Far Cry New Dawn is interesting. It’s the first direct sequel in the series, even if the the others since Far Cry 3 have been connected in some way, and it reuses the same map as Far Cry 5, but for good reason. So is it worth your time?
Set some time after the events in Far Cry 5, the US (and, presumably, the world) has been hit by a nuclear strike and your character forms part of a group travelling by train, helping set up new settlements for survivors and those born after the events, with everyone now trying to make a new life back on the recovering land. Getting a message that help is urgently needed in Hope County (the setting for 5), your train is derailed by two twins who want to keep control of the area and will stop at nothing to thwart your plans.
While the leader of your group is taken, you’re left to pick up the pieces and get to the settlement that asked for your help, but not before taking out some of the twins’ troops first. Thankfully, you’re also pretty handy at building a weapon and this is the first indication that New Dawn does things a little differently to Far Cry 5. The saw launcher is the weapon you come up with, launching circular saw blades and watching them bounce off the walls, hitting enemies in the back, is pretty much the best start to a Far Cry game ever. It’s all out instant action, giving you a good weapon right from the start. That’s not to say you’ll have everything your way, the game soon ramps up the danger and difficulty so you’ll need to start levelling your character up with perks (earned through completing small challenges) and new weapons.
Aesthetically, New Dawn is an interesting mix of post-apocalypse landscape, twisted buildings, areas of radiated forest and a permanent aurora borealis in the sky compete with nature taking over, including an over-abundance of bright pink flowers that go against the traditional greys of similar games. It’s a welcome palette of colours that creates its own unique look.
As with the past few Far Cry games, you’ll have help from Guns For Hire and Fangs for Hire, people and animals you rescue in missions that will end up aiding you. They’re all pretty entertaining and some are down right essential, such as Horatio the Boar who has a habit of happily killing off enemy soldiers with the same enthusiasm that a dog goes after a ball. Oh yes, and Hurk returns, too. Ethanol is the new currency in terms of building up your base and levelling up each of the elements inside it. Health, vehicles, weapons and maps can be added and upgraded with ethanol and scraps you find in the wild, after taking over bases or during treasure hunts.
Mild RPG elements have been added with these base upgrades and enemy difficulty levels. These are interesting in that they flesh the game out a little. The weapons and vehicles come in levels, with the best being locked until you unlock the Elite level, plus some can be upgraded further but I found the later weapons powerful enough without needing to upgrade. Enemy encampments can be taken over and then abandoned if you choose to, allowing stronger enemies to come and take them over so you can recapture them, gaining you more Ethanol in the process.
The lower price point hints at this being a shorter game and you’d be right thinking that. New Dawn takes anywhere between 8-20 hours to complete, depending on whether you dive straight into later story missions unprepared and somehow manage to beat them or whether you take some time to work up to them. The game does really want you to level up your character, though, and by the time you reach the last third it gives you some pretty strange powers to make you almost super human.
Although it’s a smaller game than either of the last two titles, Far Cry New Dawn makes up for this with enough adrenaline and spirit to make it a fun thrill ride through the campaign, especially when compared to the slower Far Cry 5, and it’s well worth a play through if you enjoyed the previous entries.