- Developer: Guerrilla Games
- Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Platform: PS4
- Release Date: February 28, 2017
- Single Player
Reviewed on a PS4 Pro system
Guerrilla Games is known for making great shooters. From the Killzone series to their latest IP Rigs on PlayStation VR, the company name brings first person shooters to mind whenever it is mentioned. So it was a bit of a shock to many when Horizon: Zero Dawn was announced as a 3rd person, open-world adventure game. After sitting down with a complete playthrough of Horizon (Platinum Trophy included) I have to say that Guerrilla Games has finally found their calling.
Horizon: Zero Dawn takes place in a future where mankind has gone into what can be described as a second Stone Age. The world ( as we have seen in many takes on post-apocalyptic society) has been reclaimed by nature. Grass has overgrown many once populated areas. Buildings from a distant past stand (mostly) in decay. People have formed tribes and hunt to stay alive and have gone back to worshiping things like the Sun. What is left of humanity is threatened by bandit raids and war with other tribes. Oh and there are the robot dinosaurs that are out to eliminate the remaining humans from the Earth.
Taking the role of Aloy, a young girl that has been shunned by her tribe for “not having a mother”, you set out on an adventure to discover why the world you live in is the way it is and to learn more about where you come from. This journey which clocks in at 40+ hours, takes Aloy through various landscapes ranging from forests, jungles, deserts and snowy mountain regions. Each area has settlements and ruins to explore and enemies both mechanical and human everywhere. Aloy can gather items from the world such as plants and branches to craft healing items and ammo on the fly. Pulling up the crafting menu slows down the action so even in the middle of a tough battle you can restock on ammo for your various weaponry. Horizon‘s weapons are perfect for the prehistoric/sci-fi world they are used in. There are bows that can fire a variety of arrow types such as flaming arrows and arrows that detonate on impact and remove armor and weapons from the machines. There are also bombs with a variety of elemental effects and trip wires just to name a few. None of the game’s weapons are difficult to use and the average player can become a combat master in no time at all. Probably the most useful weapon is Aloy’s spear which can be used not only for general combat and stealth attacks, but to also take control of machines to have them aid you in combat or to use as mounts.
Horizon: Zero Dawn is simply one of the best looking and most detailed games ever. I am playing on a 60 inch 4K television (no HDR I’m afraid) and running the game on a PS4 Pro. On the PS4 Pro the game offers two graphics settings. One in 2160 checkerboard resolution at a lower frame rate and one that offers a higher frame rate with lower resolution. I chose to roll with the first option and even with the increased visuals I have not had an issue with frame rate so far.There were times while playing where I was surrounded by family that thought I was watching a movie. Usually in open world games I prefer to play during the game’s day cycle because nighttime tends to make the game look worse. In HZD the game is equally gorgeous at night with a vibrant color palate, gorgeous lightning and the best moon effects I have seen in a game.
The game isn’t all graphics as there is a really great story packed in there as well. Aloy’s quest to discover herself exposes her to the best and the worst humanity has to offer. Even in the future people fear what they don’t understand. Along the way you discover more about the world you are in and how it came to be that way. While you can mostly figure it out during the course of the game, the details about what happened make for a nice twist that I wont spoil for you here.
It is very rare that a video game that generates a tremendous amount of hype and gives players high expectations actually delivers in full.Horizon: Zero Dawn does that and then some and will make it even harder for other developers to come at us with sub-par games and get away with it from this day forward. From the amazing visuals, great voice acting, music and lots of secrets to uncover, Horizon had me glued to my controller all the way until after the credits finished. You bought your PS4 for this and you didn’t even realize it.
Final Score: 9.5/10