The very first thing you discover is that Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora appears to be like superb. The recreation has actually taken benefit of the colours and strangeness of its Pandoran setting and all the pieces is vibrant and alive. This isn’t simply within the daytime, both. The bioluminescence of Pandora’s vegetation leads to some spectacular surroundings, and the place in different video games you would possibly sleep or go time to hurry up the night time and see issues at their greatest in the course of the day, in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, you don’t need to miss something.
The natural world are eye-catching, starting from lovely to weird. Even caves, for example, are fascinating. Where in different video games they’re usually visually boring in comparison with all of the fascinating stuff happening outdoors, in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora they’re full of glowing, nearly neon fungi, bizarre vegetation, and fascinating Na’vi supplies or tools to search out. I’ve been taking part in on Xbox Series X and switching between Performance and Quality modes, and thus far this lovely world has solely often been marred with with flickering and stuttering.
One of essentially the most standout moments of our Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora preview was bonding with and flying an ikran, and it’s nice to see that this holds up within the full recreation. The big map implies that you’ll welcome any assist with traversal, and whereas the Direhorses are cool, they will’t fairly compete — who doesn’t need to soar over Pandora on an enormous flying dinosaur? That map is so huge that even an ikran will take some time to get wherever, however dropping into dives for further velocity earlier than utilizing that enhance to soar upwards doesn’t get outdated. Ikran abilities, such because the one which lets your mount catch fish in case you fly over deep water, additionally helps add extra layers of immersion to the journey.
However, whereas ikran exploration feels nice, the identical can’t be mentioned about aerial fight. There are some cool ikran abilities together with a screech capacity to stagger opponents and one other ability which helps you to carry out aerial takedowns on staggered enemies, and I used to be trying ahead to combining these for some superior takedowns like we see within the films. However, thus far this simply doesn’t appear to work. My poor ikran has been screeching away nonstop at enemies with no different outcome than leaving itself open to steady assaults. It looks like the window for enemies to be staggered could be very brief, or else it’s a must to be at a really explicit angle to open your self up for a takedown. Either means, it doesn’t really feel as fluid as you would possibly hope. Soaring in from afar and firing arrows or weapons will nonetheless do the trick, however for now it appears to be like like utilizing a
dino ikran to take down enemies or have interaction in shut fight isn’t actually doable.
I initially discovered the fight a bit irritating. I often desire the stealth method, and that simply appeared unimaginable right here. Yes, I get that the ten-foot tall vivid blue Na’vi are fairly onerous to overlook, however that’s solely once they’re up shut — from the flicks we all know they’re able to stealthy approaches and silent kills. There are a wide range of RDA encounters you’ll be able to have: big outposts, smaller bases, encounters within the wild (corresponding to once they’ve trapped a creature), or else taking the combat to the skies. Stealth actually did appear unimaginable for many of those. As quickly as you’ve killed somebody and everybody’s come crowding in to take a look on the physique, it’s not lengthy earlier than they’re all out after you as a mob and also you get overwhelmed. The mechs particularly do loads of harm. But the additional you get by way of the sport, the extra abilities and weapons you unlock, and the higher issues get.
Maybe it’s as a result of I’m coming to Avatar off the again of Assassin’s Creed Mirage, however it was annoying at first that there was no technique to silently clear camps. But when you begin attending to grips with the capabilities of the SID (Systems Interrogation Device) you get extra choices. At the outset it’s largely used for repairs, however you can begin utilizing it to hack and sabotage enemies and turrets too, permitting for extra choices for coping with foes.
Then there are the weapons. It is fascinating when a recreation manages to persuade you to make use of a spread of weapons fairly than counting on a number of favorites, and the human weapons are simply as helpful as Na’vi instruments. You can unlock a ability for an additional weapon slot for fast entry, and then you definitely’re off: bows for searching, for example, shotguns for mechs, and the employees sling for laying out traps. That’s together with particular ammo varieties for numerous weapons, corresponding to poison or storm arrows. You even have some fairly enjoyable Na’vi abilities and talents, corresponding to the choice to yank an RDA soldier out of their mech go well with in the event that they’ve been staggered.
The Na’vi themselves, in the meantime, are clearly key to Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. The recreation sees our character touring from clan to clan to realize their belief and recruit them to the resistance, studying about Na’vi tradition and their very own clan as they go.
Each clan could be present in its personal distinct biome and has its personal main base, camps, and so forth. It’s a giant deal whenever you get far sufficient to journey distant to a brand new clan’s dwelling, particularly as you get to discover one other facet of Pandora’s numerous surroundings. Each clan is understood for one thing particularly — the Aranahe are weavers, for example — however there’s a stage of element and distinction to every which is fascinating to see. The facet content material you discover from particular person Na’vi explores their lifestyle nonetheless additional, giving a glimpse of a few of the lore behind this world.
Unfortunately, that selection doesn’t at all times maintain up with regards to particular person Na’vi dialogue. Sure, this isn’t precisely a social sim, and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora goes huge in different areas, however it’s disappointing whenever you run into repeating dialogue so shortly. What’s extra, it takes away from a few of the pleasure of discovering new camps when you’ll be able to’t actually discuss to anybody (besides if they’ve quests) and as a substitute hear the identical traces of ambient dialogue repeated over and over.
On the plus facet, you get to work together with the clans just a little by way of clan favor. Offering contributions to the clan or taking down enemies, for example, positive factors you clan favor, which you should use for crafting supplies and kit. Hunting and crafting even have a heavy Na’vi bias. It’s the Na’vi lifestyle to hunt sparingly and cleanly, and also you’re rewarded for kills which don’t go away the animal to undergo. Pandoran elements go in the direction of Na’vi recipes which provide you with useful buffs, whereas crafting supplies will largely be used for Na’vi designs.
On a facet word: I additionally should apologize for my character for spending ages on getting nice crafting elements and making (what I assumed was) nice gear for my character, solely to have the Na’vi take turns lining as much as insult my clothes decisions. Very loudly. Ouch.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is a standalone story, and also you don’t actually need to have watched any of the flicks, however it may actually profit with a Na’vi dictionary of some form (if there may be one, they will need to have hidden it nicely). There’s loads of terminology which my hazy reminiscence of the flicks gained’t assist to decipher. On the opposite hand, there’s a actually helpful Hunter’s Guide which has an enormous quantity of information on all the pieces from animals and vegetation to enemies. It tells you the place they are often discovered, what they can be utilized for, what weak factors to look out for, and even, within the case of some creatures, what they appear to be at every stage of their life. You may also be taught loads of background lore too. On high of being helpful in finding supplies or pinning gadgets, this Hunter’s Guide actually helps make sense of an alien world.
There’s clearly so much to dive into with regards to lore right here, and it’s onerous for a recreation like Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora to strike a steadiness with this. On the one hand, the Na’vi lifestyle appears to contain taking the time to be in concord with nature. On the opposite hand, that is an action-adventure recreation which is at all times encouraging you to maneuver onto the subsequent factor. This may end up in an odd overlap. One quest, for example, made a little bit of a fuss about how I’d been taught to hunt by one clan’s most expert hunter. Can it’s known as instructing when, after listening to me say I’d by no means been taught to hunt earlier than, he pointed me to a stationary goal, watched me shoot one arrow, after which instructed me to run alongside?
Alongside the principle quest, there’s a complete lot extra to do on Pandora. There are basic exploration actions like discovering Sarentu totems to reconnect together with your character’s heritage, in addition to exploration actions that are particular to an space, corresponding to tuning wind flutes within the Upper Plains. Then there are facet quests from the Na’vi and Resistance members, missions to take down RDA bases, making contributions to clan stashes, basic targets to undo air pollution, and extra. It all means you’ll be able to take your foot off the pedal with regards to the principle story to take pleasure in what else there may be to supply.
That’s along with going off by yourself and discovering fascinating locations to discover, a few of which often have rewards within the type of gear for your self or your ikran. Speaking of stuff to search out…
Would this be a Ubisoft recreation with out collectibles? Pandora’s plagued by issues to search out or acquire: Bellsprigs, Tarsyu Saplings, Tarsyu Flowers (which aren’t the identical factor), audio logs, notes, Windswept Kites, Sarentu Totems, Memory Paintings, and a complete lot extra.
When you first begin the sport, the map appears to be like overwhelming with countless collectibles and quite a few beams of colourful mild. It’s satisfying in the intervening time to at all times have a lot to find, and it additionally helps to interrupt up an extended ikran flight whenever you’re consistently getting distracted by alerts of some unknown factor ready to be discovered. It additionally bridges the hole a bit in your character’s twin backgrounds: you’ve received actions which reinforce their Sarentu heritage, in addition to actions which could be accomplished due to their data of people and the RDA.
Whether you goal collectibles or simply energy by way of quests will issue right here, however both means we’ll be achievement searching in Pandora for a very good whereas. I’m round 29 hours in and have solely unlocked 9 thus far (out of 31), however I did lose a good bit of time to simply standing round gawping on the pretty surroundings.
Despite its occasional shortcomings, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora remains to be loads of enjoyable to play. Flying an ikran does its justifiable share of want achievement, however Pandora has so much to supply elsewhere too. There’s a wealth of issues to search for, and regardless of some alarmingly huge distances, exploration largely stays entertaining due to the beautiful surroundings.
We all questioned how a lot Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora would show to be a colourful Far Cry reskin — whereas there are loads of recognisable components right here, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora does greater than sufficient to face by itself Na’vi toes as its personal very satisfying recreation.
* Heidi spent over 30 hours trying to outlive Pandora, incomes 9 achievements as she went. A overview copy was offered by the writer and performed on an Xbox Series X.