Far Cry New Dawn review: Eminently playable, predictably repetitive

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Far Cry New Dawn's post-thermonuclear war America is more alive and colourful than one might expect…Ubisoft

Score: 7.5/10 
Platform: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Windows PC
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: February 15, 2019
ESRB: M

I don’t know that there’s ever been a more colourful or positive outlook on how the natural world would fair after a nuclear holocaust than in Ubisoft Montreal’s Far Cry New Dawn.

Set just 17 years after the events of Far Cry 5, which ended with — spoiler alert — an atomic war that set off a decade-long nuclear winter, nature has rebounded with vengeance. There are beautiful forests, brightly hued fields of flowers, and animals that seem to have undergone only mild (if any) mutation.

I’d say planet earth fared pretty well in the absence of humans, except that humans are all over the place in Far Cry’s post-Armageddon. Having crawled out of their bunkers and hidey-holes, New Dawn‘s humans fall into three groups: the people of Prosperity, a small community of survivors trying to live peacefully off the land; the Highwaymen, a group of murderous marauders led by a pair of bloodthirsty sisters who seem to love causing chaos for chaos’s sake; and New Eden, a religious commune housing the remnants of cult leader Joseph Seed (the big baddy from the previous game), who are suffering just as much as Prosperity at the hands of the Highwaymen. This shared victimhood actually leads Prosperity to consider working with New Eden to bring the sisters down.

That’s about all you need to know in terms of stage setting. Narratively speaking, New Dawn is a much more efficient game than the numbered entries in the series, dropping fewer twists and turns and keeping cat and mouse games to a minimum. It also has fewer missions, a smaller map, and is just generally reduced in scope — a fact reflected in its price tag, which is around only half that of most new releases in Canada. This is Far Cry reduced to its core elements, both good and bad.

The good is, of course, the action. Far Cry has always been eminently playable, and that’s as true as ever here. When the shooting starts, it’s a blast that doesn’t let up until the final bad guy falls. We’re supplied a great collection of cobbled together guns — including that saw blade launcher you’ve likely seen in trailers — and destructive vehicles, controlled via an interface that’s tight and satisfying. It’s hard to keep oneself from wasting time simply going in search of enemies to kill (which — weirdly, given it’s the apocalypse — isn’t too hard, since they seem to be wandering around every road at intervals of just a couple hundred metres).

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