Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora
We sit down and review Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora. It is time to head back into Pandora with a new open world. Here is our review of Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora
It has been a year since we last had an entry into the IP, and now we are here to look at Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora. This is the next title out there from Massive Entertainment to take us into the world of Pandora after Ubisoft penned a deal to do so for the massive IP. All with a new open world in the setting so we can head out and live life as one of these big cat people. A fantasy so many gamers out there have all the time. Well, Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora has hit the PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC, so that means it is time for us to dig in and give it a big Na’vi size review. With no more gilding the lily, let us dig into this game and if it will be worth your time and money.
Here we go to enter back into the universe of Avatar. Only this time we are not going at it from the mindset of one of the humans controlling one of the Na’vi clone suits. No, we are one of the natives that have been “abandoned” by our tribe and the humans have graciously taken us in. Only, that is not the case and we are more lab experiments than anything and the events of the first Avatar film help us to break free from all of that so we can set back into our world. A world that we have missed out on for sixteen years, so there is a lot to learn and explore along the way. All as we fight back against the pollution and violence that humans always seem to bring with them.
When one dives into the IP like Avatar, there is a definite color scheme that comes to mind. A lot of blues, whites, and many bold colors to help show off the wonder of this new world. Just as to be expected, this is built into the UI of the game to further drive that home. The only issue with this, though, is that none of these colors work well when trying to quickly convey any information to a user. This is something that Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora seems to have an issue with when it comes to all of the many, many, many menus and screens we have to go through to see or do much of anything when not on the hunt. This issue even carries over into the basic HUD of the game where you can miss mission updates or changes if you are not actively looking for it and have some kind of accessibility option turned on. Something that feels like anyone without any accessibility issues will have to have turned on so they can make heads and tails of the UI of the game. It’s nice to have that included in the game for those who need it, but when the UI and HUD actively create issues where it is needed in general, maybe there is an overhaul that needs to be done.
Moving on. Next, we can get into the controls of Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora. Mostly the same by-the-numbers affair that we get when it comes to first-person shooters out there. Even when being modified to work more with a bow and arrow instead of only assault weapons. It is all fine and dandy until you get to the movement and specifically anything other than running or walking. While it makes sense to have some level of immersion since we are playing as a non-human character, why do we have to go with the jumping and movement abilities of a cat in this game? By that I mean, that some actions take time to build up instead of just happening; like jumping. Each time you have to jump, there is a brief animation as the character squats a bit and then jumps. All to throw off the usual time that we have had over the decades. It fits for an immersion aspect, but when there is platforming and other elements that rely on these to work smoothly, it falls flat and makes the game harder than it needs to be. Especially when some story missions require you to climb tall mountains or trees to get things to progress.
This brings me to my biggest and final main issue with Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora. The game focuses on exploration and the wonder of a new world we are getting to see again. A world that is beautiful and lush, so it would make sense to make exploration a main focus. The game even leans into this by giving you the option to play with hints on or not thing. Even with hints ‘on’, though, there is no real indication or way to differentiate things in the world to work in a gaming sense of things. Most of the different “biomes” all felt the same and I would have to recheck the game map constantly as there was no real way to navigate without it. Even though it was all different, it all felt the same and it was easy to get fully turned around and go the wrong way for quite a while before seeing on the map you have done so. Exploration is a fun thing in video games, but when you do not know if you have to follow a path or start jumping up random mushrooms to get to the next location, it becomes overly frustrating and makes one want to just fast-travel everywhere. Note, it is always weirdly the mushroom path and not the footpath that designers have etched out on the ground…
For all the gripes I have above for Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora, this game is beautiful to look at. Just as the films that inspired it all are. It is a lush new world that you feel like you want to take extra time to look at when you have the open space to do so. You can even see in the below gameplay, when finishing a mission and a massive fight, sometimes it is just awe-inspiring to take in the land around you after you have saved the area or reclaimed it for the tribes. The same thing that James Cameron was doing in the Avatar films comes across here once you can step back and actually take the time to appreciate it. A nice little break when completing the various tasks and missions that also gives some sense of reward once you are able to actually get everything done. Something I wish we could just have the option to free fly around in without all of the other elements of the game pulling us back into. The game is very pretty and feels right at home in the main IP of it all.
Touching on having things to do in Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora, this was originally a gripe I was going to have but after hours of playing around, I grew to love all of the side-content that was in the game. There is a lot. Hunt, gathering, cooking, offering tribute, and many other things are mixed in along with the various missions we have to partake in. The usual things that feel like they are in to help bloat a game and add unneeded grinding. Sure, that is slightly the case in Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora, but then I realized I was enjoying the various harvesting mini-games that play like lockpicking games. I was also loving going out and hunting down the various creatures of the world so I could make a new meal to keep my stamina up. Little touches that helped immerse me in the world more and gave me those distractions when I started to get upset by not finding the next mission location. Even the Batman-like investigations and hacking games were fun to find and play with in the game. A solid break from hunting down the humans and stopping their polluting ways on the planet.
Lastly, the main characters we get to interact with in the game were always a delight and made the world of Avatar pop just a bit more for me. These are the characters that we technically start the game with and then “grow up” with as the opening events unfold. No spoilers for anything beyond that. But, they were all so well written and felt like they had their own personalities when many of the other NPCs in the game were mostly the same carbon copies we get in open-world exploration games. These felt like characters that should have normally only been in cutscenes but always kept their full personalities when talking to them with the general text options too. Not once did I feel like I needed to skip a dialog with them as they felt “real” and not just a bot telling me to go to “Place A” or collect “Item Z” so I could do some arbitrary thing in the world. Many games can take this and try to learn from it so we can have basic interactions that still feel genuine while still being a base NPC.
At the end of the day, if you are a fan of the Avatar IP and want to see a new side of the story and explore the world you have only had a few hours with when it comes to the films, this is going to be a title you want to pick up. There is a lot to do in this version of Pandora and things to keep you engaged while you wander about this new world. Those that are coming in and hoping that it is like a Far Cry game but with big blue cat people, you might be better off modding those other shooter games. Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora has all of those elements that make a good first-person open-world game, but if you are not invested in the IP, there are many faults or design choices that will make upset you instead of engage you. Unless you are into having a new harvesting and cooking simulation game and want to ignore all of the shooting and such. Then you will be able to find hours of entertainment while looking at some amazing landscapes. Something you will have to do for hours as you try to explore as best as you can.
I give Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora 78 Fortune’s Fruit on the Fortune’s Fruit scale.
Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora was developed by Massive Entertainment and published by Ubisoft for the PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on December 7th, 2023. A PlayStation copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.