Since its release last week, players have been flying through the world of Anthem, shooting and looting to their hearts’ content. However, those playing on higher difficulties have expressed concerns about the way the game handles its loot drops and and weapon inscriptions, and now BioWare has given an official response saying that changes are coming to the loot system.
Lead Producer Ben Irvo described the upcoming tweaks in an official Reddit post. Items in Anthem have inscriptions, perks that provide small buffs to abilities and weapons, like increasing assault rifle damage by 5%. After the update, weapons won’t have inscriptions that apply to other weapon types, so players won’t get an assault rifle that increases sniper rifle ammo or anything like that. Now it’ll either have an inscription that benefits whatever weapon type it is or it’ll have a javelin wide benefit, like increased lightning damage. These changes aren’t retroactive, so they’ll only apply to newly obtained items post-patch, not everything sitting in players’ vaults.
Anthem is a loot based game, so progression from common white gear up to orange and yellow masterworks and legendaries is a critical part of the experience. This update is going to remove common and uncommon (white and green) loot from the drop table if players are at level 30, so now endgame players will see nothing below a blue rarity.
Crafting is also getting some much needed changes. Crafting a masterwork weapon will now only require 15 masterwork embers instead of 25. Ideally, players want their masterwork weapons to have the best possible inscriptions in order to maximize their power, so once they acquire a masterwork weapon and get the blueprint for it, they’d repeatedly craft it until they got the perfect roll. Lowering the resources required (in addition to the changes to inscriptions) should make it easier on players trying to get the best variation of a weapon.
In addition to the loot overhaul, BioWare also released patch notes for the update that went live this morning, which you can check out here. Some bugs were fixed, like being able to reopen chests in strongholds and resetting the Swarm Tyrant boss encounter by exiting to the main menu and rejoining, but the highlight of the patch is the change to the tethering system, giving players some more time to catch up to their squad before seeing a countdown timer.
For more on Anthem, check out our review of the game and take a look at the 90-day roadmap laid out for updates. Have you been playing a lot of Anthem? What are your thoughts about these changes? Be sure to let us know down below, and follow us on Twitter for quick and easy updates.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered and The Witness are the two free PlayStation Plus games this month according to a post on the PlayStation Blog.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is an upgraded version of the landmark first-person shooter, playable in gorgeous 4K resolution on PS4 Pro. The Witness is a mind-bending puzzler from the mind of Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid. Both titles will be available to download starting Tuesday, March 5.
In the meantime, February’s PlayStation Plus lineup is still available for download. Hitman and For Honor are both excellent games, especially the former, and February was the last month PS3 and Vita games will be offered, so be sure to grab Metal Gear Solid 4, Divekick, Gunhouse, and Rogue Aces (the last two of which are cross-buy with PS4). Hitman and For Honor will remain available until Monday, March 4, while the other four will be available until Friday, March 8.
From this point on, Sony will only offer two PlayStation 4 games each month, ditching the two monthly PS3 and Vita titles. Sony won’t be offering any more PS4 games to make up for it, but they recently expanded cloud storage from 10GB to a whopping 100GB.
Read Dead Online’s first major update dropped today, bringing new modes, clothing, weapons, and changes to the game.
Daily challenges have finally been added to Red Dead Online, providing players with a steady supply of XP and gold nuggets. Dailies range from hunting to PvP, and completing all seven on a given day will net players bonus XP and gold.
Player blips don’t show up on the map unless they’re nearby, and voice chat range has been lowered as well. Parleys and feuds between posses have been streamlined, only requiring one kill to be able to trigger a feud or parley.
The law system has been completely reworked. Players can now earn bounties and will be pursued by bounty hunters if they have a high enough price on their head.
Weapons and Customization
Two new guns were added in today’s update: the Evans Repeater and the Rare Shotgun. The Evans Repeater is a medium to long range rifle, while the Rare Shotgun is a variant of the double-barreled shotgun with brass engravings. PS4 players also get early access to the Jawbone Knife.
An assortment of new clothing options ranging from boots to hats to coats were added as well. In addition, shop catalogues will be updated weekly with new, limited time items.
New to Red Dead Online are emotes. Some can be purchased with in-game cash with prices reaching upwards of $300, while other are locked behind gold payments, the most expensive of which being 13 gold bars.
New Game Modes
A new free roam event called Fool’s Gold was added. One player wears a protective suit of golden armor, and whoever takes that player down earns the armor for themselves. Whoever has the most kills while wearing the armor wins.
You can now take part in fishing challenges in Red Dead Online, much to our delight. Opting into a challenge with supply you with the appropriate bait and equipment, and you’re scored by the total weight of all the fish you catch.
Rockstar has stated that new game modes will arrive in Red Dead Online each week, with this week’s new game mode being Target Races, where players race on horseback while attempting to shoot targets with a bow or any weapons they may pick up. Target Races are exclusively available on PS4 for the time being.
Three new showdown modes were teased for the coming future: Up in Smoke, Spoils of War, and Plunder, all involving players teaming up to “capture and deliver bags, steal loot from each other and survive” according to Rockstar. A Featured Series section will be added to the multiplayer menu too, so players can try out the latest game modes.
I was greeted with this message when I first opened my copy of Anthem. This little slip in the packaging invited me into a living, breathing world, only the starting point of a journey that would last years. I smiled as I put the disc in my PlayStation, thinking about BioWare’s promise of an evolving story in a mysterious world I could experience with my friends. Unfortunately, Anthem is just that: a promise, and it ultimately fails to live up to expectations or even deliver anything remotely above average. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely still fun to be had in Anthem, but what little fun there is is bogged down by bugs, loading screens, and completely baffling design decisions.
In Anthem, you play as a freelancer, a sort of mercenary that pilots a javelin, this game’s equivalent of an Iron Man suit. You and up to three friends can suit up and fly out into the world of Bastion, tackling quests, contracts, strongholds, and world events. Anthem is also a loot-based live service game like Destiny or The Division, so you and your squad will come across various new weapons and gear during your adventures.
The javelins are easily the highlight of Anthem. Flying is awesome and it adds a lot of verticality to both exploration and combat. You are very rarely limited in where you can go in Anthem’s open world, and the world itself is gorgeous. Although it’s entirely comprised of the same jungle/ruins look, it’s lush and incredibly gorgeous. Whether its the top of a cliffside or the depths of a river, your javelin can get you there. Managing your heat bar makes flying more engaging than just holding forward too. Flying downward cools your thrusters, flying close to water slows the rate at which your thrusters heat up, and catching a waterfall or going underwater will completely cool your suit off. Movement is a lot of fun and it does a lot to break up the monotony of the experience.
Each of the four javelin types feels unique, and none of them feel useless. The ranger is your standard class with grenades and missiles. The interceptor is the most agile javelin and has an extra jump and dodge as well as a repeatable melee combo. The colossus is the tank, equipped with a shield and heavy armor, but it’s the slowest of the four. The storm can use devastating elemental attacks and can hover for an extended period of time. Each javelin class has its own strengths and weaknesses and each one is a joy to use.
The javelins all have their own unique ability sets that play off of one another in the game’s combo system. Some abilities in Anthem are designated either primers or detonators. A primer sets up an enemy with an elemental status like ice or fire, and a detonator deals a massive amount of damage to any primed enemy. For example, the colossus’s flamethrower can prime a large group of enemies, setting them ablaze, and then the storm can blast the area with lightning, resulting in a super effective team attack and an oh so satisfying “ka-chink” combo indicator. Seriously, the sound effect is the best part of combos.
Unfortunately, the combo system is never explained to the player. That goes for a lot of Anthem. I went my entire playthrough without knowing that each javelin type has a different perk for detonating a combo. Apparently the ranger’s detonators do a lot of damage to a single target, whereas the colossus’s detonators create an area of effect blast. The storm spreads elemental damage to nearby enemies and the interceptor gets something called aura, which I still don’t fully understand. Even simple gear customization is needlessly complex and frustrating. In my time with Anthem, I came across several javelin components that increased my blast damage by a certain percent. That’s great and all, but I don’t really know what blast damage is. I also can’t tell how exactly how much this blast damage is increased by, because Anthem doesn’t have a stats page. I can’t tell how much a 30% increase is because I don’t know how much I’m doing in the first place.
So much of Anthem’s gameplay systems are poorly explained or not touched on at all. The alliance system is especially confusing. It doles out coins to you and your friends at the end of every week depending on how much you contributed, but the contributions are vague and the results are even more so. You get alliance experience and feats at the end of every mission, but the game never tells you exactly what you got experience for or even what the medals it gives you mean. Even something as simple as daily and weekly challenges are unnecessarily obscure. The game tells you to check with Lucky Jak in Fort Tarsis (more on that later) to check your progress on your dailies, weeklies, and monthlies. You head over there and see one daily, weekly, and monthly, but in actuality you get multiple of each, they’re just buried in your challenge menu somewhere.
The core gameplay loop is satisfying enough, though. Shooting is a mixed bag. Guns feel punchy and the sound design is good, but enemies are far too spongy and don’t react to damage at all, so the only indication I’m doing anything are the numbers that pop out of enemies. Shooting mixed with flying, however, is fun. Navigating around shielded enemies to access their weak points or dodging an ash titan’s flame rings were enough to keep me engaged, and there are some truly epic moments when combos go off while the game’s excellent score swells in the background. Sadly, Anthem frontloads all its enemy types, so the enemy variety doesn’t change much over the course of the game.
This doesn’t help much when the mission objectives are horribly uninspired as well. Every single one of Anthem’s missions involves standing in a ring while waves of enemies come at you or collecting orbs and bringing them to a point. Every single mission plays out the exact same way with the exact same enemies, and it got stale very quickly. Even the strongholds, Anthem’s more difficult side content, are just these same two objectives just over longer missions. Anthem does very little to keep the experience fresh, and that’s a shame. It shows some promise at the beginning with upside down waterfalls and flight challenges, but it quickly forgets about these prospects and goes back to standard fare gameplay. Anthem’s mission design feels like wasted potential. So much more could’ve been done with Shaper relics and the Anthem itself, but in practice they just amount to glorified enemy spawners.
Not only does the game get really repetitive really fast, the game also doesn’t work half the time. I experience not one, not two, but three game-breaking bugs that forced a restart. One time a cutscene faded to black and never faded back in, forcing me to close the game and start the mission over, completely ruining any sense of drama and frustrating me greatly. Another time my team was tasked with defending an area but the objective never spawned, so we had to wipe to get past the bug. It ultimately took three tries before the device finally appeared. During the final boss, one of my party members fell through the floor. One time the world was tinted red when I loaded in. Animations wouldn’t play on multiple occasions, people in Fort Tarsis would slide all over the place when I walked into the room, enemies wouldn’t take damage, damage wouldn’t register against me until I would get suddenly downed out of nowhere, my time with Anthem was not smooth in the slightest and the game clearly needed more time in the oven.
Loading times are another huge problem with Anthem. Loading screens are very, very frequent, and they last upwards of two minutes sometimes. Everything, and I mean everything, in this game needs to load. Let’s say I set out on a mission. Two minute load screen. I realize I have the wrong weapon equipped. Load screen back to Fort Tarsis. I walk over to the forge. Load screen. I equip a new weapon and leave the forge. Load screen. I get into my javelin and head back out. Load screen. All of that just to change weapons. In Destiny or The Division I can press start and have a new gun equipped in fifteen seconds without even leaving the field. These loading screens happen after cutscenes, when you enter a new area, and just about everywhere else, and they are a serious roadblock in enjoying the game and getting into a groove like you’d do with other looter shooters.
Since Anthem is a loot based shooter, new weapons and armor should keep the experience dynamic and distinct. This is only true in theory, because Anthem’s loot is garbage. There are nine weapon types which provide some decent variety, but there are only three weapons within each class. So, throughout my time with Anthem’s main story, I only saw three assault rifles. Most of the weapons aren’t even distinct from one another visually or functionally. The hammerhead assault rifle and the defender assault rifle are essentially the same gun, and the warden is only different because it’s a burst weapon. Most of the weapons in the game only differ in their fire rates. They all look pretty much the same. In a game with loot at its core, its unacceptable to have such a small pool of weapons that feel so similar.
You also get javelin components and abilities as loot drops, but, like the weapons, these come from a very small pool as well. Each javelin only has ten abilities and ten components. To put that in perspective, level 30 you can equip six of the ten components at once. That’s more than half of the total components available. They don’t even do much, they just give you stat boosts and decreased cooldowns. So, at the end of every expedition, I found myself skipping past the loot screen because it was full of the same guns and parts I had already seen, just with slightly higher numbers. The loot in this game is wildly disappointing, and the super low drop rates for masterwork and legendary weapons do little to spice things up.
Unlike Destiny or The Division, armor pieces do not drop during regular gameplay, leaving the loot pool feeling shallower than these other titles. My javelin looked exactly the same during the final boss as it did when I was just starting out. There is very little in the way of customization here. There are only three armor sets per javelin in total, and one of them is exclusive to the deluxe edition of the game. There are more armor sets and materials available in the in-game shop, though, albeit at sky high prices.
Oil and Water
Anthem’s gameplay is almost always at odds with its story, and as a result, it feels like two totally different games are constantly battling one another to come out on top. The majority of the game’s story segments happen in Fort Tarsis, the game’s hub area. Fort Tarsis is strictly a single player location and you play in a first person perspective there, making it the complete opposite of the usual gameplay. Here, you’ll talk to important characters, accept missions, shop, and customize your javelin. It’s a strange choice to have the hub area be a solo experience in a game so focused on cooperative multiplayer. It led to awkward interactions between my party members, and exchanges like “are you still watching that cutscene” and “hold on I’m talking to someone” were far too frequent. There’s no time to get to know characters or engage in optional conversations with your friends waiting for you, so Anthem is better solo in this regard. However, if you try to play the missions solo, the game tells you Anthem is best experienced with a squad. There’s a very apparent dichotomy here, and it’s frustrating to have two experiences with completely different feelings and tones contrasting with one another so heavily.
Fort Tarsis itself isn’t a great hub area, either. The movement speed is too slow, navigation is a mess, and there’s little to no reason to explore. Compared to the original E3 reveal, Fort Tarsis is empty, lifeless, and eerily quiet. NPCs have scripted conversations that sound incredibly fake and forced, and if you take a second to stop and look at them you’ll easily notice just how robotic the performances and dialogue are. Named NPCs have optional conversations that provide exposition and worldbuilding, but the majority of the cast is so uninteresting that I found no reason to walk deeper into the Fort to find these people. You’re also presented with two dialogue choices every now and then during conversations, but they are completely pointless and hollow, amounting to nothing but “yes on the left” or “yes on the right.” Partaking in these optional conversations does reward you with faction loyalty points, but the rewards are so miniscule that it’s more effective to just earn them out in the field instead.
The Launch Bay is the game’s social hub, and you can choose to go here instead of Fort Tarsis after completing missions. It has everything the Fort has but without any of the people, so it’s ideal for endgame grinding. Everything is much closer together here and you don’t even have to leave your javelin. You won’t be coming here much until you’ve finished the game, though, because the story requires you to head back to the Fort frequently.
The story itself is a big letdown, especially for a BioWare game. Some characters are sort of likable. I found myself caring for a very small handful of characters, pretty much just my squad, Haluk, Faye, and Owen. While the squad is cool, the freelancer you play as is completely insufferable. They spout nothing but awful tough guy one-liners and have absolutely zero character development, making me wonder why the character was even voiced in the first place. The plot iself is misguided and rushed. Character motivations change on a dime, things happen and are quickly forgotten, and the villain is laughably generic and only gets maybe ten minutes of screen time. Right when the story starts to pick up, right when I start to get invested, the story ends. And when I say it ends, I mean it just kind of ends. So many plot threads are left open and the game even teases more things to come which will surely be addressed in post-launch story updates, not that that excuses the rushed ending of the main storyline. Anthem’s story very much feels like the first season of a TV show. Not everything is resolved and there are still very important plot points that need to be addressed, and they will be in the coming future. It’s just what we have now isn’t anything special to begin with.
There are also a few roadblocks in the story that force you to complete mundane checklists in order to progress. The tombs quest, which tasks you with such exciting jobs as opening fifteen chests, reviving five players, getting fifty melee kills, and so on, has been adjusted, now tracking the objectives from the start of the game, but by the time you reach the tombs quest you’ll still probably have some busywork to do. The second roadblock isn’t nearly as bad but you still may have to grind in the open world to get some of the materials necessary to progress.
When story segments are present during missions, the multiplayer aspect of Anthem can ruin them. If another player loads into a mission before you, you’ll miss the first dialogue because it’ll start playing when the first person loads in. If you another player is ahead of you, you’ll have a short amount of time to catch up or you’ll hit a loading screen and be teleported to them, missing any dialogue in the process. Same if you deviate from the mission area even slightly. These “return to mission area” and “return to party” messages happen way too often and are way too sensitive.. They also cover your javelin heat meter, so it’s nearly impossible to manage flying with that message on screen.
Strong Alone, Stronger Together
After completing Anthem’s main story, you’re given a few new challenges with some direction, but for the most part, you’re on your own. Welcome to Anthem’s endgame. You and your friends are now free to tackle the game’s most challenging content.
Anthem’s endgame consists of three main parts: strongholds, contracts, and freeplay. Strongholds are raid-like missions with multiple objectives (although they’re mostly the same defense and orb collection missions) and a boss at the end. There are only three available right now, one of which was available in the demo. Another is just the final story mission repeated. Anthem is in desperate need of more strongholds. They’re the game’s best content and they provide the greatest rewards, but having only three isn’t enough to keep things fresh while grinding.
Contracts are missions comprised of random objectives in the open world, usually defending a point or killing enemies. These are the weakest part of Anthem’s endgame. They aren’t handcrafted missions and it’s very apparent that they aren’t. They feel like filler but they can drop decent gear, so they’re good to do every now and then.
Freeplay is the bulk of Anthem’s endgame. You venture out into the open world and find chests or complete world events. There are a fair number of world events and the spawn rate is not too bad, so you won’t be starved for content out in the field. World bosses like ash titans can also spawn at random, giving you and your team an opportunity for good loot every now and then. The only problem with freeplay is navigation. Getting around is a pain, and you can’t place map markers, so trying to find a specific point is needlessly difficult. If you die during a world event, it’s not on your map, so it’s frustrating trying to find your way back.
Anthem’s endgame also has grindy checklist challenges called the Challenges of the Legionnaires. These involve repetitive busywork like completing 100 world events or 25 strongholds or 25 contracts. These are designed to be done in the background as you enjoy Anthem’s endgame experience, but the rewards are so small that it’s not even worth checking your progress.
Anthem hopes to inject longevity into its endgame through its grandmaster difficulties. Once you hit a certain gear score on your javelin, you can start grandmaster 1, and then once you get enough gear from that you can move up to grandmaster 2, and then grandmaster 3. Even though the difficulty increases, Anthem’s endgame still boils down to repeating the same small amount of content over and over for very little reward. There isn’t anything to work toward, no additional content like raids. It’s hard to see why anyone would want to continue playing with an endgame state as weak as this.
When you buy Anthem, you’re buying a ticket to ride. Just like with other live service games, Anthem will surely grow and improve over the course of its life, but the foundation BioWare has provided is supbar. Anthem’s story is bland and forgettable, the game is plagued with technical issues, the available loot does little to excite me, the endgame is downright anemic, and most importantly of all, Anthem is confused. BioWare couldn’t decide what it wanted this game to be, and unfortunately, that hurts both sides of what could’ve otherwise been an excellent game.
Media Molecule announced earlier today that its game creation suite, Dreams, will be getting a paid but “strictly limited” early access release on the PlayStation Store this spring, followed by a full launch later this year. A post on the PlayStation Blog goes into more detail about the limited release.
“Early Access won’t have everything that the full version of Dreams will, but you’ll get 100% of the same Dreams tools that we have used every day at MM to make our content. As well as fun, deep interactive tutorials catering for all skill sets and levels and Mm-crafted arcade games ready to play and remix. If you joined us during the beta period and published your assets, you’ll also have your beta creations to return to. Along the way, we’ll be adding more features, tutorials, arcade levels and assets during the Early Access period as we build towards the full slate of launch content.”
Siobhan Reddy, Studio Director, Media Molecule
The early access release, according to Media Molecule, is intended for “creators who want to be a part of the Dreams experience from the beginning.” Players will be able to create, play other creations, and even stream their gameplay and share their creations online unlike the beta test, which featured a strict NDA. Throughout early access, Media Molecule will be adding “refinements, bug fixes, and brand new features”, and they’ll also be launching the live service elements of Dreams “so the community can get their first look at how we’ll continue to support the game.”
Expect the content available in early access to be similar what was available in the beta, but Media Molecule will be adding more features along the way. The Dreams beta demonstrated just how far people can stretch the creative tools the game offers, and the early access period is sure to bring lots of cool new things to the table.
Dreams Early Access will only be available digitally through the PlayStation Store this spring for $30. Media Molecule stresses that Dreams Early Access is a “strictly limited release” and that you should “snag your copy as soon as you can.”
Dreams (among other games) was featured in our 30 Games to Look Out For in 2019 list, which you can check out here. Will you be participating in Dreams Early Access? Be sure to let us know down below, and follow us on Twitter for quick and easy updates.
Far Cry 5 ended on somewhat of a sour note. After spending hours adventuring across Hope County and battling the Eden’s Gate cult, nuclear bombs rained from the skies, and our protagonist was left in a bunker with the cult’s leader, Joseph Seed. Far Cry New Dawn is a direct continuation of Far Cry 5, bringing us from a largely forgettable story in modern-day Montana to a largely forgettable story in post-apocalyptic Montana.
Being a direct sequel, New Dawn feels like Far Cry 5 in a lot of ways. The game still takes place in Hope County, albeit only a small section of the original map, and there are a lot of pink flowers and colorful animals roaming around. Other than these minor aesthetic changes, New Dawn mostly has the same look and feel as its predecessor, which, after spending 20+ hours exploring Hope County last year, did little to engage me.
There are some changes to the game’s core design, but they feel half-baked and arbitrary. Many of Ubisoft’s major franchises have shifted their focus to RPG elements, and Far Cry has finally made the transition into RPG territory, although not to as great of an effect as some of its cousins like Assassin’s Creed. Weapons and enemies fall into one of four tiers now, and engaging enemies above your current weapon’s tier is doable, but it becomes an exercise in frustration due to how spongy they can feel. Tiers are not random, however, as the game’s campaign sends you further and further north, away from your base of operations, and enemies get stronger as you make your way through the world. This gives definitely gives the game a more linear feel, but you very quickly get access to high-tier weapons that make little work of any opposition, so it leaves the RPG elements feeling more like roadblocks than actual progression.
The perk system leaves a lot to be desired as well. Like Far Cry 5, you can complete basic challenges (get x amount of kills with this weapon, kill x amount of deer) to earn perk points. There are roughly 25 perks in total, and as I scrolled through them I thought to myself “I don’t want any of these”. Sadly, pretty much all of New Dawn’s perks suck. Being able to melee takedown high-tier enemies, swim faster, or carry more medkits are not enticing enough to actively work for perk points. Because the challenges are so simplistic, I ended up with a multitude of perk points just by playing, but that didn’t make the act of spending them any less boring. There are some more interesting perks later in the game, like a double jump and invisibility, but they come too late, leaving you with little time to get familiar with them and no incentive to incorporate them into your playstyle.
Luckily, New Dawn does have satisfying progression in other areas. The aforementioned base of operations, Prosperity, can be upgraded, providing you with access to better weapons, more health and ammunition, and other quality of life features like fast travel and maps. Prosperity is upgraded with the use of crafting materials that are obtained through Far Cry’s core gameplay loops. Liberating outposts, completing treasure hunts, and even hunting all grant materials, the most precious of which being ethanol, and the rewards make these activities feel more useful than in previous entries.
These side activities are the shining light of Far Cry New Dawn. Outposts function similarly to older Far Cry games. Sneaking in and disabling alarms or going in guns blazing with a co-op partner are both equally satisfying. New to this entry is the ability to scavenge an outpost, allowing you to retake it from enemy forces at a higher difficulty than before in order to earn more coveted ethanol. Each time you repeat an outpost, there is a change of a cosmetic drop, and it only takes a few tries to get a complete outfit. Some of these get pretty wacky, as per usual with Far Cry, and some personal favorites include the unicorn onesie and the knight armor.
Prepper Stashes from Far Cry 5 return in the form of Treasure Hunts, and they are easily the best content in New Dawn. They offer more cerebral challenges rather than combat and provide a nice change of pace from the game’s nonstop action. Solving a Treasure Hunt rewards you with a bevy of crafting materials and even a handful of Far Cry Coins, Ubisoft’s premium currency for this title. I had a blast trying to find my way into bunkers and hideouts full of rewards, and it’s a shame there are only 10 of these in total.
Hunting and fishing return as well, to little fanfare. Pelts can be traded in for crafting materials and meat is used in crafting recipes like bait and medkits. There is little restriction to how you go about hunting, and pretty much nothing will ruin the pelt save for hitting the animal with a car or burning it with a flamethrower. Coming off of Red Dead Redemption 2’s hunting system, it feels good to blast a deer point-blank with a shotgun, skin it without any animations, and put it into my endless video game backpack next to my four assault rifles and my bundle of crocodile skin. Unfortunately, there is little reason to go out and hunt. The time invested is not worth the small amount of materials you get in return, and you’ll have more than enough materials from outposts and exploration.
A new addition in Far Cry New Dawn are expeditions, side missions that take you to unique locales outside Hope County, like a theme park, a Splinter Cell themed plane crash, or even Alcatraz Island. Expeditions offer a welcome change of scenery and interesting, linear levels to play through, but they all have the same objective: get a package and extract as quickly as possible. This makes them feel samey, and the emphasis on speed doesn’t let you admire the new environments or explore at all. Expeditions do you net rare resources, though, so they’re worth doing if you’re short on supplies.
Speaking of exploration, the world is relatively bland. There is nothing of interest in New Dawn’s colorful wasteland except the things that are marked on your map. Because of this, exploration feels completely inorganic, and I found myself either fast travelling or flying to my objectives, ignoring everything else. The most interesting thing that’ll happen to you if you choose to walk or drive is an enemy encounter, and there is so little incentive to combat that I just drove past threats most of the time. Interesting locations or beautiful vistas would have been appreciated and could have done wonders to add variety to the game’s barren world.
I also wish New Dawn took better advantage of its setting. Despite being set in a zany, colorful post-apocalypse, everything is pretty much the same as before the bombs dropped. You still fight regular, humanoid enemies and the occasional animal, and, for the most part, you still use the same guns you did the first time you tore through Hope County. The guns and animals do look a little different, but fundamentally they’re the same thing, just with the odd splash of color here or duct tape there. The only new weapon is the saw launcher and it’s the first gun you’re handed. There is very little in the way of innovative new weapons or creative combat scenarios.
New Dawn’s story did little to grab me. I couldn’t stand the story in Far Cry 5, and New Dawn fares even worse. The plot and writing are absolutely insufferable, and after playing so many games with at least decent writing over the past year, this just feels inexcusable. There wasn’t a single likable character, not a single plot point resonated, and most of the optional dialogue was skipped. Even the game’s antagonists, twin sisters Mickey and Lou, leaders of the roving bandits The Highwaymen, are completely forgettable, which is strange for a Far Cry game. The plot takes itself way too seriously, provides no reason to care for its characters, and fails to deliver a satisfying payoff in any way, shape, or form. Performances are good, even great in some cases, but there’s nothing to back them up, and all the stakes feel wholly artificial.
Even the Guns For Hire, most of which return from 5, are flat out annoying. They do cater to widly different playstyles, Timber the dog spots enemies to help you with stealth, Horatio the boar soaks up damage to help you with a full-on assault, and Nana comes equipped with a sniper rifle to help you pick off targets from a distance, but I mainly used Timber not only because he’s a good boy, but also because the human companions kept talking to me. As much as I’d love to bring Hurk along for his RPG, he won’t shut up, and the same goes for every human companion. Their lines aren’t even just meh, they’re bad. All the dialogue in this game is awful, but luckily most of it can be skipped. It’s almost as if Ubisoft knows the writing is garbage because every quest giver has a voice line if you skip their dialogue, and some of these did make me crack a smile, mostly because of how ridiculous it is that there’s basically an “I don’t care” button.
Thankfully, Far Cry New Dawn doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s not nearly as long as the previous game, only clocking in at around 8-10 hours, and its more linear nature trims the fat and reduces the bloat that the Far Cry series is so well known for. The shooting is still impactful and fun and clearing outposts is as addicting as ever, especially with the new rewards, but the main campaign, both in its narrative and mission structure, is incredibly subpar and never comes close to realizing its full potential. There are a lot of good ideas in Far Cry New Dawn, but it does very little to capitalize on them in a unique and fulfilling way. It’s an enjoyable but wholly unremarkable and disappointing spin-off that could’ve been so much more.
A new giant may soon be entering the gaming industry.
Google is planning to reveal details about its unannounced gaming project at the Game Developers Conference next month in San Francisco. Invitations were sent to members of the media this morning, inviting them to “gather around” for a keynote in which “all will be revealed”. The cryptic invite also features a GIF of a hallway with an explosion of light that fades into a date: March 19th.
Not much else is known for sure about what Google is planning to unveil next month, but rumors of Google breaking into the gaming industry with either a streaming service or brand new hardware have been floating around for the better part of a year now. A report from The Information last year states that Google’s “Yeti” project is a streaming service that would work on either Chromecast or a Google console. A report from Kotaku followed, stating that Google was working on a streaming service paired with some sort of hardware, alongside efforts to attract developers to the platform, either through “aggressive recruiting or even major acquisitions”.
In October of last year, Google unveiled Project Stream, a service that allows streaming of new AAA titles through the company’s own Chrome browser. They partnered with Ubisoft to test the service with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and our experience with the service was better than we expected. If Project Stream is what Google is showing off at GDC, then it would be in competition with Microsoft’s Project xCloud, set to launch this year.
GDC 2019 will run from March 18-22, and Google’s Keynote will be on March 19th at 10AM PT/ 1PM ET.
What do you think Google will show at GDC? Are streaming services going to be the next big thing this upcoming generation? Be sure to let us know down below, and follow us on Twitter for quick and easy updates.