Published by Sony Interactive Entertainment and developed by its very own Guerilla Games which is known for developing the Killzone franchise, Horizon Zero Dawn arises with great vigor in this modern gaming sphere. Pitched by art director Jan-Bart van Beek in 2010, Horizon Zero Dawn was chosen among the 40 concepts. During an interview with its game director Mathijs de Jonge in Game Informer in 2015, he regarded Horizon Zero Dawn as “the most risky” idea. Game writer John Gonzalez, known for creating the story board for Fallout: New Vegas, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and Tom Clancy’s Endwar, developed the game’s original plot. Musical composers Joris De Man and Niels van der Leest also formulated the game’s engaging music.
Often compared to Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild due to its open-world, action RPG nature, as well as being released in the same month, Horizon Zero Dawn is still diverse because it lacks any fantasy or magical settings. The game is instead grounded into a realistic science fiction atmosphere. Traces of older civilization are recognizable along with the lush environment.
In a video publicized by Leaderboard, it was revealed that Horizon Zero Dawn will take place for 1000 years in the future, in a post-apocalyptic world where vegetation has overgrown the world while robotic beasts called “Machines” have inhabited the new wilderness. After a mysterious catastrophe changed the world, human civilization reverted back to the prehistoric Stone Age where society grouped as hunter-gathering tribes.
In Horizon Zero Dawn, players take on the role of hunter-gatherer Aloy. Ostracized as an outcast by the Nora tribe because of the simple fact that she’s an orphan, Aloy was raised and trained by another outcast named Rost. During Aloy’s childhood, she acquired a device called Focus where she can detect, interact and control Machines. Upon reaching adulthood, she participated in a rite of passage called the Proving so that her tribemates will accept her. After the Proving, Aloy eventually set out on a journey when her tribe was annihilated by the Eclipse cult. In this period, Aloy will be able to discover her true destiny that will change the world.
Players will also be compelled by the vast, perilous environment while realizing the fact that humanity is no longer the dominant species on the planet. In Playstation.Blog’s entry, the game has a day-night cycle with a dynamic weather system, affecting certain gameplay aspects.
Starting with no mandatory tutorials, players have to traverse the harsh world like an adventurer. They can discover new areas and ruins at their own pace while figuring out how to slay certain types of Machines. Unlike Killzone, Horizon Zero Dawn puts emphasis on stealth due to the Machine’s lethal nature. The Machines were based from prehistoric and modern animals with additional weapons like lasers, missiles, and guns. Players will be forced to fight them and scavenge for parts. Players can craft weaponry and healing potions with a user-friendly interface. Weapons include bows, flaming arrows, rope casters and slings. Players can even steal some of the Machine’s detachable weaponry like the Thunderjaw’s disc launcher.
With some incorporated RPG aspects in the game, players can improve Aloy’s capabilities as she levels up. Her skill trees are divided into 3 branches: “Prowler” for the stealth techniques, “Brave” for the combat prowess, and “Forager” for the survival skills.
Over the course of the story, players will learn about the reason behind the world’s collapse, as well as the Machines’ origins. Other than completing the main quest, players may also take side quests to help NPCs and gather information, and tribe quest to improve her relationship with other characters. The players will decide Aloy’s interaction with other characters through dialogues. Players can gain medals and access the Meridian’s Hunter Lodge by completing a series of Hunter’s Challenges. This will also raise Aloy’s status in the society.
Players can travel to some challenging areas like Corruption Zones. In Polygon’s pre-review, players will encounter harder, blood-thirsty Machines. Other than fighting the Machines, players will also have to face hostile hunters and hunt down small animals for food.
Playstation.Blog revealed that players can utilize Photo Mode to take in-game pictures with Aloy and edit them for sharing.