If there is anything I have learned in the past few years when it comes to gaming, is that you need to take a majority of big AAA games that come out in December with a grain of salt. Mainly because it’s after the Black Friday shopping session and after all the major game awards, along with the fact it’s being released now to say that it came out this year at the last minute. We have examples of the latter, with Cyberpunk 1.0 and Calisto Protocol being the go-to examples. So, everyone who cared was worried the new Avatar game from Ubisoft would be the next example, mainly those who knew this game was still coming out because it felt like it was just dropped on us with no pomp and circumstance, which raised a massive red flag because its Avatar, so I went in with low expectations and after spending 40 hours with the game and 100% it, I can say it was fine.
Frontiers of Pandora takes some of the colonialism story that was set up in the first movie, and expands on it in areas that most people try to forget that we did in our history, the taking of native children and “teaching” them in our own ways, no really look it up America did that during their western expansion. The events of the movie happen, and you and your friends are placed in cyro sleep for 16 and are awakened by a resistance group who are fighting against the RDA, a generic stock evil corporation which is on brand for James Cameron. After a few story missions, a section of the world is yours to explore, and I will say the moment you escape from your human prison and step into the world of Pandora is probably one of the first times I mentally went, “ok this is next-gen”, the way the colors pop and how the art design of the movies is translated perfectly into a game, and it was breathtaking, to say the least.
Then there is the gameplay, and that’s when the Ubisoft trappings start to take effect. Leading up to its release, people started to compare this to the Far Cry games, and I have to disagree; it’s more a kin to one Far Cry game, that being Far Cry Primal, which happens to be the one game in the series I don’t entirely like. Mainly because your primary weapon in this game is a bow and arrow, and you also get a gun but only get ammo from killing humans, but arrows can one-shot nearly all the human enemies, so, what’s the point of guns.
As for the exploration, which I can copy and paste exploration from nearly any other Ubisoft game because that’s what you have here, enemies’ bases, hunting, and collecting a bunch of random objects. There are some unique elements of this game, the main one being you get an Ikran (the flying animal from the movie), which the mission to unlock that was a high point for me because, once again felt like it was ripped right off the movie. The other element being is you have a powerful jump and can climb nearly anything in the world, which allows the world to be more vertical than most open worlds, but also means that the game is kind of irritating when you want to see what you can and can’t jump and grab on to, you know you can’t because the animation won’t trigger and you will fall to your death. You also have upgrades that I took one look at and hardly went back except for the damage upgrades, and crafting, which is exactly how it is Far Cry.
You might think I was disappointed by this game; well, you’re wrong; I enjoyed my time with it. Enough to once again 100% the whole game, and the story gets really good halfway through as it starts to explore aspects of trauma and identity, which I didn’t expect at all. Though it does end anticlimactic with a final mission that I didn’t even know it was the final one, and a credit sequence, and a message that says there’s more to do, so go do it. But the game flow just clicked for me, mainly because I’m a fan of the movies, and I haven’t played an Ubisoft since 2019, so I wasn’t as burned out as I used to be.
So, in the end, should you get this game, yes but when it goes on sale, because the amount of enjoyment you are going to get from this game is how much of an Avatar fan are you. So, if you are, I would recommend this game because you will get enjoyment out of this project. But as for me, despite going in with low expectations, I did enjoy aspects of the game, but I can see why some people would not enjoy this game; maybe I was fandom-blinded throughout most of it, or just it was nice having a game that wasn’t as complex to get through. But if you had any interest in this game, I would give it a shot.
Score: 7 out of 10
Reviewed on Xbox Series X