Published by: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developed by: Guerrilla Games Platform: Playstation 4
I didn’t know very much about Horizon Zero Dawn throughout it’s promotion before release; I didn’t look at it’s release trailers or any gameplay that was being shown. This wasn’t just because I wasn’t that interested in the game; I was occupied at the time with the likes of Metal Gear Solid V, Halo 5 Guardians and others. I don’t know why it didn’t interest me initially, I can only put this down to other projects and not knowing much about it. Mind you with a title like that, this shouldn’t be unexpected.
But as I started considering going back to my Playstation 4, I had a look at what was available. Ratchet and Clank and Uncharted 4 were obvious choices since I adore the former series and respect the latter’s developers Naughty Dog. I also wanted to try something new, to really demonstrate that it was a good idea to come back.
And Horizon Zero Dawn, has more than demonstrated that.
Zero Dawn is an open world game set in a post apocalyptic future, where you play as a huntress named Aloy who is travelling this world in search of answers about her past. This world is treacherous though, filled with a myriad of groups out to assert their dominance in this world. Oh and there are some robot animals including but not limited to Cows, Gazelles, Tigers and Dinosaurs (obviously) but that’s really not important…. okay it is, and it’s very awesome!
So what impressed me the most about Zero Dawn is just how well it’s put together; everything in this game just looks gorgeous and as I explored this world, I found so much that made me thing “wow, that’s just amazing” – mostly focused on the giant robot dinosaur things. But there’s an attention of this detail with this game that I haven’t seen with a game for a very long time.
There’s also the world design; the world has far more variety in it than I initially expected. I thought at first that it would just be a Skyrim-style tundra world, but no, there’s deserts and jungles to enjoy too. It sort of reminds me of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time with how its game world is presented. There’s the starting area for the nomadic Nora Tribe, deep rooted in tradition and worship of their god the All-Mother, there’s the grand city of Meridian, which serves as the melting pot of Zero Dawn’s world. Then there’s the deserts and forests which, while sparse, have tons of secrets to discover.
The story itself is interesting too, discovering what happened to the world while also discovering Aloy’s (pronounced Ay-loy for the record..) mysterious past was a story that I was thoroughly interested in seeing through to the end. Compared to other recent games that I’ve played, it’s certainly felt like a breath of fresh air.
While the main quest remains its strongest aspect, Zero Dawn seems to take some cue’s from The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, making their side quests actually interesting to follow. I’ve mentioned how much variety there is in the setting of Zero Dawn and this is really where it surfaces, the people you interact with here have different ideas and attitudes which makes completing those quests a satisfying experience.
There are some which I found less interesting than others mind, but I didn’t feel any of them were a true waste of my time. Compared to Ubisoft games, there are no true fetch quests in Zero Dawn.
I will admit that its gameplay did take some getting used to, with a focus on bow based combat (which I confess to not being the best at initially) rather than melee or shooter based. You’re encouraged to pick a way in order to take down your foes (whether machine or man) which ultimately is another way of saying “take your time and go in with stealth first and then into proper combat.” In addition, if you want to be efficient at the game, you’re advised to hit the enemy’s weak point (a lesson which Sony has been teaching since the PS3’s reveal… reference..) for massive damage. This gameplay did become fun in the end, with a large variety of tools in order to bring down your opponent.
In short, Horizon Zero Dawn is a great game. While its title does take playing the game to actually understand, I would highly recommend the game for any newcomers to the console or longtime veterans. Guerrilla Games have made a fantastic piece of work, which is something to be proud of.