Great AAA Ubisoft Game?
The first-person gameplay leads to exciting parkour, but the combat and core gameplay loop can feel a bit too familiar. Pandora is vast, beautiful, and immediately immersive, becoming one of the highlights of the experience. The narrative itself isn’t too memorable, but the life of Pandora invites exploration.
Story - 7/10
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics & Performance - 8/10
Soundtrack & Audio - 9/10
- Immersive and ties into the gameplay
- The movement system works well
- Moment-to-moment combat is snappy and feels good
- The open world is still quite formulaic
- The Far Cry comparisons are not entirely wrong
The Avatar franchise has long been a juggernaut in the film industry. Introducing millions to groundbreaking visual effects and 3D technology, it became a household name in no time. Last year, James Cameron debuted Avatar: The Way of Water, signaling that this franchise had returned to glory.
Adding to this resurgence, Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment are bringing Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora to mark the first major AAA gaming release for this franchise, promising to set players free in the world of Pandora. As a separate entity, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is welcoming to new and familiar fans alike.
However, does this choice pay off? Does the game live up to its promise of the ultimate Avatar fantasy?
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora does not have the most complex or nuanced narrative. It begins with a simple premise- push back against the RDA and reclaim Pandora. The game starts with a short prologue, showing young Na’vi members enrolled in The Ambassador Program.
These Na’vi, while belonging to the Sarentu clan, were kept in captivity for many years, being unable to learn the skillset of their ancestors. Following a series of events, the players can escape from the RDA and eventually join their own people in Pandora.
Since the game is so focused on the player experience, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora features a fairly basic character creation. Players can customize their facial features and body type and pick from a few voice options. The first venture into Pandora sets players on a course to liberate the Na’vi home from the RDA while gathering the various clans of this continent for the Resistance.
Na’vi Clans Are The Life of Pandora
Unlike the films, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora explores the Western frontier, and with this new location come clans that portray their own cultural values and traditions. While the playable character belongs to the nearly extinct Sarentu clan, the Aranahe, the Zeswa, and the Kame’Tire clans are the major inhabitants of this region.
Each clan lives in a different part of Pandora and helps bring a lot of personality to the open world. For example, the Aranahe can be found in the lush Kinglar forest and consists of mostly passive Na’vi. They are contrasted by the Zeswa, a clan of passionate and strong warriors.
Over my nearly 20 hours with the main narrative, the game introduced these natives at a consistent pace, making it exciting to discover the different lifestyles of this race.
The Open World Has Many Stories To Tell
One of the strongest parts of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is the open world. Consisting of dense foliage, vibrant colors, and diverse life scattered all over the map, Pandora is a joy to explore.
Massive Entertainment went the extra mile and ensured that Pandora is more than just a backdrop for players as they traverse from one point to another. Through deliberate choices like a mini-game to gather items, various vines scattered to reach higher ground, and bounce pad plants, players can interact with this world in multiple ways.
From the lush Kinglar forest to the melancholic Zakru graveyard, Pandora also features numerous locations that evoke different emotions. All of this is brought together by incredible current-gen visuals powered by the Snowdrop Engine. Like other open-world games, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is filled with random character encounters.
These Na’vi will often offer crucial items or become the catalyst for the numerous side quests littered throughout Pandora.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is all about overthrowing the RDA as part of The Resistance. Therefore, the main gameplay loop revolves around combat, parkour, and hinting for items. If this sounds similar to another famous Ubisoft IP, I don’t blame you.
Even before release, the game had begun to earn comparisons with Far Cry, and this was already brought up in the game’s early previews, but more on that later.
The First-Person Perspective Works Surprisingly Well
Before release, there were concerns about Massive Entertainment’s decision to portray the Avatar universe from a first-person perspective. For a franchise about 9 feet tall creatures navigating complex environments and soaring through the skies, many believed that a third-person camera would have been a better fit.
However, the developers were adamant that this choice would aid immersion, and I have been pleasantly surprised. As mentioned earlier, Pandora is front and center to Massive Entertainment’s Avatar experience, and one reason for its prevalence throughout the game is this camera perspective.
First-person gameplay also opens up exciting traversal options for the game, allowing players to use the well-crafted level design to swiftly move from one location to another. Combining carefully laid out vines for ascent and descent, flora that provides properties like a speed boost and a bounce, and a mantling system that allows the playable Na’vi to extend for objects just out of reach, the traversal is incredibly engaging.
The Far Cry Comparisons
Like Far Cry, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora focuses on collecting material, crafting equipment, liberating bases, and more. The game’s general structure follows Ubisoft’s open-world design quite closely, so the game does not feel too far from a Far Cry title.
All over Pandora, the RDA has set up bases. These can range from mines to extractor plants, which pollute the natural beauty of Pandora. For Far Cry fans, this part of the game will be instantly familiar. Crafting and cooking are crucial parts of the experience.
Food, in particular, is important to the overall gameplay since Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora features an energy meter in addition to the health bar. This meter can be replenished by eating fruits or meat. Speaking of meat, like Far Cry, hunting plays a major role in the game since it provides important raw materials for crafting exquisite items like new gear.
However, the Na’vi abilities help the game differentiate itself. The combat arsenal ranges from traditional Na’vi weapons like different variations of bows to a staff sling and RDA weapons like the SKEL M-69 AR and the RPG. Players can also take the stealth approach since beating all the enemies is not the goal of completing these RDA bases.
Apart from these massive challenges, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora offers other activities like Field Labs, Tarsyu Flowers, and Memory Paintings to discover. This expansive arsenal results in an impressive combat system. While the game won’t shock anybody familiar with first-person shooters, the combat is responsive and plays quite well.
Massive Entertainment has also confirmed 60 FPS gameplay for consoles, so the game should play well on all platforms. While all of this might sound a lot like past Far Cry games, the game has enough to keep players hooked for several hours.
Take Flight With Your Ikran
This was easily my favorite part of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. While on-foot traversal was far from mundane, getting an Ikran added a new flair to the whole game.
The build-up to gaining our companion also made for one of the best quests in the game. To gain a partner that can take to the skies instantly, players are forced to climb the rookery. This quest is uplifted by a grand soundtrack and the thrill of slowly progressing toward our Ikran.
Once completed, players can immediately cover long distances with the help of their companion. Flight in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora feels liberating and thrilling. It also adds a new layer to the game’s combat, allowing players to tackle RDA bases in their preferred way.
Graphics And Performance
As expected of a current-gen-only title, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora does not disappoint in the visuals department. From the beginning, it is clear that immense care was put into the open world, resulting in gorgeous environments that encourage players to pause and take in the sights of this colorful world.
However, these visuals do not come without a cost. For this review, the game was played on two different PC configurations. On the budget build, my GeForce RTX 3060 struggled to keep up with the game. Ray tracing is quite prominently featured in the title, with Massive Entertainment using this technology for ray-traced reflections and shadows.
However, unlike most games, settings like Diffuse Reflections and Specular Reflections cannot be turned off. This, in addition to the game’s already demanding nature, means that budget builds will struggle to hold a steady 60FPS without significant compromises.
Using DLSS Quality with a mixture of mostly Low and Medium settings at 1080p, the GeForce RTX 3060 delivered an average above 60FPS when combined with an Intel Core i5 12400. However, in real-time gameplay, the frame rate often fell below 60FPS during intense effects like smoke and explosions.
On the other hand, the GeForce RTX 4090 and an Intel Core i7-13700K easily averaged over 140FPS with all settings maxed out at 3440x1440p resolution. This was the build used for most of the gameplay, and it worked quite well.
Test Build Specifications
- Intel Core i7-13700k
- GeForce RTX 4090 Gaming OC
- ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 360
- Teamgroup T-Create Expert 48GB DDR5-7200 C34
- Kingston Fury Renegade 2TB NVMe SSD
- Samsung Odyssey G8 OLED 3440 x 1440 175Hz
These results are not too surprising for a current-gen game with rich visuals. However, parts of the game, like the less important NPCs, can look quite inconsistent. While the Na’vi characters are detailed, human character models appear dated in this beautiful game.
Soundtrack & Audio
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora has an energetic soundtrack that perfectly captures different moments in the game. The biggest moments are elevated by a grand orchestra that brings players into the experience. On the other hand, the slower parts are captured through tracks that build up to these grand moments.
With a variety of wildlife, nature has its own part to play in the audio. Galloping Direhorses, roaring Hammerheads, and more ensure that players always stay on edge and feel connected to this Eywa, the driving force of this universe. Overall, Massive Entertainment nailed the soundtrack and audio design.
With these strengths, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is not only a great game for existing fans, but it also serves as a great entry point for newcomers.
Collaborating closely with Lightstorm Entertainment has allowed the developers to produce a world that feels authentic to the Avatar universe and captures its unique life quite well. While the gameplay experience might be marred by a lingering feeling of familiarity at times, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is worth picking up for those intrigued by the gameplay and trailers shown so far.
Thank you! Please share your positive feedback. 🔋
How could we improve this post? Please Help us. 😔
Sajjad Hussain is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tech4Gamers.com. Apart from the Tech and Gaming scene, Sajjad is a Seasonal banker who has delivered multi-million dollar projects as an IT Project Manager and works as a freelancer to provide professional services to corporate giants and emerging startups in the IT space.
Majored in Computer Science
13+ years of Experience as a PC Hardware Reviewer.
8+ years of Experience as an IT Project Manager in the Corporate Sector.
Certified in Google IT Support Specialization.
Admin of PPG, the largest local Community of gamers with 130k+ members.
Sajjad is a passionate and knowledgeable individual with many skills and experience in the tech industry and the gaming community. He is committed to providing honest, in-depth product reviews and analysis and building and maintaining a strong gaming community.