For fans of the Avatar franchise, it’s been quite a year after such a long wait between movies with Avatar: The Way of Water releasing at the pointy end of 2022 and now Ubisoft releasing its next open-world adventure with Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.
I’m not a huge fan of the movies, but I was genuinely excited to jump into Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, just for the pleasure I would normally get from any Ubisoft game. I believe they are one of the best game developers who consistently create cool and interesting worlds. Whether it be Assassin’s Creed or The Crew, Ubisoft will generally bring its A-game when releasing big titles.
The game starts when your created character has been chosen to interact with the humans and learn their ways when the events of the first Avatar movie take place, and the facility shuts down with you all left in there. Fifteen years pass, and you are found. You set out to reconnect to your Na’Vi heritage on a planet now unknown to you.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is visually stunning. I don’t think I have ever seen a more complete, lush-looking world, full of vibrant colors in a game. It’s one huge jungle with so much to do in the world. However, at the start of the game, this is to its detriment. Learning the basics of the game early on, you are encouraged to learn to hunt and gather resources within this huge jungle world. You will use your Na’Vi vision to identify local resources such as plants and animals, each having a set of conditions required to maximise the effects. This can range from weather conditions to how well you can remove the fruits etc, from the plants.
There is a mini-game involved in extracting the nutrients from each plant which I found to be frustrating and unnecessary, but lucky for me, there was an option to change this to a simple button press. If there is a gameplay feature in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora that you don’t like, there is probably an accessibility feature that can be changed around it for you. So thank you, Ubisoft, for that.
As we can see on the cover of the game, your character can ride your own Ikran. For the first five or so hours of the game, you will eventually have a quest to access the Ikran, name them, etc. I was so happy when this came around. Having to travel many kilometres on foot in this game was a chore at the start, I wasn’t having fun during the initial hours of this game. When I found a new camp or area where I could use fast travel, I spammed the hell out of that fast travel feature. Almost to the point where I felt bad because, as previously mentioned, this game is such a graphical showcase.
Then it got to the point when I finally got my Ikran, I immediately thought, ‘OK, now I can fly everywhere instead of fast travel’. This definitely made getting around a lot more fun, but I was also worried again. What about all the beautiful world that has been created? Well, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is just as beautiful in the sky flying as it is on the ground. As far as the eye can see, there is a marvel to behold on the eyes with the visuals of this game. If you can see it, you can go there. I can’t stress enough how beautiful this game is.
Now we have to talk about the missions. I’m just going to get this out of the way. This is a Far Cry game with a little splash of Assassin’s Creed. Throughout the world, there are many camps, with many mission givers. Some are interesting missions, most of them are simple go here, help that person and come back missions. Each of them has a suggested level cap which is obtained mostly by the gear you wear or have crafted. I had a love/hate relationship with some of the missions in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. Some of them I found to be interesting and moved the story forward or introduced you to a new clan, whereas others just felt like filler fetch quests such as gathering resources for a clan favour.
The other major portion of missions required to be completed are outposts (much like in Far Cry) which can be identified by the almost Xbox360/PS3 era shades of brown, which means that the RDA is mining and polluting the area. I found at the start these outposts were hard, but then when I dug back into my bag of tricks from older Ubisoft titles, they became less challenging. Much like Assassin’s Creed, you can survey the outpost, tag enemies and then just focus on stealth to complete the tasks required to take down the outpost and rejuvenate the area. But if you get caught, the base is alerted to your presence, and almost instantly, you will have the Humans all over you, not to mention the reinforcements that are called every time.
I did find the outposts funny, as most of the objectives are based on locating switches designed to blow the place up or shut it down. As soon as these are completed, everything stops, and the outpost is captured. The annoying part was you needed to keep switching to Na’Vi vision to find these controls required to shut down the outpost and rejuvenate the area. There was no way to tag these like enemies, which was frustrating.
The Na’Vi vision mechanic spoiled some of my time with the game. While it’s good for identifying local fauna and wildlife, it really shouldn’t have been used as how to see your waypoint, especially seeing as you have a map-like compass at the top of the screen. I would end up looking at the map and adding a waypoint so it was easier to find rather than relying on the vision to locate where I was going next.
Sounds in the game were also on par with the visuals, especially if you have Dolby Digital or Upwards (Dolby Atmos), as the sounds that surround you are amazing and make you feel like you are part of the world in Avatar: Frontier of Pandora. Voiceovers are passable, with the occasional exception where they sounded like they were using AI to generate speech, especially when investigating an area.
AVATAR: FRONTIERS OF PANDORA REVIEW
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora should have been a home run of a game using the Far Cry pedigree with an interesting world and franchise, but I couldn’t help but become frustrated by some of the mission designs and story progression. While the game excels technically, it is sometimes drawn back by the lack of enjoyability. I truly believe if they had dialled back some of the explorations and trimmed the mission fat from the game, I would have been much more engaged in this title.
- Features a beautifully constructed Pandora from the ground to the skies
- Interesting The Legend of Zelda-style cooking in the game
- Amazing audio
Too many boring missions are used as filler
Reliance on stealth is not forgiving
Too much to do in the world