Horizon Zero Dawn: The Birth of a New Franchise?

We take a closer look at the PlayStation exclusive, Horizon Zero Dawn.

Horizon Zero Dawn is the latest open world action RPG from Guerrilla Games. The title is exclusive to the PlayStation 4 platform. Players assume the role of the game’s main protagonist Aloy who is a skilled hunter tasked with exploring a lush planet populated by a mysterious race of mechanised creatures. Aloy has an emotional journey ahead as she explores the mysteries of ancient artefacts, learns of advanced technology and investigates tribal societies that could hold the key to the fate of the entire planet.

Horizon Zero Dawn is a huge departure from the genre that Guerrilla Games is best known for – think linear shooters like Killzone. Have the developers managed to make the jump successfully? Let’s find out.

What are the Best Features of Horizon Zero Dawn?

One thing that is noticeable while playing Horizon Zero Dawn is that it has certainly borrowed from other great games such as the Far Cry franchise and The Witcher. However, although these influences are obvious, Horizon still has more than enough originality to be more than just a copycat. This is smart on the part of developers since these are features and gameplay styles that are already well loved by players.

Perhaps the best feature in the game is its combat. Everything just seems to flow naturally during fights and the controls are relatively simple. Combat is fast paced, but it never feels rushed or frenzied. The boss fights are equally good thanks to the excellent A.I. that is present in Horizon. Bosses are going to require some tactical planning to overcome which adds depth to these battles.

Horizon Zero Dawn is also one of the best looking games in recent memory. It takes full advantage of HDR, especially when played on the PS4 Pro with its 4K upscaling capabilities. Some of the graphics are completely breathtaking.

What About The Downsides?

Of course, the game is by no means perfect. One complaint that I have is how long it takes to really get into the game. The story-line has an incredible amount of depth and provides hours of gaming time, but initially it seems very slow. I’ve heard others refer to the first few hours as an extended tutorial level and that is actually a fairly good summary! However, this is only a minor complaint and once you get your teeth into the main plot you will soon forget any annoyance over this.

The Final Verdict

Overall, Horizon Zero Dawn is a very successful release for Guerilla Games. It is never easy for a game developer to make the jump to a totally new genre of game. Which is exactly what Guerilla have done with this new release, but they have done so very successfully. Although there are plenty of action RPG titles on the market right now, Horizon manages to feel fresh and exciting, perhaps because the market seems to be awash with sequels, so having a completely new franchise is a rare treat. The characters are engaging and combat is face paced and dynamic. Players can expect hours of immersive gameplay and there is certainly plenty of scope for expansion in the future. With Horizon Zero Dawn we are surely seeing the birth of a new franchise.

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