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Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora review: A breathtakingly beautiful world

Avatar - Frontiers of PandoraImage: Avatar

At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

Breathtakingly 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 tribes

Cons

The 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 Verdict

A fantastically beautiful open-world shooter with fascinating races, brilliant gameplay, and lots of ideas, which only allows itself a few blunders in the storytelling.

Best Prices Today: Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

RetailerPriceUbisoft$69.99View DealPrice comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwideProductPricePrice comparison from Backmarket

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Best Prices Today: Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

RetailerPriceUbisoft$69.99View DealPrice comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwideProductPricePrice comparison from Backmarket

Recent stories by Benjamin Kratsch:

Frostpunk 2 preview: Icy survival meets profound societal decisionsSTALKER 2 preview: A cult classic meets Unreal Engine 5Alan Wake 2 review: Horror-psychological thriller as an art house masterpiece

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