One of the most anticipated games of the year has finally arrived so we are going to take a look at what Horizon Zero Dawn holds for PS4 players.
You play as Aloy, a skilled hunter who becomes embroiled in a war with man and machine. I have to admit that when I first started playing the game, I struggled to relate to Aloy as a character, there was just something that was bothering me and I could never quite put my finger on it, even now I still don’t know, however I will say that she has grown on me a lot the more I have played through the game, and that is also the case for most of the game, at the start I struggled with it, I found it rather slow and quite painful to play through.
However, the more you play the game and the more you get into the story and the developing situations around you the more the game comes into its own. What I like about the game first and foremost is that unlike other open world games like this it doesn’t fire loads of things at you and have you do repetitive things over and over. Tallnecks (Which is a machine type creature) are a perfect example of this, in a world as massive as this one is, where it can take up to 20 minutes to cross the map on foot, there are only 5 Tallnecks in the world, each of which open up that section of the map. So you can probably understand how big each section of the map is.
You have your main missions within the world which go through the Story of what Aloy is fighting against and what is mainly happening. There are then side missions which link into the overall arc of the story, and the way in which everything kind of molds into one is brilliant.
There are other side missions that you can get from others around settlements and camps which will help you rank up, which I will go onto later in the review.
As well as the side missions to keep you busy, you have relics that you can go looking for, bandit camps that you can liberate and take over, which will give you another base of operations sort of thing where you can trade and save.
Speaking of saving, if you ever want to save in the game you can only do so at the campfires, which isn’t a bad thing, when I first saw this I got a bit of squeaky bum time wondering how far apart the camp fires are, but there is nothing to worry about as there are plenty dotted around the map for you to be able to run to and save at, however you have to activate them first, so if you do see one, make sure you do a quick save to activate it. You can also use the campfires as a fast travel point, with fast travel you have to have Fast Travel packs available to you, you start the game with 5 and you can earn more from missions or finding them about in treasure loot packs etc.
It is a good way of doing fast travel because it encourages people to be able to go out and see the world rather than dot from one place to another. Before you take over the Tallneck, the map is fogged over and only opens when you go over a certain spot, so its again another good idea to explore the areas first and then go for the Tallnecks, unfortunately I just went for the Tallnecks straight away… Trophy time yo!
Another reason that you would want to explore the world in it’s entirety is because of how beautiful it is. The graphics and lighting within Horizon Zero Dawn are simply fantastic, the screenshot below will give you an idea of how beautiful the graphics are. This was taken in game using the games Photo Mode with no editing.
This was when I was on top of a mountain just having a stroll, looking across the valley below. Amazing! Weather effects are present within the game as well and it can be a subtle change, such as seeing it start to go dark then the rain pelts down, or it can just absolutely shoot it down without warning. Fog can creep up on you or you have a beautiful sunny day, which is always nice!
What I like about the world as well is the diversity that is brings, you could be in a boiling hot desert at one point and then find yourself on top of a snow covered mountain.
The skills system within the game is one that is pretty much standard to other games of the genre and type. There is a skills tree which you can use Skill Points from ranking up to improve damage, health, stealth as well as a few others.
Skill points seem to come at a nice rate, so as you’re ranking up you can improve certain areas to go with the flow of the game and the difficulty that each area may bring. Such as getting to a level 20 bandit camp when you’re at that level does feel fair, and not like in some other games where it has felt that you’re still weaker than your opponents.
The movements and mechanics within the game I cannot fault, the flow of running and sliding into cover or running and sliding over a machine to get that perfect shot to knock them down so you can do a finishing kill is amazing and feels so good to do.
The one thing I have learnt from the game is to not go thinking you are a god of hell fire from the start, if you run into a pack of machines, regardless of who they are, I learnt not to try and take them on and to be more subtle in my approach. You can unlock a skill which can lure machines and humans to you by whistling. When you bring them over then to the cover your in, you can take them out with a stealth kill, and you can do this through most of the pack you are trying to pass. You also have a rock pouch that you can use to distract with, just throw it away somewhere and the noise will lure the human or machine in that direction, allowing you to stealth your way through.
I have found that timing is also important. Not to rush kills, especially when working through a herd of machines, and believe me there is always a herd of them about, never just one or two, and if there is, their buddies aren’t far behind and if they see you they will more than likely call them and you’re screwed.
One thing I have made the most out of in the game is being able to override machines. There are certain machines that you can override and use to your advantage and help you clear out areas, or jump on them and use them as a mount to ride through the world. I love using the broadhead and kicking the living crap out of other machines in my way… Usually only one because the rest notice and come after me, so I tend to just run away! hah!
There is one bug bear within the game for me and that is the limitations to jumping… Only being able to climb a rock surface if it has grips or a painted ledge for me is a let down, there are enough rock surfaces and ledges within the game that more could have been done with this instead of me constantly pressing ‘X’ to try and get up onto a ledge I know should be accessible.
The load times for the game when either fast travelling or loading the game up in general can vary quite significantly. There are times when it will be done within 10 seconds, there are other times where I am waiting up to around a minute for the game to load and I don’t understand why.
I will admit that despite the fact it took me a while to get into the game and get a good feel for it, I love what there is to do the stories that are opening, and even though I have been playing it for hours and hours, there still looks like there is loads more to do and I can’t wait to finish it all!