I’m one of the guys who missed out on Horizon Zero Dawn the first go around. And when the Frozen Wilds DLC came out. And all the subsequent times it was on sale in the PlayStation Store. Look, my point is, there are many times since the release of this game in 2017 where I could have bought and subsequently enjoyed the heck out of it.
But I’m kinda glad I didn’t.
Because lo and behold, 2020 rolls around, and something must have been in the watercooler over at Sony HQ, because the otherwise infamously tightly sealed company just released what was previously a PlayStation 4 exclusive for PC as Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition.
Horizon Zero Dawn is made by Guerilla games, whose only other standout IP is Killzone, a FPS shooter series first released on the PlayStation 2. You follow the journey of tribal outcast Aloy, as she uncovers her past and the source of the corruption spreading among the metal beasts roaming the burned down cityscapes and lush nature of the game’s world.
Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition comes with the Frozen Wilds DLC baked right in, which adds a sizable chunk of new content to the game. There’s new difficulties added in the form of Story Mode, if you’re here for the narrative more than the combat, and Ultra Hard if you want to truly challenge yourself.
There’s also a New Game+ to dive into, once you’ve completed the game, where you keep your gear and level progression from the first playthrough. On top of that, you also gain access to weapons and outfits only available if you bought deluxe editions of the PS4 game. Pretty neat!
Oh, So pretty
Horizon was already a pretty game on PS4, but what difference a couple of years and PC specs can make. The game is absolutely gorgeous, even on a mid range PC. This game has a photo mode, and it is by far the most fun I’ve had with a feature like that. Every photo in this article was taken from my playthrough, and I’m not ashamed to admit how much time I spent in it, looking for cool vistas and situations to take pictures of.
I also have to mention the absolutely gorgeous sound mix. Robots whir and gears grind in stark contrast to the rustling of leaves and the bubbling of water from the rivers. It’s an interesting juxtaposition that is mirrored in every aspect of the game, even the soundtrack which is a mix between tribal drums and electronic blips and bloops.
All the non-player characters inhabiting the world do a great job of making it feel lived in as well, wearing bits of scrap metal as trophies from their kills and basically acting how stone age tribes would do if futuristic machinery was added to the mix. They try to understand the technology that came before them and, not knowing better, worship it as deities. It reminds me of the saying ‘any technology advanced enough is indistinguishable from magic.’
Let Me Tell You a Story
The storytelling on display in Horizon is amazing. From the opening cinematic setting the tone, to the heartfelt dialogue, I was engaged from the get go. It’s not just about discovering your own past, it’s also about discovering what happened to the world itself; Why are machines running wild in nature next to raccoons and turkeys and why does everyone believe it to be the natural order?
The worldbuilding is done through little text and audio files you can scan, and they help to give a glimpse of what the world was like before everything went apocalyptic. Very effective, and very sobering.
The Tip of the Spear
The beautiful backdrop and engaging story would be great and all, but had the combat not been up to snuff, Horizon would have been an experience a bit harder to recommend. That’s luckily not the case. Your main weapons are your spear for close combat, and your bow for ranged attacks. You will also get a hold of tripwires, slingshots and other weaponry to help you fight robots and raiders alike. It is super satisfying to meticulously set up your traps and then scare a flock of robots straight into your minefield of electronic devices.
Leveling up Aloy will give you skill points to tailor the experience to your playstyle. Later in the game, you learn how to make the machines fight for you by overriding them, adding another wrinkle to the mechanics. You can successfully sneak up to one of the more beefy machines in an area, and effectively make it fight for you, taking out the other robots. No matter your approach, taking out enemies stealthily or not, you always feel like a badass once the dust settles.
If you don’t have a PS4, then you’ve been missing out, in other words. That mistake can now be rectified, if you have a PC. Whatever platform you choose, give Horizon Zero Dawn a try. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the absolute best games of this generation.
- Beautiful game world
- Engaging story
- Fun combat
- You sometimes have to eat and sleep instead
Hoizon Zero Dawn review code provided by the publisher. Reviewed on the PC. You can read SP1st and MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.