Almost two years after it was first announced at E3 2015, gamers finally able to get their hands on Horizon Zero Dawn (HZD) at the end of last month. In many ways, the game marked a big shift for Guerrilla Games as HZD is a third-person role playing game rather than the company’s first-person shooters such as Killzone series and the PS VR-exclusive RIGS: Mechanized Combat League that helped cement the studio’s name in the industry.
While the team had a taste of HZD at E3 and Tokyo Game Show last year, I recently managed to have some play time with the finalized game – specifically, the first three main quests of the game which represents approximately nine to ten percent of the game. That might sound rather short but it took me almost 2 hours to finish them which generally showed how big the game is.
Given how these quests came from the early parts of the game, they are fairly different from the pre-release demo that Guetrilla Games have shown to us before. This is mainly because the pre-release demo features the main character, Aloy with higher level of skills and more tricked out weapons while facing much more advanced machines as opposed to the first three chapters that mainly covered Aloy’s backstory as well as the basic mechanics of HZD.
Nevertheless, just like the demo, the first thing that caught our attention in HZD is how beautiful the world that Guerilla Games have crafted for the game. Frankly speaking, it looked quite amazing even on a standard PlayStation 4. Clearly, Guerilla Games has managed to deliver its promise on “a vibrant and lush world” as mentioned in HZD’s official description.
Given its significance to the game mechanics and storyline, it is not surprising that the Focus device which is the holographic earpiece that allows Aloy to analyze interest points, objects, and machines in the HZD’s vast open world is introduced to players within the first main quest of the game. This is also where players are introduced to datapoints which are audio and hologram clips that provide additional narrative to the fate and lives of Old Ones.
Guerilla continues to teach users the basic of HZD as the storyline progresses into the second main quests of the game which revolves around hunting and stealth. Basic weaponry and crafting are also introduced within this part of the game as well which is good enough for starters but gamers might want to take some time to learn more about the system in order to help them progress through HZD more swiftly.
I suppose that they are also likely the reasons why gamers are introduced to the first two mechanized animal-like machines in this part of the game as well which come in the form of Watchers and Striders. At the end of this particular quest, gamers will then encounter their first Flashpoints which they will be asked to choose conversation responses that are categorized by emotions. In general, it doesn’t really affect the game but really helpful in delivering the story and make gamers feel more connected with Aloy.
The third main quest begins few years after the end of previous quest with Aloy has grown into a young lady as well as an experienced hunter. Within this part of the game, players would learn about HZD’s skill system that allows them to upgrade Alloy’s combat and crafting capabilities.
This particular part of the game also allows players to polish their hunting skills before moving to the next chapter where Aloy will try to redeem her place in the Nora tribe by going through a coming of age event called The Proving. This is done by introducing another new machine called Sawtooth but before that takes place, players will be introduced to trading as Aloy is asked to acquire another weapon to help her go against Sawtooth.
Up to this point of the game, HZD is still engaging enough to keep me going and this come from someone who doesn’t usually play RPG titles as I don’t have much patience for long winded games. The game doesn’t feel draggy at all and while these early quests are rather easy, they are still challenging enough for me to keep me playing instead of yawning away.
I was originally attracted to HZD via pre-release demo due to its beautiful graphics as well as the intense close combat battle with machines and fairly in-depth weapon system. Since I’m still in the early part of the game, I’m yet to have sufficient experience to give a full verdict on HZD but as I’m still holding the DualShock 4 controller and putting Aloy through her paces in the vast open world of HZD, consider that as a positive sign.