Horizon Zero Dawn - PlayStation 4 Pro Review

Horizon Zero Dawn isn’t just a game for those who own a PlayStation 4, it’s a game that you should buy a PlayStation 4 to play

By Grayshadow, Posted 03 Mar 2017

Horizon Zero Dawn is perhaps one of the most impressive games I’ve played this generation. The intricate combination of advanced technology and a primitive setting creates a diverse set of brilliant environments. What’s shocking is that Guerrilla Games, the developers behind the FPS franchise Killzone, has refined their reputation by showing that the studio is capable of creating something magnificent without any previous history of the genre. Horizon Zero Dawn isn’t just a game for those who own a PlayStation 4, it’s a game that you should buy a PlayStation 4 to play.

Taking place in the distance future humanity has fallen and people now live in primitive tribal communities surrounded by high-tech fossils of the old world known as Old Ones. Animals such as boars, rabbits, trout, and other smaller creatures continue to survive but the world is dominated by large mechanic creatures called Machines. Some people worship the marvels of the Old Ones while some see their remnants as trading and weaponry opportunities. 

The mystery surrounding humanity’s fall isn’t explained as first, however, the story mostly focuses on an outcast orphan named Aloy. After a series of unfortunate events, Aloy finds herself a powerful tool called the Focus, allowing her access to technological advancements of the past. The story is brilliantly written, answering questions and creating new ones as the journey progresses. The inter-tribal politics tend to drag on and isn’t as gripping as following Aloy’s past and the origins of the Machines. But the main story of Horizon Zero Dawn is a tale full of mysteries that will keep you hooked until the final moments. The story isn’t the only compelling aspect of Horizon Zero Dawn, combat is a constant thrill and controls phenomenally. 

Aloy isn’t the strongest fighter and can’t take a beating but that tension is what kept combat fresh, even during low-level encounters. Aloy’s aerobatic abilities and efficiently with a bow gives her the strength to take down some of the deadliest creatures in Horizon Zero Dawn.  You start off small with a bow and arrow before graduating to more advanced weapons, traps, and ammunition. Horizon Zero Dawn gives you multiple ways to fights to ensure that Aloy is prepared for any situation. Health isn’t automatically generated fully and must be replenished manually using plants or health potions.

Horizon Zero Dawn,PlayStation 4,Sony, Guerrilla Games,

Weapons and ammunition are easily swapped thanks to the weapon wheel. During fights combat is slowed down, not stopped, so Aloy can swap or craft more ammo. If necessary Aloy can retreat or keep her distance with rolling or sliding which offer a temporary boost in speed. Melee is limited to quick and strong strikes and thanks to a helpful lock-on system will track the enemy closest to Aloy. However, exploiting enemy weaknesses is paramount and swinging and shooting mindlessly will lead to quick death.

Each Machine in Horizon Zero Dawn acts differently and have unique strengths and weaknesses. Using the Focus, which slows Aloy’s movement when in use, displays everything about the target. This doesn’t show how the creature will act, though. Some Machines charge, have special attacks and even retreat on sight. Understanding their behavior is just as important as knowing whether one of the elemental items available, Shock, Fire, or Ice, is effective against them. Humans enemies are available but offer very little challenge and variation. You’ll fight either light or heavy armored human targets that can be easily exploited by throwing rocks as distractions and well-paced arrows.

Stealth is another option given to Aloy. An eye icon appears on screen to show whether enemies can see you but no cone-of-vision is available to determine the distance of enemy sights. This can lead to vexing moments of trial and error when sneaking is essential to survival but luckily if you break the enemy’s line of sight you can return to stealth. A helpful display indicator telegraphs if an enemy sees you and alerted.  

Horizon Zero Dawn,PlayStation 4,Sony, Guerrilla Games,

Climbing is another skill that Aloy has mastered. Unlike Uncharted 4 climbing is more automatic. Aloy mostly does all the work necessary to climb large structures without worry of falling off or missing jumps. Yellow hues usually telegraph what can be climbed but these are not bright and sometimes I was unable to climb something despite it being less than her overall vertical jump. 

As you defeat enemies and complete quests experience is earned and once leveled a skill point is gained. Skill points can be invested into Brave for combat, Prowler for stealth, and Forager for resources. Each one grants benefits but specific skills felt more like requirements than optional. For example, you would assume that Aloy can shoot while balancing on ropes given her intense training but no she must unlock this skill. 

Horizon Zero Dawn’s map is mostly made of forest and fields but settlements and campfires dart the environment. Most of these offer quest-givers and merchants to trade. The side-missions, although take you to breathtaking locations, are usually boring errand quests when compared to the campaign. They aren’t terribly taxing but don’t expect anything exciting past the Technical Dungeons, which offer exciting platforming challenges to travel through.

Horizon Zero Dawn,PlayStation 4,Sony, Guerrilla Games,

The characters in Horizon Zero Dawn each offer unique personas and are further amplified thanks to detail animations and excellent voice-acting. Aloy easily steals the show but the supporting cast each offer brilliant performances. Although their facial expressions are wonderfully animated the body language during the one-on-one conversations were lacking in comparison. Usually, the characters would stand there, stoic, while their faces projected feelings of anger, relief, and happiness. 

While combat and exploration are at the forefront of Horizon Zero Dawn it’s resource gathering that you’ll spend most of your time. Traveling in the environment you’ll encounter many types of animals to hunt, Machine parts to collect, and plants to stockpile on. Aloy is a trained survivalist and can craft traps, bombs, arrows, potions, and upgradable items. Sorting and selling items is vexing since you cannot auto-sort items in any way and junk that is meant to be sold must be manually found in your inventory. Since you’ll spend a lot of time scavenging for items an option to skip picking animations, like in Far Cry Primal, or to hold down the triangle button to pick up resources would’ve been greatly appreciated. 

A minimap isn’t present so expect to be opening your menu a lot. I’ve read online that many see this as an advantage but personally I would like the option. The reason being that the waypoint system isn’t 100% accurate. Since the highlighted path follows the road players can expect to run in the wrong direction at times. Adding a minimap that points in the right direction would’ve save a lot of time especially when gathering resources.

Horizon Zero Dawn,PlayStation 4,Sony, Guerrilla Games,

Horizon Zero Dawn is a graphically gorgeous game on the standard PlayStation 4 but this game is meant to be played on the PlayStation 4 Pro with a 4K television. Perhaps one of the richest open-world Horizon Zero Dawn’s entire world is full of lust color and attention to detail that was previously only available to PC gamers with high-end computers. I experience no slowdowns, loading was quick, and the game never crashed. For a game of this scale, and Guerrilla Games first attempt, that is amazing. Especially considering open-world games from studios like Bethesda and Rockstar have trained me to expect graphical issues and crashes from open-world games. 

Horizon Zero Dawn is a beautiful and absolutely gratifying experience that will make you glad to own a PlayStation 4. It has issues but these minor problems are smothered in an avalanche of positive features. Every aspect of Horizon Zero Dawn is done with near-perfection and when combined charges your desire to keep fighting and exploring. 

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PS4
Publisher(s): Sony
Developer(s): Guerrilla Games
Genres: Action-Adventure
Themes: Adventure
Release Date: 2016-02-28

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