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Horizon Zero Dawn

28 February 2017
Horizon Zero Dawn - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.47 / 5.0
0.5
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1,078 Ratings / 10 Reviews
#1,062 All-time
#47 for 2017
An outcast of the Nora tribe, the young Aloy wins the chance to travel across the dangerous lands beyond her home to follow the war band who ruthlessly attacked the Nora people while also searching for her parentage. As she takes down countless animalistic machines and helps the people of the world on her journey, her search finds her delving deeper into the mysteries of the advanced ancient society from centuries before, all while simultaneously fighting against a cult serving a demonic artificial intelligence.
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Title
The Dawn of Greatness
Some games take a minute to properly gain steam. You can't always trust the first ten minutes, half an hour, or maybe even two hours of a game. Depending on the scope, content, and story, it can take a hot moment for a game to bloom. For me, Horizon Zero Dawn was one of those games. I slept on it for a while, and when I finally started it, I felt a slight amount of disappointment. The hype machine prepared me for something truly out of this world, and when I started playing it, I felt I was playing something almost mundane in a sea of open world RPG's. Well, wouldn't you know it, all I needed was to get to -that- point.

Horizon Zero Dawn really does blossom into a monumental experience. Light story spoilers follow. The game takes place in a post-extinction event Earth, where the world is both growing and decaying. Ancient machines of the past roam the plains. and isolated tribes attempt to survive in an increasingly more dangerous world. You play Aloy, an outcast at birth of one of these tribes. Without going over a chronological retelling of the entire game's plot, things change for the better, and you eventually become someone. This is when the game really begins to show its truest colors, and let me say, these colors are absolutely dazzling.

The combat at its most thrilling involves fighting machines that come in various sizes. Some are no larger than a German Shepherd, others are larger than dinosaurs. Engaging in combat with these machines is the meat of the game. Since the world is primarily tribal, you don't have a ton of firepower. Mostly traps, arrows, slings, and the like. Therefore, to most effectively fight these opponents, most of the combat is about seeking out and stripping the machines of their components and weak points. Elemental weapons can be crafted, and aid greatly in this, as some machines are weak to fire, ice, etc. These are the most enthralling portions of the game. There's immense satisfaction in shooting off vital weapons of these machines, and eventually, you grow from fearing them to actively seeking them out.

Machines aren't the only adversary in this game. You will have to fight through your fair share of human enemies as well. When engaging in direct combat, there's little to be excited about with these portions. Aim for the head, repeat. However, when you're put in a position where you can engage in stealth, these portions become more enjoyable. Bandit outposts especially make for some careful planning and execution, and when you can get through one without alerting anyone, it feels good. The bandit outposts join many other events on the map as your typical open world "things to do" diversion. This involves collectibles, hunting grounds (challenge areas), corrupted zones (full of juiced up machines) and cauldrons, where you can master the art of possessing machines.

Rather disappointingly, these cauldrons are the only real thing in the way of dungeons in this game. Most of the exploration is done above ground on the standard game map. Fortunately, it's a large world with a lot of unexpected variety in biomes. You start in snow covered tundra, progress into plains, and eventually make your way to desert, wasteland, jungle, and some swamp. The game world is absolutely gorgeous, and many areas pique your curiosity with the decaying remains of civilizations past. This ties directly into the story. When the story really starts to kick off, it's incredible interesting. All you need to know is presented to you in cutscenes or dialogue, but there's plenty more to learn from various datapoints across the world map. I won't spoil any of this, because it's an incredible sci-fi story that is best experienced in person.

If I had to nitpick about this game, I would definitely say that the resource-to-equipment ratio is way off. I was far overstocked the entire game, and never had to save up for anything once I hit a certain point. You'll wind up hoarding resources that you believe you may need, and before you know it, the game is over and your backpack is full of crafting materials that you never needed. This isn't a huge problem, but it would have felt better to have more weapons and armor to choose from to better make use of the hoards of crafting resources you'll acquire. Instead, you'll sell most of it, and make more money than you'll ever spend. It does take some time to get to this point, though, and I suppose you'll spend some of the game feeling like a pauper. It doesn't last, though.

Outside of some virtually non-issues, Horizon Zero Dawn is an absolutely gorgeous title that involves some of the most interesting combat in an RPG I've seen this generation. The story is a true epic, although the main questline is a little bit on the short side. Fortunately, it's supplemented with more than enough side content to keep you busy for hours. The game isn't too frontloaded with side quests to lose you forever, either, but I don't think it quite hit the sweet spot of having enough to feel exceptionally substantial. All in all though, it's an incredible achievement of a game, and I hope we see more from this IP in the future. If nothing else, it's a reason to own a Playstation 4.
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For better or for worse
Here is the biggest issue I have with Horizon Zero Dawn: it feels the same as most mainstream open-world RPGs nowadays.

Not to say that it’s bad. The gameplay is fun as all hell, the skill trees are nice, and it’s very well refined. I enjoy the combat and the lore, the concept is unique, the landscapes are pretty, and there’s plenty to occupy yourself with. I’ve probably sunk 100~ hours into this game with just two runs because it’s a very densely packed game, filled to the brim with quest after quest, discovery after discovery, and animal after animal. Plenty of merchants to buy from, bags to expand, arrows to build, weapons to collect, etc. The list goes on and on.

I enjoy Horizon Zero Dawn quite a lot. It’s a very good game, and it has a lot of very unique features that most open world games don’t. The movement is fun, ziplining around the world is very entertaining and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But the characters and the world feel…empty. Not empty physically but devoid of substance. The game is very centered around the things you can do, not the people you can meet or the places you can go. The lore is often dumped on you via exposition and the NPCs don’t have very interesting personalities for the most part. Aloy is a pretty decent character, and so is Sylens, but you aren’t going to find anything especially unique about this game’s writing. It is definitely not terrible, mind you! Some moments shine, but in general, it’s rather dull.
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Planet_Telex0609 2022-10-06T12:09:08Z
2022-10-06T12:09:08Z
4.0
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Another boring open world!
So let me explain this point. Open worlds have always been difficult to set up well and to make interesting. Unfortunately for the case of Horizon Zero Dawn, the design of this world is far too classic to be really pleasant. With a map full of icons and boring missions, it's easy to get bored in the game. WHERE IS THE SURPRISE AND EXPLORATION IN THIS GAME? Everything is marked on our map and no reflection and difficulty in our exploration and location. The strong point of the game remains above all the gameplay which is very good against robots, but the fight against humans becomes quickly boring. The narration remains quite classic and no emotion was really provoked during my game session. In short, this game is too classic for my taste, especially when compared to open world games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and BOTW (and even skyrim and New vegas which are much older).
(I won't comment on the graphics, because I'm not interested in these aspects of a game)
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TheBorgia77 2022-02-06T20:12:07Z
2022-02-06T20:12:07Z
2.5
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One of the biggest games of its generation and strongest entries in the Sony catalog, Horizon Zero Dawn is a game that pushed graphics further than what we had seen up to 2017. Definitely one of the best looking games I have played, from the environments to the characters there's a certain extra level of polish that most games just can't come up close with. This is what AAA gaming is meant for, to give you a grand experience without really any budget restrictions. Amazingly this was a also a new IP, but it manages to create a rich lore of the world and it's no wonder that we will see more games in the Horizon franchise in the future.

I guess the main criticism about this game is that it's like a Ubisoft title. You have a huge map to explore with tons of checkpoints of activities to do, and those can get a little repetitive after you've done a couple of them. The difficulty ramps up as you advance, but the game does have a feeling that it's given you all that it can about halfway through it and then afterwards you are just going through the motions... which is fine I guess, since these are some pretty fun motions to go through. The battle system is excellent with you fighting robot-like dinosaurs with many different tactics can you lead you to take them down. Feelings of overwhelmemt can happen, so sometimes it's better to not take every battle and just ran past through enemies. A decent crafting system will have you upgrading your carry capacity, and you'll get to loot all your kills for items for possible trading and whatnot. It's a lot like Far Cry (which I'm also a fan of) but I think with more polish as HZD seems to have more compelling quests and cutting some of the filler.

The game is not without its flaws, and biggest one for me is the progression system which is a little lackluster. Gaining a level grants you 10 HP and a skill point which feels a little irrelevant, as being level 35 or 40 makes very little difference and it's mostly just about getting some better gear or components... so when a side quests grants you XP, there's little motivation to actually complete it for the experience (and is mostly just interesting for the stories and the battles that come with it), I wish the rewards were a little more compelling. It doesn't seem like the game was made for the "long run", and even trying to complete all the little activities on the map could have had a little more excitement to it.

Still overall I do think that Zero Dawn is a pretty complete game, just for how much work there is in all of its areas, the big storyline and intuitive combat mechanics. It's a lot of fun most of the time and gives you some pretty challenging fights. There aren't many games that feel like this one where it checks all of those points correctly, It could have been more even, and this is something I hope the sequel will be able to push the RPG elements of it a little bit further. For now still I do think it's one of the Sony essentials and a good example of a game that defines the PS4 generation. Playing on mouse and keyboard feels even better due to the all the bow aiming you have to do, and the PC port seems to have fixed most of its issues (it crashed 2-3 times, but the game autosaves often so not much was lost), would recommend it if you haven't got around to it yet.
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diction 2022-01-08T20:52:49Z
2022-01-08T20:52:49Z
4.0
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Nobody needs to play Horizon Zero Dawn
Every single game in the world is a mix of inspirations from other games, but each game create the mix in a different way. In this particular case, Horizon Zero Dawn is an open-world game where you kill machines by exploiting their weaknesses. Usually this involves studying the machine's weak parts, obtaining specific weapons/ammunition/armor, using stealth, or making the machines work for you by "overriding them". Many of its mechanics feel familiar from titles such as Far Cry, Assassin's Creed, and The Witcher 3. If you've played any of these games, then you will find nothing new in Horizon, mechanically speaking. This game actually takes the open-worldiness to a level that is detrimental to immersion. I'm sure many of you are familiar to the feeling of opening the good old map and being overwhelmed by the vast number of question marks and icons laid over.

Having said that, if you are not overwhelmed or bothered by massive open-world titles such as this one (or have not played games similar to what I've listed above) then the only reason to grab this game is the interesting story and the world-building. The studio really did a good job in that area, and although I am intrigued by what could come next, I didn't really see the potential for a good sequel when playing this game. I also highly praise the acting performances by Ashly Burch and Lance Reddick.

Before I get to the points I did not like about the game, let me say that despite all shortcomings, Horizon is a good game. I did have a good time, but I couldn't stop thinking about how the game could be made slightly better. These are mostly my personal disagreements with the game's design in the mechanical or set piece department—I don't see how the game can be made vastly greater than it is today, because it bears the curse of being a "solid, formulaic game", that is, it excels at nothing; but does everything good/OK-ish.

The first problem is about the difficulty. Ultimately I ended up finishing in Hard, and I would have liked the game to be harder still—but the lack of aim assistance in Very Hard and Ultra Hard makes them unfair to play on console. In comparision, Returnal manages to be a difficult game despite offering aim assistance. I'm sure Horizon could have achieved a similar thing. (Also, even with aim assist, aiming is the hardest part of the game.) I was never inclined to play the game in any particular way. I never had to calculate an approach or resort to stealth or overriding machines—I would have liked to, but as I said, for me, the difficulty spike between Hard and Very Hard was a non-acceptable one.

Another problem is climbing. These were probably added to the game to act as an interlude between combat segments. They often feel like "camera puzzles" where you have to find the right spot and hold down a key. These are definitely the least fun parts of the game. Also, the game has a lot of mountains that you are expected to climb (in some missions, or for collectibles) that break the flow of the game in a way that makes you conscious. Remember that good design is invisible.

Then there are the "detective side-quests" where you go to an NPC, ask some questions, and then activate your Witcher senses, sorry, your Focus, and you follow a trail, examine objects, etc. and then traverse a vast distance, etc.—this formula is so boring that the first time it came up, I let out an audible sigh because I was so fed up with this exact template from its instances in The Witcher 3.

Lastly, and perhaps this is unfair, but I absolutely despise the "hunt a specific item", "collect herbs", "craft items", etc. style of gameplay found in many AAA open-world games today. Horizon's implementation is not bad, but I feel like crafting made it into the game only because it's "the formula", not because it's actually a necessary or beneficial element of gameplay. I think many of these games can actually be simplified and the focus could be more towards designing better levels, better side quests and combat mechanics.

All in all, Horizon borrows its characteristics from many familiar AAA open-world titles, and it is a good game overall—but it has nothing special at its core. I hope they take more risks and deviate from the genre standards and tropes in their sequel.
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bozbalci 2021-10-05T10:44:42Z
2021-10-05T10:44:42Z
3.5
1
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Within the format of a AAA open-world RPG, HZD is an interesting intervention in the discussion on ecomodernism. In a nutshell, the latter is the idea that we will find a technological solution to climate change. HZD's take is fairly complex. On the one hand, Dr Sobeck managed to repair environmental damage through the creation of AI-infused green robots. On the other hand, her invention is repurposed by her employer Faro corp. towards the more profitable military industry, with the creation of autonomous robots fuelled by biomass and capable of self-replication that lead to complete extinction of every form of life within months. In other words, the game tells us that we might have the ingenuity to find a technological solution to climate change, but that this endeavour is undermined by the logic of corporate neoliberal capitalism.

This message is commendable, as it identifies some real shortcomings of the ecomodernist approach. However, it is not without its contradictions. In order to be successful as an action RPG, the game is in a sense forced to focus players' attention away from the slow violence of the world it depicts, in favour of fighting robot beasts (and human enemies).

Even more problematic is the choice of the action RPG as the genre for telling this story that chastises the consequences of capitalist logic. In order to skill up, players must accumulate natural resources as if they were limitless, thus involuntarily reproducing at the level of game mechanics the same destructive logics (accumulation and environmental exploitation) that are criticised at the narrative level.

Two sources on these points: Megan Condis, 'Sorry, Wrong Apocalypse: Horizon Zero Dawn, Heaven’s Vault, and the Ecocritical Videogame', Game Studies, 20 (2020) (http://gamestudies.org/2003/articles/condis), and Andrei Nae, 'Beyond Cultural Identity: A Critique of Horizon: Zero Dawn as an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Simulator', Postmodern Openings, 11 (2020), 269-77.
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loop 2021-04-25T10:51:30Z
2021-04-25T10:51:30Z
3.5
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Krypta Horizon Zero Dawn 2023-02-05T00:23:52Z
2023-02-05T00:23:52Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Rderoos Horizon Zero Dawn 2023-02-04T20:49:24Z
Windows
2023-02-04T20:49:24Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Rderoos Horizon Zero Dawn 2023-02-04T20:49:15Z
PS4 • XNA
2023-02-04T20:49:15Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
DrMantisTobogganPhD Horizon Zero Dawn 2023-02-03T21:04:29Z
2023-02-03T21:04:29Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
sstr1ke21 Horizon Zero Dawn 2023-02-03T06:52:48Z
2023-02-03T06:52:48Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
YungCamel Horizon Zero Dawn 2023-02-02T13:55:58Z
Windows
2023-02-02T13:55:58Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
PeytonYES Horizon Zero Dawn 2023-02-02T06:10:59Z
2023-02-02T06:10:59Z
2.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Lucariun Horizon Zero Dawn 2023-02-01T22:56:23Z
2023-02-01T22:56:23Z
2.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
nanowarrior Horizon Zero Dawn 2023-02-01T21:08:56Z
2023-02-01T21:08:56Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
RPG
molzi Horizon Zero Dawn 2023-01-30T10:48:17Z
2023-01-30T10:48:17Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
GOeezy Horizon Zero Dawn 2023-01-30T00:32:06Z
2023-01-30T00:32:06Z
2.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
josephrobert Horizon Zero Dawn 2023-01-29T09:52:51Z
PS4
2023-01-29T09:52:51Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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  • Previous comments (29) Loading...
  • TheHonorableMinisterBBG 2022-03-11 20:33:27.584455+00
    Is the new game worth getting despite me not liking this one?
    reply
    • Nifel 2022-05-20 09:53:18.237646+00
      I don't think so, there's nothing in it that's a game changer.
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  • Revenge319 2022-06-29 20:02:24.574923+00
    I've tried several times to get into this game, but aside from the visuals, there's basically nothing I enjoy about this game. It's certainly not one of the worst games I've played, but I do not get the hype for this game.
    reply
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  • babyclav 2022-09-15 22:37:21.84139+00
    sony exclusives are so damn boring
    reply
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  • boopsnoot 2022-10-11 16:54:21.897933+00
    Gonna retry this game. visually stunning but ubisoft level world design.
    reply
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  • Fowlawneeshafow 2022-10-12 13:19:03.609696+00
    World building in this is actually quite underrated in retrospect. Some aspects of the writing like the dialogue and character writing is often stiff, but they did create an impressive universe that's surprisingly believable. Especially impressive when you consider they had no RPG background, and world building is like usually one of the things RPGs need to get right but fuck up
    reply
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  • AidanAlva 2022-10-18 04:44:31.256483+00
    I have tried to get into this game three times now and this past time around I managed 13 hours, yet like clockwork it again lost my attention and momentum without fail. The lore is kind of interesting but the actual explorable world is so nondescript. The combat has some layers of depth to it with the elemental types and traps but Aloy as a playable character is so limited in her moveset and tools to the point of it all just feeling like baby's first Monster Hunter. It's a shame too because Guerrilla made two fantastic games in Killzone 2 and 3, proving they knew how to make brilliant gunplay and hefty movement in curated levels.
    reply
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  • 38Pajaros_19 2023-01-19 14:43:42.384342+00
    This game never got good
    reply
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