Warning there will likely be spoilers for Far Cry 5 in this review, as Far Cry New Dawn is a sequel. Rather than pretend that it's a new map and a new game, only for people to realise that it's a new game plopped on top of an old map, Ubisoft has made this a straight sequel in the same map. It's set after one of the possible endings, though it's the ending you're likely aware of, if any of them.
Post-apocalyptic landscapes are all the rage, it seems, and I simply couldn't be happier. I've been wanting some new first person shooters in that setting, as there are a load of cRPGs and those take a big commitment.
Far Cry New Dawn takes place 17 years after the world has been engulfed in nuclear winter. Who set them off? No idea. Does it matter? Not really. Nukes went off, nuclear winter hit, life has somewhat resumed. Also, plant life has taken over. You play as the Captain of Security for a train that has been touring the West of America, helping people rebuild. You literally have no name, as someone asks if they can call you Cap, because they don't want to keep calling you Captain of Security. How about you call me by name, Carmina you jerk!
You'll meet new characters, of course, but there are several returning from 5. Unfortunately, that doesn't include Boomer, who I said was Best Boi last year. This isn't a spoiler, it's been 17 years and he was hardly a puppy - dogs rarely live for over 20 years. The antagonists are newcomers Mickey and Lou, twin sisters who lead the local chapter of the Highwaymen - think of Fallout's Raiders if they ever got organised. They rule Hope County with iron fists, nobody in, nobody out. Which is why they attack your train, forcing a conflict against them.
Your main aim is to build up Sanctuary, the homestead that people are trying to populate. To do this, you'll need ethanol: gallons and gallons of ethanol. Because that's worth more than literally anything these days, it seems. But where do you get it? It's nowhere near as abundant as the other dozen things you need to collect for crafting things in New Dawn. You'll need to find supply drops (dropped by whom?), and hijack tanker trucks - or take over outposts.
Yes, everyone's favourite “Far Cry” thing returns, with nine outposts scattered throughout the (now smaller) landscape of Hope County. Take out every enemy, and you now have a new base to fast travel to, as well as a bit of ethanol. You can then scavenge the outpost which will give you more ethanol, but it also lets the Highwaymen take over again. But you can go right back in and take out the enemies once again - who are going to be tougher - and return it to your control. You can scavenge it three times for three lots of progressively harder enemies, then as many times as you like just for the challenge (and ethanol).
You can also head to locations outside of Hope County via helicopter, for Expeditions. These are seven areas of the United States which are under Highwaymen control, and they contain a randomly placed bag of stuff that you need for crafting, including rare materials, but no ethanol… After locating and grabbing the bag, you have 30 seconds before the Highwaymen descend on your position as you try to get to the extraction point - because there’s a GPS beacon inside the bag. It always ends in a big old fight, so prepare yourself, especially for subsequent visits.
Since I'm on the topic, I'll talk about combat. Things have changed since Far Cry 5, with enemies now sporting health bars. Obviously, the more health bars they have, the harder they are to kill - even with more powerful weapons. Which is actually a separate point, but you have four tiers of weapons to “craft”, which require you to upgrade the workbench. The enemies aren’t quite so staggered and you will need more powerful weapons quite quickly during your ~19 hours in Hope County (and more in Expeditions and mopping things up post-campaign). Especially since there are more bears than ever, and they will mess you up.
Animals are more violent than ever, due to the radiation, and there are more types of them. As well as your wolverines and bears, there are now tougher versions of almost everything, which have specific glowing weak spots that you need to hit for more damage. At least the nuclear fallout has given everything a nice, new look.
Which brings us on to Hope County, the very world of Far Cry New Dawn. Due to the radiation, your area of operations is actually quite a bit smaller than in Far Cry 5. If you go “out of bounds”, where the trees are dead and burnt, it will warn you about being in the radiation zone and having to turn around. There’s also a thick cloud of Bliss fog (the drug from Far Cry 5) stopping you from heading north past the Peggie (cultists from 5) camp. You know, until you have to later in the game, because of course you do.
Driving is still the fastest way around - the map is a good six or seven kilometers tall, and four or five wide. One issue, however, is that sometimes the vehicle will fight you as you drive, as if it’s trying to use the autodrive feature by itself? It happened multiple times with different vehicles, so was incredibly odd.
You may have noticed that I put “craft” in quotation marks earlier. Well, early trailers suggested that you’d be able to customise weapons and stuff, and needed to build weapons from things you’ve found. Well, that’s in looks only. The weapons are 99% the same as what you found in Far Cry 5, but also some saw launchers - there are four of those. The other weapons are skinned to look like they’re made out of pipes and cans of pop, but they act just the same as any other Far Cry weapon. You can’t colour them, either, and there are more than a few locked behind Uplay Points.
Speaking of which, there’s a new premium currency replacing Platinum. Called Far Cry Credits, they are used for buying things in-game. You can find some throughout Hope County, but obviously not enough to buy everything. If you even want to do so, since I played through without even considering it. A Unicorn-themed flamethrower for 600? No thanks, especially since I found fewer than 400, and didn’t even touch the available flamethrowers. There was enough fire burning around the county as it was…
The story in Far Cry New Dawn is a good follow-up to Far Cry 5. It’s unfortunate that there are no Arcade maps, and there hasn’t been any DLC announced, but at least you’re paying for a full experience. It’s a minor point, but you can also enjoy the same level of co-op play that you could in 5, which can be handy when you need support with the more difficult outposts.
If you loved Far Cry 5, then you will need to check out Far Cry New Dawn at some point. If you haven’t played 5, then you’re going to ruin the experience if you ever intend to, by playing this first. Apart from some minor issues, I really enjoyed New Dawn, just as I enjoyed 5, so highly recommend it.
Far Cry New Dawn (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
The amount of crafting and exploring so that you can craft, as well as a couple of minor issues, put a damper on an otherwise fantastic world, and fun game experience.