Horizon: Zero Dawn Review

henriquejr

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I've been playing this lately - a few updates/comments to @henriquejr;'s review:

There is a FoV slider now, going from 70 to 100.

The crafting system isn't impressing me. There are some things that are nice, like being able to craft arrows right from the ammo selection point, but the whole thing seems more like tedium than a proper crafting system. Most things you make come from items you can find everywhere. Boars are everywhere (and aren't hostile - this isn't made by PG). Foxes are all over. Every kind of plant is found everywhere. With most all the parts just lying around, there's no skill or exploration to it. Just wander around wherever you are and pick up what you need. To me, that just makes it a bit of tedium between me and the thing I want to make. (But just a bit of tedium.)

A note on the side quests: there are a lot of them. When I got out of the Embrace, it took me something like 30 hours before the next step in the main quest, which got me pretty frustrated with the story. It seemed to just vanish after I got out! Turns out that was because I did some big quests, a bunch of tiny quests, and so on. When I got back to the main quest, I was something like level 25 and the quest was expecting level 15. Ooops.

There's another part of combat - stealth. Hide in a bush, give a little whistle to some nearby machine critter, and hit it with a wicked sneak attack that will kill smaller enemies outright. Later, you learn to take over machines, allowing you to turn a machine to your side. I've managed to get myself killed a few times because I started big beasts fighting each other and got trampled on!

Aloy is pretty good but there's one thing that bugs me: her backstory. She was raised out in the wild by one guy (who seems to have worn the same dead boar for 10+ years ;), shunned by everyone except him. Yet she's stunningly well adjusted! Just pretend she had a great childhood and it's all fine. After all, not many players are going to be able to identify with a person that has that sort of backstory.

The save system is kinda sad. Not only are there save points, but the game doesn't save a lot of things. On the plus side, it does auto-saves pretty often in quests and, with so little to save, it doesn't distract you when it does.

I'm nowhere near done with the game, but I'm having a lot of fun with it! The big draws are the pretty graphics, the fun combat, and the game lore has been pretty good, too (once I got to the "tower of lore" - you'll know it when you get to it).

Hey Zloth!

Thank you for sharing your impressions about the game with us! :)

I played the game's PS4 version and IIRC it has no FOV slider on that platform. It's surely a great addition to the game. I just don't have any plans to buy the PC version. Even the upcoming HZD Forbidden West, I think I'll get it on PS4 as well.

As for the crafting system, I think it's pretty simple, not stellar or impressive. Since we use (at least I did) a lot of arrows and traps to defeat the more dangerous machines, we ran out of ammo pretty quickly. The game just doesn't put an "extra layer of difficulty" (workbenches, recipes and so on) for us to make our own ammo. Do you have the materials available? Go ahead! Sometimes, less is more.

As for the quests, yeah it's pretty easy to get lost doing some side quests and suddenly, when we return to the main quest, we're overleveled :p It happened to me a lot.

The save system is very consoley but at least there are lots of campfires for us to save the game. I'm currently playing Dying Light (on PC) where the save system is even worse.
 

Zloth

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I recently discovered that 'quick save' style saves in the game are done by other things, too. Maybe every time you scan a datapad? I did a quick save at a campfire before going in a dungeon that had one of those "get your errands done before you go in" warnings, thinking I could go back if I came out and found some quest I really wanted to do was auto-failed because of world events. That dungeon is chock full of lore, though, and the game "only" keeps your last 10-or-so quick saves, so that save is gone.

It lets you make quite a few "manual" saves that stay forever, so I could have easily made a proper save first - I just didn't understand the system.

The way you can craft arrows/bombs/whatever mid battle is well done. The slow-motion effect is a good compromise between just letting you craft as much as you like with the game paused and blocking you from crafting completely. What bothers me is how nearly all the components are close by all the time. There's no going up close to a volcano to get fire arrow components. Beating a thunderjaw won't give you a way to make better electric tripwires. It makes gathering components rather ho-hum.

On Monday, I would have said that they are also too plentiful. Until Tuesday night, when I ended up fighting one of those worm things then a corrupted thunderjaw, I never ran out of components for ammo. I never even bothered checking because it wasn't even close to running out! But I did manage to run out of my favorite arrow type against that thunderjaw.
 

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I played the game's PS4 version and IIRC it has no FOV slider on that platform. It's surely a great addition to the game. I just don't have any plans to buy the PC version. Even the upcoming HZD Forbidden West, I think I'll get it on PS4 as well.

I didn't know they were releasing Forbidden West on PS4. I thought it was next-gen only.

The way you can craft arrows/bombs/whatever mid battle is well done. The slow-motion effect is a good compromise between just letting you craft as much as you like with the game paused and blocking you from crafting completely. What bothers me is how nearly all the components are close by all the time. There's no going up close to a volcano to get fire arrow components. Beating a thunderjaw won't give you a way to make better electric tripwires. It makes gathering components rather ho-hum.

I felt that crafting during battles should have been more limited in some way, and I tried to restrict myself to not doing it during combat. It just felt too unrealistic to me.

I can understand why they did it that way though.
 

henriquejr

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I didn't know they were releasing Forbidden West on PS4. I thought it was next-gen only.

Oh yes, the game will be on PS4 as well (see this)
 

Zloth

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I felt that crafting during battles should have been more limited in some way, and I tried to restrict myself to not doing it during combat. It just felt too unrealistic to me.
Well, that certainly would encourage me to use more weapons!
 

Alrik Fassbauer

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I still wonder what kind of system specs the game has for the PC ?
I mean, I bought it, but I won't be able to play it any time soon, I know - but what kind of PC do I really need, if I want to plan for the future ?
 

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I still wonder what kind of system specs the game has for the PC ?
I mean, I bought it, but I won't be able to play it any time soon, I know - but what kind of PC do I really need, if I want to plan for the future ?

Doesn't the place you bought it from provide specs?

I copied them from Steam for you:

MINIMUM:
Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 10 64-bits
Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K@3.3GHz or AMD FX 6300@3.5GHz
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 (3 GB) or AMD Radeon R9 290 (4GB)
DirectX: Version 12
Storage: 100 GB available space

RECOMMENDED:
Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 10 64-bits
Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K@3.5GHz or Ryzen 5 1500X@3.5GHz
Memory: 16 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB) or AMD Radeon RX 580 (8GB)
DirectX: Version 12
Storage: 100 GB available space
 

Alrik Fassbauer

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Thanks. I see it clearer now. I need a new PC for that game anyway.
 

Zloth

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Phew, the Frozen Wilds DLC ups the difficulty! I was pretty pleased with my fancy new armor with its shielding making enemies have to kill me twice. That first demonic scorcher had NO problem killing me twice!
 

JDR13

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Phew, the Frozen Wilds DLC ups the difficulty! I was pretty pleased with my fancy new armor with its shielding making enemies have to kill me twice. That first demonic scorcher had NO problem killing me twice!

Just wait til you meet your first Daemonic Fireclaw. :)
 

Alrik Fassbauer

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Phew, the Frozen Wilds DLC ups the difficulty!

Isn't that the case with *ALL* DLCs, no matter which game ?
(Excluding cosmetic DLCs.)
 

Zloth

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Sometimes they do. Valkyria Chronicles' DLC was a huge step up in difficulty, for instance - even bigger than this one. But overall, it seems to me that most of the do-it-after-the-game-is-over DLCs just continue on with about the same difficulty. (Not that I've been keeping statistics.)
 

JFarrell71

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Isn't that the case with *ALL* DLCs, no matter which game ?
(Excluding cosmetic DLCs.)

No. DLC are frequently set after the end of said game so are often targeted at a higher character level, and maybe that's what you mean, but that's not the same thing as being more difficult. Games in fact often become easiest at high levels.

And if you really mean "no matter which game", then it really doesn't apply. It doesn't even make sense in the context of a lot of game genres.
 

Zloth

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Just wait til you meet your first Daemonic Fireclaw. :)
I just did. Ouch. I *finally* manage to break something off, get the thing down to about half health, and another tower pops up to heal it!?!

I think I may be forced to use one of those fire resistance potions for the first time ever. (Then switch to healing potions ASAP. That system for switching items to use isn't a very good one. I really need to be able to switch it while the game is paused.)
 

Moriendor

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Did you finish the main game/campaign yet including most/all side content? You can do Frozen Wilds in between but I think it makes more sense to treat it like a classic expansion that is played after the main game. It will be a lot easier (still challenging enough) if you do it after the original campaign. It is very combat-heavy.

I was actually pretty darn ready for the game to end after the seemingly endless series of battles in the Frozen Wilds. The constant roaring and crazy huge beast action got on my nerves after a while.

To avoid burnout, I'd say focus on the main campaign first because that one gets very interesting the further you proceed. And I don't mean the actual Aloy story but the background stuff with Sobeck and the various projects she was involved in that lead to the "apocashitstorm". That's where the meat is. It's fun to discover the past events.
 

Zloth

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Finished that nasty fire claw and got the ability to override them! A pity nearly all of them are daemonic. But I found one and had a bit of fun.


Is there anything after hunting the five fire claws? That doesn't sound very interesting. It took a long time to finish this one off, and it isn't even daemonic.
@Moriendor; - I didn't complete the main quest yet, but I'm really close. I got the special armor with the shield, then climbed up to the DLC. The only thing left in the main game seems to be a final battle.

Honestly, without that armor, I doubt I could have gotten through the DLC. The chieftain armor has a healing effect, but it takes some time to kick in. Shields seem to work better, even with towers around to switch the shields off. Bandit leaders' arrows could one-shot me without that shield!
 

JDR13

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I think I was about 75% through the game when I did Frozen Wilds. I wasn't aware that doing it after finishing the main campaign was even an option.

Is there anything after hunting the five fire claws? That doesn't sound very interesting. It took a long time to finish this one off, and it isn't even daemonic.

Tbh, there's no point in finishing that quest unless you just feel compelled to. You don't get anything unique as a reward.
 

Moriendor

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I think I was about 75% through the game when I did Frozen Wilds. I wasn't aware that doing it after finishing the main campaign was even an option.


Technically, IIRC, after finishing the main game, you get a world state right before the final battle so if Zloth is already at that point then that's a good opportunity to do the Frozen Wilds before heading for the finishing line. I finished the main game and then went back from that pre-final autosave to finish Frozen Wilds. It's the same thing basically.

I thought he might be further away from the end of the main campaign and if that would have been the case then it would have made sense to level up some more and grab the best end game gear in order to make the Frozen Wilds less of a slog.

Personally, and keeping it vague not to spoil anything, but I found the fight against that one earth worm machine in that relatively little "arena" the hardest fight of the Frozen Wilds. That one was really annoying (on 'hard' difficulty).

The various claws are pretty tough, too, and I feel they have overdone it a bit with the agility and mobility of them. They seem to be weightless in how they zap around the battlefield. One moment the Claw is 200m out, one millisecond later it is standing on top of Aloy, another millisecond later it turns on a dime to whack you with its tail... sheesh... it's a bit silly and ridiculous at times how these massive machines stick to Aloy like glue, even when you have all of the skills like the longer dodge roll etc.
 

JDR13

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Personally, and keeping it vague not to spoil anything, but I found the fight against that one earth worm machine in that relatively little "arena" the hardest fight of the Frozen Wilds. That one was really annoying (on 'hard' difficulty).

Oddy enough, I don't remember that one. I remember the first time you encounter a (Rockmaw?) in the base game though in that mining area. That fight was a real bitch at low-level until I figured out what I needed to do.

The various claws are pretty tough, too, and I feel they have overdone it a bit with the agility and mobility of them. They seem to be weightless in how they zap around the battlefield. One moment the Claw is 200m out, one millisecond later it is standing on top of Aloy, another millisecond later it turns on a dime to whack you with its tail… sheesh… it's a bit silly and ridiculous at times how these massive machines stick to Aloy like glue, even when you have all of the skills like the longer dodge roll etc.

I don't think I had as much of a problem with their speed as I did with the excessive amounts of armor and HP they have. I just tried to use the environment by always staying near a small hill or other obstacle they couldn't smash through to counter their pursuit.

I generally liked the expansion and the story behind it, but I was definitely ready to move on from the bullet sponge enemies by the time I finished that area.
 

Moriendor

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Oddy enough, I don't remember that one. I remember the first time you encounter a (Rockmaw?) in the base game though in that mining area. That fight was a real bitch at low-level until I figured out what I needed to do.

Yeah, that Rockmaw in the mine was pretty "easy". I also had to return to it later on because I was quite low level when I first came to that area but later on it was very doable.

The Frozen Wilds fight I meant can be seen in this video (spoiler alert for anyone who has not done this Frozen Wilds quest). The monster is called differently but its design is obviously heavily "inspired" by the Rockmaw.

I generally liked the expansion and the story behind it, but I was definitely ready to move on from the bullet sponge enemies by the time I finished that area.
I was also glad when I was finally done with the Frozen Wilds (and the game since I finished it before FW). A little longer and the game would have overstayed its welcome. I liked it all well enough but it was just about to get a bit tedious on the home stretch.

That's why I'm in no real hurry regarding Forbidden West (if it ever comes to PC at all). The saturation effect from this game and setting is a strong one for me personally. I'll be ready and curious about how Aloy's adventures continue in due time if and when a PC port is coming.
 
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