Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Review – Beyond Far Cry’s Shadow
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is a long-awaited project developed by Ubisoft Massive, known for their work on Tom Clancy’s The Division series. The game, powered by Ubisoft Massive’s engine, stands out as one of the most visually impressive games released this year. Although a game’s quality is usually judged by its gameplay and story, the graphics in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora deserve special attention. They closely resemble the high-quality visuals of the Avatar movies.
The game reminds me of Ubisoft’s Far Cry series. This similarity is especially noticeable after playing the opening prologue. In this section, like in many Far Cry games, the player controls a hero who must escape a facility while being chased by enemies. This familiar scenario made me initially think Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora was simply a Far Cry game dressed in an Avatar theme. However, this assumption turned out to be wrong.
After escaping the facility and completing the prologue, it becomes evident that Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is a distinct game. It would be unfair to call it just a reskin. While it borrows some gameplay elements from the Far Cry series, there are enough unique features to offer a different gaming experience.
The Avatar movies have broken many records worldwide, so it’s no surprise that a video game based on this franchise was in the works. Previously, Ubisoft developed another game based on Avatar. However, Frontiers of Pandora is a more ambitious project, closely connected to the lore of the movies. While the game’s story is standalone, separate from the movies, it offers a deep dive into the world of Pandora, which should delight Avatar fans. The story centers around a group of young Na’vi who have been experimented on by the RDA. They escape from captivity in the beginning and embark on a journey to return to their natural life, constantly threatened by the possibility of extinction from the RDA.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is played from a first-person perspective. It’s not just a shooter; the game includes numerous parkour elements, such as tree climbing, vine jumping, and riding mounts in the open world. The game’s vast scope is further enhanced by the addition of co-op support, a feature also found in the Far Cry series, which invites comparisons between the two franchises. However, the gameplay in Frontiers of Pandora is quite different. It focuses more on exploring Pandora’s nature and life and growing stronger alongside it.
In Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, while traditional weapons like assault rifles are available, bows are often the preferred choice for many encounters. The game encourages stealth tactics and provides abilities for the smooth execution of enemies. However, in my experience, many encounters depended more on my firepower than on stealth, making the latter optional except in certain sequences.
The game also emphasizes world exploration, discovering new mounts and wildlife, and resource hunting for crafting and cooking essential items. This aspect of the gameplay loop can be quite addictive, though it also delves deep into loot mechanics, which some players might find overwhelming. If you enjoy crafting and gathering ingredients, you may appreciate this feature, but I personally was not very fond of it. This becomes a concern when such tasks are tied to main quests, making them sometimes unavoidable.
An interesting moral dimension is introduced in resource harvesting. By gathering resources in a way that respects traditional customs, like showing mercy when hunting animals, players can obtain more resources. This approach contrasts with a more ruthless method. Additionally, the game’s emphasis on exploration is underscored by a difficulty setting available at the start. This mode eliminates all waypoints from the game’s user interface, compelling players to rely on environmental sights and sounds for navigation. It’s ideal for those who prefer minimal guidance, a notable change from typical Ubisoft games, which often include extensive handholding.
In Frontiers of Pandora, while the gameplay takes center stage, the narrative is less cohesive. It seems the game’s writers put considerable effort into emphasizing the cruelty of humans towards the Na’vi. This theme is already well-established in the Avatar movie series, which portrays humanity at both its worst and best. I found the story missions somewhat lacking. They often felt stretched and offered content that seemed more like a chore than an engaging experience. Some missions involve resource investigation, while others require the player to shut down and hack power systems.
Additionally, the PC version of the game has its own set of problems. There have been reports of crashes occurring during the main story, an issue I have also encountered to some degree. While these may be minor annoyances, the game is also plagued by bugs that can disrupt the gaming experience. Although it may not be as polished as the recent release of Assassin’s Creed Mirage, the PC version of Frontiers of Pandora does offer a wide range of customization options. This includes upscaling technologies like DLSS and FSR 3, which are intended to enhance overall performance.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Game Information
- Price: $69.99
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Developer: Ubisoft Massive
- Platform: PC (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher