Return To Hope County: Far Cry New Dawn Review
Reclaim Hope County once more in Far Cry New Dawn.
When Ubisoft Montreal first announced their plans to follow up Far Cry 5 with a standalone title, I was not shocked. Ubisoft has built the pattern of releasing a supplemental game in between their full-fledged Far Cry titles.
What surprised me was that Ubisoft planned to continue telling the story of Hope County and their characters. Far Cry 5 ended with a cataclysmic disaster, the start of a nuclear war. The game came to an end as our protagonist was held up in a bunker with the radical cult leader, Joseph Seed. Far Cry 5 left the resolution open-ended, with purposeful intentions.
Return To Hope County
Far Cry New Dawn begins 17 years after the nukes had hit American soil. Surviving members of Hope County had spent years in underground bunkers awaiting the nuclear winter to subside. To their surprise, without human interference, nature and wildlife began anew–with obvious repercussions.
Residence of Hope County eventually came out of hiding and rallied together to begin rebuilding. As time went on, the community began rebuilding settlements. Their main hub, Prosperity acts as a beacon for the community, was built where Seed Ranch once stood.
It would not be a Far Cry game without a violent gang to come and ruin everything–– and that’s exactly what happened. The Highwaymen, led by twin sisters Lou and Mickey stumbled on Hope County, demanding supplies and food, began to take over.
This is where the player comes in. Players take on the role of Cap-not that Cap. Your customizable avatar is the Captain of Security for a group of civilians who specialize in engineering and farming. Travelling from state to state, the group lead by Thomas Rush help communities rebuild. Carmina Rye (daughter Hope County's Kim and Nick Rye) tracks down your group asking for aid. By train, your group heads to Hope County to assist in disposing of the Highwaymen.
After your group is ambushed by the Highwaymen, you, Thomas Rush, and Carmina are the only surviving members. You are now left to your devices. It is up to you to establish order in Hope County. Claim outposts, explore the ruins for treasure, and put an end to the twins’ reign of terror.
17 Years Later
I was ecstatic to hear that Far Cry New Dawn would be exploring a post-apocalyptic setting. It’s a stark contrast to what Ubisoft has done with the franchise so far. A large number of games that explore post-apocalyptic settings usually lean on creating environments that are void of colour–not Far Cry New Dawn.
Far Cry New Dawn re-imagines the Far Cry 5 map, similar to how Primal was a reworked version of Far Cry 4. How instead of ranch houses and farms, skeletal structures and tin houses stand in their place.
The landscape as a whole is beautiful, especially when playing on the Xbox One X. Hope County is full of bright colours and vivid environments. Where buildings once stood, lush fields of green grass and pink flowers now grow. Players of Far Cry 5 will pick up on the reasoning quite quickly–the Bliss finally set Hope County free.
The nuclear fallout took a toll on wildlife as well. Many species that inhabit Hope County have suffered mutations both stunning and terrifying. The radiation has caused some animals to becoming a serious threat to players. Taking one down is no simple task so proper munitions will be required.
Taking your time to explore the remains of important landmarks and structures from Far Cry 5, you’ll find handwritten letters which provide additional context between games, a lot has happened. One specific side quest tasks players to revisit hotspots from Far Cry 5. Upon arrival, you have that chance to see a comparison photo, driving home just how much destruction has occurred.
Landmarks aren’t the only things to return in Far Cry New Dawn. Familiar faces from Far Cry 5 are found all over the map. Newcomers should not fret, however, each returning character is reintroduced. Some of the importance of these characters may be lost on new players, but nothing too severe that it will impact your experience.
Many can be recruited to become a Gun For Hire, AI companions with their own unique abilities. For instance, series regular Hurk once again returns. Once you complete his incredibly comical side-mission, he can accompany you on missions and support you with his rocket launcher.
It is always a pleasure when Ubisoft lets their hair down and has fun with their characters. Far Cry New Dawn is jam-packed with new hilarious characters and equally hilarious dialogue. The absurdity is kicked up to 11 in some instances–the fall of civilization will do that to you I suppose.
Humorous side characters are not the only figures to return. The leader of Prosperity is non-other than Kim Rye. She organizes the settlement, resources, and helps you devise a plan to retake Hope County. The Father himself, Joseph Seed is out there somewhere and fans of Greg Bryk’s portrayal will be pleased to know his performance is just as powerful as it was in the previous instalment.
Live Long and Prosper
Prosperity is your hub for everything you’ll need on your ventures. As it is a settlement for surviving members of Hope County, you will need to upgrade the facilities within. Far Cry New Dawn implements light-RPG mechanics into the gameplay, so upgrading facilities are required to complete more difficult tasks.
As you navigate through the campaign, enemies will become harder to take down. In order to defeat these enemies, you will need to be able to upgrade your workbench and craft weapons that are more powerful.
Far Cry New Dawn takes place after nuclear fallout, so resources are scarce. This means you will not be able to simply purchase a new weapon or ammunition from a gun shop. Instead of currency, you will need to acquire resources around the map to build your weapons and ammo supply. Yes, this even includes a buzz-saw launcher, an incredibly destructive yet handy weapon that makes short work of enemies.
Resources are found all over the map. More common items such as duct tape and copper can be found just about anywhere. To find more rare resources such as titanium, you will have to go treasure hunting and/or reclaim outposts.
Reclaiming outpost is a regular task in Far Cry games. As taking an outpost back from the Highwaymen will net you ethanol, the main resource to upgrading Prosperity’s facilities. Ubisoft has now built in a mechanic to spice things up. Each time you reclaim an outpost you will be awarded a finite amount of ethanol.
Afterwards, you are able to relinquish control of the outpost, only to claim it once more for more ethanol. The twist, each time you replay an outpost, the enemy ranks go up. This gameplay loop rewards players that seek an extra challenge in New Dawn. Facing Rank 3 enemies is no simple task.
Expeditions follow a similar structure. Far Cry New Dawn explores the idea of taking players outside the map, and into small, enclosed regions around the country. Completing an expedition will net players more common resources, but will also give players the chance to explore new areas like Alcatraz Island and a dilapidated amusement park. You can also replay expeditions with higher ranked enemies for a larger payout.
Expeditions are a welcoming addition. Upon unlocking expeditions in Prosperity, Quebecois pilot, Roger Cadoret will help you expedite these missions. As co-op from Far Cry 5 returns, you can invite a friend into your game to help complete expeditions as well as other activities.
The perk system returns. As you character is fully customizable, you are able to obtain perk point by finding them around the map and completing challenges. Perks will enable you to have more health, carry more ammo-the standard Far Cry fair. However, Ubisoft Montreal has added a few surprises into the perk system which add new elements to the combat.
All Killer No Filler
As New Dawn is not a full-fledged installment, expectations should be set on the amount of content within. Players who may have opted out of playing Far Cry 5 will undoubtedly have more incentive to explore the map and look in every nook and cranny. However, because of how similar the map is to Far Cry 5, I found myself cruising between side missions and the campaign for the majority of my time, completing outposts when required.
With re-playable aspects, my total playtime was padded a bit. However, the campaign flies by fairly quickly, which is not necessarily a bad thing. All too many open-world games demand your full attention and have you completing fetch-quests and nonsensical tasks to keep you invested. Far Cry New Dawn cuts to the chase. Every side mission is unique and has you completing a task you’ll feel invested in doing. Simply put–they’re fun and worthwhile each time.
The downside to the length of Far Cry New Dawn is you never get enough time with the characters you want to see more of. Mickey and Lou are the prime examples of this. When on screen, their dynamic shines! They are both interesting characters, packed with intense dialogue throughout, though the lack of time we share with them leaves a lot to be desired.
Far Cry New Dawn took the franchise in a different direction and provided Far Cry 5 players with a great conclusion to the Hope County saga. New players will feel right at home as the game does a wonderful job providing context and background to the world around them.
From the moment you arrive at Hope County, you will be given an assortment of spectacular visuals and enjoyable character encounters. Ubisoft Montreal knows how to have fun when crafting a Far Cry game. Far Cry New Dawn is an excellent example of this.
Though the run-time of the game may feel short to some, keep in mind that it respects your time from beginning to end. The incorporated RPG elements may be a testing ground for what’s to come in the future, and I feel Ubisoft Montreal established a good foundation for them to build from if they wish to do so.
Available: February 15th
Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC
A Xbox One code for Far Cry New Dawn was provided for review purposes.