Skip to content

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Review

After years of dormant slumber, the Avatar universe is very much alive now. Following the second movie from last year, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora lets us finally explore Pandora ourselves. It feels like a seamless transition from the movie screen into the game setting, as the vibrant world is yours to explore. Read our Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora review to find out if it’s a must play.

Back to Pandora

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora takes us back to its titular world. It takes place in between the first and second movies. 15 years after the original game and about one year before the second movie. You could see it as a prequel to the second movie, whoever it’s mostly a stand alone story. You are a Na’vi orphan who’s been mostly raised by humans of the RDA. When things go south for the RDA and a fight breaks out with resistance Na’vi factions, you go free into the world of Pandora.

Having spent the past 15 years (and most of its life) in captivity, storywise the main character has to explore Pandora’s secrets from scratch. Just like you. It’s a good story hook to explain why the entire world is new and a mystery to you. The majority of the story dives into the conflic between the RDA and the Na’vi, expanding on the overarching setting from the movies. Over the course of the game, your character learns to reconnect with nature and his Na’vi heritage. The story isn’t groundbreaking but managed to keep my attention throughout the game. 

When people think about the Avatar movies, probably the first thing that comes to mind is its gorgeous world and setting. Be assured, this applies to the game too. As soon as I stepped into the world, a desire to explore washed over me. It’s a real jungle out there and probably the densest rain forest I’ve ever seen in a game. One thing I enjoyed was that it truly felt like a wilderness. The map wasn’t filled with points of interest, outposts and enemies. There was just a whole lot of nature. And due to great traversal mechanics this didn’t feel boring but just right.

Not just another Far Cry

Before I started playing Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, I expected this game to be Far Cry: Avatar. In a sense, I wasn’t wrong. But it wouldn’t do the game justice to simply call it that, because it’s more of an improvement on the classic Far Cry formulae than its recent mainline game Far Cry 6. Yes, it is a first person shooter with an open world. Where you go around collecting stuff, doing main and side missions and so on. But a lot of thought has been put in how it should translate to an Avatar setting.

First off, an important part of the Na’Vi is that they’re very in tune with nature and a lot bigger and more physical than humans. This translates well to the game, as you are a lot bigger than humans and their structures. You’re also much more agile, making traversal mechanics important. As you gain a feel for the way to move your character, going about the game world feels great. You can jump and move along the canopy’s branches and use big leaves on trees to break your fall. This sounds minor but is actually a big deal because it changes the way you approach the open world. And it really fits the Na’vi well.

A better open world

While the open world isn’t as dense as the usual Ubisoft open worlds, there’s still plenty to do. In fact, I’d say it’s just right and should be the new norm. There’s still plenty of collectibles, resources to gather, outposts to free and side quests though, so no worries. Additionally, there’s an option to go for guided exploration or pure exploration. What this means is that in the former you have a marker on your map and the latter makes you only navigate based on clues. I highly recommend the latest setting, as it promotes exploration. Sometimes you’ll get stuck or spent a lot of time exploring, but this sometimes leads to pleasant surprises you otherwise would have missed.

Combat in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is mostly done using bow and arrow. At the start anyway. Later, you’ll get access to human weapons such as assault rifles and shotguns. But the bow is the weapon of choice. I found combat one of the weakest points in the game. Mainly because I expect, when using a bow, I could stealthily snipe enemies. There’s no such thing though. As soon as you start hitting enemies with your arrows, everyone is on alert. The only way to stealth is by sneaking up to them and knocking them out. Which is kind of hard considering you’re almost twice their size. This seems pretty weird, as you would expect stealth to be the way to go for Na’vi.

Swarms

Health also tends to run out pretty quickly if you get swarmed. It’s critical to take out enemies really fast. Regular humans aren’t much of a problem, but their AMP suits (which make them your size and look like mechs) are much harder to defeat. It takes multiple arrows or hits specific weak spots. The problem the game has in terms of combat, is that combat difficulty relies on enemy numbers. I often found, especially during outposts, that reinforcements kept pouring in and that was what the difficulty was based on. An unfun experience most of the time.

You can find various weapons and armor in the world by completing quests, crafting or buying them from merchants. Every equipable item can also be modified with mods. These mods increase your effectiveness against specific enemies, your stealth or any of the other attributes. You can find resources to craft from plants, wildlife or chests (baskets) throughout the game. Every item has a certain bandwidth of potential power, leaving some variation of craftable items.

Unique gathering mechanics

Crafting in the game has some interesting mechanics, but this is mostly thanks to the Avatar: Frontier of Pandora’s gathering mechanics. Because this is where the crafting loop shines. Every animal or plant in the game that can be gathered from has certain conditions in order to get pristine ingredients. This applies to the way an animal is killed or the climate in terms of plants. Rain during the day is the perfect time to pick specific plants. Dry and clear nights are top conditions for others. And with a dynamic day and night cycle complete with its own weather system this means you need to pick your moment for gathering runs. The better your ingredients, the better your stats on crafted items. This simple but great mechanics is something that survival games would greatly benefit from and I hope game developers take notes!

Traversing on foot in the open world is already pretty great. However, sometimes you’ll need to cross great distances. And what’s better than to mount up? I have good news for you. There are two mounts in the game, one for land (the Direhorse) and one for the sky (the Ikran). The Ikran is absolutely spectacular. Exploring the rain forest is amazing. But once you can take to the skies, it’s an entirely different world. It looks and feels exactly like it does in the second movie. The trees are very high, there are floating islands in the sky and whooshing through the treetops and canyons is extremely satisfying. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I even spent some time simply flying through the game world.

The more, the merrier

One of the cooler aspects of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is that you can play a huge part of the game together with a friend. After the first few missions, you get the option to play the entire game together in co-op. It’s great if you find combat to be a little tough at times and simply exploring the game world together is a lot of fun. If you have a friend that plans to play through the game, be sure to play this together!

In terms of graphics, the world of Pandora is one of the most beautiful game worlds of all time hands down. There’s a lot of vibrant colors and it takes after the movies expertly. There’s a ton of flora and fauna which is unique and the various biomes both seem recognizable but alien. I did personally feel a bit nauseous after an hour of playing at times, possibly due to the color patterns. However there’s a ton of accessibility options to adjust your experience.

In terms of sound, the audio design team has done a good job. There’s serene background themes during exploration and upbeat tracks for combat scenarios. Additionally, the dialogue contains a lot of “Na’vi” words with their own pronunciation, which is very well done! It really adds to the atmosphere.

Conclusion

While I thought Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora would be ‘just’ another Far Cry reskin, I was very wrong. Of course it shares a lot of similarities. But it’s more like Far Cry: Primal than mainline Far Cry titles. It also innovates in interesting ways that I didn’t expect. With an absolutely beautiful open world, spending your hours in this game world is both relaxing and satisfying. While the combat gameplay could’ve been improved upon and isn’t it’s strong suit, I definitely do recommend gamers to at least try Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.

Pros:

  • Amazing game world
  • Good balance in terms of activities
  • Interesting gathering and weather mechanics

Cons:

  • Combat focuses too much on enemy numbers
  • Stealth gameplay isn’t very viable

Grade: 8,5

That was it for our Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Review. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is available through Amazon Luna and GeForce Now. Be sure to follow us on Twitter right here.