Joseph Seed, the padre of the cultist religious group that terrorised Montana under God’s command was right. His methods were questionable, abhorrent even, but all he was trying to do was save humanity from the threat of mutually assured destruction. When the bombs fell, Hope County – along with much the rest of the world – was destroyed. Years later, after the nuclear winter, pockets of communities try their best to eke out a living. Despite civilisation starting anew, there’s a sense of hope and camaraderie in the aptly-named Hope County as people begin to piece together new lives. That all changes when the highwaymen, a lawless group of nihilistic, ultra-violent pillagers descend like locusts, taking whatever they want by force.

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They’re led by a pair of menacing twin sisters, Mickey and Lou, who grew up within the group’s dog-eat-dog doctrines. They see people as binaries; either problem makers, or problem solvers. The solvers are in the good graces. The makers? They’re just problems themselves that need to be solved, usually with gratuitous violence. Naturally you’ll be playing as one of those problem makers, and the twins want that problem eradicated.

The post-apocalyptic setting allows its developers to do a few welcome things. For starters, Hope county is oddly beautiful. Without human meddling for years, the area’s fauna and flora have exploded, giving us probably the most beautiful game in the series. The Montana landscape is lush and verdant, teeming with life (most of which seems to want to kill you) and blanketed by magenta flowers. Flowers that thankfully, don’t have you tripping balls when you traipse through them. The destroyed buildings that litter the landscape, half-buried under the sand, are overgrown with new life and it all looks lovely, especially juxtaposed against the neon blue and pink bubblegum-hued graffiti that the Highwaymen leave in their wake.

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Because it’s set in the future, Far Cry: New Dawn also lets the developers just tell a story without delicately skirting around real-world politics. Far Cry 5 had the opportunity to really say something about nationalistic, fundamentalist tendencies but squandered that. Here, none of that really matters, so it’s a far simpler narrative with a more clearly defined sense of morality. There’s a grave injustice caused by bad guys, and you’ve got to stop them.

When it comes to the doing, you’ll engage in Far Cry things, which mainly means lots of exploring and shooting at guys with a variety of weapons. Of course there are outposts to take over, and of course there are animals that can often pose a bigger threat than a group of guys with guns. Pretty much all of the refinements that made Far Cry 5 such a streamlined experience return. As you earn perk points – through a bevy of challenges or by collecting magazines at treasure stashes – you can plug them into perks that make getting around and surviving Hope County a little easier. You’ve also got a collection of eclectic people and animals that can tag along with you, adding their own abilities to your destructive repertoire. Boomer, Far Cry 5’s dog might have passed on – but he’s got a suitable replacement, who, like the good boy that he is can ride alongside you in a motorcycle’s sidecar.

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Far Cry: New Dawn does have a few new tricks up its sleeves, such as a new “Light RPG” mechanic. It doesn’t mean that you’ll personally level up to a point where you become a post-apocalypse god, but rather that enemies and the makeshift cobbled-together weapons have ranks. At higher ranks, enemies not only take a lot more damage, but deal it too. If you try taking on a group of enemies who’re ranked higher than your weapons are, you’re going to have a tough time, with your bullets, arrows and sawblades just chipping away at their health.

These ranks cleverly apply to outposts too. When you clear an outpost you’re rewarded with crafting materials and the ethanol you’ll need to upgrade your home base, Prosperity. You can however choose to scavenge the outpost, which escalates the quality of enemies present. You’ll have a harder time clearing it again, but if you do, you’ll be rewarded with more of the necessary ethanol. You can then escalate the outpost even further – and this redefined core loop is not only fun and rewarding, but the ethanol it awards towards Prosperity’s upgrades really makes it feel like you’re working towards something important.

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Also new, and one of the best features in this sequel are Expeditions. They take you on shorter, more erratic and semi-randomised missions outside of the game’s main setting. The French Canadian helicopter pilot stationed at Prosperity will take you to new locales where you’re tasked with grabbing a bag full of supplies. Those bags, however, have a GPS tracker attached to them, and as soon as you try to flee the GPS signals goes off and enemies begin to swarm you. At easier difficulties they’re a bit of a doddle, but like outposts they can be replayed at higher difficulty levels, ramping their challenge up significantly. Because they’re not set in the open world, these expeditions take you to some interesting places that are nice to look at while also being filled with angry gun-toting maniacs who very much want you dead. While you can’t really do much more than try to defend yourself as you wait for a helicopter extraction, it feels a little like the horde modes you get in other games. It’s great for shorter bursts of Far Cry 5, and it’s only made better through co-op play. Of course, as with Far Cry 5, you can play through the whole game with a real-life friend replacing your Gun for Hire.


Far Cry: New Dawn is a shorter, even more streamlined Far Cry experience that’s devoid of some of the unnecessary fluff of previous games, with new mechanics to keep it interesting. It does have its problems though. It may be gorgeous, but the post-apocalyptic setting really is just window dressing. Your weapons may all be makeshift ones, but beyond a new one that shoots saws, they’re really just analogues for existing real world ones. You’ve still got your Sniper rifle, your SMG, your assault rifle and everything else you had in previous games. The crafting and resource gathering just replaces money for things like tape and gears; there’s no place for creativity or cobbling together your own creations. It’s also jarring receiving side quests and tips from the same two people out in Hope county’s wilderness. I get that there are fewer people after an apocalypse, but engaging with the same character models ad infinitum is discordant.

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Also, as sinister and vile as the twins are, they just don’t have the personality that previous Far Cry villains have had. They’re obviously evil, and there’s a little digging into their motivations and why they’re nasty, but there’s no real meat to their menace. The game also veers a little too into mysticism and mumbo jumbo for my liking, but I suppose at this point it wouldn’t be a Far Cry game if it didn’t.

Still, Far Cry: New Dawn is slick and polished, delivering a lighter and tighter Far Cry experience – and I had a good time returning to this broken, but hopeful Montana.

Last Updated: February 14, 2019

Far Cry: New Dawn
It may not really do anything especially new, but Far Cry: New Dawn is an experience that encapsulates everything great about the franchise. It’s instantly familiar to anyone who has played any of Ubisoft’s shooters over the last couple of years, but it’s a confident approach that works well as a colourful diversion at the end of the world.
8.0
Far Cry: New Dawn was reviewed on PlayStation 4
71 / 100

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