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Horizon Zero Dawn Spoiler Free Review

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Welcome to the future. We've had post-apocalyptic settings in the past where we are thrown into a world of decay, sadness and drab scenery. Horizon Zero Dawn has pushed beyond that into a post-post-apocalyptic time where the world has fallen at the hands of unruly robotic beasts, however time has passed and the world as it is known in this world is beginning to rebuild itself. Beyond the title screen of Horizon Zero Dawn awaits a lush and colourful open world that includes breath taking vistas and the most breath taking graphics that has ever graced the Playstation 4. This is Horizon Zero Dawn.

I have played many open world action adventure role playing games in the past and they are often received with great success. Horizon Zero Dawn fits into the genre but goes into territories that obviously take inspiration from the greats that precede it in time. Horizon Zero Dawn takes inspiration from other games such as Tomb Raider, Far Cry 4 and Assassin's Creed and moulds it all together to create one whole game that will reach out far beyond the single genre that it is seated within.
Choosing to create Aloy, a female protagonist for such a high profile video game must have been an extreme gamble for Sony and Guerrilla Games, but it's with pleasure that I have found that this so called risk has paid off. Aloy and her main quest will take roughly around 30+ hours to complete, however there are many open world style side missions and collectibles within the game to keep you busy beyond the end credits.

The main story quest line puts you into the boots of a strong but feminine protagonist named Aloy (Aye Loy). Aloy grows into a strong capable hunter with the help of her heroine father figure named Rost. Rost, although he is not Aloy's actual father, he is the only one who was been there for her as she grew into a woman. Rost is a member of the Nora Tribe and like Aloy, he has been outcast from his tribe for reasons unknown. Rost was cast out of the Nora Tribe and by order he was to raise Aloy from a baby and sworn to never tell Aloy why she has been shunned by the Tribe and to keep all of her past a secret. So as a young hunter, you set off a series of events during your quest to uncover the mystery behind your origins and endeavour to create a better new world to live in.
Horizon Zero Dawn is played with a third person view and the controls are smooth and easy to get used to. Aloy has a slew of abilities that she can use and all of these abilities can be used in tandem with a set of excellent makeshift style weapons. Aloy's primary weapon that you will use most of the time is a bow and arrow that resembles a modern style compound bow, however with some futuristic looking upgrades, while also looking quite archaic at the same time. Further along with the weapons you will find yourself armed with a Ropecaster for tethering enemies to the ground to keep them still for a while and a Tripcaster to quickly set up traps on the ground for enemies to fall victim to. The arsenal that you have are all eventually upgradable whether it be in the form of mods or by purchasing new and more powerful versions of the same weapons.

Something that is quite satisfying is that there are these amazing weapons in the game, but you won't have to wait until you're near the end to get your hands on them. All of these weapons and more will become available within the first five to ten hours of play so that you get to show them off before the game ends.
Using different weapons is a must within the world. There is no 'one weapons fits all' here and the diversity built into the enemies is so well done that you will have to mix and match your attack to the enemy at hand. Whether you change up for a different weapon totally, or just switch the style of ammunition you use to try and bring down that larger than life enemy is entirely up to you, but it's definitely the way to go.

The enemies in Horizon Zero Dawn add a fan boy factor to an already enjoyable third person open world game. What we have here are the remains of a world where technology went too far and was no longer at the beck and call of mankind. Here we have robotic dinosaurs. Take a moment to take that in because it's something that gamers have always been asking to have added into games. These creatures of steel come in ranging sizes from simple, smaller robots that are nimble and aggressive, all the way to larger than life epic monster sized beasts. Some are moderately tamed with the skittish nature of something like a cow, and some are aggressive and hostile towards you even for just looking in their direction.
Not only do these robotic creatures fulfil the part of the dangers that lurk in the open world, these steel dinos can be used to harvest parts for crafting weapons, earning XP and they can also be tamed and used as mounts. Yeah that's right, you can ride some of the robots so that you can travel across land a lot faster and you can also use them to help in combat. The amazing doesn't end. It really doesn't. This is the game we've been asking about for long time.

The graphics in Horizon Zero Dawn have been looking pretty inviting for a long time leading up to the release. There's one thing for developers to make specific sections of a demo or trailer look fantastic, but then there's another to deliver the game looking pristine. I have played Horizon Zero Dawn predominantly on a Playstation 4 Pro and the visuals have been absolutely mind blowing. I have often found myself pausing the game and entering Photo Mode just so I can take in the full detail that has been put into everything within the game. It's like staring into a world where colour and detail is perfection. All the way from Aloy's flowing red hair, to the scratched up metal skins of the war torn battlebots, the detail has gone all the way to eleven. In 4K resolution on the Playstation 4 Pro and HDR compatible output, the game is just as enjoyable during the daytime as it is in the night.
Playing through Horizon Zero Dawn has been a treat no matter how I decided to play. There are sections of play where you will be against human enemies, where a stealthy approach is favoured. It's nice to see that so much variety in game play exists where you can take it upon yourself to either toughen up and go in blazing with explosions and flying arrows, or you can take a quieter approach and stick to the shadows and hide in the long grass. You can also go another way and just assault your enemies from vantage points high up above and keep moving to avoid incoming fire. Sometimes, if you're like me, you will be putting all different styles together just to stay alive.

For a video game that is set in a time where technology is advanced and knowledge is lost, Horizon Zero Dawn has managed a fully immersive, colourful and active play field. Hunting, fighting, scavenging, crafting and progressing is all fun to be had for the player. All of these amazing parts of the game detract away from the seriously minor graphical bugs that rear up from time to time. Issues within the game have been minimal and this is all before the day one update has been applied due to early access.

If you've been saving your time and money for a game worthy of playing in 2017, Horizon Zero Dawn is definitely that game. It really has taken the best bits from our favourite games and smashed them into one dead on perfect game.

Release Date: 1st March 2017
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Reviewed on Playstation 4 Pro

Lucas Aurelius
Aussie Gamers Express
20th February 2017
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