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 Horizon Zero Dawn

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SimianWonder
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PostSubject: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:02 am

Quality console exclusive titles are seemingly pretty rare thing these days, but the last few weeks has seen a few drop, namely Halo Wars 2, Horizon and Zelda BotW. Thing is, simply being exclusive is no guarantee of quality at all, which is why the above three stand out; they're all pretty great, albeit doing different things.

Horizon is Sony's latest attempt at a new exclusive IP, made by the guys behind the Killzone games. Yes, yes, I know, Killzone was always very solid, very competent and technically excellent. Sadly, they were also devoid of much creativity or originality, which is why despite the E3 demo of Horizon being very impressive, I had virtually no real interest in it. I'm sure I wasn't alone there.

In an act that speaks volumes about their confidence in the title however, Sony released the review embargo on the game over a week ahead of release date, which is pretty much unheard of these days, and the reviews were glowing. Not just "it's pretty good", but "holy shit, this is freaking amazing". That kind of thing makes me sit up and take notice, and again, I'm sure I'm not alone there.

So I bought Horizon. What's more, I bought a PS4 Pro to play it on, A) because I'm getting fed up of deleting stuff on my vanilla PS4 and the Pro has a 1tb HDD as standard, and B) Horizon is "Pro enhanced", which means it offers additional features to those with the tech to hand, in this case a Pro and a 4K TV with HDR - (I'll also concede that I really want to play Mass Effect Andromeda in 4k as well, so have been toying with buying a Pro for a while, this just made that decision a little easier to justify) - in this case the option to play at 1080p with locked 30fps or play at checkerboard 4k. Given the frame rate spends 99% of its time at 30fps even at the higher resolution, that's the one I'd opt for.

And it looks... well, it's difficult to mention Horizon without mentioning how it looks. It's absolutely stunning. It's the best looking game on any console right, nothing else compares.

Now, I won't talk the game too much at this point as I'm only an hour or so in, and there's an awful, awful lot I'm still unclear on. Essentially, you're the adopted daughter of a man named Rost, who live as outcasts in a post-post-apocalyptic world (by which I mean it's not post-apocalyptic any more, it feels like a few hundred years after the utter ruin of civilisation as we know it) where most people seem to have regressed to hunter-gatherers and animals have largely been replaced by enormous robot dinosaurs. Your role is to see where you fit in to this world, and maybe try and uncover just what went so Pete Tong, what happened to the old civilisation (ie,us) and where the giant robots came from.

I'll also try not to compare this too much to The Witcher 3, as that was an RPG first, this feels much more like an action-adventure with RPG elements.
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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:46 pm

Yeah, this game is great, there's a lot that is indeed quite mysterious, but I find it to be very engaging and it keeps you interested in the story. I hope it'll keep this up throughout the game though, but at 6 hours in, I've loved absolutely every minute of it.
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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:22 pm

I've only scratched the surface, but have been impressed with what I've seen so far. I've seen a few people say it's a huge 40 hour game - I'm not sure I'd call 40 hours huge necessarily - but as I'd rather have 40 hours of quality than have Guerilla pull a Ubisoft and pad it out with another 30 hours of bullshit collectables and fetch quests.

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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:31 pm

well, for what it's worth, I've been playing for 6 hours, and I've only just left The Embrace.

which is like maybe a 10th of the map I've seen. And I'm pretty sure I didn't do everything there was to do in The Embrace.
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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:46 pm

I'll take my time with it. I'm not one to rush through games, as evidenced by taking 140 hours to get through... another game I said I wasn't going to mention here. At least, I'll try to. Mass Effect Andromeda is out in ten days, and I've been looking forward ti that for the last five years. If Horizon can keep me from ME - especially with a pre-oredered copy in my possession - it'll be something very special indeed.
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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:06 pm

I've just left The Embrace, clocking in at around ten hours and sitting at level 9. I spent a good couple of hours at least just wandering around, gathering as many resources as I could find and - now that I've unlocked a few additional weapons and combat upgrades - practicing a variety combat techniques on some of the unsuspecting wildlife, both natural and mechanical.

In many ways, I can see equally both why some people seem to be blown away by the game, and why others are rather more lukewarm. There's a lot here that is present in one form or another in several other high profile titles of the last four or five years, which seems to be the major complaint I've seen. Whilst this is true, it does rather miss exactly what Horizon does with those ideas; it pulls only the best bits, and integrates them into something greater than the whole. Is it truly original? Not really, no. But is it more than the sum of its parts? Almost certainly.

Hopefully the story can maintain some of the momentum it has gained in the first few hours, because there have been some genuinely touching moments and the mystery of finding out just what the hell happened to the world is a compelling reason to go straight for the jugular of the main story.
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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:06 pm

Spent another few hours exploring my new surroundings, did a couple of sidequests including a few firsts...

Spoiler:
 

Suffice to say, despite a rather cautious start, the game is really starting to dig its claws in now and I can't wait to see what it throws up yet.
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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:04 pm



Stealth plus a time limit is dumb. It forces you to push the game's specific definition of stealth to it's limit, which doesn't feel stealthy, and as it turns out you don't need to be stealthy at all. As you as you loot the crates in time getting spotted doesn't matter.

But anyway, about 40 hours in to this, roughly 65% complete. Not sure how much of the main story is left but I've heard it's quite short. Last story mission I did was Maker's End, which I was stupidly overleveled for. I got to the big robot with 100 guns on it that's supposed to be intimidating, and it died after about 15 seconds of being pelted with grenades. Also discovered the shocking, and dumb, truth behind the machines.

Spoiler:
 

Fighting robots is fun. I heard them refered to as "robot dinosaurs" a lot, but there's really no dinosaur equivalents, except the Thunderjaw. They're just robot versions of modern animals rather than dinosaurs. First time I saw a Thunderjaw was cool though. It's an open game so it's entirely possible to stumble across machines that are much higher leveled than you are, even if you're on the way to a low level mission. So I was walking around and saw something in the distance and thought "What's that? I don't think I've seen that before". I wandered over, and a bunch of NPCs were fighting a Thunderjaw and all getting murdered. I had no clue how to fight it either and after a few minutes I ended up getting chased off a cliff, which hurt, and then I immediately got jumped by bandits.

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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:39 pm

That trial where you have to override 2 Ravagers and then kill a Thunderjaw in 2:30 was a pain. Killing the Thunderjaw in that time would be easy, but forcing you to override the Ravagers justs wastes about 60 seconds, and they barely even help. The only upside is you don't have to worry about them attacking you while you fight the Thunderjaw.

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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:11 pm

Oddly, I thought that was a breeze but rounding up the trials for the lodge was pretty much the very last thing I did in the game, I was using highly modified shadow-tier gear and by that point I was extremely adept at taking down Thunderjaw. Doing whilst it's distracted by two other enemies? Really not much challenge.

Oh, and I won't spoil anything related to the story, but it does an unusually thorough job of answering pretty much any question you could ask of it. It occasionally veers close to cliche at times, but it's nevertheless an excellent story and told very effectively. I was utterly engrossed by it.

Oh, and I just realised that I all but abandoned this topic. Suffice to say, I adored the game and thought it was one of the very best I've played in years.

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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:26 pm

The latest patch, 1.30, has added an Ultra Hard difficulty and - finally! - a new game plus mode. Might be time to dip my toe back into Horizon's waters...
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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sun Jul 09, 2017 11:15 pm

I'm tempted to try NG+ for the Adept weapons, but I rarely play games like this twice. I spend a long, long time on a single playthrough and that's it.

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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:19 pm

My play through was something like seventy hours all in, but that was a 100% run and was a couple of months ago, so by the time I'm done with Persona 5 (which will be another month I'd wager) I'll have had quite a nice break between first and NG+ runs.

I've already per-ordered the DLC too.
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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:34 pm

I somehow didn't fight a Stormbird until just recently. Looking at the map, there's one right on the other side of Daytower, and you can see it quite clearly on the ride down from Daytower. But the first time I got there was at night, and I went straight south to the cauldron, so I completely missed it. It's right next to one of the hunting grounds too, but I didn't even notice it while I was doing the trials. I was just riding past it recently and something crashed into and nearly killed me out of nowhere. I looked around and it was giant electro-bird I'd never seen before. It was pretty cool to see something new after playing for so long.

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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:22 pm

I think Stormbirds can be tougher than Thunderjaw in some circumstances. If you don't have a decent Ropecaster with some handling mods, they're very tough to pin down.
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PostSubject: Re: Horizon Zero Dawn   Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:21 pm

The Frozen Wilds DLC is now out and I've spent a couple of hours with it. Unsurprisingly, it feels like more of the same, but when that same is the best game I played this year that's no bad thing. It still looks incredible and there are new enemy types that genuinely require an alternative approach to take down.

Plus there's a very ominous looking mountain spewing out black smoke laced with red lightning in the distance...
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