Horizon Zero Dawn
Developer Guerrilla Games Publisher SIE Format PS4 Release February 28
As protagonist Aloy approaches the settlement of Mother’s Rise, built at the base of a snow-covered mountain and defended by rope-tethered palisades, we’re struck by a sudden pining for Skyrim’s frosty climes. It’s an appropriate allusion given Guerrilla’s assertion that Horizon is an open-world action RPG, not just a brawler with ideas above its station.
Despite the deep storyline, crafting system and dense world, it’s Horizon’s effortless combat that stands out. Our first hands-on reveals a remarkably assured, and nuanced, system in which we’re able to switch seamlessly between stealth and action as we use Aloy’s extensive toolkit to hunt Grazers from patches of long grass, tether Watchers before moving in for the kill, and tackle aggressive and agile Shell-walkers.
Our encounter with the last of these, a towering, crab-like robot, feels like a memorable boss fight rather than a typical AI confrontation. The Shell-walker throws up a shield with one arm and lunges with the other, quickly closing the gap between us. We hold the right stick to slow the action and loose a shot Robin of Locksley would be proud of, skimming past the shield’s edge and destroying the Shell-walker’s arm. It’s an exhilarating, unscripted moment, which promises much for Guerrilla’s new direction.