Any long running series has the occasional entry that’s not quite as good as the rest. Aliens has Resurrection. Die Hard has everything after “with a Vengeance”. God of War has Ascension. Predator has The Predator. Now, Far Cry has New Dawn. While there’s a few new aspects added to the mix, an inventive revision of Hope County and some volatile new weaponry don’t do enough to elevate the New Dawn to previous series heights.
Much like Far Cry Primal did with Far Cry 4, New Dawn reuses the terrain map for Far Cry 5. Unlike the former pair though, this new entry retains many of the same landmarks from the original game. Set after the events of Far Cry 5, 17 years after the bombs had dropped, you’ll find a very different yet strangely familiar Hope County waiting to be explored. The New Eden compound still stands but it’s now waterlogged. The prison which served as a home base for “The Rookie” in FC5 is a prison once again but in the hands of nefarious folk. Some buildings are now destroyed but have left cool ruins to plunder while others are now buried up to their roof top. Most of the Prepper stashes still stand (I guess they were right after all) but are altered for the post nuclear apocalyptic age. The biggest change though, is all the pink. Pink foliage, pink graffiti, pink weaponry, pink clad villains. It’s a massive contrast to the white flowers and green trees of pre-nuked Hope County.
In Far Cry New Dawn you play as “The Captain” – who can be male or female based on player choice – part of a group of survivors led by a man called Rush that are on their way to offer aid to the inhabitants of a small hamlet in Hope County called Prosperity. Of course, this being a Far Cry game, nothing goes according to plan and before you’ve even reached Prosperity, you’re hit by the nefarious Highwaymen. Cue explosions, people being shot and the capture of Rush. Eventually reaching Prosperity alone, The Captain then sets out to disrupt the operation of the Highwaymen and recover Rush from his captors.
The staple of every good Far Cry game is a meaty, well developed villain. Whether it be Pagan Min, Vaas or Joseph Seed, the charismatic big bad’s in this series have always been one of its strongest elements. Unfortunately, that’s the first misstep of Far Cry New Dawn. Mickey and Lou AKA The Twins and leaders of the cringe inducing ‘Highwaymen’ are the villains in the spotlight here and they’re the least interesting in the series to date. Aside from some occasional bickering among themselves, their only personality traits are that they’re abrasive and aggressive. Compared to their predecessors, they’re poor and lack any discernible motivations aside from wanting to take things that aren’t theirs.
This lack of personality seeps downwards into their subordinates. The Highwaymen all look like they’ve just walked in out of MX vs ATV, clad in garishly painted motocross gear with a little Mad Max flavour. Much like Mickey and Lou, they’re angry at nothing in particular and lack any kind of motivation other than being simply bad people. Akin to the crazies in Borderlands, even down to the absurdist humour (calling the main character a ‘Turdwaffle’ at one point…*sigh*), they lack the menace of the Peggies. That’s predominantly because much of the environmental storytelling in Far Cry New Dawn is geared toward building up this post-apocalyptic feel rather than the carnage that the Highwaymen have brought to Hope County, a far cry from the excellent environmental storytelling in Far Cry 5.
Thankfully, as you might have seen in the trailers, Joseph Seed makes a return in Far Cry New Dawn which is the saving grace for the narrative. This is not the same man you fought against in Far Cry 5 and his relationship with “The Captain” has a very different dynamic than it did with “The Rookie”. Rather than seeing you as an aggressor, the inhabitants of New Eden who’ve cast off all links to technology of the past, see you as a dangerous outsider but also an unlikely saviour. The plot involving Joseph Seed and his new family is one of the most interesting and innovative aspects of New Dawn, at least for the Far Cry series.
One of the other innovations for Far Cry New Dawn are Excursions. These are miniature missions that can be played solo or in co-op with a friend that test you to enter a unique Highwaymen base like a small post-apocalyptic town or a beached aircraft carrier, recover a package and then make it to a pick up point. You can either do this stealthily (at least the entering part – the Highwaymen will always be alerted to your presence after you’ve picked up the package) or go in all guns blazing but the reward of rare crafting materials is always the same.
These crafting materials can be used to create weapons at work benches. The better the weapon, the more materials you need and the rarer some of them become. It’s a nice little cycle to keep you alternating weapons as the difficulty starts to ramp up.
Much like its predecessor, New Dawn has a number of enemy bases for you to wrestle free from the Highwaymen. This works in exactly the same way as in Far Cry 5. The aim is to kill off every last foe related to that base and once they’re all lying on the ground, the base is yours. Of course, there’s alarms which can be triggered to call reinforcements that can be destroyed, turned off or even booby trapped so doing things quietly is always the best option (but Stealth is about as useful as a chocolate fire guard once again).
Taking bases from the Highwaymen is an essential part of New Dawn as it awards you with Ethanol which can be spent at Prosperity to upgrade aspects of your HQ. These upgrades, in turn, offer you additional benefits like increased health, better weapons and fast travel. As you progress through the game, the difficulty that the Highwaymen present escalates through 3 difficulties along with “Enforcers” which act like mini-boss bullet sponges. An innovation on this from Far Cry 5 is that bases can be recycled, granting you a small Ethanol haul, but this means that the Highwaymen retake the base and stock it with tougher troops and more alarms.
Prepper Stashes also make a return in New Dawn but are now called ‘Treasure Hunts’. These involve solving basic environmental puzzles or overcoming platforming sections in order to access a hard to reach area which allows you to loot the treasures they contain, including rare crafting materials (required to create some of the most deadly weapons in the game) and ‘Far Cry coins’, a currency which can bypass Prosperity upgrades to unlock high end loot.
Now, I don’t normally rail against microtransactions in games unless their influence on a games design is so prevalent, it can’t be ignored – but with Far Cry New Dawn, the way that Far Cry Coins are integrated into the weapons crafting feels very icky too me. It’s impossible to earn enough Far Cry coins through game play to unlock the best weaponry in the game, which means they’ll require a coin purchase or grinding out enough lorry hijackings to get enough of the rare crafting materials. It’s also very easy to make it to the microtransaction page by accident, the game still offering you the chance to craft a weapon via Far Cry coins rather than crafting materials, even if you have enough carbon fibre, platinum etc to do so.
Those weapons though, especially the new saw blade launchers, add some much needed fun to the proceedings of Far Cry New Dawn. While it eventually gets a little old, launching homing saw blades across a base into 3 unsuspecting Highwaymen is about as Far Cry as Far Cry ever gets.
Unfortunately, while the past 4 instalments in the Far Cry series have all been excellent, New Dawn is not. The post-apocalyptic paint job and garish yet joyful weaponry do nothing to hide the fact that you’re doing exactly the same thing once again – except this time it’s pink and are facing off against even less interesting villains. The best moments of Far Cry New Dawn are when it’s referencing what happened in Far Cry 5 and for a pseudo-sequel, this shouldn’t be the case.
Far Cry New Dawn is available now on PS4 (reviewed on base console), Xbox One and PC.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of the game. Please see our review policy for more information.
If you’ve enjoyed this article or any more of our content please consider supporting our Patreon.