While Horizon Zero Dawn has been on the watch list since E3 2015, it’s only this year that it finally arrived on the gaming map with a full gameplay trailer, which you can check out below. It’s always looked like it’s got the potential to impress and the latest gameplay action continues to build anticipation with yet more time splicing action that combines tribal, prehistoric settings with robotic beasts roaming the land.
On paper it sounds like a completely random concept, but when you see it up and running it kind of works really well; building on the cool, old-world/new-world, futuristic tech mashup with a mystery element as you try to piece together how it’s all come to exist in the same place. You can see a pretty good example of this in the gameplay video below as the lead character heads out from the safety of her tribe to face a mecha-spider-like creature described as a demon. It draws you into the mysterious situation even more in the final scene when the demon’s technology is described as ancient, leaving you with a lot to piece together.
Horizon Zero Dawn will be making its way to a PlayStation 4 near you with a UK release date of the 3rd March 2017, so there’s still a fair amount of time before you’ll get to find out how it shakes out for yourself. It’ll be arriving in the US and the rest of North America a little earlier on the 28th February 2017, so for any UK gamers out there, you’ll have to put up with a little transatlantic gloating on this one. However, it does mean that you’ll get some review verdicts to go on before you get the game yourself.
Overall the release has been put back a little from its initial late 2016 planned arrival, but developers Guerrilla Games have announced that the extra time has been added to allow them to craft the end product to perfection, so it could end up being a good thing in the long run.
In addition to the standard version release of the game, PlayStation has also put together a Special Edition pack, which includes a steelbook case, a snazzy art book, an exclusive PS4 theme and a little chunk of in-game DLC.
The plot for the pre-historic mechathon is set on Earth a thousand years after an apocalyptic even that has led to a future in which humans have been left to cling to life in hunter-gatherer tribes as robots have become the dominant species. It revolves around female central character, Aloy, as she tries to work out the truth behind the situation, while facing the arrival of a new threat.
She’s spent her entire life as an outcast from her tribe, so she’s had to get used to building up her self-preservation skills against the mighty Machines and rival tribes-people. As she starts to pick up on an alarming series of events she gets lead down a very dangerous path as she tries to unpick the mystery behind the ancient technology that has started to threaten life on the planet.
Horizon Zero Dawn is a essentially a third-person action role playing game that sees you controlling Aloy as you head out into the tech-wilds in search answers to dark, robotic tides that have begun to sweep the lands. You can see from the gameplay trailer below that Aloy is a tribal warrior, but she’s also got a certain amount of tech in her own arsenal to bring down the more sinister machines that are wreaking havoc on the strange planet. While these all look like traditional tribal weaponry, ranging from spears and a bow to a simple slingshot, they’re loaded with with technological modification opportunities.
These come by way of scavenging defeated Machines for the parts to build out your arsenal and use their advanced tech against them. This can be shock bombs for your slingshot, which kicks out a burst of electricity to short circuit attacking robots, or explosive traps and a rope caster that you can use to pin the bots to the ground to finish them off.
In addition to the weapons technology that you can take advantage of, you’ll also be able to hack some of the robotic wildlife and include them in the gameplay. From what we’ve seen to-date this is mostly to hitch a ride on a Broadhead, which looks a bit like a mechanised bison, but we’re expecting there to be a fair bit of variation with a complex range of options when it comes to hacking the Machines. Broadheads don’t just represent a quick lift to get around the countryside at a slightly faster pace as you can also use them for riding combat, shooting your bow from the relative comfort of their back, while on the move.
You’ve also got a scanner device, which you can use to learn more about the enemies that you face, which highlights their weaponry and potential scavenging opportunities should you manage to take them down.
It all comes together in a massive scale wilderness open world setting, which has a lot of terrain to cover from lush valleys to ragged rocky outcrops. There’s definitely a little to the gameplay that feels similar to a lot of other third person action adventures, but Guerrilla has done a solid job of giving the game a very unique concept to build on.
The visuals in the gameplay trailer look very impressive, but it’s hard to overlook the occasional pop of environment rendering fluctuations as things appear as if from nowhere and stutter from point to point. Admittedly, it is fairly rare, and for the most part you need to be looking for it, but once you’ve seen it once, you’ll spot it more, but then Guerrilla has got until the March release date to hone the draw distances, so maybe it won’t actually be present in the fully finished game.
The cut scenes are pretty cool, especially when they feature either an epic open world sweep or a view up at some of the larger robotic creatures that roam the land. The character and facial rendering is fairly sharp, but it’s slightly stylised so Aloy and the rest of the tribesmen and women look just this side of real life. Shadows work well for the most part to add depth and environmental accuracy to the game, but they can look a little hard edged on faces, especially when representing hair.
We’re still very much in awe of the potential that Horizon Zero Dawn appears to have, so it’s definitely a big feather in the PlayStation cap with it being an exclusive PS4 release. The idea behind the game is like an old scab that you just want to pick at to find out what the shiny new skin underneath feels like, and if it can harness that sense of anticipation, curiosity and adventure throughout the story then it could be on of the biggest 2017 game releases.