My First Few Hours With Horizon: Zero Dawn

You know how I like to complain about open world games? Well, I have good news for you: there will be no complaining today…for the most part.

After being spoiled by The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I had figured it would be quite a while before another open world game would be able to hook me into its world the way The Witcher had. I wasn’t wrong. The Witcher 3 was released back in May 2015 (whoa — that’s actually, like, a long time ago…) and I haven’t sunk time into many open world titles since then.

Horizon: Zero Dawn, however, is the next open world title that I will undoubtedly spend a lot of time exploring.

The beginning of the game sets up the story wonderfully with a lot of callbacks to one of my favorite movies of all time, “The Lion King.” I won’t go into any story details since the game just came out, but Guerrilla successfully sets up a story that provides you with a lot of questions about its world and if you want to find the answers, you’ll have to seek them out.

Exploring the vast world of Horizon: Zero Dawn is an absolute joy. It’s beautiful, varied, and believable. One of my favorite shows on television right now is “The 100.” The show puts you in a post-post apocalyptic world that’s oddly familiar, but very different. It’s mysterious and a world you want to explore and learn more about; that’s the feeling Horizon gives you every time you start the game.

For me to even remotely enjoy an open world game at this point, it has to have a world that I want to take the time to trek across and discover new areas. Horizon does this very well and also makes sure that you aren’t overwhelmed by the enormity of the world right away. There’s a lot of side things to do in the world and, thankfully they didn’t pull, a Mafia III and make the main story missions locked behind completing side activities.

I obviously can’t forget to mention the fact there’s massive robotic beasts roaming the world that are a hell of a lot more challenging to fight than I thought they’d be. Even the smallest of the robotic creatures can put up a pretty good fight. The combat requires you to be constantly on the move and utilizing all the different tools you have at your disposal. The human enemies you”ll face, however, are quite the opposite — so far, are my only major complaint about the game.

I’m about a quarter of the way through the main storyline by now, and I’ve fought a lot of humans thus far. Dumb humans, too. This came as a surprise to me due to how impressive the AI is for the robot creatures. Fighting humans is a pretty dull affair and makes some of the missions you partake in feel a bit samey, but it’s not enough to dull the entire experience thankfully.

It’ll be a bit before I have a full review up of Horizon: Zero Dawn, but I can already tell you it’s going to be a positive one. I’m very critical of open world games, but Horizon is hitting all the right notes so far. There’s a great balance here between combat, exploration and a story I actually want to see through to the end.

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