Developed by Massive Entertainment (The Division series) Frontiers of Pandora is one of the most spectacular open worlds I have ever explored. At every turn, there’s a screenshot-worthy vista, a fun way to parkour to your next waypoint, or plenty of diverse encounters and collectibles to stumble upon. At first glance, it would be easy to label this: “James Cameron’s Far Cry: Blue Edition.” But Frontiers of Pandora (FoP) is so much more than that.
I’ll admit, I’m incredibly surprised by how much I enjoyed this game. Here is our Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Review.
Set in the same timeline as the movies, the story unfolds on the “Western Frontier,” a previously unseen part of Pandora. Players assume the role of a young Na’vi from the Sarentu clan, supposedly wiped out, with the humans rescuing the young Na’vi and placing/raising them in a special project meant to bridge the gap between the Na’vi and humans. As the story progresses, players escape the program with fellow Na’vi, join the human resistance fighters, and confront the RDA. Interactions with other Na’vi clans teach survival skills and offer insights into what it truly means to be Na’vi. While the story is consistent with the Avatar franchise, the captivating open world occasionally overshadowed the overall plot, as by 5 or 6 hours in, I had mostly forgotten what the overall plot was. But it is truly enjoyable existing as a Na’vi and meeting the new clans.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Gameplay
Where to even start with gameplay? The gameplay of Frontiers of Pandora contains a plethora of mechanics that combine to create one of the best sandbox experiences I’ve had in years. Off the bat, players choose between “guided” or “exploration” mode at the game’s outset. While guided provides traditional waypoints for every objective, exploration mode, reminiscent of recent Assassin’s Creed games, offers more nuanced directions, like “east of X lake, past one of the fallen trees.” Opting for exploration mode enhanced my appreciation for the act of exploring Pandora as a unique gameplay mechanic and I recommend playing on exploration mode.
Now let’s talk about the gameplay mechanics. And boy there are a lot.
- Destroying RDA outposts and equipment
- 9 weapons
- Armor and weapon customization
- Skill trees
- Side quests to earn Na’vi clan favor
- Exploration challenges
- Open world activities
- Ikran flying
- Direhorse riding
I think that covers everything, right? All those mechanics seamlessly blend into each other. In Avatar, you stumble onto open-world activities, like stumbling upon plants that give you a health boost, in a more natural way. And getting those collectibles is a blast, thanks to the parkour-style movement system. Navigating through Pandora’s jungles is pure fun—jumping, sliding, and climbing your way around. There are plants scattered around that give you a speed boost, almost challenging you to find the fastest way to your destination. It all becomes second nature as you play, and just moving from point A to point B feels like a mechanic in itself. You might set out to cover a short distance to your next objective, only to realize an hour has passed while sprinting through the woods to snag that health-boosting plant or skill point.
The game boasts 5 skill trees, and while some offer the usual 5% damage boost, others are way more interesting. Have you ever tried a skill that makes your Ikran do a barrel roll to dodge rockets? Plus, you can find special plants in the open world that grant skill points. Also, there are others that bestow unique skills. Picture this: “Press B when you hit the ground to do a roll and slide to negate some fall damage.”
More Than Liberating A Bunch of Outpost
I totally expected this game to be 80% about liberating outposts, but boy, was I wrong. I got lost exploring the world, flying on my Ikron, and, believe it or not, cooking. Yes, cooking. Crafting dishes that give specific bonuses to damage, stealth, speed, and more became a whole game within the game. I’d find myself trying to whip up the perfect dish to help me conquer an outpost. Can you finish the game without cooking? Yeah, but it’ll be way tougher.
Combat in the game really captures the challenge of facing mechs armed only with a bow and arrow. Taking down mechs requires speed and agility—whether you’re doing it at range with a bow or up close, breaking the glass and yanking the driver out. Forget treating this game like a cover shooter; adaptability is key. Regular enemies might seem like cannon fodder, but using a bow remains enjoyable. As you dive deeper into the story, tougher enemies with more armor spice things up.
Fighting the same enemy types throughout the game doesn’t get boring, and you’ve got Na’vi weapons like a spear thrower and a lacrosse stick that throws mines. While you can use human weapons, they’re not as cool, considering your Na’vi can’t aim down sights, so it’s all about hip-firing. But honestly, I rarely found myself reaching for human firearms because the Na’vi weapons were just way more fun.
The outposts are easy to spot with their billowing smoke, and you can tell they’ve messed up the surrounding area. As you approach, all the greenery dies, and you won’t find animals or be able to snag that fruit you need. Liberating an outpost brings nature back to its original beauty—animals and all. When it comes to dealing with outposts, you can go guns blazing or try the stealth route. I usually went for stealth, hacking into mechs to disable them or sneaking in to hack all the objectives without getting spotted, clearing the outpost.
As your adventure unfolds, you collect gear and mods for that gear—armor, weapons, face paint, Ikron harnesses, and whatnot. It’s pretty standard for an open-world RPG, except loot isn’t raining from the sky. You won’t kill a mech and see it drop a blue wristband. Armor is usually crafted or bought with spare parts or clan favors. Finding weapons or armor in crates is a thing, but it’s not an everyday occurrence.
And then there are the side quests, the typical stuff for a game of this caliber. But here, they’re more engaging, partly because of the exploration mechanics and most were multi-part quests that were not fetch quests.
Taking To The Skies Of Pandora
Finally, let’s talk about the Ikran. When you first bond with one, you choose from a list of names like Storm, Katri, and Carol- you know Carol the typical Na’vi name. Flying the Ikran is a breeze and just a joy as you soar above Pandora. The controls feel perfect and flinging yourself off a mountain to be saved by your Ikran swooping in, never gets old.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Audio
The audio experience in FoP is nothing short of incredible. It’s not just good; it’s beautiful, enchanting, and dreamy, with impeccable timing. There were countless moments when I stumbled upon a breathtaking vista, and the music swelled at precisely the right time, enhancing the magic of the scene. The soundtrack perfectly accompanies actions like launching off a cliff, with the music soaring to elevate the experience of the Ikron catching you. Even the ambient noises in the game are phenomenal—you could easily record an ambient chill video from almost anywhere in the game.
The attention to detail extends to the weapons and explosions, which are punchy and weighty. Every arrow shot comes complete with a satisfying “pwoosh,” adding a visceral layer to the gameplay. The voice acting, for the most part, is top-notch, though some of the main voice actors didn’t quite hit the mark. Initially opting for the male voice, I found every line delivered with a sense of panic and breathlessness. Switching to the female option improved things, but occasionally, it felt like she was explaining the menu to elderly diners at a restaurant. Despite these minor quirks, the overall audio experience is truly awesome and adds an extra layer of immersion to the game.
I do need to touch on performance. I have an i5 with a 3070. So nothing crazy beefy but enough to get the job done. Mostly I was able to run the game with most settings at high and got a mostly solid 30-40 fps. On medium settings, the game was an easy 50 – 60fps. During the course of my 50-hour playtime, I had one hard crash. The only issues I encountered were some weirdness with HDR not working properly with the game being overexposed. The other small quibble was there would be times when NPC clothing or armor textures would not load properly. So overall I felt the game was well optimized and performance was much better than I thought it would be.
Overall, I’m still in shock that FoP has the best open worlds I’ve played in a while. This game is absolutely worth your time. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is an absolute triumph and a joy to play. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go paint myself blue.