It’s been less than a year since the release of Far Cry 5, and now Far Cry New Dawn presents a direct follow-up to its story, which is unusual for the series. Bigger than expansion but smaller than a full-priced release, Far Cry New Dawn heads into the post-apocalypse, to mixed results. At the end of Far Cry 5, cult leader Joseph Seed’s doomsday prophecy came to fruition when nuclear bombs detonated across the world.
Far Cry New Dawn begins seventeen years later as society attempts to rebuild in the wake of a global collapse, but not everyone wants to live in peace and harmony. The Highwaymen, a band of roving bandits led by twin sisters Mickey and Lou, decide to take what they want from anyone who opposes them.
So it’s up to you to protect the citizens of your town, Prosperity. Thankfully the story is less intrusive than in Far Cry 5, but much of the cast remains insufferable at worst and uninteresting at best. Four-legged companions like Timber the dog are highlights partly because they don’t speak, while Mickey and Lou’s potential is never fully realized because we spend so little time with them. New Dawn’s strengths lie in the freedom to engage the post-apocalyptic version of Hope County on your terms. From the outset, you’re free to explore and tackle a variety of tasks in any order.
While there are soft difficulty barriers and it’s especially challenging to attempt elite outposts when you don’t have the right firepower, it’s still possible to overcome these areas. Plus it’s worthwhile considering the massive amount of rewards. Upon completing an outpost, you can replay it as many times as you like, but it increases to the maximum three-star difficulty. Additionally, challenges that range from killing enemies with certain weapons or hunting specific animals yield skill points that grant abilities like better takedowns and extra melee damage. Another highlight is New Dawn’s expedition system.
Twenty-one missions take place in multiple locations across the United States, including Alcatraz and an abandoned amusement park. The setup of each location is similar to the outposts, but instead of having to eliminate every enemy, you need to retrieve a package and survive until a helicopter rescue. Seeing other parts of the country not only helps expand the game’s scope but offers variety in both visuals and combat. Expeditions can also be replayed infinitely to earn rewards, and they’re great to go back to if a friend joins you to play co-op. There’s a great deal of freedom in combat as well.
It’s incredibly satisfying to quickly eliminate enemies in an outpost before they can sound the alarm, but if you prefer to go in guns blazing, Far Cry New Dawn enables that too. Multiple play styles are efficient and viable with options to spend perk points or craft whichever type of weapon you prefer with your hard-earned supplies. The weapons feel satisfying to use, especially higher-tier versions that shred through enemies like butter. The shotgun has a good amount of weight explicitly and sounds appropriately lethal. Unfortunately, the saw launcher is the only outlandish gun, and given the setting and tone of combat, a few more creative weapons could have gone a long way.
Additionally, eight recruitable sidekicks offer unique benefits. Timber, the dog, is perfect for staying hidden and can highlight nearby enemies and crafting materials, while Horatio the boar is a massive tank capable of soaking up damage. The ability to approach scenarios in a variety of ways helps keep Far Cry New Dawn feeling fresh and encourages you to experiment without ever forcing you to. The town of Prosperity acts as your base of operations, and it can be upgraded by recruiting a handful of specialists. These characters open up new destinations that offer bonuses like increased health and firepower.
You can then use ethanol to upgrade each section of the base for stronger results. The visual representation is addicting even if it’s subtle, while the rewards themselves have a noticeable impact on your combat prowess. Ethanol is the most precious resource, and aside from upgrading Prosperity, it can be used to craft elite weapons. So every time you find some, it feels good. It can be looted from random supply drops or scavenged from enemy outposts.
Even after completing the entire campaign, as well as tackling multiple outposts and expeditions, there’s still a fair amount of resources needed to max everything out completely. You can use real money to buy perk points and crafting materials, but there are so many opportunities to earn them naturally by playing the game that it doesn’t feel remotely necessary.
There are ten unique treasure stashes hidden throughout Hope County that provide cerebral breaks from the explosions and firefights. Each stash is accessed in a unique way like solving a door code puzzle or navigating tricky environments. They also provide bits of context for why the stash is hidden in the first place, further fleshing out the world in minor ways and offering another layer of variety. Despite being post-apocalyptic, Far Cry New Dawn looks beautiful. Vibrant colors contribute a stylized aesthetic to a traditionally dreary setting.
Unfortunately, it’s never entirely taken advantage of as many of the locations feel similar, and the only incentive to explore is to find more outposts or crafting materials. Finding a few fantastic locations or secrets would have helped Hope County feel more mysterious and memorable.
Far Cry New Dawn offers a leaner take on Ubisoft’s open world formula clocking in at about 13 hours, but hardcore completionists can stretch beyond that. The characters and narrative drag down the fun, but the variety in your tactics and arsenal allow you to approach each activity in different ways. It doesn’t revolutionize the series, but Far Cry New Dawn is a solid entry that makes us eager to see where the franchise goes next. Easy Allies Reviews are made possible by generous viewers just like you.