Horizon Zero Dawn Catch-All

I got a PS4 (my first PlayStation ever) about 3 months ago and have been working my way through this after beating The Last of Us. It does have that familiar, icon-hunting, crossing things off the quest log feel to it. But yeah, the quests, environments, characters and enemies are all interesting, so this is definitely a superior entry into this particular genre.

Right now I'm very much in the part of the game where I'm trying to wrap up all the side quests and collectibles before I rush headlong into the final main quests. This is often the part of the game that really wears out its welcome, but looks like that won't be the case here.

All of the side quests here are world-building and they generally tackle important aspects of that universe. Some of the collectibles are flavor adds, but most of the map points of interest contain valuable logs that help you piece together what has happened and what's currently happening.

I was impressed with the sidequests. No straight up fetch-quests and a lot had fun dialogue and world building. I found the expansion's, Frozen Wilds, characters and sidequests far more interesting than the main game. They made a point of injecting a lot of personality into everyone you interact with.

At first I didn't like the vantage points but really got into that story after I started reading the notes in the collectibles menu. The story the guy is telling is quite touching.

I knew I'd love Horizon Zero Dawn and the game did not disappoint.

gewy wrote:

Right now I'm very much in the part of the game where I'm trying to wrap up all the side quests and collectibles before I rush headlong into the final main quests. This is often the part of the game that really wears out its welcome, but looks like that won't be the case here.

If you get sick of it, remember there's a "post-game" where you can do cleanup. And, much of the content in The Frozen Wilds is intended for post-game play (if the level suggestions on the related quests don't make that clear).

I finished this game for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I found the story particularly interesting and not something that felt overly familiar at all; it was nice to actually play an original story.

The combat was also pretty fun, and really learning what all the different weapons did was both rewarding and kept things exciting.

With that out of the way, I found the open world to be one of the dullest I've played in a long while. Whereas in RDR2 or BOTW you couldn't travel from A to B without stumbling across something interesting to see or do, Horizon's world just felt empty and soulless. I suppose that was in keeping with the narrative, but it just made for boring trecks across the map. I never fast travel in open world games. 120 hours in The Witcher 3, 100 hours in Red Dead Redemption 2, God knows how many in Skyrim, no fast travel. Ever. After a few hours in H:ZD, that was all I was doing. My heart sank after every mission forced you across the entire map, back and forth speaking to someone, finding something, it was just tedious.

Overall I did enjoy the game, and would be interested in a sequel/prequel, but doubt I'll ever go back to this first game simply due to the endless journeys across an empty, uninteresting world.

Alex79uk wrote:

With that out of the way, I found the open world to be one of the dullest I've played in a long while. Whereas in RDR2 or BOTW you couldn't travel from A to B without stumbling across something interesting to see or do, Horizon's world just felt empty and soulless.

I can see that about the travel between places but I found color and depth of people in the villages etc. to make up for it. In BOTW especially there are really only a half dozen or so characters you can interact with. But in H:ZD I found a ton of fleshed out people. It felt much more alive.

farley3k wrote:
Alex79uk wrote:

With that out of the way, I found the open world to be one of the dullest I've played in a long while. Whereas in RDR2 or BOTW you couldn't travel from A to B without stumbling across something interesting to see or do, Horizon's world just felt empty and soulless.

I can see that about the travel between places but I found color and depth of people in the villages etc. to make up for it. In BOTW especially there are really only a half dozen or so characters you can interact with. But in H:ZD I found a ton of fleshed out people. It felt much more alive.

Also there's a lot of areas of the map that you aren't ever guided to that lead to a lot of fun. Like the canyon with the two Thunderjaws makes for a fun fight. Sure there's a metal flower nearby, but you don't have to engage with the machines if you're careful. I enjoyed this open-world a lot, especially the sound design. There's just something cool about walking through places and hearing all the layers of your surroundings.

Oh yeah, the sound was exceptional. I played the game with the Sony gold headphones and there's a preset in the headphone app for the game. I can't honestly say I could tell the difference, but the sound quality was excellent throughout.

Yes, I can see the other side of the argument to the open world, it just never really clicked with me. I found it a chore rather than somewhere I was excited about exploring. Now this may have had a huge part to play in my level of enjoyment, but I was conscious of the fact I wanted to get through the game before it left the PS Now service. As it happened, I had ages left before I'd be unable to play it any more, but still there was that niggle in the back of my mind that I needed to 'get it done'. Whether I'd have found more in the world if I'd decided to take it a bit more easy I will never know I guess.

Alex79uk wrote:

...I found the open world to be one of the dullest I've played in a long while... Overall I did enjoy the game, and would be interested in a sequel/prequel, but doubt I'll ever go back to this first game simply due to the endless journeys across an empty, uninteresting world.

Different strokes. I almost never fast traveled in Horizon, because the world was so spectacularly beautiful, and even 60 hours in I was almost guaranteed to stumble across three or four new things I'd never seen before each time I traversed from one end to the other. I didn't even use mounts, I just legged it on foot.

I also stayed off the roads, which may have something to do with why I found the world to be so full of interest.

I'm still working my way through my first playthrough, and I do find that there is a lot of travel involved in side quests which can sometimes be frustrating. I often use Mounts to speed that part of the travel up.

Last night I accidentally stumbled across the fact that Striders are not the only machines you can ride. I expect I will have much less frustration with side quests moving forward, because it seems to me that a lot of the areas I'm exploring these days don't have striders nearby - but they do have other ridable machine sites.

Edited to add: I hate Soulslike games because I find the combat too tedious and punishing. I think HZD strikes a nice balance of strategic combat vs. forgiving strategy. There's satisfaction in attacking weak points and choosing the right weapon for a job, but if you slog through using normal arrows you can still be successful.

There's also a very useful skill with regard to mounts if you have a look at your skill tree. It's worth investing in as early as possible. I don't want to spoil anything but:

Spoiler:

You can summon rideable mounts to your location.

I saw that one, but the skill point tax is too much right now.

I'm not confident that I'm going to be able to get all the skills by the time I finish. This is another weird and welcome thing about the game - most skill tree games that I've played allow you to complete the game with all skills unlocked. It's a bit more RPGish to restrict skills to a certain quantity, forcing you to choose a playstyle and stick with it. Not a popular option, I'd imagine, but I'm finding it interesting. I wish I'd known up front how important my early choices were going to be in laying the foundation for future work.

I said a while back elsewhere, I think Horizon Zero Dawn is an RPG. Big open world with multiple quests, both main and side, and lots of other optional stuff. Skill tree, experience points, Alloy even gets selectable dialogue. Mechanically, it's identical to something like The Witcher 3, but it just seems weird to think of it as an RPG when you go in expecting a standard 3rd person action adventure.

This game was the breaking point for my acknowledging the rapidly thinning border between open-world and RPG as genres. I played it back to back with NieR: Automata and everywhere I looked, I was told that one was an RPG and the other was not. I found that a little hard to swallow.

Agathos wrote:

This game was the breaking point for my acknowledging the rapidly thinning border between open-world and RPG as genres. I played it back to back with NieR: Automata and everywhere I looked, I was told that one was an RPG and the other was not. I found that a little hard to swallow.

HOW IS THIS AN RPG ANYWAY!!!!

tuffalobuffalo wrote:
Agathos wrote:

This game was the breaking point for my acknowledging the rapidly thinning border between open-world and RPG as genres. I played it back to back with NieR: Automata and everywhere I looked, I was told that one was an RPG and the other was not. I found that a little hard to swallow.

HOW IS THIS AN RPG ANYWAY!!!!

I completely forgot about that and now it's back in my life. Thank you tuffalobuffalo.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:
Agathos wrote:

This game was the breaking point for my acknowledging the rapidly thinning border between open-world and RPG as genres. I played it back to back with NieR: Automata and everywhere I looked, I was told that one was an RPG and the other was not. I found that a little hard to swallow.

HOW IS THIS AN RPG ANYWAY!!!!

That. Is. Amazing!

My life is better now I know it exists.

I didn't really think of HZD's world as a place to explore for people and dialogue or stories and such. It's really not designed like that. I've gone to every square inch of the map and if you're looking for that, the map won't satisfy you. It's really not that kind of game. In that sense, calling it "open world" in the manner of Fallout or Witcher really evokes the wrong impression.

It's really more of an open arena in the manner of Infamous. It's meant to be a dangerous place to hunt machines and that's it. Every place has a unique ecology of those machines. It is interesting if you're looking for a specific combination of machines to fight and terrain to fight them in. There are lots of challenges around the world map of that sort, and you can fast-travel to the fight you're looking for fairly quickly. The way the machines are arrayed are interesting and cool, but each machine and each convoy of machines (which move) are consistent with where they're placed and that also paints a picture of how the Cauldrons function and what they're about.

It's not surprising that you see it that way, LarryC (or, as I think of you, "Rost"), but one of the successes of Horizon is that you're both right and wrong. You're right for you, but wrong for people like me who are less interested in the combat and hunting than the world, its history, and its people. I played Horizon for its "people and dialogue or stories and such". I also enjoyed the combat specifically because I abused the hell out of stealth, which some would say is too overpowered and "breaks the game"; for me it made the game better, because combat is never why I play games.

But how great is that? We both have very different things we enjoy in games, but both of us enjoyed the hell out of the same game, without being aggravated by the parts that weren't our respective cups of tea. I'm very excited for the sequel, and I hope Guerilla can strike the same balance (and that they keep John Gonzalez, the narrative director, who also was lead writer for Fallout: New Vegas).

Jesus... Some of those comments are hilarious. You could sit down and try to explain from now until all mankind is dead and gone (about four weeks at this rate...) why it's bad that Horizon is coming to PC and that makes you cry, but I still won't get it. Spoiled babies, the lot of them.

Third time's the charm as I have managed to finish this game. Overall, I liked the story more than the combat. I know there are fans here, but it never clicked with me. Even though I was killing robots much quicker later in the game, it felt like it was more due to my gear rather than increased skill.

About ten hours in I bought the unlimited fast travel and dropped the difficulty to easy, and then I started to have more fun. Exploring the world was very cool. It is a beautiful game, and I'm glad I got to play it on an HDR TV with the PS4 Pro. Lance Reddick and Ashly Burch both have great performances. Aloy is a great character, and seeing the two of them interact more would be what I hope for in a sequel. Getting the platinum trophy was pretty fun as well.