Horizon Zero Dawn created by Guerrilla, is an open world game is set it a post-apocalyptic world, where there are few remnants of civilization left. The Guerrilla team spent five years developing Horizon Zero Dawn and you can see why. Visually the game is stunning. Each of the many habitats in the game has been beautifully created and the use of color and light is really remarkable and increases the pleasure of playing. The game moves from day to night with amazing weather effects.
The game centers on Aloy, a fiery young woman with a quick wit and lots of sarcasm. Aloy was raised by her father, both outcasts of the Nora tribe, I tribe who like to keep to themselves. Aloy is heroic and brave. She seeks answers about the world she lives in now overrun by deadly mechanical beasts.
Armed with a crossbow and a lance, Aloy must complete a series of major and minor missions until you reach the end of the game. Patterns of the missions, whether major or minor, are identical; find someone, or something, kill a mechanical beast, or person, return and collect a reward. A criticism of the missions is that they are repetitive and some of the stories behind them lack depth. Players can opt out of hearing the conversations between characters whilst on missions if they choose. Some of the main missions have current political issues interwoven into them, so the game makers have tried to make them relevant to players who care about the stories and the fighting.
Missions invariably involve encounters with packs of mechanical beasts. Beasts travel with Watchers, small birdlike creatures. The only way to defeat a beast is to lure it from the pack. Once you do that, you can use your Focus which highlights the beast’s weak spots in neon yellow. You can either kill a beast or use your Override Stick. The Override stick can be found in one of the earlier missions and with this you can tap into the machines and turn them into your allies, building your own mechanical army. Overrides vary according to the animal. The only way to override them is to catch them unawares, otherwise they will turn on you and attack. Some overrides may cause the beast to fight on your behalf, others you can use as a mount. The override stick needs to be recharged and has a meter showing its power level in the corner of the screen.
Aloy is super agile, able to jump, roll , and dodge as required. Faster than the mechanical beasts this is her first advantage against them. Other tools you have include the Concentration Skill. This is a very useful tool when fighting as it slows time. A rope caster can shoot out and immobilize enemies and a trip caster can be used to set traps. Criticism of the trip wire and rope caster is that they are too fiddly to use in battle against the most powerful beasts. As you overcome a beast you can take their weapons and modify them. You are also able to modify and customize what you wear to best arm yourself against attacks.
Each of the 26 mechanical beasts has an overview of type, habitat, challenge level, weaponry and a description of how that looks in battle, as well as its special ability and vulnerability. There are no tutorials on how to fight these mechanical beasts; however, the overview provides tactics to use against it.
As well as fighting beasts there are times when you will have to fight humans who are living in bandit camps across the world. There are also Corruptors, who are mechanical beasts controlled by demonic powers.
With multiple plots, the game has other components other than fighting mechanical beasts. Another important part of the game involves looking for clues from the past in ancient bunkers, called Cauldrons, to uncover why Earth is the way it is. Knowledge uncovered in Cauldrons will also give you the ability to override more powerful beasts. You will also need to regularly climb the top of Tallneck to unlock the map.
The aesthetics of Horizon Zero Dawn will make you want to explore the game; the mystery of the story and the strong protagonist will keep you playing until the end. Horizon Zero Dawn is scheduled for release on PS4 February 28th PS4 and will retail for $59.99.