Far Cry: New Dawn game review

Spoilers abound!

A few weeks ago, on a rare occasion of leaving my house, I found myself venturing into a CEX, where I have spent many fond minutes and pounds! As documented in my RDR2 review I had fortuitously converted my £60 of CEX credit into games back in December 2019, which got me through the initial months of lockdown boredom. With that haul finally exhausted, it was a good chance to pick up something new.

For a very reasonable £12 I got my hands on the pre-owned sequel to Far Cry 5. It’s chunkier than a DLC bolt-on, but a much smaller game in scope. The game takes place 17 years after the climactic events of Far Cry 5, and across the same territory. I actually can’t remember when I played FC5 (and for some forgotten reason I didn’t blog about it) but it was long enough ago that this game feels fresh, yet recent enough to get the benefit of revisting some of the locations. The action is centred on a narrower section of the original map, bounded by no go areas of radiation, which fits organically with the plot. It’s a re-skinning of the previous locale, where mud drifts have partially covered up many buildings, so you’re running around a few feet higher than you were in the previous game. I got a genuinely nostalgic kick out of seeing some of the structures again in their decrepit state. Alas Rae Rae’s Pumpkin Farm seems to have fared badly during the apocalypse, but it was fun to scavenge round the ruins of the Radar Station & the FANG centre among others.

The nostalgia keeps coming with a few notable characters returning from the previous game. Grace Armstrong, Pastor Jerome and Far Cry favourite Hurk all show up, alongside a few new NPC, including Carmina Rye (who it turns out is the baby of Nick and Kim whom The Deputy helped deliver) and sharpshooter Nana. It’s really quite refreshing to see such a positive depiction of older women in FPS style games.

The colouring of this game is superbly designed. In a clear departure of the traditional greys and browns that saturate most post-apocalyptia, the designers have gone with vivid pinks and blue. Having run with the idea that humanity has spent a decade and a half underground so that nature has had some time to heal, the world is now carpeted in floral expanse. Hats off – the idea that after Armageddon the dominant species on the planet would be pink geraniums is a hell of a hot take!

Dual villains Micky & Lou have made their mark on this world using what I assume must have been an inexhaustible supply of spray paint in bright cyan and magenta. It’s tough to get Far Cry villainy right, and they are certainly not the worst characters incepted for the series (a vast improvement on the literally forgettable Primal baddie). Less compelling is whiny Ethan who turns out to be the unworthy spawn of Joseph. Yeah, walking man-bun The Father, is back, in what I found to be the less satisfying element of antagonism in this game. Perhaps because it just feels so narratively jarring. The events of FCND effectively assume the ‘proper’ ending of Far Cry 5 has taken place, as there is reference to him being trapped with The Deputy in an underground bunker, and I am simply not buying the idea that my previous avatar decided to give up that fight. Perhaps I’d be less irritated if the two final fights were swapped over, but dispatching the twins ahead of barely-a-boss mutant-Ethan was decidedly anti-climactic.

But I suppose one doesn’t play Far Cry games for their carefully structured plot. There is great fun to be had with a couple of new weapons (the saw blade projector is tremendously satisfying) and the process for upgrading them with scavenged resources works well and organically. I also really enjoyed the mechanic for capturing an outpost and then allowing the enemy to re-capture it, thus enabling the player to build the difficulty at their own pace. And for a change of scenery, the expeditions provide some neatly encapsulated mini adventures which provide some fun story-building glimpses of how events have affected the world outside this little corner of Montana.

For what it is, £12 was a very reasonable amount to pay for dozens of hours of entertainment, although I may have felt a bit short-changed if I had spent a lot more than that.