Let’s get the important part out of the way right now. Sony’s Playstation 4 exclusive Horizon Zero Dawn is a great game, from start to finish. I can definitely see this series taking over for Uncharted as Sony’s next big new IP. It checks off all the marks needed to make a beautiful, fun, and engaging game, and leaves it open to spending a lot more time in a robot dinosaur ravaged world again.
While most of the game hits on all cylinders, there were some areas of the game’s story that did not come together quite as much as I hoped. This small qualm did not take away any fun I was experiencing, while playing through my 37 hour story, but did leave it just out of reach from being considered a perfect game.
Horizon Zero Dawn performs flawlessly. During my entire play through, I did not once experience any slow down or graphical issues. Not once! That is saying a lot from today’s games, and how many things can be happening on the screen all at once. Guerrilla Games have always made nice looking and technological sound games, in their Killzone series, but Horizon is on a whole new level. The game does take a bit of time to get going at first boot up, but once you are in the world, you will not see a loading screen anywhere, unless you die of course. Horizon also has a very good checkpoint system. While you can manually save your game at any of the many camp sites you will find throughout the map, it’s use of quick saves during missions will always make sure you are never too far back, if you need to retry any area. This is more amazing to understand once you see just how big the world of Horizon is. The different biomes you experience, from snow covered mountains to lush jungles and sandy deserts, you really feel each area is unique and never running through the same types of areas over and over.
Graphically it is a beautiful game. The draw distance is incredible and really lets you get a lay of the land ahead of you. There is a day and night cycle, and even different weather patterns. In fact, Horizon is the first game I can remember really putting you in different situations during these changes. You may find yourself fighting a huge mechanical beast, easily being able to get an advantage on your prey by sneaking around and using the terrain, only to then have a rainstorm hit and you loose a great deal of your visibility. There was a few specific fights I had to actually come back to after the weather settled, as I was being destroyed due to the handicap. It never lead to a rage induced feeling, but more of the experience of being in a living world that does not always do what you want it to.
The mechanics of the game are also just as fantastic. The stealth feels good and rewarding when you get to use your one hit kill actions. All the weapons are different enough to be used in specific situations or against specific enemies. Even the simple things, as looting a plant for crafting resources was really looked at and incorporated into whatever action you are doing. For example, you may be sprinting around the landscape and see one of the many types of looting nodes. Instead of running up to it, stopping and hitting the loot button, then sprinting off again, Horizon lets you loot mid sprint and then automatically continue at speed without any extra steps. It is this kind of detail I really appreciate that Guerrilla Games put into Horizon. It would never be something you would think about wanting in a game, but when playing it, you can really sit back and think you are so glad that function was in.
The different animal enemy types offered a good variety. I enjoyed finding out the best ways to combat them and figuring out which weapon and ammo types were best to get to job done. The human baddies on the other hand did tend to feel a bit generic, offering nothing to special. The cyborg animals is where it was at!
Being an RPG game post Witcher 3, is always going to draw comparison, and as far as the RPG parts go, Horizon does not do it as good as the Witcher did. The world does not feel quite as lived in or the skills systems being a bit on the basic side basic, but overall it is a RPG through and through. Horizon has its version of the, now everywhere it seems, Bioware dialog wheel, and offers those sometimes strange looking character models when in a dialogue scene. In fact, the character model faces do tend to give off a really strange look at times, throughout the game. You will get new skills to upgrade such as getting more resources from looting to more damage done by attacks. There are some simple things like not being able to filter the world map that can cause for some disappointment, but again, none of this is done badly by Horizon It just does not do anything to improve the standard that most all RPG games have.
If anything can be said to be a bit negative of the game, it is some of the story aspects. There is nothing new you will experience story wise and nor show anything you have never seen before someplace else overall, but the sci-fi parts do make for an interesting journey and really make the post apocalyptic world feel different enough to enjoy the run. The skin Horizon uses to cover up the, bland at times, story makes you forget most if it.
Overall, Horizon Zero Dawn is a must play for any Playstation 4 owner. No questions asked. I am really excited to see where the series goes and the systems that Guerrilla Games can expand upon and improve. Let’s remember, this is a open word RPG action game, that was made from a team that has only ever made shooters. Their first step into a new direction was not too shabby. This is a big win for Guerrilla, a big win for Sony, and an even bigger win for gamers.
GFU Score: 8/10