In this new world order, the vicious Highwaymen, led by twin sisters Mickey and Lou, travel from place to place bleeding people dry of all available resources. As the Survivors try to defend their lands against the Highwaymen’s relentless onslaught, it’s up to you to come to their aid and lead the fight.
In the latest installment of the award-winning Far Cry franchise, you are the last line of defence in a transformed, post-apocalyptic Hope County. Help the community of Survivors grow stronger, craft a makeshift arsenal through Turf Wars and cross-country Expeditions, and form unexpected alliances to fight for survival in a dangerous new frontier.
Late last week Ubisoft invited us to New York to get a hands-on look at upcoming Far Cry New Dawn. The standalone title is a spin-off of last year’s Far Cry 5, taking place after the ending in which a nuclear bomb dropped in Hope County. The setting is 17 years after, where we catch up with Carmina Rye, the infant we saved in Far Cry 5.
I spent the afternoon with a playable build and left feeling impressed in what Ubisoft wants to do with this game. I played the introduction, where I ended up in Prosperity, the central hub found in New Dawn. The inhabitants serve a purpose and offer their assistance. I was pretty much told to do whatever I wanted but the main thing for me was seeing how the nuclear fallout changed Hope County.
Well, for starters, there’s lots more colour! Shades of blue and pink can be found all over. Far Cry 5 was beautiful but New Dawn dials things up a notch by adding accents and colours. I can’t express how much I enjoyed the new look.
After running around and gaining my bearings, I opened the door to the outside world and began my time in Hope County. Things have changed and not for the better. Supplies are scarce. Ethanol is a commodity and hard to come by. Just being outside the safety of Prosperity is a death sentence. The world has changed and along with that looks different than you remember Hope County.
Jumping on an ATV I head to complete my first story mission called Breakout. I need to head to an abandoned mine and save Thomas Rush, who is held captive by the Highwaymen. The Highwaymen are no joke and offer a challenge, which I learned the hard way upon reaching the mine.
My first attempt did not go well, ending with my character as well as Carmina ending up dead. I was warned beforehand that Ubisoft has added levels to their enemies. The first level of an enemy might not wear any armour to protect themselves, whereas the next level may have shoulder pads as well as a helmet to protect them. Each level includes more armour, so facing off a fully-geared brute is a likely death sentence if you go in unprepared and guns blazing. I did just that and they wiped the floor with me.
After a few tries I finally got the hang of things and with Carmina’s help, I removed all obstacles preventing me from finding Rush. We soon had to find the key to unlock a shed because the backup called was on the way and ready to take us out. Once we found the key and moved down into a cavern, I engaged the enemy under the glow of a pink light illuminating the area. I made quick work of the Highwaymen and got past them.
Finally, I found the man I was sent here to collect and without a moment’s notice he and I were making out way back to Prosperity as I manned a turret and he drove us back. We dealt with dozens of enemies as we tried to make our way back and feel them closing in on us.
Up until this point, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the game, but once I survived the onslaught and got back to safety did I realize that Far Cry New Dawn brings about it a sense of dread the series hasn’t had before. Things are harder, and you need to pay attention and think on the fly to survive this harsh but familiar landscape.
Once things settled in Prosperity, I left once more on a mission to recruit specialists to the cause. My first detour ended up leading me to save one of the most adorable dogs named Timber, an Akita who is held captive by a cannibalistic doctor who butchers dogs. Upon neutralizing this maniac and freeing the dogs from captivity, I gained a new ally with Timber. Paws for Hire allows you to recruit animals to your cause and have them assist you in battle. Having a dog like Timber by my side was a highlight for me as I began petting the beautiful boy Ubisoft included in Far Cry New Dawn.
My next order of business was seeking out a woman by the name of Grace Armstrong, a specialist I was asked to recruit. Arriving at her location, she was being attacked by Highwaymen, so I joined the fray and promptly took them out. Once the area was clear of enemies, I spoke to Grace, who pointed me to the location of her custom gun: The Saw Launcher.
Only her weapon was stolen so I had to get it back from the bandits. Making my way to an old train yard, I was greeted by several enemies. I took out a few before finding the train compartment holding the Saw Launcher and ammo. I quickly put the weapon to use and watched as the blades ricochet and took with it lots of legs. Watching the blade bounce around as it hit enemies and cleanly severing their appendages gave me more joy than I’d like to admit, and the new weapon quickly became a favourite of mine.
I took out the remaining enemies and gathered the remaining stolen materials and made my way back to Grace. She agreed to join us at Prosperity and allowed me to keep her gun. Another specialist joined the ranks!
The next order of business was finding the next specialist and ask them to join us. I selected my target and got on my ATV. I decided to an outpost I came across and liberate it from the Highwaymen.
My first attempt ended up with me getting spotted and enforcers were called in to stop me. I was unprepared for the onslaught that took place but learned from my mistakes. Then, on my second attempt, I got further but ended up being caught thanks to timing my shot wrong and missing my mark (don’t use the Saw Launcher as I did). I’m amazed at how quickly I was overwhelmed by enemies once again, but I managed to not only survive but liberate the outpost.
Moving away from there, I came across an animal attack just past the Refinery I was in and noticed this wasn’t a normal big cat. This was a mutated version of a cougar that took me down a few times with ease. Luckily, I had Timber with me, so I was able to get a second chance which I promptly used to stalk the beast and empty my clips into it.
Lastly, I came across an abandoned silo that belonged to a woman named Nana. She offered me the chance to put my gun skills to use at her gun range. Being the opportunist, I wanted to spice up the challenge of shooting helmets down with the Saw Launcher instead of the sniper rifle offered. Getting the hang of this and timing my shots ended up being crucial to completing the challenge. I ended up trying a few more times and even completed a few of Nana’s challenges before swapping to the proper weapon.
Ubisoft wanted us to test out the co-op and I was happy to oblige as I was partnered up with a fellow journalist to take on some of the missions offered for co-operative play. Our demo had us defend a water main from both the east and west sides. Enemies were attacking the pressure pipes and we had to get to the turrets to defend from oncoming enemies who were not letting us have an easy go of things.
Our first attempt went well but we eventually became so overwhelmed by gunfire that I was knocked out. I watched as my partner attempted to save me while defending against the enemy, but we didn’t make it. So, we tried again and this time the results were much better for us. We completed the mission but learned how crucial listening to each other and working together is key to survival.
I ended my time with Far Cry New Dawn in a good place. I was eager to get back into the world and learn more about the characters and the world that came from the nuclear fallout. It’s not Hope County anymore and Ubisoft is taking a chance with the setting of New Dawn, but it’s a risk and there are new elements that push the series into new territory.
While many familiar elements known in the series are still here, Ubisoft is trying once again to shake up the formula by adding things like RPG elements. Enemies now have health bars and rated difficulty levels. Also, your damage shows numbers just like you see in an RPG, so you know how much damage you are doing to an enemy. The breadcrumbs are laid out and if this works out, we could very well see more in future settings and that’s okay in my book.
Dealing with the new enemy in Montana and the Twins Mickey and Lou is exciting. The Father was a wonderful villain and we will see him in New Dawn but how will all three of them co-exist? What’s going to happen? We’ll also see familiar faces like Kim Rye, Paster Jerome, and Hurk.
The aesthetic caught my eye from the start and after being able to spend a handful of hours to explore and engage in Ubisoft’s latest offering, I’m ready to say I love the setting. Granted, the RPG elements might not be for everyone, but those elements add in layers to the gameplay and you’ll have to adapt on the fly to overcome the obstacles.