Far Cry: New Dawn pulls double duty, serving as both a sequel to last year’s Far Cry 5 and a brand new standalone adventure in Ubisoft’s sandbox series. As the former, it returns fans to fictional Hope County, Montana, albeit 17 years after cult leader Joseph Seed’s apocalyptic prophecy came true. As the latter, however, it presents a fresh tale, supported by a number of new characters, gameplay elements, and franchise-evolving features.

Whether you watched the bombs drop in Far Cry 5 or you’ve never set foot in Hope County, here’s five  features you’ll love in Far Cry: New Dawn.

Pretty Apocalypse

Forgoing the familiar gray and brown hues that typically paint post-apocalyptic worlds, New Dawn  favors a more vibrant color palette. According to the fiction, nuclear winter has come and gone, allowing nature to reclaim the world with plenty of lush foliage, pretty flowers, and other eye-popping environmental touches. The appealing visual presentation extends to your arsenal as well, although for entirely different reasons; because weapons and gear are so scarce in this new world, everything has a cool, cobbled-together look, not unlike the detailed makeshift death-dealers of the Metro series.

Whole New Worlds

Much of New Dawn unfolds in a transformed Hope County, but many of the game’s best missions actually take place way off the beaten path. Dubbed “Expeditions,” these objectives see players boarding a chopper to gather valuable resources in new locales, such as a rundown amusement park in Louisiana’s swampland, a derelict aircraft carrier, and even Alcatraz Prison. On top of offering fresh sights and threats – like Louisiana’s snapping  crocodiles – these missions provide a pulse-pounding risk-reward dynamic, as players must get in, gather the goods, and get out fast. These world-expanding quests can be conquered solo, but tackling them with a co-op teammate injects a nice strategic element.

Fresh Foes

The crazed cultists of Far Cry 5 have been replaced by the Highwaymen, a new antagonist faction hell-bent on ruling what’s left of Hope County. Dressed in motocross gear – complete with helmets adorned with animal remains – the group looks appropriately menacing. Beyond their frightening facade, however, the Highwaymen offer a bigger threat in that they come in different difficulty tiers. While there’s plenty of bullet fodder to introduce to the business end of your saw-blade launcher – New Dawn‘s best weapon! –  larger, armored enemies won’t go down so easily. Of course, this doesn’t even account for the Highwaymen’s leaders, sadistic twin sisters Mickey and Lou, who bring their own dangerous dynamic to battle.

Familiar Faces and Places

New Dawn’s post-apocalyptic take on Hope County provides plenty of fresh faces and places to interact with, but many of your coolest encounters and discoveries will include call-backs to Far Cry 5. John Seed’s sprawling ranch from the previous game, for example, now serves as your modest base camp, where you’ll craft, upgrade, and heal. Additionally, returning favorite characters, like Pastor Jerome and Hurk, are older but no less eager to fight by your side. Subtler references, such as one of your new allies being Nick and Kim Rye’s daughter – born in Far Cry 5 – offer some nice fan service.

Awesome Allies

New Dawn brings back Far Cry 5‘s Guns and Fangs for Hire feature, but adds some interesting new characters to your roster. Among the fresh recruits are Nana, a sharp-tongued senior citizen sniper, and Horatio, a wild boar who likes to have his snout caressed when he’s not mauling multiple enemies at once. Best of all, dog companions are no longer left in the dust when you commander a vehicle, so new canine pal Timber can ride shotgun with you across the wasteland.

Because New Dawn isn’t the next mainline, numbered entry in the series, it also comes in at a budget price ($39.99.) Of course, if you prefer to preview the post-apocalypse, you can also try it at Redbox – at $7 for three nights – before diving into the deep end of the dystopia.

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