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Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Review for PlayStation 5

Game adaptations of film intellectual properties used to be rather common in this medium, but after countless years of lackluster installments (probably due to quick turnaround time) that fad finally died out and they became few and far between. Mostly now when it’s done, they’re often quite better than expected, the most recent example being “RoboCop: Rogue City” (check out my review HERE). Next up we got Ubisoft tackling James Cameron’s “Avatar” franchise. While this game was announced many years ago in a period where “Avatar” felt like it wasn’t even in the cultural zeitgeist anymore, luckily this game took so long that it only came out a single year after the second “Avatar” film release. It only took thirteen years for us to get a sequel, it’s unfortunate we didn’t get this new game “Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora” last year to fully capitalize on the hype. So, does “Frontiers of Pandora” live up to the franchise? There’s a bit to unpack here, let’s get started.

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Review for PlayStation 5

Massive Entertainment, the team behind the “Tom Clancy’s The Division” series tackled this game, and right off the bat, it’s easy to tell that the game is quite beautiful to look at. They’ve captured the magic of the world of Pandora extremely well. While as a modern video game, it looks amazing, it’s tough not to compare it to the films, which are historic technological achievements in their own league, which sadly this game still cannot keep up with. The story is a quite interesting set up, taking place before the events of the films, where the humans set up an Ambassador Program, which entails a handful of young Na’vi children being abducted when they were very young to learn the ways of the humans. After being put in cryogenic suspension for over a decade you are rescued by a resistance tribe of Na’vi, and now as an adult it’s time for you to learn the ways of the Na’vi and realize the truth of your past and take down the humans. It’s a pretty good plot for a game that needs to stay off the hinges of what James Cameron is doing with the main story. Unfortunately, not much else is done with the plot, it’s rather paper thin and many of the events that happen in the game feels like a retelling or re-imagining of sequences we experienced in the movies.

What makes things worse is the very familiar gameplay. This very much feels like a Ubisoft “FarCry” game with an Avatar skin put on top of it. While I very much love the FarCry titles for what they are, it’s just getting to that boiling point of this is too much. The gameplay loop itself also gets very stale rather quickly. Essentially, you are just taking out human base after human base and taking back territory. You do have the ability to focus your attention on the training you were given with the humans and use their futuristic weaponry, or you can focus on the Na’vi weapons such as the bow and arrow. The game does a great job of making you feel like you are a Na’vi, even with your size, since they’re typically much taller than humans, it certainly shows you are a much bigger force than they are. What is extra frustrating is the leveling system really forces you to scrounge for items to craft and upgrade, your level is only as good as the gear you have on, so if you’re not high enough of a level you can quickly get one-shot killed by the humans. I really wish this mechanic had more thought put into it.

So, while the progression system is very unfulfilling, and the gameplay just gets repetitive to a nauseating degree, it’s hard to deny that I enjoy the FarCry-like gameplay and the world of Avatar. While it’s by no means a great game that is easy to recommend, there is a part of me that enjoys turning my brain off and having fun roaming around such a lush world. It is a bummer that this is what the final product is, but it could be a lot worse, it’s certainly not as bad as the games we used to get.


Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is now available worldwide on Ubisoft+, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Amazon Luna and PC through Ubisoft Connect. For more information, visit HERE

Related: Nick Navarro Reviews

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Gaming since I was given an original Nintendo as a kid. I love great storytelling and unique ingenuity. When both collide in a single game, I'm a happy gamer. Twitter/IG @NickNavarro87