Far Cry New Dawn

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: Feb. 15, 2019


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Far Cry New Dawn'

by Adam Pavlacka on Jan. 23, 2019 @ 9:00 a.m. PST

Dive into a transformed, vibrant, post-apocalyptic Hope County, Montana, 17 years after a global nuclear catastrophe. Lead the fight against the Highwaymen as they seek to take over the last remaining resources in the latest installment of Far Cry.

Pre-order Far Cry New Dawn

Far Cry New Dawn is a new thing for the Far Cry series, as it is the first time any of the games have had a proper sequel. Base world content has been repurposed before (Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon used part of the Far Cry 3 map, while Far Cry Primal reworked the Far Cry 4 map), but neither of those games explicitly called it out. Far Cry New Dawn is set in the exact same world as Far Cry 5, only 17 years later. The familiar surroundings are a core element of the postapocalyptic setting, and part of the fun is seeing how things have changed.

Your home base this time around is the settlement of Prosperity. The main buildings are immediately recognizable to anyone who played Far Cry 5, as Prosperity is the old Seed Ranch. This is where you'll start your adventure, and it's also where you'll access the new expeditions.

While the core story occurs across Hope County, New Dawn's expeditions give you a chance to explore new locations across North America. Each expedition mission is stand-alone, rather than open world, which allows the game designers to pack in more enemies and items than normal. Expeditions are unlocked one by one, but you have the option of going back and replaying prior expeditions.

During my time with New Dawn, I had a chance to dig into the first two expeditions. My first adventure was an assault on an aircraft carrier. The instructions said to go to the flare and retrieve the package. Simple enough — but the package you need to get isn't quite at the flare. It's close, but you have to hunt for it. Silly me. Game goals are never quite that direct. Had I kept up my stealth gameplay, I probably would have made it out unscathed, but alas, an errant shot led to the alarm going off and a full onslaught of enemies.

Gunplay feels just like Far Cry 5, at least with the standard weapons, so there's not too much new there. The increased concentration of enemies makes your gun-for-hire (or co-op buddy) almost a necessity if you want to survive your expeditions.

My second expedition had me trying to cross a bridge in a desert town. Said town appeared abandoned at first glance, until I noticed a sniper's red dot staring me down. After that, it was a bit of a cat-and-mouse game as I attempted to avoid detection while crossing through the underbelly of the bridge structure.

Back in Hope County, the mission structure is a bit different than what we saw in Far Cry 5. The primary goal is to collect resources to upgrade Prosperity. Because I spent time in the expeditions, I didn't complete the upgrade, but I'm guessing that each upgrade checkpoint likely triggers another story beat.

Even though I spent way too many hours exploring Hope County in Far Cry 5, the familiar scenery didn't feel like a retread as I made my way through the demo build. Instead, I found myself spending time looking at landmarks to see how they compared to my memory of the prior game. If this small snippet is any indication, Ubisoft's art team has done an excellent job to make a postapocalyptic landscape look lush and inviting, with just a hint of eeriness. It's not quite at the level of "Annihilation," but I wouldn't be surprised if that film was a source of inspiration.

One of the missions I took on had me visiting the Lamb of God church, which is the "new" F.A.N.G. center. The interior was inaccessible, but there's now an entrance to an underground bunker where a grave used to be. Getting the key required taking down a very large (and aggressive) bear. Bullets weren't having much of an effect, so since this is Far Cry, I chucked a Molotov cocktail at the bear. Fire + bear fur + grass meant that half of the front yard lit up, but that blaze of glory also took down the bear in record time. Score one for emergent gameplay.

Another mission had me finding an older, wiser, and just as feisty Grace Armstrong. Grace lost her sight over the past 17 years, so she crafted a weapon that shoots buzzsaw blades at baddies. The saw launcher is one of the kit-bashed weapons that you'll find over the course of playing through New Dawn. Yes, guns and arrows are here, but it's the creative weapons that promise to be the most interesting.

Guns for hire are back, with six humans and two animals making the cut. You start off the story with Carmina Rye at your side, and you collect the others by completing missions. Human guns for hire include Hurk Drubman, Jr. (RPG), Gina Guerra (Heavy Gunner), Pastor Jerome (Berserker), the Judge (Hunter) and Nana (Sniper). The animals are Timber the dog (Scout) and Horatio the boar (Tank). Although plenty of characters make a return, Boomer the dog is not one of them.

Beyond the missions, I also spent some time attacking an outpost or two. The actual attacking was very similar to taking on an outpost in prior Far Cry titles. Where New Dawn ups the ante is that it gives you the choice of taking over an outpost or just scavenging for resources. The latter allows the Highwaymen to retake the outpost with a stronger force. Taking it down again offers bigger rewards. You can do this three times for each outpost.

Because I spent my time exploring the open world, I didn't really get to dig into the Highwaymen or the story behind the two twins — beyond the fact that they're bad and are trying to take over Hope County. How the story plays out will have to wait until I get my hands on a final copy of the game. What I can say is that I'm quite impressed with what I saw during my limited time.

Building a new experience on an existing environment is never an easy task. Making it look and feel coherent is even tougher, but the team at Ubisoft Montreal appears to have done just that. If you've never played Far Cry 5, you shouldn't feel like you're missing out. While there are loads of callbacks, none of the ones that I saw were done in a way that require you to have played through the last game. If you have completed Far Cry 5, all those little details make the world feel that much more complete.

I only had about two-and-a-half hours of play time with Far Cry New Dawn, but if the full game maintains the same quality of play throughout, I can't wait to see what the rest of Hope County has in store.

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