Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora review: A breathtakingly beautiful world
Monday January 29, 2024. 03:00 PM , from PC World
ProsBreathtakingly beautiful world that is constantly changingAtmospheric like James Cameron’s cinematic masterpiecesVery dynamic gameplay with lots of freedomIf we destroy RDA factories, the contaminated wasteland turns into a paradiseNa’vi culture and religion are wonderfully celebratedDesigned much more for exploration and wonder than pure combatSpreads the wonderful feeling of becoming part of the Na’vi tribesConsThe story is very Star Wars: the RDA are the Empire, the Na’vi are the rebels and there is aLacks some exciting twistsA bit too many quests in the style of “Hey, bring over these special berries”Our VerdictA fantastically beautiful open-world shooter with fascinating races, brilliant gameplay, and lots of ideas, which only allows itself a few blunders in the storytelling.
There’s something majestic about these floating peak formations on Pandora, the alien planet in the Avatar movie franchise. Billions of tons of rock floating high in the air like clouds, waterfalls flowing down their steep sides, forested with beautiful mangrove trees. And we’re right in the middle of it all in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, Ubisoft’s open-world blockbuster, which is so very different from a game like Far Cry 6, for example. Not formulaic, but enigmatic. Pandora has its very own culture, politics, and religion.
Three large tribes, countless exotic animal species, and tactical advantages that we must utilize in the fight against the RDA. The floating peak formations are surrounded by magnetic fields that cause the radar instruments, GPS, and heat-seeking missiles of the Scorpion Gunships to go crazy. Overall, it’s a fun game. The world is immersive and beautiful, and gamepaly is dynamic. However, it’s not without its flaws, minor as they are. Read on to learn more.
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Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora: Gameplay
The Ikran is not just a means of transport, a deep friendship develops with it. We can also decorate it, make artistic, colourful saddles and give it more personality.
The gameplay is fascinating because it’s so wonderfully integrated into the philosophy of the Na’vi. We are bound to our Ikran for life, he cannot die, but he has an energy meter. He’s an animal, he needs to eat and rest. We can feed it in flight with berries that have healing powers from our saddlebag or steer it towards a pond, allowing it to plough through the water with its beak and snack on a few fish, which results in his energy meter to rise.
We sweep through a row of palm trees, the Scorpion shreds the flora, the animals around us flee. Time to shoot upwards like an arrow again, switching from the longbow to the heavy bow. It can even penetrate the armor of a helicopter.
Ubisoft has put a lot of time and effort into bringing Pandora to life as well as including the cinematic magic of Hollywood legend James Cameron. The open-world epic has a nice dynamic because we are not forced to fly all the time. We can also jump in flight onto the dense plant life that grows on these flying mountains, hide there, eat a few daphophet fruits that heal minor wounds, acrobatically jump from mountain to mountain and then back onto the banshee.
We are a 3.50 metre tall Na’vi whose arrows and spears are extremely powerful. This makes the battles very physical. However, we would describe the AI as rather functional.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora has those epic aerial battles where we have to fight in formations of dozens of Na’vi’s on their Banshees against mighty Valkyrie flying platforms that unleash brutal firepower and turn our beautiful forests into a sea of flames.
But it’s so much more than that. It’s an RPG with branching role-playing paths. We get to know all these tribes that are so different from one another. The nomadic Seswa clan, for example, live in a fascinating symbiosis with these huge animals (aka Zakra). They live in villages, which have been built on top of these animals. However, these animals also provide them with warmth in the rainy season and protect them against the harsh storms of the Upper Plants.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora: Graphics
Ubisoft Avatar Open World has often been compared to Far Cry, but feels more like Horizon Zero Dawn: We live with these creatures, discovering foreign cultures, rites and religions without being constantly involved in battles.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora has the scenic grandeur of James Cameron’s CGI artworks. Massive Entertainment demonstrates a keen sense of how to build a menacing backdrop here like how the Dragon Assault Ship peels out of the fog just as the Death Star once did.
For the Na’vi, these gigantic warships look like deities that bring them death and shoot down our flying creatures with no less than eight 50-sentry guns, 10 air-to-air missiles, and four absolutely deadly AG-MGM Incendiary Missiles, which set an entire section of forest on fire on impact and destroy all life in a large radius.
What we really love about Avatar: The Na’vi live in harmony with the wildlife and when hunting, it becomes clear how important it is to them not to let the animal suffer.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora also has a very peaceful side that allows us to simply enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful world.
As we wander through these dense palm groves in the rain, the water dripping from leaf to leaf, there is an incredible amount to discover. Many plants react to our presence. Orange, funnel-shaped stems retract into the earth when we approach, as if they’re afraid. Then, after a moment or so, they come back again, as if they want to have a look. The buds of a bulbous flower shake violently the closer we get to them.
Rarely has a jungle with all its mangroves and fascinating plants felt so organic and real as in Ubisoft Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. Definitely one of the most beautiful open-worlds alongside Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077.
It’s an exciting world and one that rewards. Again and again we find berries that we can collect. These often explode and spray a poisonous substance from which we first have to heal ourselves. This world reacts to us, invites us to stroll around, deploying its protective mechanisms when necessary. They warn us, they shake themselves, they puff themselves up–it’s fantastically designed.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora: Ubisoft is a fan of this universe
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora may be very Star Wars in its story, but the world is perfect.
We were abducted as a child, raised by the humans – the Sky People. We can use the equipment of the RDA soldiers like Jake Sully, but find it difficult to find a place in the Na’vi community.
In terms of storytelling, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora will divide opinion. It’s not an epic story like the one Cyberpunk 2077 tells. It’s very classic in its structure, very Star Wars. The RDA is like the Empire, which comes to destroy and subjugate this planet. The Na’vi are the rebels.
There’s a certain lack of grey, of exciting changes, of surprises in the character sketches. The Na’vi are often grumpy, sometimes arrogant, always suspicious, but they lack the flavor of a traitor, for example, who we’d like to secretly befriend. But that’s easy to forgive because the world is so immersive and beautiful.
It’s nice to see that Ubisoft wants to revive the magic of the films because Avatar 2 wasn’t a classic Hollywood blockbuster, either. Both the films and the game take a lot of time to introduce their peoples, their religion, to explain why we must not let an animal suffer while hunting, because otherwise its soul cannot ascend to Eywa, Mother Nature, who watches over everything here.
There’s a tribe of weavers, a tribe that lives in fascinating symbiosis with giant animals, and so much more.
A world to fall in love with: Frontiers of Pandora works so fantastically because these peoples, who see animals as part of their family, really get close to us. It is all the more painful when they are captured or hunted by Scorpion helicopters.
If you liked Horizon Zero Dawn, you’ll love Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. Precisely because this game shows us the constant danger of the RDA with all their bases destroying the landscape.
The way in which we forcefully tighten the bow and how physical the combat feels is reminiscent of Far Cry: Primal. We’re also a tall Smurf throwing a human soldier against the nearest wall with so much force we feel like the Hulk himself.
What’s great is how we turn these oil-poisoned areas back into this wonderful ray-traced paradise, with animals jumping around and the most wondrous alien plants blooming.
Sure, we have to conquer bases here and there, but when it comes to the open-world aspect, that’s where this game really shines. The landscape is like its own character. This is what an open world should feel like.
This review was translated from German to English and originally appeared on pcwelt.de.
Feb, Fri 23 - 14:38 CET