'Far Cry New Dawn' Hands-On Preview: Some Fun New Ideas In The Wilderness

Far Cry New Dawn continues the Far Cry legacy of releasing a half-step of a new game in the off-years between the major franchise additions. With Far Cry 3 it was Blood Dragon. Far Cry 4 had Primal. The biggest difference between those releases and New Dawn is that this latest offering directly ties into the story of Far Cry 5.

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A look at the altered landscape of Far Cry New Dawn's Hope County Ubisoft

If you played Far Cry 5, many things will be instantly familiar. The map is the same, with many locations found in both versions of Hope County. New Dawn's world has been altered by explosions, nuclear radiation, nature and time, so don't expect things to be identical.

In this new world, it's been years after the bombs dropped and humanity has started to reclaim a life above ground. Many faces from Far Cry 5, like the Rye family, survived and are helping grow a community once again. The big issue here is ethanol is mostly depleted across the country, slowing down the rebuilding process. And where there's a rare resource, there is going to be fighting.

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The twin leaders of the Minutemen, Mickey and Lou Ubisoft

Far Cry New Dawn's new villains are a pair of twins, Mickey and Lou. The twins are the leaders of the Highwaymen, an organized group of bandits that serve as the main bad guys in New Dawn. The Highwaymen have taken up residence throughout most of Montana, and it's up to you to flush them out.

If you played Far Cry 5, it's all very similar. There are perk points to unlock, which can be cashed in for upgrades like the climbing rope or wingsuit. Players can recruit both human and animal allies to fight by your side, or pair up with a friend online and play co-op. There's stealth mechanics and big guns and everything else you're expecting.

While the experience is similar, New Dawn expands on Far Cry 5 in a few important areas. For example, Outposts have been tweaked. Players are able to capture enemy strongholds like in previous games; however, after you claim an Outpost for yourself, you can choose to abandon it for a reward. If you do so, the Outpost is reclaimed by the Highwaymen, and becomes harder to clear out the next time. If you return and clear the Outpost a second time, the rewards will be even greater. It's a smart way to allow the Outposts to reset, while keeping them interesting and worth your time.

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The people of Hope County make do with the debris that survived the nuclear blasts Ubisoft

There are also new missions called Expeditions. These short adventures take you out of Montana, allowing you to explore other parts of the country. The one Expedition I went on took me to a beached Navy warship along the coast, with Highwaymen protecting some valuable loot onboard. I was tasked with getting the loot and meeting back up with the pilot who took me to the ship. It was a basic level from a gameplay perspective, but it was cool to be able to explore beyond the confines of Hope County. Expeditions can be replayed, and some offer slight variations to the missions to help them continue to feel fresh.

The one gameplay difference I wasn't so sure about is a push for New Dawn to become a "light RPG." This means enemies and weapons now come in four tiers, with the hardest enemies requiring the best weapons. This also means enemies have health bars hovering over their heads, and numbers pop out with every bullet you shoot. This was a little distracting, especially since Far Cry 5 had a more simplified way of depicting which enemies were tougher than others. Thankfully, it didn't seem like there was any XP or something that would require players to need to grind (or buy XP booster microtransactions. This is an Ubisoft game after all).

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The animals in Far Cry New Dawn are familiar, but their looks and behavior have shifted Ubisoft

During my time playing New Dawn, I never encountered an enemy I wasn't capable of killing. I only found enemies in the first two tiers of difficulty, but both were easily taken out like any other Far Cry game's villains. Assuming difficulty levels will not randomly start spiking, the tiers of enemies shouldn't be too different from what's already found in Far Cry games.

Ultimately, I'm looking forward to continuing my adventures in Hope County. I was left a little disappointed at the end of the Far Cry 5 campaign, so hopefully New Dawn ties up some loose ends. I'm a big fan of the new Outpost system and am excited to see all the different Expeditions to go on, but the RPG elements have me a little cautious. If this is a simple way of lightly gating players off from the more challenging combat until the end of the game, it should be fine. If this turns into a weird, grindy way to encourage players to buy XP boosters, I will not be happy.

So what do you think? Are you interested in continuing the Far Cry 5 story with Far Cry New Dawn? What do you think of the new gameplay changes and additions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

'Far Cry New Dawn' Hands-On Preview: Some Fun New Ideas In The Wilderness | Gaming