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.

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