Gone are the days of gritty, dreary, desolate apocalyptic landscapes. Borderlands 2 seems to have paved the way for the vibrant color palettes that we'll soon see in Rage 2 and Far Cry: New Dawn. The apocalypse sure is… pink. It's almost ironic that Far Cry: New Dawn's apocalyptic antithesis, Metro Exodus—filled to the brim with a bleak atmosphere, is launching on the same day.

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What is Far Cry: New Dawn?

Far Cry games tend to be standalone from one another, but New Dawn is a sequel to Far Cry 5's narrative and a spin-off title from the main series. As such it looks to retain a lot of gameplay elements that were present in Far Cry 5 and even uses a similar map. While it appears you won't need to know too much about New Dawn's predecessor, a crash course on the events of Far Cry 5, especially the ending, doesn't hurt.

The story so far

After a fanatical religious cult known as Eden's Gate—led by the Seed family—takes over the fictional Hope County, Montana with an armed militia in Far Cry 5, a Sheriff's deputy and a few government agents are dispatched to neutralize the problem. A deadly conflict ensues while chaos slowly reigns over the outside world, and Hope County ends up being destroyed by a nuclear bomb, exactly as the Seed family foretold. This nuclear devastation paves the way for Far Cry: New Dawn.

A new beginning

Set 17 years after Far Cry 5, New Dawn follows a band of survivors attempting to rebuild what remains of Hope County. But while the apocalypse may bring some people together in a bid for survival, it also happens to bring out the worst in people as well. A group of bandits called the Highwaymen, led by twin sisters Mickey and Lou, arrive and raise hell for the other survivors in Hope County. We don't know their motivations or goals yet, but the pair seem to be formidable foes, murdering their father for the position of leader and generally just being merciless psychopaths.

The fate of Far Cry 5's main cast of characters—notably the player and Joseph Seed—are up in the air, so we expect to see a reveal of some kind in New Dawn stating what happened to them. What Ubisoft has already revealed is that supporting characters Nick and Kim Rye both survived the bombs and raised a daughter, Carmina, who will appear in New Dawn alongside her parents. Pastor Jerome and Hurk are among the survivors as well.

Hope County gets a makeover

The immediate devastation that plagued Hope County after the bombs fell has seemingly passed, and its wake gave rise to new life and vegetation. Two decades may not seem long enough to recover that much from a nuclear explosion, but Ubisoft is taking some creative liberties so everything isn't all doom and gloom. And hey, parts of Chernobyl have already recovered in real life since its meltdown in 1986, so it's not totally out of the realm of possibility.

With its reshaped landscape, new areas will be available to explore while previous ones will be inaccessible. Far Cry Primal has already proven that recycled maps can be given new life (Primal recycled much of Far Cry 4's map), we'll just have to wait and see how different or similar New Dawn feels compared to 5.

What makes New Dawn even more interesting is that players can explore far outside of Hope County, albeit in a limited fashion. Far Cry: New Dawn introduces missions called Expeditions which allow players to travel to smaller locations all across the United States, giving the art team at Ubisoft an opportunity to leverage more diverse environments. Players will be able to complete Expeditions with other players and will be rewarded with resources that can be used back in Hope County.

Gameplay

Outposts are back with a few minor changes. Players can now choose to either liberate outposts to produce ethanol or raid them for even more and leave them open for the Highwaymen to reclaim. Once reclaimed, you can give the outpost another go at a higher difficulty. This seems to be a way to combat the repetitiveness in Far Cry 5's outposts, but it remains to be seen how well-fortified outposts mix up the challenge. Far Cry: New Dawn also looks to diversify the enemy pool with higher tiered enemy difficulties.

Guns and Fangs for Hire are throwing new additions into the possible companion pool, giving players the opportunity to fight alongside mutated animals like Timber the dog and Horatio the boar. One of the new Guns of Fire is a sniper-wielding badass grandma called Nana.

Players will be able to upgrade and grow a home base called the Prosperity, which takes the place of John Seed's ranch from the previous game. As you progress throughout New Dawn and improve the base, it will expand and even open up new missions for you to take on.

"Prosperity in general is something brand new to the franchise. Your goal is to bring back life into Prosperity. When you first get there, there aren't that many people, but as you progress through the game, you really bring it back. There's gonna be children all over. They're fixing their architecture. They're repainting. So as you progress in the game, Prosperity evolves visually and that's something we really wanted the player to see as they play our game," said Far Cry New Dawn art director Issac Papismado speaking to US Gamer.

The traditional arsenal of weapons you used in Far Cry 5 is making a return in some capacity, but this time it'll be supplemented by another arsenal of crazy makeshift weapons only the fall of society could bring about. You want Saw Launchers and weapons crafting? You got it. This is the MacGyver DIY method where you take random scraps of junk and turn them into deadly artillery. Or just use a rusty kitchen knife to shank someone. You do you.

When can you play it?

Far Cry: New Dawn is set to release on February 15, 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

The Standard Edition is currently available to pre-order for $40. If you're looking for a few extra digital in-game goodies like additional weapons, outfits, and more you can pick up the Deluxe Edition for $50.

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