Horizon Zero Dawn
- Dead eye or slowing down time while aiming weapons
- A bad ass array of primitive weaponry with elemental options (fire arrows, freeze bombs, stock trip-wires etc)
- Marking enemies so you can plan your approach
- Stealth take-downs and the ability to lure enemies to you there
- Three talent trees to customize your experience and abilities
- Scaling gear, weapons, mods and enemies
- A fast travel map option.
Ultimately what sells me on this game is that it does all of the above and does it so well. You don't only have dead eye when standing still, you can also do it while jumping or sliding under belly of a mechanical behemoth to shoot at the weak point. Not only can you mark enemies but you can also see their patrol routes to plant traps along the way or move past unnoticed. Enjoy the hilarity of a 10 ton killing machine with high powered robotic sensors not seeing you in that 2 foot tall grass.
Don't mind that Strider corpse, it was already there
Let's break this down into the pros, the cons, and final thoughts given I have not finished the game yet but played a variety of the content in the game.
The first thing that jumps out about this game is the location and level design. Guerilla Games created a beautiful landscape and the detail on both humans and the mechanical creatures you encounter are extremely well made and add to the environment. Immersion! The ruined world can be a lush jungle overtaking collapsed sky scrapers, tribal villages of the different factions, or the underground metal world with relics from the past. The world is filled with easy to see resources that can be quickly collected, herds of mechanical beasts and brilliant landscapes. Really this game deserves to be on PC at some point to push it to the graphical limits.
What's behind door number 1?
Gameplay is another aspect that Horizon succeeds in. Yes the climbing is a little bit clunky and there is the occasional invisible wall, but for the most part the game feels great to play and doesn't get repetitive. The melee works well even though we're limited to a light and heavy attack but the real focus of the combat is the ranged weaponry and traps. Speaking of that, the elemental explosions look awesome in this game and you'll need to use the right type to get past harder foes.
Determining how to attack an enemy is revealed by the game's player assistant, called a "Focus". Activate the focus and you can see loot, wild animals for hunting, and enemies in the area around you. It also provides information on weak points of the machines you are fighting if you can scan the right spot. There is no stamina bar in this game for good reason, you spend a lot of time sprinting or rolling out of the way of attacks. Enemies have normal vision and hearing detection that you might expect from a Metal Gear game, and yes you can kill people next to that tall grass over and over.
A stealth massacre
Okay so we've got this great world to explore and sweet ways of tackling the various obstacles we'll face, but how do we actually pay for it all?! This category is the most significant for the game to scale well, and in Horizon you really make every piece you can pick up to use. Unlike in say Fallout where you can collect literal trash for hours and weigh down your character with nothing gained, Guerrilla Games took a smart approach. You can only loot enemies and chests with the loot symbol hovering over.
Loot drops follow typical color scheme so you can go for the good stuff first
Everything you collect will be used somehow, and they tell you upfront what it can be used for. From crafting ammunition, potions, traps, being only good for selling to merchants, the materials you collect will all be put to use. You can even upgrade carrying capacity for every item and ammo type which is a great touch! Did I mention you know how to craft all of this stuff just naturally? Once you buy a new weapon you can automatically craft the ammo types for it provided you have the ingredients. Nothing is worse than getting a new weapon and then not being able to use it. You can also quickly craft potions and ammo in combat so even if you run out momentarily, find a place to get your self back in fighting shape.
While the bulk of this review will be in the pro category, this game is not without some failings that should be pointed out. Firstly I'm sad I can't play this on a 1080i on max settings. That aside, here are some flaws in the game that I think are worth noting or can be fixed in a patch:
- The D pad item system - While it's nice to be able to swap around what item we want to use in combat, it really gets bogged down if you have all the traps and potions available. I need to click 8+ times to find my potion mid combat? Looks like I need to pause anyways so it really doesn't feel helpful.
- No mass loot - even though they streamlined the available items and crafting system in the game, sometimes you just end up taking down dozens of baddies but then have to hold triangle for a solid five minutes afterwards to collect everything. We can do better this and should be fixable imo.
- Too much usage of Focus - The focus is your character's tap into the Matrix, it allows her to interface with the world in a way no one else does. It's so good it becomes hard to not use constantly and much of your time is spend just marking and scanning the area ahead.
- Main character's face - no other way to say it, some of the characters look great and all of the ambient world is fantastic but something seems wonky to me about Aloy. Could just be me though!