The original Far Cry is a, ahem, distant weep from what the series has become under Ubisoft’s influence, but the 2004 jungle-faring adventure starring a grown man with the fashion sense of a late-1990s middle-schooler still has its fans. Since 2006, those fans have been struggling with a peculiar issue: Enemies can see and fire through tents. Now, 13 years later, that issue has been fixed in the official GOG version of the game—thanks to a fan.
The infamous tent AI bug was first introduced in Far Cry’s final 1.4 patch, which came out in 2006. Fans created their own fixes over the years, but if you decided to buy the game and go in blind, you’d have no means of overcoming its rogue’s gallery of extremely not-blind enemies. GOG’s latest Far Cry hotfix, however, includes a long-awaited note: “added a small fix to prevent AI bots from shooting through tents (thanks to FarOut for reaching out to us).”
“While there are fan patch(es) that deal with this, this seems to be the first time that any seller has shipped a fixed version,” they wrote. “Thumbs up for GOG!”
So if you’ve been holding out on playing the first Far Cry, an incredibly 2004 video game that nonetheless laid the foundation for multiple mechanics, games, and genres, there really is no better time than the present.
Far Cry New Dawn takes the basic and current formula of the franchise, which was established in Far Cry 3, and tweaks it in some interesting ways. One of my favorite tweaks is the introduction of expeditions, which lets players travel to new parts of the world to explore and of course kill some enemies. This is still Far Cry, but at a bigger scale and I want these missions to return in future games.
These expeditions are unlocked early on in the game. Players meet a pilot who hates the evil Highwaymen gang that is the main adversary in New Dawn. The gang is massive and has bases and operations all across the post-apocalyptic United States. Players can choose to go with their eccentric pilot to travel around the nation, killing Highwaymen and stealing their stuff.
These missions take place in different locations throughout the United States, including Louisana, California and The South West. These expeditions really highlight how talented the Far Cry developers are at creating fantastic looking worlds that feel rich in detail and quality.
Usually, in the Far Cry games, we only get to see one location, like a tropical island or a part of the Midwest. But with these expeditions in Far Cry New Dawn, the developers get to really throw a bunch of environments into the mix. The result is a game that feels bigger and more diverse than previous entries in the franchise.
The first location you can visit is a large US warship located in Florida. It’s a perfect setting for this introductory trip.
Florida sounds and looks very different than the nuked-out forests and fields of Hope County, Montana. The whole area feels more tropical and wet. You can even find sharks swimming in the waters around the boat, something you won’t find in Montana.
This first mission immediately sold me on the idea of traveling out of the main map in a Far Cry game.
As much as I love open world games like Far Cry or Grand Theft Auto, at some point, a big map starts to feel small. It’s still just one place, even if it’s a big place. Eventually, I can feel myself bumping up against the limits of the map. Wanting to go beyond and see the rest of this world, even if it’s just a peek. This is what the New Dawn expeditions do and do well.
Flying to Florida for a simple mission is a great way to really sell the idea that the world of New Dawn is destroyed. You aren’t seeing one wasteland, but instead, you see multiple worlds ravaged by the nukes of the past.
The other locations you visit in Far Cry New Dawn are just as visually distinct from Hope County as Florida. You end up traveling to a theme park in Louisana, the Alcatraz prison located in California and you even end up visiting the crashed International Space Station.
Though the location that I ended up loving the most was the second location players can visit, The Navajo Bridge located in Arizona, just over the Colorado River. This area is gorgeous and really feels, unlike anything I’ve seen in Far Cry New Dawn or really any previous Far Cry titles. Deep canyons and deserts that spread right to the edge of the ravine.
These areas can at times also feel like Ubisoft testing out new ideas for future games or even playing around with areas that might not work for a full game or map. Would a huge map set in the deserts and canyons of Arizona be exciting? Maybe not. Yet, as one small and open area to explore it works wonderfully.
What you actually do in these expeditions is far less impressive than the worlds themselves. Players do the same thing each time they reach a location. First, find where the supplies you need to steal are located in the world. Then steal them. You can sneak to these supplies, which are marked with pink smoke, however, once you grab them all hell breaks loose.
This mix of stealth and action isn’t incredibly creative or fresh, yet it works fine for these bite-sized excursions. I also never got bored of fighting in the last stands that are found at the end of each mission. Each mission ends with you fighting off waves of enemies while waiting for your helicopter to arrive and get you out of there. Every time I escaped, I felt a sense of excitement and accomplishment.
Plus these missions reward some excellent loot and crafting materials. Good loot is always great motivation.
New Dawn in many ways feels like Ubisoft experimenting with the Far Cry formula. I don’t know how many of these ideas, like crafting, will show up in future games. But if I could make a suggestion to Ubisoft, I would keep these expeditions moving forward.
They let the developers try out new themes or environments without needing to build a whole new world and they help shake up the game by adding more visual diversity. I even like the little bits of story that are sprinkled throughout these small maps, which help to really show how large the nuclear war was and how much it changed the rest of the country.
These expeditions are an incredible and fun way to make a Far Cry game feel even bigger and more adventurous, without needing to make a map the size of the entire world.
Far Cry: New Dawn is the latest game in the series and because it is set after nuclear bombs have destroyed the world, things get a bit strange. Weird creatures roam the world, like deer with bright pink antlers or glow-in-the-dark critters. But another weird element of this nuclear apocalypse actually feels inspired by something first found in the original Far Cry on the Xbox.
Spoilers ahead. I’m going to be talking about the later parts of Far Cry New Dawn and the original Far Cry game.
In Far Cry: New Dawn players eventually find their way up North, where Joseph Seed is hiding away with a strange and powerful tree. This tree produces fruit that, when eaten, grants some folks special powers. These powers include strong punches, invisibility, extra speed, and double jumps.
Previous Far Cry games, like Far Cry 5, have included ways to temporarily give your character increased abilities. But giving your character a selection of powers that can be used permanently throughout the game reminded me a lot of the Xbox port of the original game.
Far Cry Instincts was a modified port of the first game in the franchise. It ditched the huge maps found in the original PC version for more linear worlds and also changed the storyline to include new superhuman abilities called “Feral Powers”.
These Feral Powers change the way the game is played and gave Far Cry Instincts a different feel than its PC counterpart. Jack Carver, the protagonist of Far Cry Instincts, can jump farther and higher, move faster, punch harder and track enemies better.
These powers would return in the sequel to Instincts, Far Cry Instincts Evolution. This story had Carver encountering other folks who had his same Feral powers. The campaign for Evolution was much shorter than Instincts and was more an expansion than a full-on new game.
Far Cry New Dawn gives the player similar powers, including a really fun double jump. Like Instincts, these powers change up how you interact with the world. For example, after taking down an outpost I returned with my new powers and suddenly things were much easier. I could sneak around better, get over tall walls without a ladder or door and I could quickly take down elite enemies silently.
While previous games have given players ways to power up, these were usually short term and not as powerful as the Feral powers of Instincts or Eden powers found in New Dawn.
One could argue that in the recent Far Cry games players eventually have so many abilities and weapons that you are already a fairly powerful warrior. While I agree the games tend to overpower the player, I also love becoming some superpowered hunter who can just destroy entire armies and outposts easily.
I have no idea what the future holds for Far Cry. I know some fans prefer more grounded games, while other fans like myself are into the weirder Far Cry adventures. Personally, I would love to see more games in the franchise build on the idea of giving the main character special powers.
Maybe it’s time for Jack Carver to return? What if Far Cry 6 returns to the tropical islands of the first game and gives Carver some new Feral abilities? Unlikely, but maybe a future spin-off like Primal or New Dawn will give us another taste of being a super-powered killer in the world of Far Cry.
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
I’m a sucker for a game series that lets me revisit a place I’ve explored in an earlier game. I loved it when I played Super Metroid, and I’m having a great time with it now in the new Far Cry. I’m not talking about old levels being recreated in new games. I’m talking about visiting a place you saw in one game and seeing how it has changed.
Far Cry New Dawn is set 17 years after Far Cry 5, but was only released a year later. Because of that, the look of FC5’s fictional county of Hope, Montana was fresh in my mind as I played through the New Dawn version. The first game ends with a nuclear blast. By the second game, we see a county where nature is aggressively growing back and humanity is in some Mad Max state of scrappy survivalism.
The jail from the first game?
It’s been overrun by Highwaymen who, by the way, love the color pink.
That spot where a guy named Larry Parker was building a device that he hoped would transmit him to Mars? Here’s that spot in Far Cry 5:
Here’s “Parker’s Vault”in New Dawn.
Being able to stumble across or actively visit places I’ve been to in a previous game and see what has happened to them has been my favorite thing in New Dawn. The game regularly rewards those who played Far Cry 5 with updates to the places—and people—they encountered in the first game. It’s so effective and seemingly such an easy button for the developers to push in their players, it’s a wonder more games don’t do it.
Sure, we see iconic levels in older games recreated in new ones all the time. What I don’t recall seeing much of, despite the many sequels I’ve played, is many games that simply take me back to where I’ve been and show me what happened next. My favorite example of this is Super Metroid which I played in, wow, 1994? Twenty-five years ago?? Anyway, in the beginning of that game, the player finds themselves in a location that should feel familiar to anyone who played the first Metroid game. The designers are having you walk through the wrecked caverns where the original Metroid’s violent finale took place. It’s wild to be back there.
Far Cry New Dawn, which uses a smaller version of Far Cry 5’s map, is constantly doing that Super Metroid thing.
See all these spots in this corner of Far Cry 5?
You can re-visit them in New Dawn. They’ve all changed.
Far Cry New Dawn has a whole sidequest about how the virtual Montana landscape has changed. Players are given several photos of locations from 5 and are challenged to find them in New Dawn.
That water tower photo goes about here:
Here’s the iconic big bridge from Far Cry 5.
And here, through the glory of New Dawn’s photo mode, is my character in the new game comparing a photo from the Far Cry 5 era to what the bridge looks like a nuke and 17 years later.
Far Cry New Dawn’s transformed locations often include notes and audio recordings that add more details about how or why a place has changed. They tell stories of new survivors taking shelter in spots that other characters lived in in the last game. They reveal the fate of allies long gone in the 17 years that passed. That big bridge, it turns out, was wrecked because the folks in Hope County who were just trying to stay alive tried to run a supply train over it, but the bridge couldn’t take the weight.
Sometimes I’m even struck by a site in New Dawn that looks so familiar that I dive back into Far Cry 5 to find the old version. Take this thing in the new game. It rings a bell, but I haven’t found it back in Far Cry 5 yet.
So much of what I enjoyed about New Dawn is its constant comparisons of its people and places to those in the last game. I found it moving and exciting to go back, and I realize I’d happily play a whole series that stays in the same place but lets us revisit it as dozens of in-game years tick by between each sequel. It’s a phenomenon games are uniquely suited to doing well, so it’s a shame that games do it so infrequently.
I remember the first time I encountered Hurk in a Far Cry game. It was his very first appearance in the series, in Far Cry 3 as part of a downloadable mission pack called Monkey Business. I remember thinking “This guy seems annoying. I can’t take any more of him.” Seven years later and he is still around and still popping up in every game.
In his first appearance we get a good sense of who Hurk is. Hurk is loud, dumb, love explosions, beers and guns. In Far Cry 3 Hurk mentions that the tribal leader Citra is a MILF, “Malyasian I’d Like To Fuck!”. Hurk sucks.
Kotaku’s own Heather Alexandra had this to say about Hurk in her Far Cry New Dawn review:
I hate Hurk. I hate his fucking guts. He started as a joke character… and has been featured in all games since, including a baffling presence as ‘Urki’ in Far Cry Primal. Nothing he says is funny, every moment with him makes me want to choke on a pretzel.
Harsh, but fair. Hurk really isn’t enjoyable to be around. The idea of Hurk though, I like. The idea of a fun and exciting character who is all about big action packed missions is a solid idea. But the execution of Hurk is just the worst. Part of the problem is that since his appearance he hasn’t really changed. He still says the same sort of shit, still is written as an annoying asshole and still gets stuck with jokes that aren’t very funny.
A great example of this is found in Far Cry 5. Hurk has started a monkey cult, a reference to the cult found in Far Cry 5. The problem is that this bit isn’t really funny and gets constantly referenced and driven into the ground. That sort of sums up Hurk. He’s a joke of character that has been beaten to death over and over.
And yet…I weirdly enjoy his appearances. Don’t get me wrong, I hate Hurk’s dialogue, attitude and general behavior. But he has almost turned into the Far Cry franchise’s Stan Lee. This cameo that you know is coming and keep an eye out for. However, unlike Stan Lee’s cameos, which were short and hilarious, Hurk’s appearance always drag and never really make me laugh.
I can’t help but appreciate the dedication Ubisoft has to the Hurk joke, even going so far as to include him in the Mars DLC from Far Cry 5. While he doesn’t appear in Far Cry Primal, one of his ancestors does. The lengths Ubisoft is willing to go to include Hurk in Far Cry games is astonishing. This much work for such a bad character.
I hate sounding so negative about Hurk. I actually want to like Hurk. I love the idea of all the Far Cry games being connected in this weird action-movie-like-universe. I enjoy Willis Huntley, the CIA agent who appears in many Far Cry games. I really want to enjoy hanging out with Hurk, but he’s just so unfunny and annoying.
Hurk’s voice actor seems to be a good guy. He interacts often with fans on Twitter and even records Hurks lines bare chested. I’m not sure why, but hey, he’s certainly not phoning it in. Which is another frustrating aspect of Hurk. The voice acting is great. It feels like a waste to have someone this talented saying of some of Hurk’s dialogue.
The community reaction is mixed on Hurk. Checking Reddit and Twitter you can find plenty of fans who love him and folks sharing favorite Hurk quotes. You can also find people asking for less Hurk. Though I would say overall the internet seems to mostly enjoy Hurk, at least they enjoy him more than Heather or I do. Which is fine. Like I said earlier, I oddly enjoy searching for the Hurk cameo in Far Cry games. I guess I just wish the actual missions and jokes were better and writing less grating.
If you enjoy Hurk, don’t let this article ruin your love of the big idiot. In his less annoying moments Hurk can occasionally make me smirk. There is something to love about a big, dumb buffoon running around making references to Beyonce.
Just maybe don’t put him in every Far Cry game. Who knows, if he doesn’t appear in Far Cry 6 I might actually miss Hurk.
By the end of Far Cry 5, the modern world was no more. Washed away in a gout of nuclear fire, all there was left to do was retreat into our bunker and lament the loss. Far Cry New Dawn moves forward from that set-up. Mechanically, it is the same game we’ve been playing since 2012’s Far Cry 3. Underneath the gloss, it is more complicated but one message rings clear: even in Paradise, there will always be snakes. And you, Player One, will get to kill them in the most spectacular ways imaginable.
This piece was first published on February 14, 2019. We’re bumping it today for the game’s release.
Set 17 years after nuclear catastrophe shattered the world, Far Cry New Dawn brings players back to the fictional Hope County, a massive tract of Montana that was also the location for Far Cry 5. That game had wistfully golden fields and sun-drenched forest canopies. New Dawn’s Hope County is a pastel wonderland. Its mutations, which include bark-skinned bison and a Borealis’d sky, recall works like 2018 science fiction horror film Annihilation. Yet Hope County is far from a hostile hellscape; it is a genuine Eden amid nuclear waste. Communities there thrived until the arrival of the Highwaymen, Mad Max-esque raiders—led by twin sisters Mickey and Lou— who stomp on whatever idyllism that remains. That’s where the player comes in. Taking control of the security chief of a para-military fixer group lead by the charismatic Thomas Rush, your job is to stymie the Highwaymen and protect one of the last remaining free settlements, Prosperity.
Taken on its own, Far Cry New Dawn is as straightforward a post-apocalyptic tale as can be told. Indeed, it’s a concept as old (and fraught) as communal history itself: enemies are at the gates. The Highwaymen are the Visigoths attacking Rome. They are the inescapable sin of mankind, made manifest again after the End Times, patrolling conveniently placed outposts for the player to assault. Because of this, it is tempting to say that New Dawn engages with post-apocalyptic iconography only as a means to facilitate more stabby, shooty video game fun times. That’s certainly true on some level, but as things progress it becomes clear that New Dawn provokes a conversation about its genre, its medium, and conflict itself. These ambitious goals are tackled with the series’ characteristic clumsiness, stopping just shy of satisfactory conclusions in spite of an earnest attempt.
New Dawn’s mechanical framework is the same as it has been since Far Cry 3. This is an open-world first-person shooter with main quests, some side quests and a lot of bases to raid. While there is a string of main story quests to complete, New Dawn focuses on dropping the player into a majestic space and dotting it with an assortment of challenges to complete, stashes to find, and characters to recruit as companions. This space is best explored during the early game, when enemies and creatures can easily dispose of the player, and before they have amassed enough high quality weapons and abilities to trivialize combat.
The first two thirds of New Dawn represent the series’ formula at its most effective. Wandering the map is a mixture of scavenging and combat engagements that feel mysterious and deadly in equal measure. It’s never quite as freewheeling as its closest competitor, Fallout, but there is a clear cadence to the exploration. You will slip through the countryside and dodge Highwaymen patrols until you stumble upon the ruins of a church. There, you might read a note about a hidden stash in a tomb beneath the ground and solve a puzzle to locate the key. Using what you’ve scavenged there, you might craft a new rifle that allows you to single-handedly topple a Highwaymen camp, securing a cache of ethanol to upgrade your own settlement. This process feels natural, more like an actual progression of events instead of merely ticking off check marks on your map.
When broken down, all that’s happening here is two different activities playing off each other. The first is a return of Far Cry 5’s “prepper stashes,” reimagined as post-apocalyptic scavenging excursions. These special scenarios are dotted liberally throughout Hope County, some offering combat challenges and platforming courses, others leaning towards puzzle solving. On one expedition, you might find yourself disarming a lock in a heavily booby-trapped bunker by tinkering with a collection of animatronic fish. In another, you will be forced to dispose of a mutated wolverine inside a dilapidated community center and escape from encroaching flames after your attempts to burn the creature’s nest ignite the entire building. These sequences, nestled off the beaten path but never so secret that a non-player character can’t mark their location conveniently on your map, breathe life into the world and admirably experiment with genre tropes of trash scavengers and old world ruins. They remain one of the series’ best additions, and feed admirably into Far Cry’s brand of open world combat. As you explore more, you can craft more weapons using the collection of duct tape, components, screws, and other materials you find from these stashes.
As you amass resources, you will slowly start tackling the map’s various outposts and refineries. The goal is simple and remains unchanged after all these years: kill everyone and take what they had. Whereas games like Far Cry 4 and 5 tied this process into vague political or religious struggles, New Dawn’s rationale is much more immediate. Each enemy base contains a cache of ethanol, a resource that is spent exclusively in upgrading the various features of your home settlement. If you want to craft higher tier weapons, upgrade your garden, or enable fast travel you will need to upgrade your home, and that means accumulating ethanol. Read cynically, this is a much more self-interested motivation for tackling outposts than other Far Cry games. But divorcing these activities from the series’ ill-defined and mismanaged ideological struggles and framing them solely in terms of resource acquisition is a remarkably good fit for the post-apocalyptic genre. It makes sense for New Dawn’s central mechanical struggle to center upon who actually gets to thrive in Paradise.
And yet, here is where New Dawn starts to run into a problem. In the act of conquering enemy fortifications the series’ vapid repetitiveness makes itself known. First, comes the ability to replay these challenges for further rewards. These “escalations” allow players to cede the base back to the Highwaymen. This increases the raw difficulty of the encounter—New Dawn adds an ascending four tiers of difficulty for activities and enemies starting with grey common encounters and ending with golden “legendary” encounters—and allows players to continue the violence. For all of their new difficulty, additional guards, and extra alarms, these challenges never escalate so far that you can’t clear them with some sneaking and a decent quality bow and arrow. That weapon and its continued prominence within the series belies one of Far Cry New Dawn’s most explicit motifs: cycles and repeated conflict.
The bow was first introduced in Far Cry 3, along with this base-clearing activity. In that time, it has remained one of the most effective tools across games. It is essentially silent and can kill most enemies with a single shot. This is true all the way from modern settings like Far Cry 4 and 5 to the prehistoric times of Far Cry Primal. It is true here as well, after the end of the world. And that truth reveals the series’ underlying thesis, the dark heart that led Far Cry 5 to end in fire and ash: we are no better now than we were in our most distant past. The mechanical truth of Far Cry, expressed in countless bases claimed and arrows fired is that humanity will never be free from violence. New Dawn has two responses to this cynical thesis. First, it wants you to enjoy the chaos. If you can’t stop it, you might as well have some goddamn fun. Secondly, it wants to understand why all of this has happened before and why all of it will happen again.
That first impulse is best expressed in New Dawn’s vivid aesthetics. Far from the dark and dingy post-apocalyptic worlds characteristic to the genre, New Dawn’s Hope County is a technicolor wonderland teeming with shades and hues that are both unnatural and astounding. Rivers flow with water the same color as robin’s eggs, deer antlers feature bizarre shades of pink, the sky shimmers with neon light, and bears’ hearts glow yellow within their chests. New Dawn retains some of the vague Biblical allusions of Far Cry 5 but weaponizes them to greater potential. Hope County’s splendor is miraculous and treated as such. This is an impossible sanctuary, a true Garden of Eden in both lushness and color palette. This is made all the more apparent if players go on “expeditions,” missions that take them them outside Hope County and into the rest of the United States. These areas lack the same energy and brightness of the main map, but the resulting contrast only serves to highlight Hope County’s splendor.
That brightness bleeds into the visual flair of the Highwaymen and their design. Their armor and vehicles are painted and marked with the brightest colors, and they announce their attacks with literal fireworks and colored smoke. They have an undeniable flair, as both a visual extension of Hope County’s mutated majesty and a hip-hip vanguard of the new world. Unlike Far Cry 5’s Eden’s Gate cult, which held onto pretensions of ideology that the game could never adequately define, the Highwaymen are more understandable: they are here to fight, fuck, and have fun.
The result is both a post-apocalypse that feels distinct and a Far Cry setting that feels much more allegorical. Whereas Far Cry 2 and 4 wanted to touch on socio-political struggles in their respective African and Himalayan facsimiles and Far Cry 5 bumbled about in a muddled American pastoralism, New Dawn leverages its flashy aesthetics into a world that is concerned with broader concepts. It is telling that the series’ most vivid setting and straightforwardly honest villains come after the pretensions of polite society have literally been burned off the face of the earth. Far Cry 5’s biggest flaw was attempting to appeal to modern day issues without mustering the bravery to actually point fingers. New Dawn opts for something less complex and is stronger for it. The corresponding freedom allows it to be more visually communicative and altogether coherent than its predecessor in both design and aesthetics.
New Dawns’ villains, the twin sisters Mikey and Lou, feel less like actual entities in the way that other series’ villains have. Far Cry 4’s Pagan Min, for all of his problematic foppishness, was a clear agent of monarchy and tradition with a defined backstory and motivation for his selfish impulses. He was a small man, ruling over a small country, lashing out against a world that had failed to love him. Far Cry 2’s Jackal was an agent of forever war, seeking to fan the flames of conflict so high that they might burn away all facilitators of violence including himself. Mickey and Lou are thankfully not as crass as Far Cry 3’s villain Vaas Montenegro but their motives are often as murky and ill-defined. Because the Highwaymen are the allegorical snakes in Hope County’s Garden of Eden, the Twins are nothing more than Id and Ego made manifest. When they are on screen, their raw charisma makes up for their lack of complexity but their role in the narrative is largely functional.
As the Twins escalate their efforts against the player and Prosperity, New Dawn finds itself moving along with a much more confident pace than Far Cry 5. Gone are the long wanderings and intermittent monologues of vague ideologues. Instead, the Twins exert a real and constant threat against the player through the sheer power of their will and desires. They want so deeply and feel so convinced in their own strength that they never fade to background like some other series villains. What they lack in complexity, they make up for in sheer presence. The result is that New Dawn’s narrative maintains momentum, even accounting for the moments it pauses and asks to player to take some time upgrading their base.
One of New Dawn’s chief thematic concerns is parenthood and children. It teems with absent fathers, struggling mothers, and wayward children. From Carmina Rye, your first AI companion and daughter of Far Cry 5’s Nick Rye, to the inexplicable decision to give series comedic relief Hurk Drubman Jr. a child of his own, New Dawn is positively fascinated with the relationship between parents and their offspring, and it is here that we start to understand the Twins more. They take because they can, they kill because they want to, and their development—arrested early due to nuclear fire—has manifested in one prolonged temper tantrum.
Far from blaming the Twins, New Dawn more pointedly blames their father, an unseen individual who responded to the challenges of the new world with violence. There are problems with this, but as New Dawn starts to explore generational violence and starts to ask how even after the end of all things, we still have villains like the Twins, it starts to become something more interesting than expected even if it never completely shakes off the series’ superficiality or hasty shorthands. It comes and goes in the briefest flashes but there is, I think, something here.
New Dawn’s fascination with father figures means reaching back to address the flaws and shortcomings of its own parent game. It is therefore impossible to talk about New Dawn without talking about Far Cry 5 and its own villain, the David Koresh knock-off Joseph Seed. As a result, New Dawn is not merely a spin-off sequel but a text which actively complicates a player’s existing relationship with Far Cry 5 and Seed himself. In Far Cry 5, Seed made vague proclamations about politicians and the horrors of moderns news as portents of an end that actually did come. What made Seed falter as a compelling villain was the game’s inability to make his prophecies bold enough to name the forces of injustice sending the world towards annihilation. Seed’s eschatology was couched in Christian metaphor but lacked a coherency beyond the surface trappings. He resurfaces in New Dawn as a new type of “Father,” both in the context of his religion and in a more literal sense. And while New Dawn over-assumes how interested players will be in the fate of Joseph Seed, its decision to connect him into its broader thematics turns Seed into an honest to God character this time around. Not necessarily a good character, but a character nonetheless.
In the years following the Collapse, Seed became the leader of a survivalist group called ‘New Eden,’ a colony of Luddites disconnected from the rest of Hope County. In an allusion to Far Cry Primal that emphasizes New Dawn’s belief that there is nothing new under the sun, New Eden functions more like one of that game’s many pre-history tribes than the cult found in Far Cry 5. As Joseph is once again thrust into leadership and as he reckons with the fact that he was right in the worst possible way, he also becomes a literal father to a young boy named Ethan. This core relationship complements the relationship between the Twins and their father. In this case, Seed’s continued religiosity and faith forces him to come into conflict with Ethan. It is a much more understandable story, focused on a much more human and haunted man that the paper thin villain from Far Cry 5.
Seed’s presence also brings a corresponding shift into magical-realism that begins to complicate player’s relationships to the game world and Far Cry 5 itself. This comes most notably during the game’s mid-point where, desperate for allies against the Highwaymen, an alliance is forged with New Eden that ends with Joseph giving the player a piece of fruit from a forbidden tree. It’s eye-rollingly on the nose as visual metaphor, but is also how New Dawn justifies an entire new tier of character perks and abilities. In a move that caught me off guard, New Dawn starts to more adequately incorporate notions of religion into the fabric of its narrative than Far Cry 5 did. It does this while maintaining levels of ambiguity that mostly feels earned rather than cowardly. Did you truly eat fruit blessed by God or can your new abilities be explained away as mutations? Were Far Cry 5’s Sheriff Whitehorse and his deputies unknowing avatars of the Four Horsemen? New Dawn never goes so far as to answer these questions, but it is in the posing of these things and their corresponding ambiguity that it begins to open up and explore matters of faith and prophecy with more consideration than its father text. It’s not perfect—this is still a Far Cry game, after all—but New Dawn’s willingness to play with these ideas is certainly welcome.
The end result is a game that I enjoyed but which also frustrated me greatly. On some levels it is crass and annoying. Far too many of its citizens are prone to stupid dick jokes and its tone can vary wildly from scene to scene. It is often tired with its metaphor and fails to think through the implications of its tropes, even as it remains fair-paced and occasionally introspective. Its raw gameplay is both satisfying but also so remarkably shifted away from the complexities of series critical darling Far Cry 2 that additional veneers of gloss—damage numbers, enemy rarities, and the baffling decision to allow players to purchase crafting materials—make it clear that the series will never reclaim its messier, more interesting ideas. But if I dig deeper, scratching off the fine varnish of AAA quality and safety, there are pieces of a genuinely interesting game. Whether that is the vivid art direction or a willingness to address its themes with a great degree of awareness than previous titles, New Dawn has instances where everything comes together.
Near the middle of my playthrough, I rescued the foul-mouth buffoon Hurk from the Highwaymen’s clutches. I hate Hurk. I hate his fucking guts. He started a joke character in Far Cry 3’s Monkey Business DLC pack and has been featured in all games since, including a baffling presence as ‘Hurky’ in Far Cry Primal. Nothing he says is funny, every moment with him makes me want to choke on a pretzel. Here he was again, a reminder that the Far Cry that compelled me most—the dark and considered Far Cry 2— could never return. Like the old world, it was gone. I could try to cling to it, to cling to a world that was, or I could accept that this was the new status quo. That even as New Dawn sometimes surprised me, it would also have Hurk and everything he represented.
“You look dang familiar,” Hurk said to me the first time I saw him again in New Dawn. “As if we’ve done this before in some endless haunting loop from which neither of us will ever escape.” I see you too, New Dawn.
I thought about shooting him in his stupid face. I thought about how his sudden appearance was undermining all the work New Dawn was doing with its narrative. I thought about how much I wished this game was like Far Cry 2. I thought about how long I’d been caught up in Far Cry’s cyclical violence and formulaic gameplay. Then, I finished the dialog and added Hurk to my roster of companion characters.
There are always snakes in the garden. There will always be a new map of bases to conquer. There will always be another Hurk.
Introducing Far Cry New Dawn, the standalone sequel to Far Cry 5. Watch the World Premiere trailer and discover how Hope County, Montana has changed seventeen years after a global nuclear catastrophe. Far Cry New Dawn releases February 15, 2019 for $39.99 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Seventeen years after a global nuclear catastrophe, civilization re-emerges from the chaos to find a world dramatically changed. In a post-apocalyptic Hope County, Montana, the remaining populace has gathered into different groups, each with their own rules for survival.
In this new world order, the vicious Highwaymen, led by twin sisters Mickey and Lou, travel from place to place bleeding people dry of all available resources. As the Survivors try to defend their lands against the Highwaymen’s relentless onslaught, it’s up to you to come to their aid and lead the fight.
In the latest installment of the award-winning Far Cry franchise, you are the last line of defense in a transformed, post-apocalyptic Hope County.
Help the community of Survivors grow stronger, craft a makeshift arsenal through Turf Wars and cross-country Expeditions, and form unexpected alliances to fight for survival in a dangerous new frontier.
FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL IN A BREATHTAKING POST-APOCALYPTIC WORLD
– Sprawling superbloom fields and dense overgrowth invite you into a wildly beautiful yet deadly post-apocalyptic landscape, to discover on your own or with a friend in two player co-op.
– Wildlife has not gone untouched by the disaster, with some predators evolving rugged natural defenses.
UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS COLLIDE WITH A RELENTLESS DOUBLE THREAT
– Clash with the brutal Highwaymen and their unruly leaders Mickey and Lou. Known as The Twins, these sisters combine brains and brawn to give their army an iron grip on Hope County’s precious resources.
– Recruit an eclectic cast of Guns and Fangs for Hire to fight by your side. These new allies, as well as some familiar faces, each bring unique and critical skills to the fray.
– Find the former doomsday cult and seek out the charismatic leader who prophesized the collapse of civilization: Joseph Seed.
GROW THE SURVIVORS TO BUILD UP YOUR HOMEBASE
– Specialists join the Survivors to help you craft weapons and vehicles, train your Guns for Hire, and even go on Expeditions from the eight Homebase facilities: the workbench, training camp, explosives lab, infirmary, garage, healing garden, cartography, and expeditions.
– Grow your community and upgrade your Homebase to improve your facilities and unlock more powerful weapons and gear.
BATTLE FOR RESOURCES IN HOPE COUNTY AND BEYOND
– Engage the Highwaymen in Turf Wars by clearing their outposts and then scavenging them for Ethanol and other materials. When the Highwaymen return with stronger reinforcements, you can take on a greater challenge for even more of these valuable resources.
– For the first time in Far Cry, the adventure is not just local. Venture outside of Hope County on thrilling Expeditions to unique and memorable locations across the USA including wetlands, canyons, and coastal regions.
– Expeditions and Outposts are different every playthrough, for rewarding missions that increase in challenge and are surprising every time.