The first big open world video game of 2017 arrives tomorrow, February 28. Is it worth it? We all have that one friend who refuses to buy anything but long-ass games kasi hindi sulit. Sometimes that friend is actually you. Well, tell all your friends: Horizon: Zero Dawn is full of good times.
Guerilla Games’s role as a first-party developer has always meant graphics that only masters of the PlayStation hardware can pull off—Horizon is easily one of the best-looking PS4 titles we’ve played.
The open world is filled not just with detail but also fluid animation. Of course, all the visual flourish in the world can’t make trees and grass sexy enough to hold your interest for 60 hours—and that’s where the machines come in. From tiny searchbots to sabre-toothed tigerbots that look like they can eat actual sabre-toothed tigers whole, the mechanical inhabitants of the world are the true stars of Horizon and they look great.
We asked Roland Izjermans, lead concept artist of Guerilla Games, if dinosaurs are the cool thing to have and he replied, “Maybe! But all the creatures are heavily inspired by nature and not necessarily dinosaurs. [For example] the watcher, I know he looks like a dino but he gets a lot of his animation from a meerkat.”
But have you ever seen a human-sized meerkat?
Honestly, we didn’t notice the scoring during our playtime but the bots make lovely mechanical screams and intimidating gachunk gachunk noises. Aloy, the machine-hunting protagonist, is also played by the lovely Ashly Burch in dusky voice mode.
Playing with Aloy borrows a lot of established open world tropes: resource collecting, gathering, skill progression trees, weapon upgrading, map icons that trigger OCD, etc. These are all well-polished and playing with a bow (the must-have video game weapon nowadays) is still fun in 2017. It would feel a bit samey if you’ve played all the big open world titles, but the machines come to the rescue again: fighting them is way more interesting (and involved) than shooting people and non-laser-beam-firing animals in the head. You need to lay traps, pick off armor, and predict their movements just like a real hunter would.
The “Focus mode” visual is a favorite effect of ours in particular
FHM PSA: games like Horizon coming alive also depends on the player! You can skulk in tall grass with stealth upgrades and slooowly pick off foes—and bore yourself because that’s also how you played Far Cry, Tomb Raider/The Rise of the Tomb Raider, MGSV, etc. Or you can purchase a “time slows while jumping” upgrade, equip your loudest, most explosive arrows, run headfirst into dinobots, attempt to headshot them while in mid-air, and then kneeslide your way out.
"That’s when you yell, ‘KOBE!’”
One thousand years into the future, no one remembers why we coexist with metal dinosaurs. Aloy, an outcast of the matriarchal Nora tribe, is the curious type, and decides to find out. Roland says that, “Part of the initial pitch six years ago is humanity losing control and machines taking over and a driving force of somebody wanting to know all those answers.” And the origin of the Zoids is…something you have to play to find out yourself, duh.
Arbitrary number ratings for reviews are terrible so we give Horizon a: play it if you have a PS4. (Because it’s exclusive lol)