Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora Review - The Good Blue Man Group
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Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora Review - The Good Blue Man Group

Before starting Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, I was reminded of what I think of when considering any open-world game: Killscreen's review of Fallout 4 by Chris Breault, and the opening line, "Here comes the trashman!" Breault discusses an experience of constantly picking up and covering yourself in the garbage scattered around that game's massive world. It's a description that feels highly applicable to most open-world games--huge, but full of refuse that you spend endless hours picking through and carting around, only to replace it with newer, better garbage. Most open-world games are too concerned with filling their worlds, both literally and metaphorically, with a deluge of needless stuff, and it’s why I find the genre can be off-putting.

It's the fear of that torrent of trash that made Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora surprisingly refreshing and also endearing. Frontiers pushes aside some of the concerns about sifting through heaps of junk and clearing incessant icons from your HUD by keeping your screen clear so you can appreciate its gorgeous vistas and strange creatures, thus encouraging you to take in and understand the world around you. Though it still has a lot of open-world staples, like numerous activities and an expansive crafting system, it manages to incorporate them as systems that enhance an overarching feeling of exploration and discovery, and it never bombards you with them. These elements feel like they're meant to help you experience the world itself, instead of just filling it up with more litter.

Two things make Frontiers of Pandora work: its incredible setting and its alien protagonist. I've never had much more than a passing interest in the Avatar films, but Pandora, the lush alien world on which they take place, is an outstanding location to set a video game. It's an enormous and strange place, filled with alien plants, creatures that glow in darkness, and wildlife that towers over the landscape.

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