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Game Over: Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

Game Over: Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

Based on the James Cameron movie franchise, there have been a couple of Avatar games before, but with Massive Entertainment developing the first-person Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, it would have been difficult to make a bad one. Focusing on a group of Na’vi who had been kidnapped a couple of decades earlier and indoctrinated by the RDA (then put in suspended animation between the events of the first two movies), your task is to push back against the humans who are trying to plunder the riches of Pandora for their own ends in a first-person style.

Taking place on another continent to Jake Sully’s original adventure, you will meet the region’s clans as they basically do nothing. There are about 50 settlements to find as you explore your continent of Pandora, and the residents never seem interested in helping defend their homes. There are maybe five characters who fight the RDA, and that’s only in cutscenes… In fact, I don’t think that I ever saw a Na’vi fight any of the many, many hostile animals either, despite what they tell you. There is one of your fellow former-kidnappees who could have been cut from the game completely and barely anything would have had to be rewritten — they somehow do more nothing than the random NPCs…

But anyway, I finished Frontiers of Pandora’s main story recently, and I honestly had a great time, despite my issues with it. As I progressed, I genuinely felt like I was getting better and more powerful, and I’ve found that to be rare in games. Usually you just get better stuff, but even towards the end of the game, I felt that there was a real risk of being overwhelmed by superior firepower, despite also feeling like I could rise to the challenge. In the early game, I would almost always run from a fight with more than one RDA mech suit, then through experience and practice, I grew to be able to take on multiple face-to-face. Is this how people who play soulslikes feel?

Fairly early into the game you get access to an ikran — the pterosaur-like flying mounts. This makes getting around the large open world faster, though when you get access to a new area, you need to “learn” how to keep your ikran flying there. That just involves literally touching a certain plant, hence the quotation marks; there aren’t even any cutscenes or voices involved. You also get taught how to ride direhorses, but honestly, I all but stopped using them when I got full use of my ikran. They’re nice for sightseeing, but nowhere near as fast as flying everywhere. Who wants to find and tame a horse to use for five minutes when you can fly there in less than one?

The RDA doesn't always make it easy to fly, however, because they have set up refineries, drilling platforms, and all sorts of industrial mechanisms, some of which are protected by anti-air flak turrets. Honestly, dismantling these gets a bit samey after a while. The levels of enemies rise, but if you’re stealthy enough you can just sneak in, turn some valves, rip some wires, and you’re done. Though, to be fair, as stealthy as I managed to be, I only managed to get through a few facilities without getting into combat… There are three or four different small camps, but every big factory looks the same, with identical troop layouts so they’re quite easy to learn your way around despite their size.

Since I had recently played the start of Far Cry 6, I was surprised to see how many similarities the two Ubisoft games had. The main character’s sister is murdered right at the start of the game, and they are pulled into a revolution against a much better-equipped foe that you have to pull guerilla tactics to fight.

As I played on the Xbox Series X, the graphics in Frontiers of Pandora were great. With a couple of caveats… Textures would pop in sometimes even during cutscenes, the frame rate absolutely tanked when leaving one specific settlement, and the credits had graphical issues. That last one was particularly baffling, as it was just text on the screen, and it happened even when I wasn’t fast-forwarding them…

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora took me 65 hours to complete the main story, and a bunch of sidequests. A lot of those require you to locate certain plants or hunt specific animals, and since most of the equipment I’d need to craft had worse stats than what I owned, I decided to ignore most of them. So, you could probably easily hit 70 hours or more, depending on how many sidequests you want to complete and whether you have guided mode on or want to rely on your own sense of direction. It’s a fun adaptation with some minor frustrations and weird graphical issues. I can certainly see why it was nominated for Game of the Year awards, and also why it didn’t win them.

Game Over
Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan


Guaranteed to know more about Transformers and Deadpool than any other staff member.

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