Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Release Date – February 28, 2017 (North America) March 1st (Europe)
Developer / Publisher – Guerrilla Games / Sony
Genre – Role Playing Game
Price – $59.99
Horizon Zero Dawn is finally here. It’s been in development for over six years and was first announced at Sony’s E3 press conference in 2015. The game was originally a 2016 release, before getting delayed to early 2017. Has the open world RPG with robot dinosaurs been worth the wait?
Horizon Zero Dawn is set in a post-apocalyptic world in the near future where humanity has been able to master advanced technology such as robotics. However, some unknown disaster caused the end of civilization and humans went back to primitive tribes. Fortunately, they managed to maintain some use of advanced technologies thanks to the old civilizations (aka The Old Ones), which were destroyed. While the robotic dinosaurs have become the dominant species, both have been able to live together peacefully, that is until a new phenomenon called The Derangement started to make the robotic creatures more aggressive. The setting of Horizon Zero Dawn at first may seem like your run-of-the-mill post-apocalyptic game with robot dinosaurs, but it does have a lot of things going for it.
I don’t think plots should be spoiled in reviews, so I’m just going to give the basics here.
You play as Aloy, an outcast from birth for reasons that she does not know. She was put into the care of another outcast named Rost by the Nora Matriarchs. As an outcast Aloy is shunned by the other members of the Nora tribe, a fact perpetuated due to it literally being outlawed by the group. As a child Aloy wants to find out who her mother was and why she was cast out, so she teams up with Rost to get her training montage on (a.k.a. hunt, fight, survive) so she can enter a competition called The Proving. The winner of The Proving receives the right to ask the Nora Matriarchs anything they wish. While I don’t want to say much more than the basics, Horizon Zero Dawn has one of the best stories in years that I have seen. It’s supremely intriguing and made me want to find out what happened to the old civilizations and why Aloy was cast out. The only other RPG I have thought this highly of the story was The Witcher 3. Even the side quests in Horizon I have enjoyed, and while they don’t matter as much as in The Witcher 3, they are still a big part of the game.
Horizon Zero Dawn is an open world RPG like The Witcher 3, but its gameplay is more on par with Far Cry, as you can find plants that you use for medicine and the like. Horizon Zero Dawn is also the best open world RPG I have played when it comes to its gameplay. The biggest issue I had with the Witcher 3 was how it handled. It felt sort of jaggy and not fluid, especially the combat. Guerrilla Games has done a fantastic job with the combat, which is even more impressive considering that Horizon Zero Dawn is Guerrilla’s first go at this sort of game, after working solely on the Killzone series since 2004. Horizon Zero Dawn is a perfect 30 FPS, even on the standard PlayStation 4. The game also allows you to play using stealth and tactics, which is nice for those who prefer that style of gameplay. When it comes to weapons, you have a few different bows and arrows, for instance, there’s a hard-point arrow. Each arrow (and bow) has its own strength and weakness, which you’ll need to learn and remember in order to best fight the robotic dinosaurs. They are all fun to use, including the non bow-type weapons you’re introduced to later on in the game.
Horizon Zero Dawn is, without a doubt, the most impressive and gorgeous game I have played on a system to date. The world is incredibly detailed and amazing, even on a standard PS4. Upgrade to a 4K HDR TV using the PlayStation 4 Pro and you have something truly special. It has set the bar so high for me when it comes to the open world genre. I even think it beats out Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, which was already so impressive when it came to its graphics. There are a few issues with lip-sync on some of the less important characters, but apart from that the animation is fantastic.
Horizon Zero Dawn is nothing short of a masterpiece. While it isn’t as big as Breath of the Wild, or allow you to do whatever you want like some other games, Horizon Zero Dawn does what it sets out to do perfectly. Gameplay is fast, fluid and incredibly fun. Hunting robotic dinosaurs, especially the massive ones you come across later on in the game is breathtaking. The game has gorgeous graphics and an interesting story that you will want to keep playing to find out more about.