Guest post by Paul Davies.
If you’re yet to complete Far Cry 5, look away NOW. Far Cry New Dawn is one big spoiler, with its surprising but (potentially) brilliant new concept.
Whether it was a lucky guess, or truly some divine inspiration, doesn’t matter too much… Joseph Seed was proven right! The world succumbed to fire and brimstone, the US at least, and Hope County suffered nuclear devastation. Seventeen years after the bombs dropped, the land is making a miraculous recovery, more resplendent in nature than ever before. But before the survivors can get too cosy, there’s scarcity to contend with and a new threat to rally against in the form of Highwaymen; bloody-minded pirates that prey on the peaceful.
Post-apocalyptic Far Cry, then! But, why – other than the obvious wow factor? Well, Ubisoft certainly did its research. Far Cry New Dawn takes place in the not-too-distant future, and is based upon scientific data that ensures its scenario stays close to a possible reality. Set your slider much closer to Mad Max than Fallout. Life has returned, not necessarily our humanity.
This isn’t about mutants; its theme is makeshift weapons, tools and vehicles. Okay, maybe there is some wilder than usual wildlife, but we’re given a good reason for that too. There are two warring factions, or rather a warlike faction going after some peace-loving pioneers. Your avatar falls into the latter category, part of a group sent from the West coast to assist the farmers of Hope County in rebuilding America, one State at a time. This doesn’t go too well, as the Highwaymen attack, derail and destroy the train upon which you’re travelling.
Somehow (we’re not yet sure how) the hero makes it to a place called Prosperity, and a home base that the Survivors are striving hard to maintain. It’s being run by Kim Rye, whom we first met in Far Cry 5, whose number one priority is the well-being of the children, which is largely dependent on the production of the plant-based fuel ethanol since gasoline is no use whatsoever after three years, and it’s been nearly 20. Home base is effectively Survivor HQ, comprising facilities that include a Training Camp, Healing Garden and Cartographer. Our role is to maintain and upgrade home base, while defending against the Highwaymen.
Now we have the pleasure of introducing Mickey and Lou, the two new antagonists, who happen to be twins. Their father was the founder of the Highwaymen, but neither this, nor the fact they are his beloved daughters, prevented Mickey and Lou from taking him down. Ubisoft says the various Highwaymen groups are akin to the chapters of biker gangs. Now that Mickey and Lou’s people have descended upon Hope County, all hell has broken loose. The Highwaymen are well equipped, armed with automatic weapons, rugged vehicles, and protective sports gear. If the Survivors are to stand a chance, they need to be resourceful.
While factory-produced firearms are available to the Survivors, their secret weapon is really the workbench upon which the likes of a Saw-Launcher can be constructed, and upgraded. The Saw-Launcher gameplay shown at Ubisoft’s London presentation was wild and greatly intimidating. Initially this thing – an assortment of bars and bike handles – can catapult a single circular blade at the enemy, but eventually can fling three, possibly even more. They ricochet off surfaces, creating havoc and much bodily harm. Don’t anger the farmers, dude.
Survivor combat isn’t entirely crazy, with more elegant weapons in the hands of Guns for Hire, that include Kim Rye’s daughter Carmina (whom you may have helped bring into the world during the Far Cry 5 mission ‘Special Delivery’), and a crotchety old lady named Nana, one of the best snipers you’ll ever see, and the sharpest mouth you’re ever likely to hear.
Missions don’t all revolve around home base either, with Outposts extending usefulness in a new Escalation mode, that sees them becoming gradually stronger with each subsequent occupation of Highwaymen after being ransacked by Survivors. There are also Expeditions, taking players outside of Hope County and all across the US in search of valuable resources. The latter is a first for the series, presenting the opportunity to explore new, exotic regions outside of the main area of activity. Both new modes benefit from extensively reworked enemy AI, that allows for more resilient and efficient adversaries, and Raid-like encounters.
Finally, we have some bad news: Fang for Hire ‘Boomer’ died. But, don’t mourn him too much – there’s a new mutt in town called ‘Timber’, one beautiful Akita. Also joining the Fangs for Hire bureau is ‘Horatio’, a f-ugly giant hog that the Survivors have managed to get on their side. The franchise hasn’t lost its dark sense of humour, and to see this pig tossing Highwaymen left and right is sure to make anyone laugh… and maybe punch the air a little.
Far Cry New Dawn is coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC on February 15.