Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is a breathtaking deep dive into Cameron’s stunning world and is one of the best licensed games in memory

Pandora is so rich, expansive and beautiful that a game seems the best way to really explore this wonderful world.

From its huge tree trunks to deep ravines, mountain sides, varied plants and unusual wildlife, this is a sandbox teeming with wonders and delights around every corner.

Avatar even has its own Fallout moment when you clamber out of a tunnel in an underground facility and get your first taste of the world, setting you up for the game proper.

This isn’t the first Avatar game, of course. Ubisoft also released one way back in 2009 which had something of a mixed reception, but was able to boast a truly epic voice cast, including Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, and Ripley herself, Sigourney Weaver.

But this game is much bigger, more dynamic and better representative of Pandora. Not just because technology has moved on rapidly over the last decade and a half, with 4K TVs, better capture, bigger budgets and everything else besides, but with Way of the Water, this franchise has opened up more and will get bigger still with three more films to come.

We know more about the Na’vi now. There’s more options available to the player and better yet, the open world gaming experience has come on leaps and bounds since then. Ubisoft have been at the forefront of some of the best games in the genre, in fact.

So Frontiers of Pandora is already a much better game than their original efforts. In fact, it’s the kind of game that can appeal to people who don’t care for or haven’t watched Avatar before. And it’s actually become my game to chill to and relax with.

Falling somewhere between a Far Cry and a Horizon Forbidden West, you play as a Na’Vi who has been raised as part of the RDA. But in a moment of rebellion, you are able to escape to Pandora and truly connect with your roots and heritage, learning more about the world but also about where you truly came from.

The game starts out as something of a prequel to the first film, but eventually, as time moves on, you’ll find storylines run somewhat in parallel to each other and fall somewhere between the two movies. It’s really cleverly done and built, and it gives the developers the freedom to really carve a path in Pandora and built out their own niche.

The first thing that surprised me with this is it being played from a first person perspective. I’m not sure why, I guess I’d just assumed you’d always be looking over your Na’Vi’s shoulder, but it makes sense. Particularly with you making use of a bow and arrow and machine guns as you fight through RDA to protect Pandora from would-be invaders.

And this is where the Far Cry comparisons start to become more clear as you move through the open world, encounter headquarters to cook meals and get bed rest. But also find hidden terminals where you can access secrets and gather new information, raid outposts rife with RDA, trying to win them back, gaining favour with clans, but also gathering all manner of resources from the wider world.

By supporting various clans of Na’vi, you get access to their rare weapons and armor which you can equip in the character screen. And earn points to upgrade skills in serveral categories, like Survivor and Maker. There’s even special plants to find in Pandora where you can unlock the skills of your Ancestors.

See, while you’ve been living a lie as part of an RDA experiment, your Na’vi is actually part of a long forgotten clan, the Sarentu. Many Na’vi believed the Sarentu had been all wiped out but your presence restores some balance, hope, and, naturally, raises some questions.

This game is a labor of love for fans of Avatar. You can encounter pretty much everything seen in the films and there’s full documentation of everything, from characters, world knowledge, recipes, Songcords, and even Audio Logs which help give you some context of what’s happening in other parts of Pandora and where you fit in.

It’s not just the humans who you’ll be taking down, though. By killing some of the wildlife, you can harvest them and cook meals from the meat and skin they leave behind. You’re graded on your kills – whether they’re clean or you’ve allowed the creature to suffer – and this all really begins to define and carve out your place in Pandora.

The game’s opening is a bit chunky and pacey – I think my biggest shock was seeing the title screen load up ages after I’d started playing. But the game does also suffer a little bit with its UI and general sense of direction. Quite often I felt aimless and for some reason took longer than usual to get to grips with how to navigate Pandora and understand how to proceed.

Mission descriptors aren’t always helpful, it’s not always clear how to get to where you need to go and even when you are there, it’s quite easy to pass objectives by without even realising it.

Combat feels good, though. There’s a good feel for movement as you slide into cover, sprint to higher ground and really unlock a clip into a sentry, or get a precise head shot with the bow and arrow from ideal vantage points.

It goes further, though, as you can plant traps to catch enemies out and wrap them up in an explosion and will be able to fly an Ikran and with its help, destabilise enemies.

For me, though, I was happiest just casually gathering ingredients in the world, filling my pouch with lots of weird and wonderful recipes, grinding favor to get the best rewards and armor and just generally exploring Pandora. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the best looking games of the year and is really befitting James Cameron’s vision.

That said, the game definitely has navigational issues and most objectives really do make too much use of the Na’vi vision which distorts and warps your view of the world a bit too much, distracting a bit from the lush landscapes and vibrant color palette.

Sadly, I also worry the timing of this release will cause it to be one of Ubisoft’s better games lost to time. It’s between movies, which means it doesn’t have something mass market to latch onto, and it’s been launched at the tail-end of one of the most loaded years of high quality games in history. People are going to miss this and wonder why they haven’t heard more about it.

Interestingly, though, it’s said that there are elements of story here that will tie into Avatar 3 and maybe even future films in the series. But with Avatar 3 not due until Christmas 2025, we may be waiting a very long time for its relevance and connections to pay off.

And that’s a massive shame as Frontiers of Pandora is a really good game that respects its franchise – in fact, it’s one of the best licensed titles I can remember in many years – yes, even more than the Muggles – and it has a good hook to keep you invested and playing, with well-developed mechanics and a good feel, as mentioned to its combat.

Open World games are very much of a muchness these days. In fact, Ubisoft’s own poster franchise – Assassin’s Creed – really chopped down the amount of content in its world this year due to how overwhelming Valhalla was. Frontiers of Pandora is slightly bigger than Mirage, but smaller than Valhalla, sitting somewhere in the middle. And it’s questionable whether all of the side missions and grinding for clans is bordering on the filler.

But for me, I was just happy to wander around, double jump around to navigate some tricky spots, and just get a better look at Pandora whether it was in the water, on foot, or by air. This truly is a beautiful world, as stunning as any as I can remember and for the most part, it was a joy to dive into.


Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is exactly how a licensed game should be made, really respecting the culture, identity, and style of the world James Cameron has built, finding ways to really gameify the experience and make it enjoyable, all while adding something to the universe that even connects to its future. Navigation is quite cumbersome in general, and you’ll start feeling like some missions are a bit too filler’y as you progress, but this is a must for fans of the series. In fact, it’s one of Ubisoft’s better open world offerings in recent years. 


+ Stunningly created world that is just made for a 4K display
+ Really enjoyable world to explore and find things in
+ I loved my Ikran
+ Decent storytelling that does a good job connecting to the series and help build its future


– Navigation is really quite messy and tricky to get to grips with
– A bit too much reliance on Na’vi senses
– Clan grinding and samey missions do make this feel a bit filler’y at times

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is out now on PC, Xbox and PlayStation

Code Kindly Provided by Ubisoft for review purposes

Played on Xbox Series X

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