Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Hands-on Preview – A Gorgeous Alien World

Our hands-on preview of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora takes us on a stunning adventure across floating mountains.

Image via Ubisoft

James Cameron’s Avatar series has solidified itself as one of the top movie franchises today. Sitting respectively in the first and third position for top-grossing films of all time, Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water earned over $5bn worldwide during its impressive cinema run.

There are a lot of people excited about the Avatar series, and as the universe expands into other media, it’ll allow those people to invest themselves further into the world Cameron and his team have crafted. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is a game that I’ve been hanging out for. From the teasers released to this point, it looked like a Far Cry-style game but set in the world of Pandora – which I’m all about. Also, the game is being developed by Massive Entertainment and the creative director behind Tom Clancy’s The Division, a series I’ve had a blast playing over the years.

Ubisoft recently invited me to a hands-on preview of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, where I got to explore the gorgeous world of Pandora, tame a wild Ikran while climbing up an enormous floating mountain, and infiltrate a fortified RDA facility.

Going On An Adventure With My Best Friend Carol

Image via Ubisoft

When I sat down and started moving around on the ground amongst flora and fauna in Avatar: Frontier of Pandora, my first thought was, ‘Wow.’ It’s a beautiful-looking world that Massive Entertainment has managed to bring to life and capture the memorable look of those films. As you walk around, the Helicoradian plants retract and hide back in the ground as they detect your presence. Some plants can be harvested for their materials and used in crafting, and depending on the weather conditions and your harvesting technique, it can alter their overall quality. You’re able to use a Navi Sense to scan the environment and learn more about the life surrounding you by viewing the Hunter’s Guide, which will provide additional information related to the wildlife or the region.

For my first task, I was looking for Mangrove Nectar needed for a ritual. Using the Hunter’s Guide, I could pin the Nectar as something I was interested in foraging for and read up about where it’s most commonly found. I headed to that region of the map after wading through a river that separated the area. Following a little while of searching, I ascended a Life Vine plant to discover the Mangrove Nectar attached to the side of a tree. Night had begun to slowly settle in as I grabbed the Nectar, and the environment surrounding me lit up in fluorescent colors. It was another way for Frontiers of Pandora to show off its impressive looks.

In the interest of time, we jumped forward a little bit to a point where I needed to get my own flying companion, an Ikran. For this bit, I needed to climb a floating mountain – which roughly took around 15 minutes. This section was the highlight of my hands-on experience. Again, this whole part was stunning. Everything felt very natural as I ascended. There weren’t any brightly colored environmental objects or parts of the world that screamed out to me ‘climb here’. The game just seemed like it was doing a great job of guiding me in the right direction without slapping me over the face with it. I appreciated that.

Once I reached the pinnacle and tamed the wild Ikran, I was allowed to name it from a few predetermined choices. Temek, Nimun, Katri, and Amay were some of the names presented to me. But no, none of those names would suffice. My Ikran would be called Carol, and Carol was glorious.

Carol and I set off to the skies as I got familiar with the mechanics of flying. We went to seek out some RDA aerial devices not too far away that I needed to be hacked and destroyed. This showed off some of the aerial combat but was basic at this stage of the game and not much of a challenge. What was a challenge, however, was me trying to land. At one point, I pancaked and killed myself. That’s okay, though; Carol and I will work on that one.

Image via Ubisoft

From here, we made our way to an RDA Outpost. My goal at this location was to shut down some drilling equipment, power off a generator, and close a water cooling pipe. Because the base was crawling with enemies, I decided to have a go at whittling down their numbers by using a stealth approach. My character was outfitted with a few different bow and arrow options, and it’s a gear-based system that allows you to interchange loot as you discover or craft more throughout your journey.

I gradually made my way through the base, silently taking out each foe as the rain grew heavier. The bigger problem, though, was the AMP suits walking around on patrol. These mech-like exoskeleton enemies looked like they packed a punch and were going to provide the RDA with some additional support should things get hot. In the interest of checking out some of the other mechanics, I decided to go loud toward the end and use an assault rifle that was also in my loadout.

At this point, an alarm went off as the base went on full alert. Reinforcements were eventually called in as an aerial dropship descended from the sky and offloaded more enemies for me to deal with. Using the tools in my arsenal, I swiftly overpowered the remaining RDA forces. Carol met me on the roof for a pickup as we flew back to the Hometree, patting ourselves on the back for a job well done.


Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is checking all the boxes that I wanted it to when I initially saw the announcement. It feels like it shares some of the elements we’ve seen from the latest iterations of other Ubisoft titles like Far Cry, but it is also putting its own spin on the formula. This game is definitely worth keeping an eye on. It’s not one I’ve heard a lot of buzz about leading up to the end of this year, but for those looking to get lost in the world of Pandora, there will be plenty of places to explore as you drag your jaw behind you in awe of this world’s stunning beauty and landscapes.