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Review: Far Cry New Dawn Manages to Re-Endear Me to the Far Cry Series

Plot spoilers follow:

Far Cry New Dawn is here with little fanfare. After the extremely disappointing ending of Far Cry 5, I thought I would be done with my love for Far Cry games. Sure, Far Cry 5 made co-op amazing by fixing a lot of the issues it had since Far Cry 4, and Hope County, Montana, was a nice departure from the normally exotic locales, but Far Cry 5 dropped a narrative bomb that I thought would scar the series forever going forward. Instead, it managed to open up some interesting narrative elements.

Screenshot: Far Cry New Dawn

Far Cry New Dawn, developed by Ubisoft, is an open world first person action game that you can play solo, or with drop-in/drop-out co-op. You can fly helicopters, pilot all manner of vehicles, and sow all sorts of destruction across a Hope County, Montana, that has been recovering from nuclear war. You play as a Security Captain for a group who has been helping settlers rebuild their settlements across the United States. A group called the Highwaymen ambushes your group, led by sadistic twins Mikey and Lou—two women who have led the Highwaymen on a destructive rampage, killing and taking everything they want along the way.

While it’s technically spoilers for the events of Far Cry 5, this information is plastered all off the promotional material, but you’ve been warned: it is 17 years after the bombs fell at the end of Far Cry 5, and the world has survived nuclear winter. Hope County, Montana, seems to be thriving, with abundant plant and wildlife with very little of the radiation and other hazards you would expect from a nuclear bomb world. The nuclear fallout has made some plants vibrantly colored, and turned all the deer into creatures that look like albino reindeer, but there aren’t large mutated monsters running around like you would expect in the Fallout series.

Screenshot: Far Cry New Dawn

Hope County is the perfect setting for mayhem, just as it was in Far Cry 5. The apocalypse hasn’t really done much to change Hope County, so it’s the same map from Far Cry 5 with a few visual changes. Most of the major landmarks are there, if slightly altered. Ubisoft is no stranger to making these “expansions” takes place in the previous main series’ game’s map, but In Far Cry New Dawn, it actually makes sense narratively. Taking cues from Far Cry 3 DLC Blood Dragon, there is abundant use of neon, and their use of colors follow from previous Far Cry games, but the aesthetic reminds me of what we’ve seen of Rage 2 so far: whimsically colorful, but dangerous.

Screenshot: Far Cry New Dawn

Several characters from Far Cry 5 return, including main antagonist Joseph Seed. If you hate Joseph Seed and his New Eden group, like I did, you’ll be happy to know he’s not having an easy time of the apocalypse either. There is even a point where you can finally kill him. But here’s the thing: Far Cry New Dawn actually managed to turn my searing hatred for Joseph Seed into an emotion other than rage.

Screenshot: Far Cry New Dawn

While Far Cry New Dawn has several settlements/outposts you can take (and take back) from the Highwaymen, the settlement known as Prosperity acts as the homebase. Prosperity is tied directly to your character’s progression. Each upgrade you give to the people of Prosperity helps you out in some direct way: either allowing you to craft better items, use healing more effectively, or even increasing the amount of health you have. In addition to taking settlements and outposts, Far Cry New Dawn introduced Expeditions that you can undertake. Each features a large map and different theme where you must seek out and retrieve a GPS-tagged package and manage to make your way back to an extraction point to reap some great rewards, including rare crafting materials. These aren’t just lucrative–they’re some of the most fun moments we had in the game.

Screenshot: Far Cry New Dawn

The gunplay in Far Cry New Dawn feels good, just as its predecessors.  Far Cry New Dawn seems to increase the variety of weapons available to the player, even if most of the variety is just slight variations. Each weapon is part of a four-tier system, with the highest tiered weapons being obtainable only after upgrading Prosperity, and sometimes killing Legendary animals. There is crafting, but animal skins are used to obtain crafting materials. Thankfully, skinning animals and looting corpses is faster now without the skinning/looting animation slowing down the action.

Screenshot: Far Cry New Dawn

You can play the entire game cooperatively, like I did, and this includes every campaign mission, side mission, and boss fight—a refreshing departure from most games of this nature only letting you co-op for certain sections of the game. If you don’t have a friend to join you on your adventures you can use the Guns for Hire system to have an NPC companion. Almost every game is more fun co-op, but I have to stress that Far Cry New Dawn feels like a giant playground when you have your friend or SO tag along. Unfortunately for your co-op partner, any rewards and later on, perks that come with major story mission completion, as well as any upgrades to Prosperity itself, are for the sole benefit of the host, meaning that you’ll have to either switch from one host to another or play the campaign all over again for both players to reap the full benefits the game offers.

Screenshot: Far Cry New Dawn

The biggest complaint I have is that microtransactions permeate the game, and at first, feel like they’re essential. This isn’t really the case, thankfully. Now, it’s extremely gross that you can buy everything from perk points, to late-game weapons by plopping down some Far Cry currency (coins which you can buy with real world money, of course) to unlock it for you immediately. It’s possible for you to find this currency yourself—but only while playing single player or hosting a co-op session. You co-op partner will be stuck finding it in their own world, though, since you can’t find it as a host’s game. You do find enough of these Far Cry coins to buy some cosmetics or other items you might want, but you have to pay for the rest.

Screenshot: Far Cry New Dawn

Luckily, save for cosmetic items, the other reasons for buying these coins would be to apply perks, unlock base upgrades, etc. But you will find plenty of resources required without ever spending any real money if you don’t want to. The only exceptions are the cosmetics that must be unlocked by repeatedly taking outposts, since certain outposts drop certain cosmetics as a chance-on-drop. If you want to get the full set of knight’s armor, for instance, you have to reset and capture the same outpost until all of the pieces drop for you.

Far Cry New Dawn, I think, completes the story of Far Cry 5 in a satisfying way and has actually managed to rope me back into the series. It’s great fun, stylish, and despite reusing a lot from Far Cry 5, manages to feel like a proper sequel that finishes the story Far Cry 5 started. I went into Far Cry New Dawn with the lowest of expectations, but ended up enjoying myself. If you have a co-op partner, this in a no-brainer: Far Cry New Dawn is fun.

Far Cry New Dawn is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows.

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