take a look around.

I never even had to walk anywhere, because I took the parachute, wingsuit, and airdrop perks early.

The airdrop lets you do just that: choose a location and drop down. In conjunction with the wingsuit and parachute, this essentially means you never have to walk or drive anywhere. You simply airdrop to a nearby location and glide to your mission objective. If you can’t make it in one drop, you can do it in two or three.

I know I didn’t have to airdrop everywhere, but I could,  and it seriously hampered my ability to appreciate the beauty of Hope County. 

The Collapse

Overall, Far Cry 5 is a pretty great game. It has a ton of personality, the gameplay is amazing, and the characters are interesting. While the overall plot is a little stunted, it’s still beautifully realized. There are some weird narrative choices — again, you get kidnapped way too often for an action hero protagonist — and sometimes the A.I. pathing would kill my allies at inopportune moments, but these things never stopped me from enjoying my playthrough. 

What did that was knowing how the game ended before it began.

I’m giving Far Cry 5 an objective 8.5/10, but a very subjective 7/10, so, do with that what you will. 

I’m also currently playing through Far Cry: New Dawn, so…

…aaaaaand I’m being abducted again. I’ll be back with that review after an intense villain monologue where the bad guy totally could kill me, but arbitrarily will not.