Guerrilla Games, developers of the hit game series, ‘Killzone’, certainly outdid themselves on this one.
Horizon Zero Dawn boasts all of the great qualities of an awesome action role-playing game — a vast, beautifully designed world to roam, a customizable character, and a wide variety of quests.
Purple mountain’s majesty
The art in this game is simply unbelievable.
Gamers will cross vast expanses of mountains, desert, swamps, and plains and explore everything from marvelous cities with buildings towering overhead. At one point I remember thinking, “Is this game designed to look like Arches National Park in Utah?” To make the art even more awe-inspiring, loading only occurs while fast traveling between campfires.
HZD presents the player with a few categories of character traits to upgrade: Prowler, Brave, and Forager. Making a decision to focus on one yields benefits late into the game as leveling up becomes harder the longer you play. In the early game, I focused on the Prowler category, adding to the others only for skills that I really wanted. For instance, the Brave category has a skill which lets you load multiple arrows before shooting. This worked out well because there are more than a handful of quests that demand sneaking in the bushes to approach prey.
In close combat, Aloy uses only a spear. That spear doubles as a tool which lets her override machine. When overriding a machine, the machine becomes mountable or fights against other machines.
In ranged combat, Aloy learns to wield a variety of bows that are categorized by several traits: damage, tear, handling, and elemental. Damage is pretty obvious to anyone who has played an RPG — damage inflicted on impact. Tear represents Aloy’s ability to tear components off of machines (which grants the player more experience). Aloy reloads weapons faster that have a greater handling rating. With some weapons, Aloy inflicts elemental damage — ice, fire, shock, and corruption. This is useful in fighting machines with elemental weaknesses.
The main story
There’s no shortage of adventure availabe in this hunter-gatherer story. Armed with only a bow and a spear, Aloy must be precise to survive in this post-apocalyptic, machine inhabited world.
As we guide her through the story, we uncover new skills, better armor, and a plethora of new weapon options which will aid her in the journey to uncover the truth about her birth and the future of her people.
To be frank, I think the ending is a little bit predictable from about 65% completion, but it certainly doesn’t make the game any less enjoyable.
Side quests galore
If the main story wasn’t enough, there are hundreds of side quests and errands to choose from. If you’re like me, you can’t stand the idea of having many open side quests at once, so you quickly divert from the main plot.
With many hours of play waiting in side quests, I found myself disappointed to reach the level cap before the end of the game. When you combine that with the completion of the Shield-Weaver armor quest (an armor which absorbs all damage inflicted to Aloy for a short period of time), any remaining side quests quickly become obsolete. That being said, you should definitely still get the armor.
Creating your own errands
Despite the maximum level cap, one thing that I really liked was the ability to create your own “errands”. In other RPGs, Players must remember which items require which components to craft. There’s that armor that I need one silver ingot to craft or the poison which requires hogroot. By the time I find the missing piece, I forget that I needed it for that special item so I use it on something else. Not a problem in Horizon Zero Dawn.
Finally, here’s a video showing a little bit of the gameplay (I’m wearing the Shield-Weaver armor and taking down a Thunderjaw). Enjoy!