Far Cry: New Dawn — a video game review

Do you like video games?

I do. I am a middle-aged man according to the kindest charts I’ve seen, but, physically, I’m beginning to feel pretty old. Mentally, I never progressed much past twelve-years-old, which is around the time I first began playing video games seriously.

I made my gamer bones in the video arcades of the late 1970s and early ’80s. Whenever I had quarters in my jean pockets, it wasn’t because I needed to make a call from a pay phone. Yes, I played all of the classics when they were new. Pac Man, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Asteroids, Gorf

Let me stop myself right here. This list could go on forever.

I walked away from video games for a while, thinking that I was putting away childish things. I went through the same process—with similar results—with comic books, Star Wars, and the music of KISS. Later, I came to the belated realization that the things we love aren’t necessarily childish just because we loved them when we were children. As we become adults, we have to deal with a lot of serious stuff, most of the time. This doesn’t mean that we should give up on having fun.

That’s what video games are supposed to be: fun. They are a valid form of entertainment, like books, movies and television series. There is a subset of gamers who obviously take everything about the medium way too seriously, of course. You find this in every fandom or hobby group.

Just this morning, I saw that someone on my Facebook page was having kittens over the James R. Kirk headstone in the early Star Trek episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” This episode is going-on sixty-years-old, and a noob spots this “mistake” every year. No one focuses on meaningless minutiae like we loyal band of nerds.

I suggested that Kirk had two middle names, like J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin. James R.T. Kirk. Only, the R stands for “Romulus,” which is why the good captain doesn’t use it. The suddenly god-powered Gary was just being a dick when he created the tombstone.

I meant this tongue-in-cheek, obviously. But, someone—somewhere—is going to make it a part of their personal head canon.

As for myself, I usually just invoke Hodgson’s Law: It’s just a show; I should really just relax.

Around 1998, I purchased my first home video game console. This was the Nintendo 64, and it served me well for a time. My grandparents had an Atari 2600 back in the day, but it was my uncle’s, who is three years older than I. I never had a home system when I was growing up. A few years later, I upgraded to the Playstation 3. These days, I play on my Playstation 4. Will I ever make the jump to the Playstation 5? All signs point to “Yes,” as the Magic 8-Ball might tell you. Just not yet.

Far Cry: New Dawn is a narrative continuation of Far Cry 5. I enjoyed that game and even wrote a review for it around this time last year. While I graded FC5 a solid A, I wasn’t thrilled with the way the narrative ended. My dissatisfaction—in the moment—with how that story ended, prevented me from pursuing another platinum trophy with that game.

Enough time has passed that I don’t need to be concerned with spoilers, I guess. The ending sequence of FC5 was action-packed and exciting, concluding with a nuclear explosion. While impressive and violent, it wasn’t the satisfying conclusion to the Joseph Seed story that I was expecting.

I suppose there are alternate endings—there usually are in these things—but this is the one I got. And, it was the ending that was necessary for this sequel, which begins seventeen years after the nuclear war now known as The Collapse.

We’re back in Hope County, Montana, although the map doesn’t feel quite as large as that in FC5 (large areas are now prohibitively radioactive). It’s still plenty large enough, though.

I’ll admit to being a little confused at the beginning of this game’s story. The Deputy—who was the player-character from the first game—is nowhere in sight. I did just learn that a “helper” character who appears later in the narrative, who is known as The Judge, is supposed to be the Deputy. If that was explicit during gameplay, I missed it. I will have to play it again.

In this game, the Hope County survivors are trying to rebuild society, primarily through the settlement of Prosperity, which becomes a home base in the game. Carmina Rye, the daughter of characters Nick and Kim Rye from the first game, has appealed for help from a man named Thomas Rush, who is the leader of a group which is rebuilding communities across America. Rush and the Captain answer the call, but are ambushed by the Highwaymen, a quasi-military tribe led by the twin sisters, Mickey and Lou. The Twins try to force Rush to join their team, but he refuses. He also pushes the Captain into the river, saving him or her (actually, “you,” since this is the gender-customizable character you play).

The Captain is rescued by Carmina and led to Prosperity. Immediately, there are multiple story goals. Thomas Rush must be saved. Prosperity must be prepared to withstand the armed onslaught of the Highwaymen. And, ultimately, the Twins must be defeated. Great fun in beautiful country.

The gameplay in this one is familiar. I admit that I didn’t jump aboard the Far Cry bandwagon until Far Cry 4, but the character abilities and mission structure haven’t changed much. Lots of resource and souvenir collecting. Animals to hunt and skins to collect. Fish to fish for. Tool and weapon acquisition. Exploration of beautifully rendered terrain, buildings, underground bunkers and caves. Challenges to complete. Enemies to fight and kill. Forts to attack and take over. Driving, boating, parachuting, climbing and wingsuiting.

Most of the gameplay I enjoyed from FC5 is carried over to this game.

The post-apocalyptic Hope County looks a little different. It’s wilder, certainly, with evidence of destruction and low-tech rebuilding all around. In some ways, it’s even more beautiful. The plant life is thriving and colorful. I’m not really a plant and flower guy, but I know that some of the more brightly colored flowers around are bougainvillea. The animal life is also booming, although the radiation has been responsible for some minor mutations.

The bright color pallette continues with vehicles, armor and decorations. Lots of Dayglo spray paint that hearkens back to the aesthetic of the 1980s. While the Highwaymen seem marginally threatening (but never genuinely scary, in my opinion), even their neon color wheel seems to reinforce the theme of the narrative, which is largely optimistic. This is supported by the New Dawn subtitle, of course (I guess New Hope might have ruffled a few feathers).

Compared to how I felt at the end of Far Cry 5, this entry in the franchise leaves me feeling refreshed and (digitally) reborn in the game universe. The new Hope County manages to come across as positively utopian by the end of the story. Some bad things happen along the way, in the nature of stories, and we have to wrap up the Joseph Seed arc finally.

Minor spoiler: I chose to kill him. You should follow your own heart.

There is also an “Expedition” mode that had enjoyable missions in other areas of the country outside of Hope County. These were fun. I can’t speak for co-op gameplay, because it’s never an important feature in a video game to me. I guess I don’t play well with others.

If you must hear some negative things about the game in order to trust my judgment concerning the things I like, then here goes.

The story narrative is needlessly confusing (to me) at times. The Big Bad(s) of the game really don’t provide that much of a challenge to the good guys, and the various missions and challenges become repetitive. While it’s not that difficult to level-up in this game, it begins to seem tedious at times (although I have to admit that sometimes tedium is relaxing for me—I know, weird, right?).

What else?

I still don’t like to fish. I mean that for real life as well as in-game. This particular brand of tedium doesn’t relax me.

I wanted a motorcycle without a sidecar as an available vehicle. Maybe next time.

I wanted a better scope for my elite-level sniper rifle.

I wanted to pilot a plane (and not as a boat on the river).

The in-game music wasn’t as varied or as good as that in FC5. I often turned off the radio and picked a playlist on Amazon Music.

Also, the ending was anticlimactic. Especially when contrasted with the nuclear explosion that ended the other story. A good ending, still. A satisfying conclusion. Just anticlimactic.

I have been a fan of this franchise through three titles now. I am looking forward to playing Far Cry 6 as well. Giancarlo Esposito is starring as the Big Bad in that one. There’s no way I would ever skip that one.

Firewater’s O-Captain!-My-Captain! Report Card: A

Still a good game, with a better ending.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.