Far Cry is a famous FPS franchise spanning over 6 mainline games and a couple of tie-ins which usually tell a different story in the same environment. Sometimes we get a true gem like Far Cry: Blood Dragon, but most of the time it’s just rehashing of the same formula from the original game. Far Cry New Dawn is more of the latter, a direct continuation of Far Cry 5.
However, considering the ending of Far Cry 5, the environment in which this game is taking place is vastly different from the original game. If you didn’t play Far Cry 5 you might want to skip to the next paragraph due to spoilers. Okay, so at the end of the Far Cry 5, the United States gets nuked and the main character stays in the bunker with completely crazy prophet/cult leader Joseph Seed. New Dawn takes place 17 years later, and the region of Hope County mostly recovered from the devastation. Of course, given the circumstances, nature and society had to adapt in order to function properly or better.
Despite the nuclear holocaust, some things never changed in Montana. There are mountains, there are wild beasts, there is tyrannical oppression taking over everything and it’s only you who can stop them. Basically, it’s Far Cry 5 just with more desolation and duct tape. That is not necessarily a bad thing, because this game retained the open world exploration approach and progression system of its predecessor. Although the main points of the campaign are visible on the map, the entirety of side missions, treasure hunts and companions is up to you to discover. However, the sense of freedom is somewhat diminished, not only because of the smaller map but also because the game puts you in the bottom corner of it, making you reclaim territory north wise. Not only that, but you have to collect resources and bring them back to your buyers in the starting area.
The element of gameplay which is appearing for the first time in the series are damage numbers. Namely, in this game, the ranks are introduced for both enemies and their weapons. There are 4 ranks and in order to go ahead you have to scavenger materials to upgrade your base, so you can upgrade your weapons workshop and eventually craft better guns. Interesting enough, outfits, armor and defense numbers don’t affect your growth. This really seems like a forced measure to prevent players from exploring the entire map and to artificially extend the gameplay by gatekeeping. However, once you fight your way to the highest rank, the game starts to be unfair in your favor.
What didn’t change are the weapons and vehicles. Everyone who played Far Cry 5 will find them the same, just with more duct tape and junk welded on it. The only exception is the Saw Launcher, which fires away circular saw blades in linear, ricocheting, and boomerang traits.
The world itself didn’t change much, being already pretty desolate even before the nuclear holocaust. In 17 years nature recovered and despite some differences, it is still the Hope County we know from the previous game. Sure, there are much more destroyed cars and graffiti, but the atmosphere is lacking desperation of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games or similar survivalist title.
The backbone of Far Cry games is still there and it’s still very good. Except for taking on outposts, you also have self-contained missions called Expeditions, which take place in large diverse Maps outside of Hope County. However, because of the more concise format, a lot of characters have given way less time than it should, which consequently make players hair weigh less about them, even in some important moments. The lack of connection between you and your companions make the game slip into mundane territory. On the other hand, you got superpowers. Yes, the superpowers like double jump, invisibility, super speed and so on. Let’s blame the radiation for that. This opens for a lot of new ways to play this game. You can channel your inner Predator or Marvel superhero with these new abilities.
All in all, New Dawn shows a lot of potentials, but it doesn’t have enough room for all these new ideas to flourish. Neither of the new mechanics isn’t fully realized, including RPG elements, weapons, plot, or characters. Of course, fighting through the Hope County is still very entertaining, but it is largely because over the great combat model inherited from Far Cry 5. New Dawn is a formidable but forgettable spin-off that radiates wasted potential.