Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Preview | How a game wants to go beyond a blue Far Cry


Since its announcement, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora It always seemed to me to be a Far Cry blue. Not only because it is a first-person shooter from Ubisoft, but because the whole idea of ​​an open world in the middle of the forest with combat ranging from guns and arrows is very reminiscent of the classic franchise. And, after checking out a few hours of the game, you could see how it wants to be much more than this shallow comparison.

There are obvious points in common, such as the dynamics of the combats, but it is obvious from the first moments how Avatar has a much greater focus on exploring the planet Pandora than anything else. As the idea is to place the player inside the world created by James Cameron for cinemas, the studio made a point of creating ways for you to experience it.

In the two hours of testing that the FreeGameGuide had access, we dive into some missions that give a good dimension of what Frontiers of Pandora has to offer, especially in terms of exploring and experiencing the phosphorescent planet — between mistakes and promising successes.

Discovering a new world

When I say that the focus of Avatar It’s exploring the planet Pandora, it’s not a force of expression nor is it exaggeration. Ubisoft tweaked some classic mechanics to enhance this aspect, which really creates the feeling that you are exploring the location — even if, at first, this means walking in circles.

That old idea of ​​having a marker indicating the exact location of the next mission or the NPC you’re looking for doesn’t exist. There is a sign that points the direction of your objective so that the player does not get lost on the vast map, but just enter a specific perimeter for this help to disappear. So, you have to really search every corner until you locate the target.

It seems banal, but it changes the dynamics of the game a lot, especially for those who expected something more direct and simple, as in Far Cry.

At first, it may seem a little frustrating — especially because the first mission asked me to look for resources that I had never seen in my life — and require a little patience, but it becomes much more rewarding as you get used to it. logic. In infiltration areas or even when looking for paths in the middle of floating mountains, discovering things for yourself is much more interesting.

This all becomes an invitation to exploration, wandering and turning every corner of the vast map of Pandora. While the demo didn’t allow us to roam the entire expanse of the setting, a quick look at the overview map shows just how much there is to see in Frontiers of Pandora. And as exciting as this is, it also raises some concerns.

From what could be seen, the entire setting is centered on the forest area of ​​the planet, on the so-called Western Frontier continent. It’s a new area that wasn’t shown in the films, but the impression the game gives is that we shouldn’t have that much variety of scenarios, which can make things a little tiring. It may have been an impression from the demo, but a warning sign went off regardless.

Furthermore, I also felt this vastness of Pandora sparsely populated with things to see and do. Going to Hometree, the gigantic tree that serves as a base for the Na’Vi, is impressive and there is a lot to observe there, but the areas further away from points of interest like this seemed more empty and lifeless — something a little contradictory to the entire proposal Avatar.

With the exception of some human enemies and a few animals that I found in the middle of the forest and in a small lake, I didn’t see anything that reminded me of that living, pulsating world that James Cameron talked about so much in the movies. Again, this may have been a result of my experience within the limited time of the demo, but still somewhat frustrating.

Through the air

In fact, I think it’s important to emphasize that, even in theaters, I’ve never been a big fan of Avatar. I think the films are beautiful, but the story Pocahontas blue never won me over beyond the looks. That said, I must confess that I also didn’t make an effort to understand the fragment of the story that I showed. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora offers. There is tension there among a Na’Vi tribe, a certain distrust towards the protagonist and a fear towards humans and their war machines.

However, even critics of the franchise, like me, have to give up on how much it is capable of creating great moments — and one of the most emblematic of them are the airline tickets on the flight between the Na’Vi and their ikran, the winged creatures they connect with. And, as expected, the game knows how to take advantage of this very well.

If the exploration factor was not enough to distance Avatar of Far Cry, the moments in the air come to put a definitive end to this. As much as Ubisoft’s FPS franchise has its planes and helicopters to let the player advance through the skies, it is not in the same way and with the same freedom as Frontiers of Pandora offers.

There’s a whole mission for you to conquer your ikran, which is interesting in itself — remember I talked about exploring the floating mountains? —, but it’s when you ride the creature that the game really opens up. Controlling the animal is simple and intuitive and allows you to advance across the vast map in a much more agile way, which even makes it easier to discover new elements.

At the same time, the game also allows you to enter combat while still in the air, being able to switch between your Na’Vi bow and human machine guns in the same way as in ground firefights. It’s something that gives much greater dynamism and creates very fun moments, recreating the grandeur of some movie fights. Without a shadow of a doubt, it is the highlight of what the demonstration presented.

In fact, speaking of combat, this is where Avatar comes closest to Far Cry — which is not a problem. There are human bases scattered across the Western Frontier and you can take them by destroying energy sources. And the approach is up to you, it could be something more sneaky or in that Rambo mode that we all like.

The point here is that, at least in the version we tested, both the artificial intelligence and the enemies’ resistance seemed too easy. It was possible to defeat ships and even soldiers in exoskeletons with a few shots and close executions didn’t seem to attract the attention of guards, which made things much simpler. Again, it may be something not finalized, but it caught attention.

Almost there

The two hours of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora The ones we had access to served much more to clear up some doubts and clarify some points than to actually show what the game was all about. The adaptation of the most profitable franchise in cinemas is a big bet for Ubisoft and, even so, it seemed lukewarm and generated more doubts than excitement. After visiting the phosphorescent planet, I felt a little more excited.

It is a very promising game that seems to have understood well what made the universe created by James Cameron the phenomenon we know. By relying on the unique world of Pandora — and including the contemplative moment à la Globo Repórter that films love —, the FPS indicates that it is well on the right path by showing that the core of the experience should really be exploration and less frenzy in Far Crytaking advantage of only the best the series has to offer.

The feeling of emptiness is uncomfortable, mainly because it is something that contradicts the main proposal, but the benefit of the doubt makes us believe that it was just something in the demonstration. In fact, I also hope that it was just the technical limitations of the test that gave Pandora this lifeless earthy green appearance instead of that pulsating look that comes to mind when we talk about Avatar.

Still, the final impression left by the demonstration was positive. It may not yet seem like the perfect adaptation fans wanted, but it has the potential to get there.

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora arrives on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Series S and PC on December 7th.