FarCry New Dawn is an open world first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft. It is available on Steam, Humble Bundle, Uplay, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for $39.99. The humble bundle link is a referral, I get a small commission if you purchase the game through it. This review was conducted on a base PlayStation 4 system by Joseph Pugh.
FarCry New Dawn is a direct sequel to FarCry 5. Though it honestly feels like a large expansion of five instead of a stand-alone game. That’s not a criticism though, because New Dawn also doesn’t cost as much as a normal full stand alone game. In any case, this review is impossible to write without spoiling the events of FarCry 5, you have been warned.
If you read my earlier article you will know that I hated the ending to FarCry 5. Yet I was excited to see what New Dawn would do with both its storyline and gameplay. After completing it, I’m satisfied and disappointed all at once. New Dawn takes place 17 years after the nukes fell and you play in a now Post-apocalyptic Hope County.
The map itself is reused from FarCry 5 but it’s hardly noticeable as so much of the landscape has changed. You can make out landmarks if you look close, but it’s a feeling of awe and interest rather than disappointment.
Old buildings are buried in rubble, in pieces or covered in vegetation. However, Hope county isn’t a wasteland like some other post-apocalyptic titles. This little place in Montana is instead experiencing a super bloom, which means lots of dense vegetation and pink flowers everywhere. So much pink…
Like other FarCry games, you will be spending a lot of time crafting items, sneaking around, taking outposts and getting into chaotic gunfights. New Dawn does attempt a few changes to the formula which I’ll go into in a second. But I need to get this out of the way first. I’m happy to report that you do not get randomly kidnapped in the middle of gameplay, not even once….yes, I’m still a little bitter about that.
The story does an admirable job of cleaning up the mess of FarCry 5’s endings. This time two new villains show up, twin leaders of the highwaymen, Mickey and Lou. They fail to capture the captivating and interesting nature of past FarCry villains. Both Mickey and Lou are pretty standard psychopathic villains, but they serve the plot well enough.
Many characters from five return in some way. Some in the story, others as guns for hire and even more as small cameos and nods. However, Joseph Seed and the cult of New Eden return and are central to the plot once again. It’s ending is far better than FarCry 5, if a little bit anticlimactic.
The story itself also feels a bit rushed, though that’s not surprising with the nature of New Dawn being a shorter, cheaper game overall. Regardless, it’s nice to see the returning characters and how they are doing after the apocalypse and to learn what became of the Deputy, the player’s character from FarCry 5. On the flipside…Hurk makes a comeback, screw you Hurk.
This time around, there is no currency, or rather there is no money. Almost everything you use is acquired through crafting. Weapons, vehicles, and ammo all take various amounts of different crafting materials to obtain. Components, duct tape, springs and more. You can still hunt animals, but you trade the skins for crafting bits and bobs. The rarer the skin, the better crafting materials you get in return.
Knife kills make a return, and they are brutal. (Okay, its actually like a pair of scissors, but it stabs just the same).
You also stockpile Ethanol, which is used to upgrade your new home base, Prosperity. You have many facilities that you can upgrade, including your weapon bench that will let you craft higher tier weapons, and a training facility to increase the health and damage of your guns for hire.
The guns for hire system makes a welcome return. I love it and hope to see it in future Ubisoft titles. You acquire new and familiar faces that you can call in to fight alongside you. The AI is pretty decent for your companions, and they are really useful if you use them right. Leave Nana the sniper perched somewhere high to watch your back. Or maybe go whole hog with Horatio the giant boar.
Either way, the companions make the experience feel less lonely and more immersive than a one person army. They are strong enough to be useful without being overpowered and each one can unlock new abilities by acquiring kills. They all have a unique play style to them and can complement the weaknesses of your own load outs. Except for Hurk, the bone head. How did that idiot survive 17 years in a post-apocalypse?
Surprisingly, vehicles also survived the end of days and you will be driving a wide variety of them. This time many of them have mounted weaponry giving the game a slight Mad Max flair. Co-op also survived and you can play through the whole game with a friend. However this time I was disappointed to learn that a co-op buddy replaces the guns for hire system. FarCry 5 allowed you to have both. It’s probably better for balance purposes, but its a shame to cut out a system as large as the guns for hire system when playing with a friend.
The biggest changes come from New Dawn’s new lightweight RPG systems. Enemies, weapons and even animals have ranks nows and you will see damage numbers pop up when you shoot them in a style similar to Borderlands. I actually found that I enjoyed this change. It’s done in a way that isn’t overwhelming, New Dawn is not a looter shooter. All your weapons are obtained by crafting. The tier that you can craft is dictated by the level of your weapons facility, which you can upgrade with ethanol.
You can still kill enemies in one hit with the right guns and ammo types. But you have to think and plan your approaches a bit more, and it gives you a reason to try multiple weapons. When every enemy dies in a couple of shots from any gun like in past FarCry titles, all the weapons tend to feel the same. New Dawn sidesteps that pitfall very elegantly.
You can take on higher rank enemies with lower grade weapons, but it’s tougher and they can be a bit bullet spongy. To my surprise, this didn’t feel wholly immersion breaking. The higher the enemy’s rank, the more visible armor they are wearing, and they react to being shot, even if they don’t die outright.
Some vehicles sport some heavy weapons.
Enemies flinch, pause and stagger when hit by powerful weapons. You can also shoot off helmets, or even through them with armor piercing ammo. This sort of visible and physical feedback to players is an important detail that makes the slight damage sponginess fun to play. A lot of other games seriously miss the mark on this point. New Dawn’s gameplay feels like a more evolved version of its previous title for it.
Playing off of this theme is the way outposts are implemented now. When you take over an outpost you get some ethanol and the outpost provides a workbench and potential fast travel point. You can salvage them for even more ethanol, but the highwaymen take it back afterward, this time as a higher rank. You can do this multiple times, the same outpost getting progressively harder, but offering larger rewards.
Expeditions are new, these take you outside of hope county and task you with retrieving a package of loot in a guarded compound. The package has a transmitter on it that alerts the enemy when you take it.
Its a fun combination of sneaking in, and making an escape route out. These also go up in rank and can be replayed. Taking on high ranking expeditions and outposts are some of the most challenging and thrilling fun I’ve had in a FarCry game.
As a whole, the gameplay is still fun, the gunplay feels good, stealth is still a blast and the new systems are nice additions to the game without drastically changing it. If you enjoyed the gameplay of FarCry 5, you’re going to have fun with New Dawn because it’s for better or worse, more of it.
That’s not to say everything is done well. New Dawn does very little with its apocalyptic setting, to the point it’s easy to forget about the post-apocalyptic part altogether. The very first weapon you craft is this awesome, unique and slightly absurd, saw launcher. You launch saw blades that can bounce from walls and kill enemies quietly.
It sets this tone, that maybe New Dawn went all in and your entire arsenal is going to be these really cool makeshift weapons. Only to find out, the saw launcher is the only unique weapon. Everything else is your standard run of the mill, handguns, rifles, and bows with a wasteland skin. They are held together by belts, and pieces of pipe. But are functionally the same as the modern versions.
New Dawn swaps out currency for crafting materials. But simply by playing, you end up with an overabundance of them. It’s very rare to ever to need actively search for what you need. You just accumulate stockpiles of the stuff. I rarely ever needed to craft standard ammo at all, you pick up plenty by looting dead enemies.
Ethanol is also thrown at you a bit too willingly. Taking over and replaying a few outposts gives you quite a bit. It’s very easy to end up in the awkward situation of having tier three weapons from playing a few higher outposts. Leaving you massively overpowered compared to the rest of the outposts that are still rank one.
High ranked enemies wear visible layers of armor.
You will have everything you want long before you complete what is available to you. The only reason to do further outposts or expeditions is that you want to, for fun. Which is arguably good enough. Still, It would be nice if the progression was better balanced for actually playing the game normally.
You have plenty of dangerous animals to hunt. If you were expecting any mutated beasts, however, you will be disappointed. There are “monstrous” animals whose skin is worth the rarest materials. But They are just larger versions of a normal animal, with a bunch of HP and glowing weak points.
Ubisoft really squandered the setting and it feels like a missed opportunity. The game’s balance and progression is all over the place and it’s disappointing. Speaking of game balance….
Then you have Hurk…freaking Hurk. Who was obviously cut and pasted from FarCry 5 Because he is easily the most useless gun for hire in New Dawn. His specialty is being an antivehicle specialist with a big honking rocket launcher. Unlike FarCry 5, you are rarely battling loads of helicopters or planes. There is almost never a situation where he is useful.
Actually, he is less than useful. because he will happily blow up anything if a bad guy is driving it. Including supply trucks that you can loot, ethanol trucks that you can steal and trucks carrying prisoners that you can rescue. Screw you Hurk.
FarCry is still full of explosions and a spreading fire system.
I have to mention microtransactions too. You can buy guns, cosmetics, crafting materials and even perk points with real money. Microtransactions aren’t always bad, but I normally find these kinds in a single player game to be unacceptable. Yet their inclusion in New Dawn is just too absurd to be angry about.
The lingering fear about these types of microtransactions is that the progression of the game will be made grindy to encourage buying them. This is certainly not the case with New Dawn. I just got done ranting about how the game piles too many resources on you. You truly end up in an overabundance of crafting materials and perk points just by playing the game, the balance is awful.
The only reason to buy crafting materials or perk points with real money would be to avoid playing the game in first place. They shouldn’t exist on principle, but they do not affect New Dawn’s gameplay in any way shape or form.
In the end, New Dawn is still fun, it’s pretty to look at and the guns for hire system is still great. It just doesn’t do much with its new setting and the main story is a tad bit short. It feels like an expansion to Five instead of a sequel, but its price point reflects that fact. If you enjoyed FarCry 5, New Dawn will give you more to love. But if you didn’t, New Dawn isn’t going to win you over.
Want more Ubisoft games? Check out my review of The Division 2.
- Fun gameplay with lots to do.
- New light RPG elements add value and fun to the combat.
- Enemies provide good player feedback when struck.
- Guns for hire system returns and is still great.
- The whole game can be played in co-op
- Missions and story are entertaining.
- Nods and cameos to characters from the previous title are fun.
- Cheaper than expected price.
- The main story is a little short
- Progression and balance are off the rails, you obtain far too much loot just by playing.
- The weapons and the world do not feel post-apocalyptic.
- Microtransactions that shouldn’t exist in this style game. Even though they don’t affect the gameplay
- Freaking Hurk