The Game Awards is always a fun occasion, and for Far Cry fans there was an extra sprinkle of loveliness this year since we got the announcement of Far Cry: New Dawn, a project that's continuing the legacy of Hope County that we saw in this year's game. We were invited to a presentation by Ubisoft just last week, where they told us all what's going on in a touch more detail, but what exactly is New Dawn?
Before this preview goes ahead we should point out that New Dawn takes place directly after the events of Far Cry 5, and will, therefore, include spoilers for those who haven't finished that game.
Well, the short answer is that it's a sequel to Far Cry 5. The long answer is that it's a continuation of the events in Hope County. As you'll remember if you finished the game, nuclear bombs from the global conflict flattened the land and destroyed society as we know it, and in New Dawn we're placed into Hope County 17 years after the first bombs landed. There's still no government, but after 10 years the harsh winds, dead soil, and sun-blocking dust have subsided, resulting in what's called a superbloom, where the flora and fauna come back in full force to reclaim the destroyed buildings.
When talking about the setting in more detail, Ubisoft's Jean-Sebastien Decant explained that this is like the new West, except there are AR-15s and pickup trucks instead of revolvers and horses. The emphasis is on the makeshift, as people repurpose old materials for new uses, but the lush element is just as important, as the rebirth of nature means flowers and vines creeping over and inside everything.
In terms of characters, we'll see a new threat and new allies, but there will also be some familiar faces, like Carmina, who you might remember as the baby you helped deliver in Far Cry 5. These are split into factions, as on the one hand you have the Survivors, which are mostly simple farmers who reside in Hope County and had prosperity for a while, since they had fuel and ethanol, the latter of which is the ultimate currency in this new world.
Then you have the Highwaymen, who are pretty much your raiders. These guys scavenge but they also prey on people, being led by two women, Mickie and Lou. This pair got their wealth by taking resources from docks in the west when the bombs dropped, taking this to grab power and establish a gang that reaches over many areas. They scavenged motorsport gear to protect themselves, and they now lead this gang that terrorises, brutalises, and steals from everyone that has what they want.
A new game also means a new protagonist, and we play as someone trying to rebuild society and help people. The group that we're a part of on the west coast hops on a train to continue their efforts, but at the game's opening, this clan is torn apart as the train is ambushed and derailed, leaving you once again in Hope County alone. Then your priorities change - it's now about rallying survivors in this lawless frontier so that you can fight for your survival.
Your home base will be key to your survival in New Dawn as how you upgrade determines how you progress. You can recruit specialists for things like medicine - with the Healing Gardens we saw - and weapons (there's even someone trying to create a new sort of Wikipedia, we were told), but there are also guns and fangs for hire. Yes, this ally feature is back once more, and while we have human companions like Nana the sniper, the animals will probably be of most interest.
Decant did inform us that Boomer had unfortunately gone to the big doggy kennel in the sky, but in his place comes an Akita dog called Timber, joined by a boar called Horatio, and what's more is that all animals and allies can ride in any vehicle with you. We even saw Timber get in a bike's sidecar (a new vehicle, by the way) which was super cute. These guns/fangs for hire all have their own special abilities too, like Nana being able to shoot through cover with her sniper, for instance.
It wouldn't be a Far Cry game without tons of weapons and vehicles to choose from too, and there's a makeshift collection to suit the world you're in. Decant explained that they want players to experiment rather than stick with one weapon for the whole game, and so each has their own unique appeal, including the new Saw Launcher which fires saw blades that ricochet around. What's more is that these can be crafted and upgraded, so you can fire more than one blade at a time, for example.
You might need some of this tough firepower too, as enemies will become increasingly hardy the further you dive in. We were shown a handy image of the lowest level enemy looking like a shirtless dude we've seen plenty of in Far Cry 5, but as they progress they get more armour and pack a meaner punch, meaning you'll have to adapt to survive.
When you're not doing main missions there'll be plenty to do as you'd expect from this series, as there are activities, destructibles, intel, treasure hunts (the evolution of Prepper Stashes), slightly evolved wildlife (not mutated, Decant stressed), and of course Outposts. These have been tweaked though, as you don't just clear them out to claim them. Once you first capture one you scavenge and get the ethanol, but then the Highwaymen move back in and strengthen, adding replayability and challenge as you work to recapture harder bases for greater rewards.