Avatar Frontiers of Pandora is often described as the Far Cry of the Avatar world. This comparison is valid, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Especially if you are a fan of James Cameron’s films.
Avatar Frontiers of Pandora is an action adventure game that takes us to the world of the blue-skinned Na’vi known from James Cameron’s film series. The game debuted in December 2023, a year after the premiere of the film “Avatar: Water Creature”, which is why it did not catch the publicity associated with the film production and could have gone unnoticed in a very hot period in the gaming industry, full of large premieres. It’s a pity, because although it’s not the game of the year, it is a solid production in many respects, which should be seen especially by fans of the world created by the famous director.
Far Cry: Avatar
The idea for Avatar Frontiers of Pandora is similar to the games from the Far Cry series by the same creators, especially the spin-off Far Cry Primal about prehistoric times. But there’s nothing wrong with that, because the game formula and individual mechanics have been perfectly adapted to tell the story of the last members of the lost clan of Na’vi diplomats and wandering storytellers.
Within the first minutes, we learn that our hero or heroine (we create the character in a simple configurator) was raised by people from ZPZ (Resource Acquisition Board), an earthly corporation whose armed representatives came to Pandora to extract valuable raw materials. The special program that ZPZ implemented for our hero and his clan brethren was to create us as perfect ambassadors between humans and the Na’vi. However, the whole plan fell apart due to the attitude of the game’s main antagonist towards the natives and the rebellion depicted in the “Avatar” films, the events of which take place in a remote part of Pandora. It is worth adding, however, that knowledge of the film’s plot is not required to play.
After years of hibernation, together with other clan members, we are released from the ZPZ facility by our human tutor, who has defected to the Na’vi side, and we join the resistance movement that will drive the people out of the ZPZ. But Pandora, the moon where the action from “Avatar” takes place, with its fauna and flora, is definitely the main character of the game. The world is full of various plants that react to the presence of our hero (for example, they curl up quickly). Among them there are unusual animals and dangerous beasts, the air is full of insects, there are numerous streams in the forests, and the flying mountains are breathtaking. This effect is helped by the graphics, which are very impressive.
All this beauty is destroyed by people who came to Pandora to obtain raw materials, without caring about nature and the Na’vi tribes living on the moon. Like the films, the game has a clearly explicit ecological and anti-colonial bent. During the game, we often fight in human bases, which are full of metal and various shades of gray. However, spacious industrial interiors and undergrounds also have their charm for the gameplay. Parts of nature polluted by humans are also gloomy and can be cleaned by eliminating mining installations, outposts and ZPZ bases, which immediately adds vivid colors to them.
We look at the world from a first-person perspective. We visit the various lands of Pandora, traversing its jungles, swamps and plains not only on the back of the flying Ikran associated with us, but also on the backs of dark horses. The map is really huge, and individual biomes differ significantly in appearance. The look and feel of the game is also influenced by the day and night cycle and weather changes. Not only does the world look completely different in the rain or at dusk, but the time of day and weather also affect the quality of the raw materials we collect, which translates directly into the statistics of the items we create.
Throughout the game, we use the Na’vi sense from time to time, thanks to which the most important elements, opponents and their weak points, resources to be collected, and our goals are highlighted on the screen. Without it, navigation is very difficult because, apart from the verbal instructions provided, we usually do not have a specific mission goal marked, but only the area where we can find the person we are supposed to talk to or the activity we are supposed to perform.
The mechanics of upgrading weapons and clothing are also similar to the Far Cry series. First we need to obtain appropriate raw materials, and then we can develop our equipment at appropriate positions. Another game that immediately comes to mind when playing Avatar Frontiers of Pandora is the Horizon series. This is suggested by elements such as frequent fighting with bows and other primitive weapons such as spears or traps, along with highlighting and aiming at opponents’ weak points, or the ubiquitous tribal culture, and riding flying mounts.
All these elements are steeped in Na’vi culture – when hunting, we are taught to pray over the killed animal, thanking it for its gifts, so that its spirit goes to the mother goddess known from the movies, named Eywa. Likewise, if we shoot an animal with a rifle, its skin or meat will be useless and we will simply not be able to collect it at all. At every moment of the game, the unity of the inhabitants of Pandora with the natural world, which is the main theme of the films, is visible. In the game we can feel it “for ourselves”.
The plot is not mind-blowing, although there are interesting twists and turns, especially in the second half of the game. It’s worse with the characters, who are so unremarkable that most of them are not particularly memorable and it is difficult to associate, for example their names. The side missions are very simple and not very interesting, but they are worth doing to gain character development points and the clan’s favor, which can then be exchanged for equipment. This is such an unusual type of trading. In addition, we can also trade more normally for the parts we find with human traders, but there are much fewer of them. During the game, we also develop the skills of the hunter, warrior and gatherer development trees, as well as the special skills of our ancestors, which we find on the map. It is worth doing all this, because character development helps us significantly in fighting opponents.
The game definitely prefers sneaking and fighting from hiding, because in open combat, especially at the beginning of the game, we won’t have much of a chance. We fight against not very diverse enemies – people fighting on foot or in exoskeletons with various arsenals of weapons. The fights are repetitive, but there are not enough of them in the game to be noticeably tiring. However, an additional difficulty is the inability to save manually, which means that in some missions we may have to repeat a large part of the fight. A special impression and belief in the strength of our character is created by hand-to-hand combat, when we easily defeat people much shorter than us, or by fighting in the air from the ridge of Ikran against enemy flying vehicles.
If we are injured in combat, our life will regenerate itself, using up our energy bar, which is replenished by eating food. Especially the meals we cook in advance provide a large increase in statistics and additional positive effects. However, when the energy bar drops to zero and we have no food to replenish it, automatic healing is disabled. Then we can treat ourselves with special Dapofet fruits, of which we can only have a limited number with us.
It is also worth mentioning that the game can also be played in online cooperation with another player.
Avatar Frontiers of Pandora. Is it worth it?
Avatar Frontiers of Pandora is a dream production for fans of the film series created by James Cameron. The game allows you to immerse yourself in the world of Pandora and get to know it even better than the movies allowed. Decent gameplay, a beautiful and spacious world, and well-thought-out mechanics proven in other series should also appeal to other players. Unless they expect a deep plot and extensive side missions.
Rating 7.5/10 (film fans can increase the rating by one point).