Rise Of The Machines
I was sneaking along in a thicket of tall grass. My eye was dead-focused on the targets ahead-a herd of Grazers peacefully feeding off the lush land. The goal was to take out as many as I could in order to get their parts. My initial thought was to immediately commerce attacking…until I saw a group of logs that I could shoot above their heads. With one quick release of my bow, the arrow struck the logs above, cascading onto the unsuspecting herd.
This is one of the many ways to approach a conflict within Horizon: Zero Dawn. Playing as Aloy-a Nora tribe outcast that shows her true heart and capabilities the further the story progresses. All while trying to find out where she came from. The more time I put into playing the game, the more I became invested.
The vast topography of the world ranges from snowy mountains, arid deserts, and lush jungles all intermixing to create a unique landscape to explore. While traversing the world, there are many quests to take part in. Ranging from simple fetch quests to hunting and gathering parts for different npc’s. Some of these quests are pretty standard, especially considering more than a few require Aloys tracker ability to locate people. Similarly to Batman’s detective vision, Aloy’s tracking abilities stem from her use of Focus-an item which displays the world differently from the present. Despite being an unique feature, it makes for some pretty mundane mission design that feels repetitive, rather than new.
Horizon also encourages collectable seeking. There are different types of items located throughout Horizons landscape-there are even maps Aloy can buy from merchants that make finding these items easier. In doing so, Aloy is rewarded with different essential items used to help on her journey. As for the economy of Horizon, hunting is an essential part to living, not just for Aloy, but everyone.
Quick And Dangerous
When Aloy’s not tracking down the lost, the fun can be had in the moment-to-moment gameplay. Aloy feels great to control, its suiting since most of the enemies she faces are gigantic machines. Mobility is one of the shining examples of how well she controls. Horizon’s open world features many different types of climbing surfaces, such as rocks and trees. At first glance I thought “oh no, more climbing.”
As I started up a rock wall, Aloy immediately started moving effortlessly. Almost all of the effort of climbing involves the pushing up of the left analog stick…that’s it. Making climbing not just fun, but quite possibly the easiest I have seen in a game to date. Besides the cool climbing, hunting is really where the game lies. Taking down machines rewards the player with random items that can be looted off their wrecked bodies. With the different types of weapons and ammunition at your disposal, the game constantly requires you to think on your feet, especially during large encounters.
Aloys use of Focus can help out in these encounters by locating certain weak-points on a machines body. Some weak spots are easy to pick out without the use of Focus, such as a gas tank located underneath a machines belly. The use of Focus adds that extra help when it comes to taking out these menacing forces. Enemies range from somewhat friendly such as grazers, to towering bosses like the Thunderjaw and Stormbird.
As far as rpg’s go; Horizon isn’t the deepest. Instead, what the game offers is a sort of entry-level design for newcomers to the genre. Consisting of individual skills attained via points unlocked after leveling up; these skills help towards Aloy’s ever-growing character. Making combat encounters slightly easier. Even Aloy’s weapons have some depth to them. Weapons such as the bow, war bow, ropecaster, as well as others can be modified using modifiers that add either increased elemental attack damage, tear, or handling. The more rare the modifier is, the better the weapon will be.
Finally, just as an aside. Horizon features a photo mode that will have you taking photos of this gorgeous game almost every second.
Horizon’s beautiful open world, intriguing story, and likable heroine make for a fun-yet immersive-gaming experience. As well as a strong beginning for a promising new franchise.