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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Review: Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn is a game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony. Guerrilla Games is a sub-component of Sony, which makes the game PS4 exclusive.

The game features a tribal girl, Aloy (pronounced E-loy) and focuses on her adventure through the land, tracking down her mother and stopping many various threats and helping many people along the way., and eventually fighting a greater evil.

The one clincher about this game is that most of the game is ranged weapon based, fighting mechanical robot animals, which made it stick out when it was first announced.

The game gathered critical acclaim from many video game reviewing websites and was an extremely hot item, the game is expected to sell between 4 to 8 million units in 2017, and it highly deserves it.

Horizon Zero Dawn revolves around a few things: ranged combat, melee combat, stealth tactics, and overriding machines. Since a lot of the world is inhabited by machine animals, at a point in the game you learn how to override and turn to your side, a lot of the machine animals. If the player goes to locations that are marked "Cauldrons" in the world, they can learn to override every machine animal and give the player a fighting chance.

The ranged combat in the game revolves around using a bow & arrows and bomb-type weapons. The bow and arrow weapons have 3 separate types of bows: One being a general all purpose use bow, the second being a sharpshooter's bow with an increased zoom and damage, and the third being an "elemental" bow per se. 

The normal bow, the end tier of which is the Shadow Hunter's Bow, has generally improved arrows, normal arrows, and fire arrows. 

The Shadow Sharpshooter's Bow is again, a sharpshooting bow. It comes with arrows that can knock components off of mechanical beasts, letting you pick them up (A Ravager's plasma cannon or a Thunderjaw's Disc Launcher) or picking up mechanical components to craft different things in your inventory or to craft ammo. The next ammo for the Sharpshooter Bow is the normal Sharpshooter arrows. These do roughly 30% more damage than the Hunter's Bow's improved arrows on the Shadow version, but they take as a tradeoff, about 20-30% longer on the draw for the bow. The third type of arrows are Harvest Arrows, but at the time of this writing I have not used them, but I would assume they assist in harvesting materials from machines/animals in increased capacities. 

The next bow is the Shadow War Bow, being the elemental arrow shooting bow. The third tier of the bow shoots shock, freeze and corrupt arrows. Corrupt arrows are interesting because they allow you to distract mechanical animals at a distance by corrupting them, and having them fight the other "normal" mechanical animals that are around.

There are also sling weapons, or rather, "slingshot" weapons. The first one uses 3 elements, frost, fire, and shock. These are applied through the use of shooting medium, hand sized spheres at opponents to apply the specified elemental effect. Personally I used the frost effect a lot, because of the damage increasing effects of the frost effect. Basically frosting them up, then spamming the normal Shadow Bow arrows to pretty much 75% more damage on whatever I'm fighting. Extremely useful for fighting large beasties as well as small ones.

The second "slingshot" weapon fires exploding spheres with different properties. The first property lets you lay proximity bombs that explode when an enemy walks near it. It also tosses the enemy to the ground, for you to rush in and get a critical hit in/critical kill. You can also fire these directly at enemies to have them immediately explode for the same amount of damage, which is smaller than the other two kinds of ammo. The next kind of ammo is the normal lobbing bomb that does roughly 100-130 points of damage to a machine and is capable of knocking humans to the ground and knocking down smaller machines, and bigger machines if you're assailing them with tons of fire. The third type is sticky bombs, which, so far I have just used like normal lobbing bombs. The bombs stick to their opponents and do a mid-range of damage between the normal bombs and the proximity bombs.

There are other, specialty weapons in the game, but all in all, the weapons are a core part of the game, and extremely well done, particularly the ones that are used the most, being the bows and slings. I'll leave those specialty weapons to be discovered, wink wink.

Next, I want to talk about overriding machines. Overriding machines lets you turn a machine to fight for you instead of against you. In this unfortunately, in the beginning you can only override Watchers, which, while serve as a useful distraction, don't really do much in the way of damage, unless you somehow get to override like, 5 at a time, which is extremely unlikely. Also, your overridden machines don't follow you anywhere either, they stay to one localized area, which is a shame, because if the machines recognized who you were (minor plot point) and the game said so so they followed you, it'd be a nice way to make a small machine army. But as it stands, nope.

Melee combat is alright, nothing special to write home about in my opinion. Honestly they could have done a much better job with it if people like CDPR can come up with flowing sword forms in The Witcher 3, they could have done better with spear forms. But, the melee combat serves its purpose which, in the end-game, is purely to try and knock down robots so you can tie them down, or freeze/stun/set them on fire, or just wail on them with your spear. Unfortunately during the game you can't buy upgrades for your spear, you earn one upgrade through a side quest (I believe) and the last "Epic" upgrade through the main story quest. For most of the game you are stuck with a low damage melee weapon, and even then the end spear does pitiful damage compared to your ranged weapons, so people should be sticking with ranged unless they're feeling ballsy.

And an RPG game like this wouldn't be complete without dodge-rolling.

Also, the game features a talent tree to up your skills. Assisting you in fighting enemies, being stealthy, or crafting items/crafting large amounts of ammo at one time, etc. I'm not going to list every talent here (though, I could) but suffice it to say every talent in the game has a role to play, and you can also get every talent, which is a good feeling to see a maxed out talent tree.

[Too late for this review so I'm publishing as is unfortunately. 10/10 game though, buy it! Especially if you love third person RPGs!]

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