I am beginning to think that Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, has been mightily screwed over. The Ubisoft game from Division developer Mssive is effectively the last big release of 2023, and yet it’s one that has been almost entirely ignored among a sea of other games in a legendary year for quality offerings.
The game debuted with rather low critic scores. The main review platform, PC, has the game at just a 72 metascore, which in the context of the larger industry, is pretty poor, and puts it in the bottom half of games released this year. At launch, I remarked that it had come in as the 193rd best reviewed PC game of the year. Not good.
However, something a bit unusual has happened since release. The gamers that have actually played it, seem to like it quite a bit. I keep hearing it described as “Avatar Far Cry, but better” in addition to people raving about just how gorgeous it looks on max settings.
As it turns out, the numbers bear out this claim. From what I can tell, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora has the highest user scores of any mainline Ubisoft franchise in many years, which includes the likes of Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs and The Division. It’s also a rare case where unlike most of those games, user scores are higher than critic scores. Significantly higher, and in general in the industry, most of the time you will find user scores a good deal below critic scores on Metacritic. But look at this:
- Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora: 8.2/10
- Assassin’s Creed Mirage: 7.4/10
- Far Cry 6: 5.2/10
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: 7.2/10
- Watch Dogs Legion: 6.2/10
- The Division 2: 6.2/10
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: 6.6/10
- Far Cry 5: 7/10
- Assassin’s Creed Origins: 7.3/10
- Watch Dogs 2: 7.7/10
- Far Cry 4: 7.7/10
I am…genuinely impressed? Like impressed enough to actually spend $70 on this to check it out myself when I wasn’t planning on it before. At least after I’m done with God of War: Valhalla.
So what happened here? Bad release date. You don’t really want to come out in the crowded holiday season right around The Game Awards where everyone is hyping up a bunch of games that are not yours. Poor marketing. It almost feels like Ubisoft left this one out to die with such little promotion for it. Avatar issues. Avatar has this problem of being the biggest film series in the world but few people talk about it much, the same might be true of the game. Critical disconnect. I don’t exactly know why, but this game scored so low it was easy to ignore, and only now among people who actually played it are we hearing that hey, maybe the critics got this one wrong.
Weird situation, and I feel bad for Massive who has worked on this for years, and I do not imagine it’s performing all that well. But yeah, I think I’m going to give it a shot.