Horizon Zero Dawn has been out for a week now, and I have put it in several hours of gameplay. Right off the bat, I can tell you this game is deserving of the great reviews it received. I’m playing on a regular PS4 with a Sony 1080p television, and it looks stunning. I can’t imagine how good It will look on a 4K television running on a PS4 Pro. On top of that, the gameplay feels just right for an open world game. Is this enough to make it an early shoo-in for Game of the Year?
Horizon Zero Dawn is Sony’s Brand New IP
This is a brand new game from Guerilla Games, the makers of the Killzone series, and a Sony exclusive. New games always generate buzz in an industry full of sequels and remaster but sometimes get overshadowed by industry giants. Horizon Zero Dawn received lots of good reviews and had had a great release in its first week. In fact, Sony President Yoshida stated on Twitter that Horizon Zero Dawn is Sony’s biggest PS4 debut. Now Horizon Zero Dawn must survive the onslaught of Zelda news and Zelda: Breath of the Wild has also received rave reviews. I think Horizon has made enough of an impact already, but it will be tough for it to beat out Zelda and a couple of other titles coming out in 2017.
Horizon Zero Dawn’s Stunning Graphics
Graphically, it will be hard to match what Horizon Zero Dawn has accomplished. It’s hard to tell which looks better, Uncharted 4 or Horizon. Considering Horizon is a true open world game, I think it’s a bit more of an accomplishment that Horizon compares to Uncharted 4, despite Horizon having larger areas that have great detail. Horizon’s environment is alive and feels like a world where nature has claimed the monuments of human technology.
The Weather Effects are Spectacular
The forests are lush, and you can see the low hanging fog blocking the sunlight through the canopy, the open fields are filled with flowing blades of grass as far as the horizon, no pun intended, showing the incredible draw distance of this game. Each environment and the corresponding weather pattern and day/night cycles create epic photo opportunities that I actually took the time to use. The only thing that didn’t look as good as everything else was the water, but it isn’t bad enough to be a distraction.
Every Journey is Fun
The world is fascinating to explore. I rarely used a mount or the fast travel option because the journey was just as fun. Hunting animals, exploring, finding relics, and liberating camps from bandits all make for entertaining distractions that put hours between missions but doesn’t feel like wasting time. Horizon Zero Dawn finds a nice balance between an open world with too much to do versus an open world with not enough to do. Horizon doesn’t overwhelm you with micro-managing and a map that’s so large or so crammed with busy work that it feels like a daunting task to complete the game.
The Best Combat in an Open World Game
Gameplay wise, Horizon Zero Dawn is an absolute blast. Grinding in most games is just that, a grind, but in Horizon “hunting and gathering” are the more appropriate terms. Every encounter with an enemy, human, robot, or animal is fun and rewarding. Hunting animals is easy and makes crafting fun, fighting humans mixes up the combat, so you’re not always fighting robots. But fighting robots are where the most fun is, each robot animal is wildly different in their tactics forcing you to think on your feet and react with the tools in your arsenal. We’ve all been in situations in other games where we just don’t want to fight another enemy because it’s the same routine over and over. However, in Horizon Zero Dawn the combat is frenetic and exhilarating and never gets stale.
No Filler Missions Here
The story is absorbing making Horizon hard to put down when life comes calling, although, I have not fully completed the main story. One notable thing I must mention is the quality of the side missions; I think I have completed a majority of the side missions, and the individual stories I experienced during those missions were much more than filler missions with fetch quests. Each side mission felt well crafted and served a purpose in Aloy’s story.
Is it Game of the Year Material?
I think Horizon Zero Dawn is an absolute shoo-in for the Game of the Year discussion, but it has some stiff competition. As mentioned earlier, Horizon is competing with a new Zelda title which has somehow gotten an even higher average of reviews than Horizon. Mass Effect Andromeda is aiming for that title too, and if it’s better than the original trilogy, then it may have a legitimate shot.
So, what do you think of Horizon Zero Dawn? Is this game worth to be the Game of The Year for PS4?