'Far Cry New Dawn': A Series Veteran and Newcomer Dissect the Latest Entry

It's time for a closer look at the Ubisoft game, which is set 17 years after nuclear explosions decimated the country.
Courtesy of Ubisoft

Welcome to the apocalypse!

Ubisoft has debuted its follow-up to last year's Far Cry 5 with a colorful, energetic take on post-apocalyptic America with Far Cry New Dawn. Set 17 years after nuclear explosions decimated the country, New Dawn allows players to choose their own character and venture out into the very brightly colored aftermath to wage battle against a sinister group of bandits, the Highwaymen, led by twin sisters Mickey and Lou.

Currently sporting a score of 76 on review aggregate site, Metacritic, Far Cry New Dawn has been met with a middling critical consensus. 

The game tweaks a few of the game-play details that are staples of the series, working in a number of RPG elements into the open-world action, while also extending the story of its predecessor.

Below, Heat Vision's Patrick Shanley, a veteran in the Far Cry series, and Richard Newby, a newcomer to the franchise, discuss their time in New Dawn and how it appeals to fresh faces and old-timers, alike. 

(Warning: the following conversation contains spoilers for Far Cry 5 and Far Cry New Dawn.)

Patrick Shanley: OK, Richard, pardon my terrible wordplay here, which I’m sure you are beyond sick of hearing at this point, but I am very familiar with the Far Cry series and you are (sorry, again) a newbie. What are your immediate thoughts after spending time in your first Far Cry universe?

Richard Newby: So I had no idea what to expect going in. I wasn’t even aware of what genre or game-play style this series consisted of. My familiarity with Far Cry went about as far as knowing Uwe Boll directed a movie adaptation I’ll never see. But I did do a brief wiki catch up before heading in and was pleased to know that each game entry stands alone, except for this one, which is a sequel to Far Cry 5. But even so, I had no problem diving in. There’s definitely a narrative element, but it seems like Far Cry relies more so on open-world game-play. Most of the backstory I could glean came from the NPCs and documents scattered through the game. Driving through this post-apocalyptic landscape and picking off Highwaymen definitely kept me engaged while I found my way through the larger mythology of the world.

Shanley: First off, that movie from 2008 is a trainwreck, but one that you can easily look away from. Second, New Dawn is a sequel to last year’s Far Cry 5, which I found a bit underwhelming, and picks up years after that game’s pretty controversial ending. Essentially, the villain of Far Cry 5, Joseph Seed, was right, despite us thinking all along that he was a radical religious zealot. No matter what choice you made in that game, that’s how it ended: nukes were dropped. Apparently, not only did those bombs change the landscape of America, but it also radically changed some of the core Far Cry game-play elements by introducing RPG-lite aspects into this new title. There are now damage counters when you shoot enemies, you can craft and upgrade weapons, vehicles, etc. and I’m not quite sure if the changes really make that much of a difference to the overall experience. I would have liked them to lean farther into it.

Newby: The game-play, from crafting vehicles and weapons and taking over Outposts, reminded me a lot of the Mad Max game from 2015. No doubt, that game drew a lot from the Far Cry series. Though I think Far Cry’s combat system, and first-person perspective, creates a more immersive and satisfying combat experience.

Shanley: The combat is fun and feels familiar to returning fans, but that again was my issue. I expected more of a rehaul given the new elements introduced, but this both felt like a different Far Cry game and more of the same. I also didn’t find the crafting system to be all that deep and don’t really know what it added that is so different than just discovering powerful weapons out in the world on your own. Here’s a question for you: what did you think of the game’s driving mechanics? In case you weren’t aware, that’s been a bit of an issue that fans bring up in the series.

Newby: The driving mechanics definitely take some getting used to. I preferred the motorcycles and ATVs over the cars and trucks because I thought the visibility was really hindered in the larger vehicles. It’s also really easy to get stuck in place with larger vehicles. There were more than a few times when I just abandoned a car after getting it stuck on a tree or rock. Fast travel definitely came in handy and I didn’t shy away from using it. The map is huge. I don’t know if that’s standard for the series, but there’s definitely a lot of things to do. It’s not overwhelmingly big like Skyrim, but I never felt like I was running out of side missions and places to scavenge for parts. I tend to be a completionist when it comes to side stories and collectibles, so the game has kept me busy even when I’m not tackling the main story quests.

Shanley: That is, indeed, a staple of the Far Cry series. I enjoyed this game’s aesthetic, even if it felt a bit odd to follow up such a bleak ending in the previous game with a neon take on the apocalypse. I didn’t, however, find the main villains in this game all that noteworthy, though I thought the same of the Seed siblings in the last game. Honestly, it seems that no Far Cry antagonist will ever live up to the likes of Voss from Far Cry 3 — though that character had the benefit of being portrayed by the absolutely incredible Michael Mando.

Newby: Another thing I was pleasantly surprised by was the soundtrack. The radio in the game features The Monkees, Run the Jewels, Die Antwoord, and you can acquire more songs as one of the side quests. It’s a cool feature to ground the player in this world, and definitely not something we get in a lot of games.

Shanley: I agree with you on the strength of the song selection, but I do find it a bit odd that the music of Die Antwoord survived nuclear fallout and people would still be jamming to it.

Newby: I’ll take it as a hint that the next Far Cry game will take us to the world of Chappie.

Shanley: Please, god, no. Well, Richard, it’s verdict time for you on your first foray into the world of Far Cry. Are you a fan and do you think you’ll dive into more from the franchise, or are you dropping a bomb on it?

Newby: I’m definitely a fan. I thought New Dawn was a lot of fun, from the game-play to the sense of humor, so I’ll work my way backwards through the series until the next one.

Shanley: Start with the third one and thank me later.