Horizon Zero Dawn has had my attention since it was first revealed at E3 and what interested me more was the fact Guerrilla games was moving away from its first person shooter roots that was the Killzone franchise and pushing into new ground. After sampling this game for just twenty minutes it certainly feels like they have made something special that should impress us all in 2017.
The demo opens with you taking control of the games main protagonist Aloy. She’s a nimble machine hunter for her tribe and clearly a force to be reckoned with. Straight away you can see the attention to detail on her clothes and how the light wind moves her hair. I armed myself with a bow and ran to a gap in the path just ahead. The area opened to reveal a stunning world populated by a few mechanical creatures wandering across the landscape. Wanting to see more I ran to some tall grass to find cover as I observed their behaviour. I was pleasantly surprised to see they moved and reacted to the environment around them; as I’ve played plenty of open world games lately that have failed to make me believe I was in a living world. So I am happy to say that Horizon Zero Dawn appears to have addressed this issue.
There is a crafting system to learn and I was supplied with a good stock of components to get my head around the basics; It isn’t complicated at all and the menu system felt fluid enough not to disrupt the game too much when I was adding a shock bomb to my arsenal. You have the ability to scan any of the creatures in your immediate area to see what potential materials they will drop and to give you a hint at their weaknesses. I did ask if Aloy was equipped with all this information to begin with and the response was that in the early stages of the game she is aware of the creatures around her starting area but as the game progresses, you will have to discover how to tackle the later game beasts yourself. I’m okay with this approach as a game like this needs that continued exploration feel as you move through it.
I began to battle the strange monsters nearby and i made work short of them mainly because they were slow moving but packed a heck of a punch if I strayed too close, I did like the fact that the rest of the pack turned to engage me as i preyed on their friend. The animations of the fight looked fantastic and it felt like even the smallest battle in this game required you to think fast and change up where and how you attacked. Once all enemies had been vanquished it was time to collect the dropped resources and move on. A little further ahead I was met with what could be described as an a enraged mechanical animal. As soon as it laid eyes on me, it charged hitting with a heavy attack knocking me to the ground. This battle went a little different as it was a lot faster paced and the ferocity of the hits where taking big chunks of my health. There’s a tether attack that can hold a creature in place for a short amount of time, giving you a chance to hack them to make them more docile. Pulling this off wasn’t the easiest thing to do but none the less I managed to subdue it. The demo then concluded after i had explored the region up ahead.
Horizon Zero Dawn certainly seems to be ticking all the right boxes with this beautiful open world. The eco system felt alive and I did see a ground of passive creatures attempting to fend off the attack of a more aggressive foe not too far from a river. This game is certainly something I’m looking forward to in 2017 and the short time I got to spend with it made me want to explore this world a whole lot more. Guerrilla Games may just have a hit on their hands here and it feels like the hype around this game may very well be justified
David J Birch