Have you ever wondered while watching the Avatar films what it’s like to become a Na’vi? Massive Entertainment’s Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora wants to give players that exact feeling and then some.
I didn’t know what to expect before getting hands-on with Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. Based on trailers alone, the game looked like it dug into another Ubisoft title, Far Cry’s bag, taking plenty of cues from the popular franchise.
After playing roughly two hours of the forthcoming game, Frontiers of Pandora is more than just a Far Cry clone with characters from James Cameron’s multi-billion dollar movie franchise.
Like In The Films Pandora Is Alive & Teeming With Life
Pandora is teeming with life as the planet’s fauna and flora can be interacted with…
The first thing you immediately notice is developers went out of their way to recreate Pandora and the never-before-seen Western Continent of the planet in the video game space. Just as in the film, Pandora is teeming with life as the planet’s fauna and flora can be interacted with.
Some plants give your avatar performance boosts like faster speed and increase your maximum health or plants with some help from Eywa, the Na’Vi’s only known deity, that aid you in travels like launching you into the air. Just as there are plants that will help you, some will cause you damage.
You will also encounter plenty of creatures throughout your playthrough. One brief encounter I experienced had me remove an RDA (Resources Development Association) Dart from a creature and then turn it into materials I could use to improve my character’s gear. Or you could shoot the dart, poisoning the animal and losing the materials.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Also Feels Like Dying Light
The game’s parkour mechanics are just as tight as the Dying Light franchise, giving players the feel of being in a Na’Vi’s body.
While the comparisons to Far Cry are accurate, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora also feels like Massive Entertainment’s take on a Dying Light game.
The game’s parkour mechanics are as tight as the Dying Light franchise, giving players the feel of being in a Na’Vi’s body. The Na’Vi avatar has heightened agility and can jump higher than an average human.
During the preview, I felt how good those mechanics were when I had to scale a mountain to bond with my Ikran (Moutain Banshee), just like in the first film.
Hilariously, a native Na’Vi you are following up the mountain tells you not to look down during your ascent to the Ikran rookery. I couldn’t help but look down and was instantly blown away at how high up you were and how massive the game’s scale is.
I can’t even imagine playing this game with a PSVR 2 headset on. Massive Entertainment, don’t you dare even think about doing this.
The payoff for your scaling is a fantastic moment when you finally bond for life with Ikran, name it, and take a leap of faith, allowing your new friend to catch you, opening up a new way to travel around Pandora.
The game encourages players to explore Pandora. NPCs will give you directions that are not precise. You can use your map to provide you with an idea of where you need to be.
Your “Na’Vi sense” will help you find your objections, but don’t expect all kinds of icons and waypoints to be on your screen.
Combat With Options
In Frontiers of Pandora, we discussed how the game feels like Dying Light regarding its parkour feature. Let’s talk about how the game also feels like Far Cry.
During my roughly two-hour experience with the game, I got to experience two scenarios involving combat.
After bonding with my Ikran, I was able to take out these floating platforms. RDA’s AT-99 “Scorpion” Gunships guard the platforms, providing some challenge. Once you land on the platform, you use a scanner in your inventory to tell the computer to expose containers you shoot to destroy the platform.
You can take on the “Scorpions” while riding your Ikran using your machine gun or bow and arrows. You have a long-range bow and a heavy bow, plus a slingshot weapon that tosses explosive projectiles at enemies.
In another mission, reminiscent of Far Cry, you attack an RDA base that is polluting Pandora. You can either shut down the numerous objections using stealth or go in guns blazing, taking on humans and soldiers inside MK-6 Amplified Mobility Platform robot suits.
If you choose to go in loud, it is pretty challenging as enemies will rain down bullets and explosive projectiles on you. So you have to be on the move constantly.
Stealth is your best option in these scenarios, but it’s fun to start an all-out assault with some help from Ikran.
Our Initial Thoughts After The Preview
After my brief demo, I am ready to explore more, dive deeper into the game’s story, and explore more of the game’s world. There is potential in Frontiers of Pandora for it to be a good experience and a possible winning franchise for Massive Entertainment and Ubisoft, even with the possibility of this game suffering from the complaints that plague titles like Far Cry and Dying Light.
For the most part, the game has the look (minus the incredible motion capture James Cameron uses) and feel of the Avatar films. Pandora looks gorgeous, the parkour traversal is buttery smooth, the combat action is both challenging and thrilling, and taking to the skies on your Ikran for the first time sent chills up my spine.
But it remains to be seen if the game can keep that feeling for the entire experience.
Keep it locked on HHW Gaming for a full review of the game.
Photo: Ubisoft / Massive Entertainment / Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora