Ubisoft’s last massive launch of 2023, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, appears to be like, feels and performs just about identically to each open world Ubisoft journey it’s possible you’ll or might not have performed over the previous decade. It’s most harking back to Far Cry Primal in its moment-to-moment gameplay, with a deal with gathering and making use of nature to heal, refill ammo and take the struggle to your foes, however there’s lots extra you will recognise from different Ubi joints alongside the best way.
Set in a correctly jaw-dropping recreation of Pandora, this standalone Avatar journey sees you play as a Na’vi orphan who’s been raised by the RDA (these nasty people) and consequently you’ve got misplaced contact with a lot of your traditions and fallen out of the methods of your folks. Oh, and also you’re a little bit rusty in terms of fight, so you will must work via a bunch of ability bushes as you rediscover your swagger throughout a roughly 15-hour lengthy marketing campaign.
Yes, 15 hours, and solely round about 25 in case you determine to 100% the factor. This is pretty small, dare we even say manageable for a Ubisoft open world effort in fashionable occasions, and it is actually one in every of this recreation’s greatest plus factors. This is not some monumental, time-consuming dedication like so a lot of your Far Crys, Assassin’s Creeds and so forth, it is a recreation you’ll be able to really begin within the information it may be overwhelmed with out having to forgo your regular sleeping patterns.
It’s additionally an excellent factor as a result of, actually, in addition to some okay parkouring round bushes and a little bit of flying round in your Ikran, this can be a reasonably timid affair general, a mild open world recreation that goes straightforward, does not hit you with any massive surprises or issue spikes and is maybe finest thought-about as one thing youthful gamers can leap into to study the essential ropes of the style.
Combat, whereas high-quality if you’re skulking round on the bottom and have time to plan a little bit, is a farce as soon as you’re taking to the skies – massive dumb helicopters aren’t enjoyable to struggle in opposition to – and there is simply no actual technique to something as soon as the stealth window has been shut. Taking on RDA mechs, you will need to use your Na’vi imaginative and prescient to spotlight massive glowing weak factors then assault to get the higher hand, and people on foot might be disposed of with a single shot, however those self same mechs generally is a frustration after they do not go down as anticipated from a stealth shot, with enemies preferring to barrel into you reasonably than utilizing any battlefield ways.
The overwhelming majority of the motion in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora takes place in nice massive refineries and enemy complexes which might be polluting Pandora and should be taken out in the identical method because the encampments or forts within the Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed franchises. You know the drill, scan the realm, tag enemies, take out any sniping guards, manoeuvre via the territory and hit a couple of switches to close down the commercial pillaging of your homeland, then head again to your nearest Na’vi base to additional the story alongside.
And it is mainly on this story that Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora comes up most missing. The gameplay right here may be the identical previous usual for essentially the most half – generic however pretty pleasant – however with two films’ value of lore to fall again on, with such a strong basis on which to construct, Ubisoft has solely managed to provide you with a reasonably drained effort the place it might have delivered one thing a bit extra particular. We are 100% onboard with its environmental message, and it will get the job performed general, however there’s simply no actual pleasure or something memorable throughout the sport’s working time. With no massive bosses to tackle or surprises down the highway a little bit, it is all a bit bland and protected on the gameplay entrance concurrently being one of many best-looking issues we have reviewed this yr.
Side-missions and interactions with NPCs are a letdown too, with fundamental fetch quests and stilted cutscenes filled with drained chatter as you have interaction with different Na’vi to assist them with varied errands. There’s little to no emergent gameplay both, which is a shock given the deal with utilising your setting. Local wildlife, helpful for assets when killed with a clear strike so the meat ain’t spoiled, do not appear involved in scraps, so that they type of simply mill about, and enemies by no means gave us the type of struggle that led to sudden chases or battles via the jungle.
We additionally reckon the RPG-lite gear system, the assortment of clothes and clothes mods you will discover particularly, simply feels pointless. Na’vi outfits simply haven’t got the appropriate vibe to make gathering new outfits a compelling reward right here – the character creation is not very versatile both – and so it is simply shoe-horned in for no good purpose and makes for a loot system that feels underwhelming.
On the efficiency facet of issues, as we have talked about already, this can be a correct stunner when it comes to its visuals, and for essentially the most half it runs very well too. However, you’ll encounter stutters right here and there, particularly when flying round in your Ikran or participating a bunch of tedious helicopters, so issues aren’t fully with out problem, even on Series X.
If you are a giant Far Cry fan, or simply benefit from the core gameplay loop of those types of Ubisoft open world efforts, you then’ll positively discover sufficient right here to get pleasure from in an easy-breezy type of approach. The fight is ok, it will get a little bit higher as you unlock extra expertise, the identical might be stated of a good parkour system that may often – particularly when zipping about on vines – really feel very satisfying. There’s positively an affordable sufficient 20 hours of enjoyable available right here for stans of the style and loads of alternative for large Avatar followers to roleplay being a Na’vi, utilizing your environs to outlive, participating the people in your phrases and slowly cleansing your planet of the RDA’s filth.
However, it is all very protected, all very by the Ubi playbook and it feels, in the long run, like a little bit of a missed alternative. From a technical perspective Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora knocks it out of the park for essentially the most half however, with such wealthy lore to extract an journey from, it actually seems like we might have had a killer recreation on our arms if the story had simply delivered a little bit extra in the best way of shocks, surprises and challenges. Kids ought to lap it up, this can be a sturdy first open world effort for youthful avid gamers, so it positively earns a suggestion from us, however anybody else could also be higher served attempting one thing with a bit extra chew.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora sticks carefully to the established Ubisoft open world system, serving up a lush setting during which gamers can get busy skulking round, levelling up, gathering assets and taking out enemy compounds. Stealth and floor fight get the job performed with none surprises, aerial fight is turgid, and there is a affordable parkour system within the combine. However, the narrative here’s a letdown; it is bland stuff all the best way alongside, facet missions are cookie-cutter stuff and actually – until you are an enormous Avatar/Far Cry Primal fan or a youthful gamer, there is not a lot right here you have not seen earlier than from this dev.