Far Cry New Dawn Review

By Mark Delaney, 1 month ago
Since Far Cry 3, Ubisoft has supplemented each of the numbered games in the series with a quick turnaround spinoff. Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon reimagined the game world in an eighties interpretation of the electric neon future, while Far Cry Primal went back to our ancient ancestors to deliver a setting unlike any in games. Less than a year removed from Far Cry 5's hugely successful launch arrives the first proper sequel in the series. However Far Cry New Dawn fails to justify its existence like previous spinoffs due to an uninspired setting, which plays home to familiar gameplay mechanics begging for innovation.

Far Cry New Dawn

New Dawn takes place almost two decades after the end of Far Cry 5 and if you missed it when the game's own studio spoiled the ending at The Game Awards, allow me to do so now: A nuclear bomb went off. The world was in shambles and most everyone died. From the ashes of the post-apocalypse was born a new world — or so we're told. New Dawn's most egregious error is in this supposed nuclear fallout setting. It's lacking in any real character. As the game returns players to Hope County you can expect all the same sights to see, only now painted in bright pink by a band of villains whose motivations seem to be as shallow as "because we're bad" — and whose primary means of illustrating their villainy is by blasting loud music and burying cars halfway in the dirt.

Where Blood Dragon and especially Primal felt quite different from their numbered predecessors, New Dawn feels like long, unearned, and unnecessary DLC. The Big Bads of Far Cry are often charismatic scene-stealers. They embody their games and each of their respective stories, boiling them down to their essentials and capturing the themes — however loose — of each sequel. It's fitting then that New Dawn's twin megalomaniacs are so forgettable, so superficially bland. We get almost no explanation of what made them this way, what inspired them to vaguely rip off Mad Max. It's a story not worth sharing, but it exists anyway because such is seemingly the permanent release schedule of Far Cry.

I don't think it's unfairly reductive to say New Dawn is just Far Cry 5 with a lot of pink and some mutated animals. There's really nothing in the environment that signals it's a post-apocalypse. If you missed the opening cutscene, you might never know better. Most of the cast from before returns, having conveniently survived the fallout. Among characters old and new the game descends further into its self-parody which began a year ago. Somewhere along the line, the people behind Far Cry took the recurring comic relief character Hurk and redesigned the entire series' ethos off of him. Now most characters you meet will tell jokes about their testicles or recall drunken escapades. Tonally, the days of Vaas and Pagan Min are long gone.

Somewhere in Sweden, the art director for RAGE 2 is furious.Somewhere in Sweden, the art director for RAGE 2 is furious.

All that is intended to read quite harshly, and despite it, I wouldn't say New Dawn is even a bad game. The thing about Ubisoft is they iterate very well, at least for their own best interests. Each sequel in a series such as this one or Assassin's Creed marginally improves the world players inhabit to give players addicted to their map icon frenzy another hit from the publisher's joint. Far Cry New Dawn once again displays this iterative process with a few new quest types like expeditions that take you off-site to different areas in stealth missions, and enemy outposts designed to be scavenged and replayed on higher difficulties. By and large, however, it clings closer to its predecessor than any Far Cry spinoff ever has.

If you're not yet bored of the Far Cry open world structure, you're in luck. Gunplay is still tight, there's always plenty to do even on the condensed map, you can once again do it all in co-op, and it can still be a fun time for fans who just want more of what they got before. These games are highly polished and as a series still stand alone, with only a few much poorer imitators ever springing up over the years. New Dawn is short on new ideas, but it's another dose of mechanically sound and occasionally even riveting tactical (or not) action from one of the best publishers in the world. There are more inspired games to play, but there's also a certain comfort in Far Cry. You know what you're getting. However it still feels like that comfort need not be complacency for Ubisoft. It's about time for Far Cry to get its Assassin's Creed Origins moment.

The achievement list is a lot like that in Far Cry 5. You'll need to do a few missions in co-op, beat the story, and chase miscellaneous tasks like fishing, hunting, and collecting mp3 players from before the bombs fell. If you've been completing these games often, this one poses no additional problems for you than what you're used to.

Check out our Best Xbox Stealth Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.

Summary

Far Cry New Dawn continues the series' year-long descent into self-parody with this uninspired sequel. The spinoffs for Far Cry are usually very exciting, previously taking us to an alternate future or the ancient past. In New Dawn we return to Hope County, now with 300% more pink. Neither the premise nor the execution of the setting and story ever justify the project, but for fans who haven't tired of the series' formula yet, you can't really go wrong with more of the same when it's well done. It's mechanically tight and often engaging while it lasts. Let's just hope New Dawn is actually the setting sun for this version of Far Cry. The series could really use a makeover soon.
3.5 / 5
Far Cry New Dawn
Positives
  • More of the comfortable Far Cry formula many know and love
Negatives
  • Uninspired setting barely resembling anything post-apocalyptic
  • Tonally descends further into self-parody with far too many dumb jokes
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent approximately 15 hours with New Dawn, beating the story and overtaking outposts several times over. He gathered 28 of 50 achievements. A review code was provided by the publisher.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is the host of the community game club TA Playlist. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his family. He almost never writes in the third person.