Announced during the recent Ubisoft Forward presentation, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora has received a release date of 7 December, accompanied by an action-packed trailer and a more in-depth gameplay overview video. Boasting some genuinely impressive-looking environmental design and animations delivered from a primarily first-person perspective, the title sees players journey through previously unseen regions of Pandora solo or with exactly one friend through online co-op. Here’s a quick breakdown of the game’s story and gameplay.
Kidnapped as a child by the RDA, our Na’vi protagonist awakens from their cryogenically induced sleep fifteen years later, after the organisation’s nefarious indoctrination agenda is forcibly interrupted. To bring the RDA to their knees and exact sweet, sweet vengeance upon them for what they did to you and many of your kind, you’ll have to brave the surrounding landscapes and recruit as many like-minded Na’vi clans to your cause as possible.
This may be easier said than done. One of the unfortunate side effects of being snatched away from everything you hold dear at such a young age by humans is the lack of belonging amongst your fellow Na’vi communities. Players will have to establish bonds with these groups if they want to stand any chance at accomplishing their long-term goal. Thankfully, after bonding with your very own ikran (the rideable flying dinosaur-looking creatures), tracking down your allies and foes, as well as navigating the beautiful geography of Pandora, becomes a considerably more pleasant experience.
It seems that developers Massive Entertainment are really encouraging players to become as close as possible with their flying mounts, with the ability to name your companion and fully customise their appearance being brought up in the gameplay overview. Land mounts, like direhorses, are also present for those absolutely terrified of heights. It appears that all sentient modes of transport utilise a third-person camera, as opposed to the first-person exploratory perspective used for terrain navigation and tree parkour.
As you’re convincing clans that the RDA is a serious problem, with their atmospheric pollution and copious poaching of the local wildlife, seize every opportunity to bring down their facilities. This is where your forced human behavioural brainwashing comes in handy, as you’ll be able to use their own weaponry against them in conjunction with traditional Na’vi warfare tactics – switching from powerful bow to explosive shotgun in the blink of an eye.
If that wasn’t enough of an advantage against your adversaries, your inherent ability to analyse the field of battle and take note of where enemies are situated or what objects can be exploited is an excellent strategic asset. If the threat hails from the skies above, call your ikran and bring the human machinery down to the surface of Pandora through aerial combat.
The gameplay overview video implies that every time you destroy an RDA facility, the surrounding nearby nature is brought back to life thanks to the reduced amount of pollution. Crafting materials can then be harvested, securing supplies for new weaponry and ingredients for tasty meals. As for acquiring new skills and abilities, you’ll have to directly commune with Eywa by connecting yourself to the Tarsyu plant. All upgrade options will then appear for your intense perusal.
Ending the overview footage with emphasis on how Frontiers of Pandora capitalises on the powerful technology within current-gen consoles and high-end PCs makes complete sense, considering the visuals on display throughout the feature. It’s almost a reassurance that what you’re seeing is actually as good as it appears to be. Of course, it remains to be seen how the actual minute to minute gameplay fares, stunning Pandora vistas aside. As long as all systems are delivered upon, it goes without saying that fans of James Cameron’s Avatar franchise and universe are certainly in for a treat with this one.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora launches on 7 December 2023 for PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.
Written by Ryan Pretorius