There's a new Far Cry coming early next year, and it's set in a post-apocalyptic Hope County.
Far Cry New Dawn, which is coming out on February 15th 2019, is set - and here be spoilers for the end of the last instalment of the series, so if you're sensitive to such things best look away now - after the apocalypse that tore through Hope County and the rest of the world at the entertainingly improbable end of Far Cry 5. New Dawn is set 17 years after those events, to be precise, which means there's scope for some returning characters.
The backdrop is being pitched as a return to the frontier days, and a new west, with AR-15s instead of bows and arrows (though you'll probably get to dick around with them too) and pick-up trucks instead of horses - although hey there might be some of those too, and you do get a dog called Timber as a companion. And also a wild boar called Horatio. Oh, and in an expansion on the Fangs for Hire system from the last game, your companion animals can get into vehicles with you now, so you can ride into battle with a timberwolf in your sidecar if you so wish. Essential stuff.
Elsewhere there are newcomers as part of the guns for hire system, with some ties to the original Far Cry 5. Carmina, the daughter of Far Cry 5's Nick and who you help deliver in that game, is one of them, and she's joined by Nana, who's set to become a fan favourite - a narcoleptic, foul-mouthed grandmother who's a mean shot with a sniper rifle.
The new villains, meanwhile - and the stars of the cover - are twins Vicky and Lou, and you'll be also pitted against two different factions that are fighting across the post-apocalyptic Hope County. There are The Survivors, the residents of Hope County who saw through the cataclysmic events and have found a new life as farmers in its wake, and The Highwaymen, scavengers who've recently come to the west in search of resources.
Both factions show traits of the makeshift aesthetic that defines much of Far Cry New Dawn. Vehicles are rusted and cobbled together out of what can look like corrugated iron, while weapons are the same - an 1887 rifle has a kitchen knife hastily taped on to its muzzle, for example. There's a new focus on crafting, made a bit more palatable by a new vertical crafting menu that brings everything to hand.
There's a bit more customisation with your own character, too, and you can choose their gender, colour and body type. Beyond that a new home base works as an upgradeable camp from which to host your operations, where some of your decisions in the game world are reflected and where there'll be more bustle as you progress and more people move in.
From there you'll be able to board a helicopter and go much further afield to take part in Expeditions - an all-new feature for Far Cry New Dawn that sees you heading out for all-new areas outside of the limits of Hope County. In the one example being shown right now takes place in a Louisiana theme park deep in the bayou, a map around 1km square in size that hosts co-op centric missions (though you can play them solo). Other locations teased include the west coast and a canyon.
As for Hope County itself, it's a revamped map from Far Cry 5, even if a lot of it will be familiar. "The world's been transformed by the events," explains Ubisoft's Jean-Sébastien Decant. "All the buildings have been destroyed or refurbished. Some of the zones have been destroyed and you can't go there anymore. Most of what was there, in terms of size, is there though."
There are some other small kinks, too - animals will now take prey in their mouths back to their dens, which can in turn be scavenged, while several of those outposts contain small self-contained puzzles and their own tales told through the environment. There's now an escalation system for outposts, too, a three star system for clearing them out at different difficulty levels.
And underpinning all that there's always going to be the suspicion that this is all a bit overfamiliar, especially coming so soon off the back of the original Far Cry 5. It's clearly a smaller production - as evidenced in the slightly smaller price tag of 45 EUR - and it's being done by a section of Ubisoft Montreal's Far Cry team in collaboration with the Shanghai and Kiev studios. It's got that lo-fi, slightly dirty feel to it all - like a movie being spun out on the backlot of another production - and I think, personally, I'm fine with that if it encourages a more outlandish, experimental spin on the formula - just as Far Cry Primal, for its failings, managed to take the series to some interesting new places. Regardless, there's not too long to find out if Ubisoft has made this one stick.