As I delved into Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, my mind echoed Killscreen’s Fallout 4 review by Chris Breault, where he humorously dubbed it as “Here comes the trashman!” – a sentiment many open-world games tend to evoke. The genre often overwhelms players with clutter, turning exploration into a tedious chore of sifting through heaps of virtual garbage. To my surprise, Frontiers of Pandora breaks this mold, offering a refreshing and endearing take on the open-world concept.
Frontiers smartly sidesteps the pitfalls of excessive clutter by keeping the screen clear, allowing players to savor the breathtaking vistas and intriguing creatures of Pandora. While it incorporates standard open-world elements such as activities and crafting, the game seamlessly integrates them to enhance the overall sense of exploration and discovery, avoiding the overwhelming bombardment of unnecessary details.
Two key factors contribute to the game’s success: its awe-inspiring setting and the unique perspective of its alien protagonist. Set in the lush world of Pandora, the game unfolds across vast landscapes filled with alien flora, glowing creatures, and towering wildlife. The freedom provided by Pandora’s diverse environments, from colorful forests to floating mountains, is nothing short of captivating. The game’s art direction, marked by impossible rock formations and vibrant neon hues, adds an extra layer of vibrancy to the already lush world.
Playing as a Na’vi, one of the towering blue alien inhabitants of Pandora, enhances the experience. The Na’vi’s size and physical prowess grant natural speed and strength, turning the world into a playground for agile exploration. Traversing through massive mushrooms, snaking roots, and retracting vines becomes a thrilling experience, making every forest, mountain, and enemy base an exhilarating playground to navigate.
A Unique Narrative Twist:
Frontiers of Pandora takes place in the same timeline as the movie but on a different continent. The story revolves around the RDA, a colossal Earth corporation invading Pandora for exploitation. Playing as a Na’vi raised by humans, you lead a resistance movement against the invaders, forging alliances with other Na’vi clans. The narrative explores themes of identity, belonging, and colonialism, adding depth to the overall experience.
Combat against technologically superior humans armed with mech suits, assault rifles, and VTOLs is a central aspect. While reminiscent of Ubisoft’s Far Cry series, the game cleverly differentiates itself by emphasizing the Na’vi’s hit-and-run tactics. Your agility becomes a key asset, allowing you to outmaneuver enemies and strike at vulnerable points. The asymmetry in combat, where the Na’vi is outnumbered and outgunned, adds a layer of strategy, making each encounter dynamic and engaging.
Crafting with Purpose:
Crafting plays a significant role in character improvement, focusing less on tedious material collection and more on thoughtful resource management. Weapons and armor are crafted using recipes unlocked from vendors, with each item requiring only two specific ingredients. The quality of the crafted item is determined by the quality of the ingredients, providing a streamlined and meaningful crafting experience.
Frontiers encourages players to interact with Pandora directly, relying on written directions, compasses, and landmarks instead of cluttering the screen with map markers. Na’vi vision, highlighting specific elements in the environment, becomes essential for discoveries. While constantly relying on Na’vi vision may feel like a crutch, it effectively immerses players in the role of a Na’vi, enhancing the overall experience.
Investigations and Minor Hiccups:
The game introduces investigative missions, requiring players to scan clues and draw conclusions. While the idea is intriguing, the execution falls short, often leading to trial-and-error processes. The system’s lack of intuitiveness and its tendency to guide players back to Na’vi vision undercuts the intended sense of skillful tracking.
In the vast landscape of open-world games, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora stands out as a breath of fresh air. With its stunning setting, unique protagonist perspective, engaging combat, and purposeful crafting, it redefines the open-world experience. By encouraging exploration over clutter, the game successfully immerses players in the wonders of Pandora, offering an adventure worth undertaking. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora made me feel like an explorer in a world worth discovering, and I eagerly anticipate my return.