Far Cry New Dawn, the newest release in Ubisoft’s open world Far Cry series, is set years after the apocalyptic nuclear event that ended Far Cry 5. Hope County, Montana has been nearly destroyed, but a rag-tag band of survivors wants to rebuild. Your job is to help them by scavenging supplies, building up the settlement of Prosperity, and battling the evil Highwaymen who terrorize the populace.
It’s possible to play Far Cry New Dawn in Dad Mode (i.e., avoiding the most egregious violence in favour of more peaceful game activities in front of the kids), but it isn’t easy. It’s rated “M,” and unlike some open-world games, violent confrontation is woven into the all aspects of the game experience. But if you don’t mind sending your kids out of the room occasionally to shoot up some fools, there are a ton of child-friendly, no-violence activities in this game.
A life affirming post-apocalypse
New Dawn’s post-bomb open world is positively lush. Unlike the bleak, rubble-strewn urban hellscape of games like Fallout 4, Hope County is overflowing with sunlight and vibrant neon plants and flowers; apparently, the bombs were good for flora and fauna.
There are no wandering zombies or super-mutants to trouble you on your travels either, so the overall look of the game won’t scar your child with the crazy idea that things would suck after nuclear bombs fell.
While the setting alone probably won’t disturb impressionable youth, the action might. In keeping with the “crazy shit can go off at any minute” ethos of the Far Cry series, enemies show up at random and they show up often. You can’t reason with them, or even run away most of the time, so you gotta kill or be killed.
If you’re playing with a kid in the room, you’re going to be yelling “cover your eyes” and racing for the mute button regularly. Even after finishing the game, totally sprucing up the settlement and vanquishing the boss bad guys, Highwaymen still appear regularly to mess up your serenity (where do they even sleep?). On the plus side, the game’s kills are not overly gruesome or bloody, with the exception of stealth assassinations.
Fishing: the friend of parent-gamers everywhere
New Dawn’s fishing system is pretty basic. First, you earn some perk points to get a fishing pole, then you plunk your line into the water and start reeling them in. You don’t have to worry about bait, technique or improving your fishing pole.
There are six types of fish to catch, and getting them all earns an achievement or trophy. Fish can also be traded for valuable supplies, so there’s an in-game reason to go down to the old fishin’ hole for a while.
The Highwaymen, of course, have no respect for angling and will attack you randomly while you’re fishing. I haven’t found a spot where it’s “safe” to fish, even after the main game is over. So be wary.
Let’s go hunting
The wildlife in New Dawn have been jacked up by the apocalypse, but not in a terrifying way—so if you’re cool with your kids being exposed to hunting in general, New Dawn’s animals aren’t likely to be more disturbing than any other video game prey.
To find animal hunting grounds, you can either purchase a map from a vendor, or just explore Hope County, where you’ll run across road signs that point you to the habitats of various animals, including the tough “monstrous” animals that take a lot of bullets but can be used to craft higher-end weapons.
Like its fishing system—and really the rest of the game—hunting in New Dawn is stripped down and basic: Point your weapon at an animal and shoot it until it dies. Then collect the skin and trade it for duct tape or gears to build cars and guns. Unlike the fussy hunting in Red Dead Redemption, you don’t have to use the right weapon on specific animals, and you don’t have to worry about getting a clean kill either. You’ll still get tradable skins, unless you blow animals up with grenade or light them on fire or something.
There’s a perk that boosts your hunting ability, and one of your companions is the ultimate hunting buddy. Timber the dog marks enemies and animals, and that makes hunting way easier, so definitely bring this goodest boy along. Plus, you can ride around with Timber in the sidecar of your motorcycle, and that’s adorable, as you can see in the screenshot above.
What kid doesn’t like a treasure hunt? Various survivors and preppers left caches of supplies around the landscape before the bombs dropped, and if you follow the clues and figure out some puzzles, you can take ‘em.
There are ten treasures in total, and each provides a ton of valuable supplies for crafting. To find them, either talk to survivors or buy a map to get the locations. You even get a trophy/achievement for solving them all. But again, sometimes the starting point of treasure quests are guarded by violent thugs you gotta kill.
One of the first side-missions in New Dawn starts with the discovery of a box of nine pre-bomb photographs. Your job is finding the location where each photograph was taken. It’s the kind of quest you either keep up with as you play the missions, or totally neglect until you’ve already beaten the game and want to get 100 per cent. If you’re in the latter camp, you can buy a map from a vendor, hop in a helicopter, and cruise to each location with your kid at your side, snapping photos of Hope’s various landmarks.
Hidden music players
Someone has hidden 10 music players in Hope County, and if you find them all, you will be rewarded with an achievement and new tunes to play on survivor radio as you tool around the post apocalypse.
The good guys prefer listening to oldies like Herman’s Hermits, while the bad guys like hip-hop in the vein of Run The Jewels. (There’s no accounting for taste.) This is a great kid-friendly scavenger hunt, as long as you are aware of the Highwaymen that guard many of the locations.
Racing around like a lunatic
It’s not an “official” activity, but riding around Hope County, smashing through trees, finding cool jumps, and having spectacular wrecks is crazy fun, especially once you’ve crafted beefed-up, Mad Max-style vehicles.
Make sure you bring along one of your companions. I recommend Nana, a senior citizen who dishes out homespun wisdom and deadly sniper fire in equal measure. In the screenshot above, Nana and I are jumping over a canyon in our unicorn trike. That’s how we do.