Finally got around to starting Horizon – Zero Dawn! To put it simply, this game is modern Tomb Raider mashed together with Mass Effect. Honestly, the majority of the gameplay is incredibly derivative, but…that’s not always a bad thing.
While a lot of the gameplay mechanics are ripped straight out of other games, Horizon sets itself apart mainly through its great enemies and an awesome main character. Aloy faces a constant stream of asshole NPCs who all just can’t help telling her how much she sucks for being an outcast or a Nora or a woman or etc. This has made up most of the story so far, just people being total dicks, but she doesn’t listen to any of them, she just makes them look stupid by outsmarting or outfighting them and gets back to her business of annihilating all the robots in her way.
It’s a decent enough story with a handful of great moments, but it does seem to suffer from the same problem that pretty much all big open-world RPGs have, where the world is so big that the main story ends up being stretched pretty thinly across all the piles of other optional content that keep distracting you if you’re a completist type. There could be more story than I realize though. I may have explored most of the world already, but I still haven’t actually touched much of the main quest (the two main quests I have right now say level 12 and 19 and I’m almost level 40…oops!).
Luckily, much like the other games it resembles, the gameplay is just so much damn fun that I don’t much mind the thin story. I think the enemies really take center stage here, as their variety and complexity really makes you feel like a hunter instead of just an invincible god-being that can easily headshot everything in sight.
See, the robosaurs can’t simply be mindlessly blasted away (well, maybe the wuss horse ones in the beginning can), you need to approach them carefully, scan them and study their weaknesses, and carefully strike their weak spots and use the right weapons to do so. The further you get, the more complex and deadly the enemies get, and this makes being careful and smart about your attacks even more important.
You can be extra tricky by trying to sneak up and do stealth attacks, but it isn’t long at all before the enemies become too tough to be killed this way. You can also stir up trouble by sneaking up and hacking enemies (if you can increase that skill enough) or sniping guys with corruption arrows, but you won’t get experience for kills accomplished by enemies or any other NPCs.
Naturally, things don’t always go as planned though, and so you’ll find yourself in some furious firefights, surrounded by deadly machines without any fancy quick-firing guns to blast your way out with. You’ll need some quick reflexes to get out of those situations alive.
And then just when you think you’ve finally become overpowered and capable of handling anything, you finally make your way into the second half of the land where you find yourself surrounded by hordes of even tougher enemies, including some nasty super-robos.
Oh, the horror and excitement when I entered this new land, saw a mysterious thing flying in the sky, shot an arrow at it, and found a 20 foot super-robo-bird descending upon me, shooting lightning all over the place. He beat the shit out of me that first time, but in time I learned how to take even these nasties out (though they’re still not easy).
So yeah, it’s pretty fun stuff. This all occurs in a huge world map, with piles and piles of sidequests and other optional areas like Hunting Grounds, Corrupted Zones, Cauldrons (which are totally not the Vaults from Mass Effect: Andromeda), and etc. There’s just so damn much to do. As of right now I’m still only at about 60% complete after 30-something hours, and I don’t think that percentage probably even includes the Frozen Wilds expansion.
What a beautiful world too. It’s a big, crazy, 4K world with a nice variety of location types ranging from grassy plains, to deserts, to frozen wastelands, to futuristic cyber-caves, and more. Again, I’m still not actually finished with it yet, but I can already tell you that if I’d played this earlier it would probably have made me make a tough choice in regards to the top 5 games of the year. I think this probably would have edged out Evil Within 2.
Maybe I’ll have some more to add on the subject later, as it seems that I’ll probably be working on this for another few weeks still!