Contains spoilers for Far Cry 5 storyline.
Far Cry New Dawn takes place 17 years after the end of Far Cry 5. The Collapse has come and gone, The Father has disappeared and The Deputy is… doing other stuff. Filling the power gap that followed there are three new factions; The Highwaymen, the primary antagonists led by The Twins, New Eden, formed from the remnants of Eden’s Gate, and Prosperity, a small stronghold made up of other survivors, including the player character, The Captain.
As a direct continuation of Far Cry 5, New Dawn builds on its predecessor in some ways, but fails to live up to it in others. It has all of the regular elements you’d expect, with a wild overgrown landscape, ultraviolent enemies and the occasional cougar attack, but in a post-Eden’s Gate world, that might not be enough to stand on anymore. Breaking away from Far Cry 5‘s multiple antagonists, since The Twins basically operate as a unit, New Dawn returns to the regular Far Cry shtick.
Unfortunately, it also seems to have forgotten some of the other narrative lessons learned in Far Cry 5. The Twins have devolved from Joseph Seed in that they lack any conviction in their mission. They’re just portrayed as over the top for the sake of it, and that makes them much, much less compelling as villains. In fact, when all was done I found that the only memorable parts of the story were sections directly involving characters from Far Cry 5. I’ve realised just now that I don’t actually remember either of their names, and I was playing the game 2 days ago. Meanwhile I can still remember that Faith Seed’s real name was Rachel. Take from that what you will.
Another much more tangible way in which it builds on its predecessor is the world map. Almost all of it is here, from Fall’s End to The Island. The Prosperity settlement itself is built on John Seed’s Ranch and even his infamous YES sign makes an updated appearance. The entire map is gorgeous this time around, with tons of lush greenery, azure rivers and hot pink graffiti painted over the broken down wreckage of rusted industrial sites. The old Montana countryside worked perfectly for what it had to do, but there’s no doubt that all this overgrowth is much prettier to wander through than the masses of burnt orange fields and muddy valleys that littered much of Far Cry 5’s map.
Finding More Things To Say Yes To
Coming into its own, New Dawn does have some new gameplay features that I thoroughly enjoyed. The more minor of these are just some quality of life improvements over 5. The traditional dollarydoo currency is gone and replaced instead with crafting components. I’m usually fairly cynical about tacked on crafting elements in sandbox games, but this was a welcome change. While in 5 I had more money than god after a few hours in, having some rarer components helped to gate off some weapons and gave a more natural feeling of progression. There are also some slight new enemy variations, with some now wielding shields so they can’t just easily be mown down and fast moving scavengers who will disappear in a puff of smoke if they aren’t dispatched quickly.
The main new addition to New Dawn is also a welcome addition to the series, the upgraedable home base, Prosperity. It was a nice element in its own right, having somewhere quiet to return to while stocking up on gear, but the services offered also bumped up other sections of the game. For starters, upgrading the base required a resource that could only be gained by liberating outposts, making them more than just another thing to be checked off the list on the map. Being able to scavenge them to be liberated again was a nice way to tie it into gameplay mechanics, rather than just selecting an option for a menu. Secondly, some of the services on offer felt like more fitting replacements of older aspects. For example, upgrading the medical center to get more health and better medkits made a lot more sense than just buying endless perks. It also keeps some endgame items gated, so you aren’t a walking god a few hours into the game. As much as I tried to game the system by grinding for rare components.
While I did have a lot of fun with New Dawn the main thing that continues to baffle me about it is why it was released as expandalone instead of direct DLC. The game has its ups and downs, but the majority of those ups are reliant entirely on having played Far Cry 5 before it. There’s nothing here to make me care about the characters as they are, I’d need to follow their story and grow attached to them through 5. Likewise, the map, beautiful as it is, doesn’t have any truly memorable spots unless you’ve seen them in their original glory. Even the game seems to understand that, since one of the longer running sidequests involves tracking down locations based on old photos.
Really, there’s a laundry list of minor issues I could go through when comparing New Dawn to Far Cry 5, and while none of them are deal-breakers on their own, they do stack up. Only having one companion at a time makes more of a difference than I would have imagined, but hearing three lines of dialogue over and over again is a far cry (I had to) from having 2 characters having a long discussion with each other and showing some sort of relationship as you travel. And while I’d agree that listening to Die Antwoord on loop is a sure sign of lunacy, it really doesn’t come close to the custom composed folks tunes of Eden’s Gate.
In the end, if you played Far Cry 5 to death and are hungry for more, then New Dawn is probably worth picking up to cyour hunger. If you haven’t, or weren’t really all that into 5 when you did play it, then this is hard to recommend. You’d be far better off spending a few euro more and picking up Far Cry 5 instead.
Room For Expansion
Although the game is solid, it feels like Far Cry New Dawn is more of an expansion than a fully standalone experience. It tweaks some gameplay mechanics, so if you are in need of more Far Cry, get it. If not buy it for in 6 months at a lower price.