‘Far Cry New Dawn’ Is A Candy-Coloured Apocalyptic Vision

From the cotton candy clouds of pink to the rainbow lens flares dotting every scenic vista and cerulean waters in which you cast your fishing line, Far Cry New Dawn is peaceful and beautiful. Disturbingly so. Unsettling minor-key background music underpins the notion that, while everything seems hunky dory in Hope County, there’s something still quite sinister afoot.

From the opening moments of the game, as bandits blaze by in their vehicles blasting Die Antwoord to listening to a young woman wail away on her guitar, something seems perpetually off about this new settlement. And it’s that kind of uneasiness that makes Far Cry: New Dawn a much more exciting prospect than the game that came before it. No matter what you do or where you go, there’s a thread of uncertainty that follows you, and it’s insanely fun to see how it all unravels.

After the nuclear disasters came and went following the ending of Far Cry 5, years later the surviving residents of Hope County came out from their bunkers and worked to build up the land of Prosperity in an attempt to make a more permanent home.

But a group of raiders known as the Highwaymen, lead by the ruthless twin sisters Mickey and Lou, want to seize everything they possibly can for their own. That’s where you come in – a nameless crusader working for one Thomas Rush, the frontman of the rebuilding efforts. You’re tasked with thwarting the Twins and keeping the peace. Of course, there are several important twists here and there, too – but that’s the post-apocalyptic tale in a nutshell.

If you missed out on Far Cry 5 setting the stage ahead of this game don’t worry. This budget release, while marketed as a conclusion and continuation of sorts of the Far Cry 5 name, can easily be enjoyed without ever having set foot inside of that game’s Montana from 17 years prior. Sure, you’ll have a more complete experience if you know all about Joseph Seed, Far Cry 5’s antagonist and his Hope County-based terrorist cult Project at Eden’s Gate.

Don’t you hate it when cult leaders actually have a bead on what’s coming down the pipeline?

For the uninitiated, Seed believed he was chosen by God to lead his “children” into “Eden’s gate” to save them from the end times that were coming – the nuclear apocalypse. Of course, it seemed like he was just another lunatic cultist – but hey! It turns out he was right after all. Don’t you hate it when cult leaders actually have a bead on what’s coming down the pipeline?

And so, with all that in mind, you’ve got to become a saviour for the broken, the beaten, and the damned, as it were (thanks, My Chemical Romance.) Most of your time in New Dawn is spent making sure the fine folks of Prosperity are kept safe as you fight off the Highwaymen around every corner and ensure your camp has the resources to fortify their stronghold. Story progression is tied directly into this idea, so you’ll be doing a lot of exploring, gathering, returning to base, and then doing it all again. But it doesn’t feel like a slog this time around. It feels – wait for it – fulfilling!

Of course, you have to go on the offensive sometimes as you clear enemies out of outposts and collect the Ethanol you need to upgrade your base back at Prosperity. If you complete one base, you can even go back and do it again for better rewards and a bigger challenge. Each time, the enemies get harder to defeat, but it’s fun to go in and try your luck against the bigger bad guys to see how you’ve improved over time.

Far Cry New Dawn

Much of that improvement stems from improving the weapons at your disposal. While you traipse around Hope County, you’ll learn to craft powerful bows, improvised weapons, machine guns, and more to aid you in annihilating any Highwaymen who stand in your way. You’ve simply got to earn enough resources to bring it all to fruition. These RPG-lite mechanics add just enough complexity for the game to be interesting, but without adding frustration.

And if you want to take a break from all the madcap violence for a bit, you can always indulge in some peaceful fishing or hunting to take your mind off of running down Highwaymen. Just like in the other Far Cry games before it, New Dawn lets you get in touch with nature if you so choose, which is actually quite satisfying.

You don’t even have to go about all this journeying and exploring alone. Nope! You’ve got your canine companion Timber by your side. And let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve hopped on a motorcycle with your faithful pet and tore down the countryside via a dirt road. Timber is an extremely helpful ally, much like Far Cry 5’s Boomer. He can attack enemies, detect items, and most importantly, you can pet him whenever you wish. Squee! If you’re wondering if he’s a good boy, he is.

For returning players, Hope County has been given a neon makeover with massive changes to certain areas and a “trimming of the fat,” so to speak, for the rest. New Dawn was keen on cutting out some of the more frustrating parts of the game’s sprawling predecessor, and as such there’s a much better sense of pacing and narrative development here that never truly feels as frustrating as Far Cry 5 did. It’s a wide world brimming with people to meet (mostly enemies), animals to track down, and (of course) resources to collect.

And what a gorgeous world it is. Far Cry: New Dawn is the best-looking Far Cry since earlier tropical entries in the series, and it shows in every aspect of its design. Despite the fact that most of the world was devastated by a massive nuclear event known as “the Collapse,” the latest entry in the Far Cry first-person shooter series is content to view the world through rainbow-tinted glasses.

We’ve seen what the apocalypse looks like, sure – games like Fallout 4 and Metro Exodus have busied us with rust-coloured, bombed-out visions of what our world would look like should we ever resort to nuclear warfare to solve our global differences. But Far Cry: New Dawn gives us a completely different worldview. Nature is totally back in control after being ravaged by nuclear war, and it couldn’t be more beautiful. The scenic vistas, blue waters, and detailed character models (especially the Twins) are well worth the entry price alone.

Far Cry New Dawn

The soundtrack, while completely unexpected, is fantastic. There’s a mixture of ominous motifs combined with thumping beats, as well as tracks from rap and R&B outfits and even The Beach Boys, which come totally by surprise. It’s an eclectic mix, and the Highwaymen use more raucous, “party” music to announce their presence, where Prosperity and those associated with it prefer calmer, more “wholesome” tracks. And while some of the “new age” singing by way of some of the folks in Prosperity can grate on the nerves, it’s mostly harmful – the voice actors do a great job of selling each character’s unique personality.

Everything melts together – the gameplay, graphics, music, and the narrative – like a big cone of fluffy cotton candy (and they’re both similarly hued.) As a standalone sequel, Far Cry: New Dawn outshines the core Far Cry entries in a host of significant ways. The story’s more compelling. Hope County is more exciting. Even the antagonists are more menacing. It’s not often that a spinoff outshines the game it spun off by, but this is overall a much tighter, interesting, and engaging experience. The pops of colour certainly don’t hurt, either.

So if you’re in the mood to see what your life over a decade after the nuclear bombs hit might be like if it were filtered through ecstasy or some other type of euphoric drug, you could do a far cry worse than this new dawn. See what I did there?