Horizon Zero Dawn review: six months in robotic antiquity

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Steven L. Ken
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Horizon Zero Dawn has improved month after month: in this review we judge the quality of the title after all the patches and additions that have been introduced

In every area of ​​life, repetition leads to improvement and allows you to create products of superior quality. He knows it well Guerrilla Games which, starting from PlayStation 2, has brought forward its own IP: Killzone. Moving from PS3 to PS4, the Dutch team's first-person shooter has gathered fans and appreciators alike. Arrived at Killzone: Shadow Fall, Guerrilla, however, has decided to give it a sponge and to focus on something quite different. In cases like these we can understand if a development team is really of a high level: Guerrilla's challenge was called Horizon Zero Dawn, an open world action-rpg.



Let's say it immediately: Guerrilla Games won big.

Horizon Zero Dawn: a girl and a primitive land

Horizon Zero Dawn follows the story of Aloy, a girl who finds herself having to face a great adventure. Aloy will move into one land of the future, in which human civilization as we know it has died out (but not life, of course) e humans are organized into primitive tribes. The world has changed however: the earth is now trodden by machines that resemble various animals and, above all, dinosaurs. Mostly peaceful, these mechanical beings begin to become much more dangerous due to an unknown corruption: humanity faces a great threat. And it will be up to Aloy to solve the many mysteries of the world.

Aloy lives in the valley of the Nora, one of the tribes of the game world, but is not really part of it: the young woman was banned from birth and it only grew thanks to another outcast, Rust. The purpose of her life is to understand whose daughter she is and the real reason why she was estranged.



Horizon Zero Dawn: armi e robot

Pad in hand Horizon it's a tps, or one extremely eventful third person shooter.

The multiple uses of a spear

Fights with enemies take place mainly from a distance, thanks to weapons such as bows and slings. However, there is the possibility of attack closely with your spear through a light attack or a heavy one, also useful to stun smaller machines making them vulnerable to critical attacks. Another game component is it stealth: Aloy can crouch and hide in the tall grass, present almost everywhere, to sneak up on enemies and performing stealth shots that can take out smaller ones or inflict severe damage on the most massive ones.

Run, jump, shoot

The focus of the game, however, is the arrows and Horizon is not lacking. Using the bows, you aim with L2 and tighten the rope with R2: by stretching it to the maximum, the accuracy of the weapon is maximized. The time required for this action depends on the type of bow: the basic one is meant to be fast, but others that unlock as you progress in the game have different speeds. Aiming and shooting will be activities to be performed with precision (aided by the automatic aim, however deselectable from the menu) but above all with speed: the game shuns static and pushes the player to keep constantly moving. Running, rolling, sliding and jumping will be the order of the day in Horizon: every fight will turn out to be a combination of dodging, positioning and precise hits. It will be possible to rely on a rechargeable bar called "concentration" that slow down time e zoom in on the viewfinder to perform millimeter shots.



Enemies are not vulnerable in every part of the body in the same way: each robot will have its own specific weaknesses, more or less large. They can be found thanks to the Focus, a technological tool found by Aloy who le allows you to have a lot of information about the game world: he will be our constant companion for the exploration and resolution of missions. They will also unlock as you progress through the game new types of arrows with unique effects: ignite, freeze, electrify, disconnect components and protections; every move is valid to bring home the victory. But not only robots will be fought, in fact humans too will become our enemies.

Horizon Zero Dawn: GDR made in Guerrilla

However, all this action is structured within one RPG skeleton with a large searchable map.

Strengthening is beautiful

By defeating opponents and completing quests, you will get experience points that will help you level up. At each level up we will be given a skill point to spend to acquire a new skill. We will be able to perform new attack moves or make the basic ones more powerful. Depending on our interest and attack style we will give priority to some of them, but in the course of the game we will get them all without particular difficulties. Character enhancement is constant and regular throughout the adventure.

In addition to skills, however, we will have other things to take care of. To begin with, in addition to weapons Aloy can equip various types of armor: each of them will defend the player from specific damage (fire, ice, electricity, melee ...). Both weapons and armor are divided into three levels of quality. Increasing the quality also increases the slots for changes. These are obtained in various ways, mainly by defeating machines, and they allow you to make the arrows of the bows more powerful or increase the resistance of the armor. Weapons and armor must be purchased from merchants with the game currency: i metal fragments. But the fragments will also be the main element for the ammunition crafting. Each ammunition, in fact, must be created by itself (although it is possible to buy them, if you find yourself in crisis) through multiple materials obtained from the machines. Each defeated enemy will become a useful source of materials, therefore.



Story and side missions in just the right amount

The game is divided into main and side quests. Among the latter, however, there are many that they are as important as the story, both for realization and for narrative importance. During the game we will have to deal with a handful of prominent characters who will open up a series of missions: thanks to them we will be able to get to know them thoroughly. The most generic activities are never too many and in general the annoying recycling of ideas typical of the so-called fetch quests is not perceived.

In the course of the game we will also have to free settlements from bandits, take down corrupt cars, throw ourselves into hunting missions in which to exploit a specific weapon or skill and win a timed challenge or explore the Calderoni, or dungeon chiusi which will end with a kind of boss fight against a big machine. The Cauldrons bond with one of Aloy's most unique abilities: the control of the machines. In fact, it will soon be possible to make the machines our allies: we will be able to use them as a mount or as an aid in battle, although it is not possible to give them specific commands in this case. The Cauldrons, once completed, allow you to control new types of machines, since initially we will be limited to the smaller and weaker ones. This procedure is defined Override.

Explore the game world

Quests will always require you to explore large map sections. The exploration of the game world is very fluid, whether on foot or on the back of a robot. The regions of the Zero Dawn tribes are full of enemies and places to reach: every two hundred steps (less than a minute of fast running of the protagonist) we will have a quick travel point to unlock so that you never find yourself having to travel huge distances over and over again.

The world map becomes visible as you explore it inch by inch, but our goal will be to exploit the Collilungs: robotic brachiosaurus species that have a parabola instead of a head. Once you have performed the Override on their top we will unlock the map section linked to them. Climb on them it won't be like getting to any Assassin's Creed tower or Far Cry. In addition to the fact that they are fewer in number (5 in total), the Collilunghi move according to a predetermined path: we will have to find the best point from which to launch ourselves to begin our climb along their neck; however, these positions will always be defended. Each Collolungo is different and is a real independent mission.

As you may have guessed, Aloy is capable of climbing. Without reaching the dynamism of an Assassin's Creed, Horizon Zero Dawn develops vertically and in the more exploratory phases we will often have to jump and climb from one side to the other. In the same way we will have to do it to recover many of the game collectibles: these are extremely interesting to obtain as they tell a story and provide us with new information.

Horizon Zero Dawn: room for fun

The true quality of Horizon Zero Dawn is definitely the great fun that comes from every phase of the game. Even the simplest and most generic combat will always be adrenaline-pumping and never banal. As you progress through the game and get new arrows, your tactical possibilities will expand: hand in hand, the clashes will remain fresh and fun. The work rewards the player for every action performed and completed, making every single task satisfying.

The main story and the most important "secondary" ones are constantly interesting and we will be pushed to continue not only because we will be well rewarded, but also because we would like to find out how the narration continues. The game, in general terms, has a great pace as it never exaggerates with side events.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Guerrilla's technique

One of the reasons why all of us were impressed with Horizon Zero Dawn from the very start is certainly hers very high visual quality.

Stylistically, the game hits the mark in all its elements. The design of the robots is incredible and we would stand still staring at every single enemy if they weren't charging us to death. The various tribes present are excellently characterized not only at the narrative level but also through unique equipment. The game world is a mix of colors and varied areas: we start from whitewashed woods and arrive at scorching deserts, passing through lush forests and icy peaks.

Technically, the game is one of the best seen on this generation of consoles, especially considering that it is a very dynamic open world and certainly cannot afford to close itself off in confined areas like an Uncharted 4. The only real flaw is the facial animations: this is not a bad element, but compared to the rest there is a certain lack of actorial and realistic. Even the uploads, which become frequent in the advanced stages of the game, are not instant but it is a small price to pay for the technical display offered by the title.

The dubbing is well made and the music constantly accompanies the player, effectively emphasizing the most exciting moments.

Horizon Zero Dawn: patches and new modes

Over the months the game has been supported by developers. In addition to the usual corrections and balances, there is to be emphasized free entry of new difficulty levels. The recent Story mode it lowers the difficulty to a minimum, so as to allow even the most listless player to enjoy the work without being afraid to fight with the larger machines. On the contrary, the Ultra Hard mode it decreases the damage inflicted and increases those suffered, as well as completely blocking the aim assist: this last detail is what determines the real difficulty. In addition, the costs of items sold by merchants increase (with increases of up to seven times the base value, so to speak).

In addition to the difficulty levels, Guerrilla has entered the New Game +. Once you have completed a game, you can create a save to start the New Game +: all objects (except the key ones related to the story, of course), upgrades and skills acquired will be transported. Also, if you have already reached the maximum level (50), the game begins to calculate the experience points and awards a reward for every 100.000 exp. If you complete the NG +, you will get cosmetic components to adorn Aloy depending on the chosen difficulty level. Merchants will also have more powerful versions of the armor we already own.

The game can be completed (and platinized) in approx about fifty hours, play calmly on Normal difficulty. Probably the most hasty will certainly take less. There are no missing or difficulty-related trophies.

Horizon Zero Dawn: who (not) should buy it?

Horizon Zero Dawn is a very high quality title from every point of view which offers a large number of hours of pure and constant fun. You can hardly regret this purchase, unless you strongly hate the genre.

With its mix of action, third-person shooter and big world exploration, Horizon Zero Dawn doesn't particularly revolutionize the genre, but ensures quality and enjoyment of the highest level. Buying it now, if you haven't already, is a good idea even in anticipation of the DLC The Frozen Wilds, which will come next 7th November and will expand the game with a new area and new enemies, as well as a new story.

9.5 A killer application with all the trimmings

Points in favor

  • Graphically incredible
  • Fun from the first to the last moment
  • Nice free additions over the months

Points against

  • Small technical imperfections
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