At the end of Far Cry 5, a massive nuclear attack destroyed the civilized world. It is the aftermath of this apocalypse that we find Far Cry New Dawn (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC). But while it doesn’t take advantage of the new setting as much as it could, it still manages to be the most engaging Far Cry game since this series changed from a straight sci-fi shooter to an open world role-playing gun game with 2008’s Far Cry 2.
Set seventeen years after the collapse of society,
Far Cry New Dawn casts you as a survivor who recruits other helpful people to stand up to a bunch of jerks. Who, let’s be honest, probably think you’re a jerk, too, since you spend the entire game killing their friends and stealing their stuff.
Like every Far Cry game since Far Cry 2, Far Cry New Dawn is a first-person shooter set in an open world, and with the kind of simple leveling-up mechanics you find in such similar gun games as Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Along with the usual mix of story missions, side quests, random shootouts, and animal attacks, this also has you doing some hunting, scrounging around for supplies and resources, and looting every box and dead body you see. So much so, in fact that they could’ve called this Far Cry: The Quest For Stuff if Family Guy hadn’t thought of it first.
What sets Far Cry New Dawn from similar open world post-apocalyptic shooters is that you’re not exploring a desolate cityscape like the Moscow of Metro Exodus or the Washington D.C. of The Division 2. Instead, it’s more like the rural setting of Fallout 76, where structures are separated by large stretches of forest. Good thing there’s ATVs, trucks, and other motor vehicles to help you cover great distances when you don’t feel like walking.
The Far Cry games are also known for having you assault enemy strongholds that you take control of once you’ve cleared out the previous tenants. This not only creates fast travel points so you can get around easier, but also stations where you can get weapons, ammo, vehicles, and other helpful items without having to go all the way home every time you need to restock.
Except that Far Cry New Dawn adds a new wrinkle to these assaults. You now have the option of scrapping a compound you’ve liberated. And while this restores control of it to your enemy, you can just turn around and assault it a second time. Which, admittedly, will be tougher than it was the first time, but also more rewarding. And no, not in a “sense of accomplishment” way.
Far Cry New Dawn also adds…
remote compound assaults called “Expeditions” in which you’re choppered to a location and, instead of taking the place over, have to steal something and get away unscathed. In the first one, for instance, you infiltrate an aircraft carrier to find a messenger bag. Granted, the bag bag has a tracking device, so your enemies will follow you to the extraction point, but only to say goodbye. With a twenty-one-gun salute. To the face.
Even the prepper stashes in Far Cry New Dawn are more elaborate than those of Far Cry 5. Apparently the survivalists who hide their comic book stashes in underground bunkers used the apocalypse to watch Indiana Jones movies and play Shadow Of The Tomb Raider.
Aiding you in these assaults and other combat situations are the usual assortment of shotguns, Molotov cocktails, and other assorted guns and explosives. But Far Cry New Dawn also has a cool new weapon, one that could only turn up when there’s no gun stores and people have to get creative: the silent but deadly Saw Launcher, a crossbow that shoots circular saw blades that can ricochet and take out multiple enemies with a single well-placed shot. It’s a ridiculous, impossible weapon…which is why it’s so much fun, especially when used on unsuspecting enemies.
As fun as the Saw Launcher may make Far Cry New Dawn, though, it highlights one of this game’s shortcomings: that it doesn’t do enough with its post-apocalyptic world. Yes, it’s nice to run around a nuclear blast zone that isn’t full of zombies, Mad Max rejects, and giant bees — we haveFallout 76for that. But having one or two more weapons that are as sadistic and inventive as the Saw Launcher would’ve made this more unique. Granted, the shotguns, rifles, and other conventional guns are more effective, especially when your enemy is a wild boar and, IT’S COMING RIGHT FOR US! But they also make this feel like every other game in this series.
In the same vein, the post-apocalyptic world of Far Cry New Dawn doesn’t feel that different from the one in Far Cry 5. Sure, the albino deer and caribou look like they wandered out of Area X from that movie Annihilation, but aside from the bison and bears whose hides are so thick that they shrug off direct hits from an RPG, there’s nothing in the wrecked world that adds much to the gameplay.
by setting Far Cry New Dawn in the woods as opposed to the remains of a radioactive city, this skip some of the less interesting mechanics common to post-apocalyptic games. You don’t have to wear a gas mask like you do in Metro Exodus, for instance, nor pop all kinds of pills like in Fallout 4.
Far Cry New Dawn also does a much better job with its open world shooter mechanics than some of its brethren, including previous Far Cry games. Unlike The Division 2, for instance, the dead bodies, containers, and natural resources you can loot glow in such a way that you can easily spot them.
It also helps that they got rid of the body armor you had of previous games, which never worked all that well since it took so few shots to damage that you constantly had to run back to town to get a new vest. It also helps that you can construct pain pills on the fly, assuming you have all the necessary ingredients.
Far Cry New Dawn even fixes one of the odder issues of the previous games by not removing out all the bodies after you clear out of a compound, instead leaving them behind so you can loot them.
Unfortunately, Far Cry New Dawn doesn’t fix all of the problems of its predecessors. While some bad guys are smart enough to duck for cover, and the animals who attack you are relentless and vicious, some of your human enemies are way too polite, and will wait for you to shoot first, or even wait while you reload your gun, before attacking you. This also has some psychedelic bits that are as out of place as the ones in previous games. And the same goes for when you have to deal with the silly cult leader from Far Cry 5.
Despite all of its shortcomings,
Far Cry New Dawn is actually really fun. More fun, in fact, than the game that spawned it. Or, really, any other game in this series. Some of which, admittedly, is because the Saw Launcher is delight to use — though some is also because I played this right after The Division 2, which is more serious and much tougher. But regardless of why, Far Cry New Dawn is a silly but addictive bit of mayhem, one that’s easily the most effortlessly fun Far Cry game since, well, this series stopped being straight sci-fi shooters.