In February 2017, one of the most exclusive for PlayStation 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, was released. The game has received fantastic reviews, positive reviews and huge sales, making it one of the best-selling games on the Sony console. But what do we care about PK boys about servile business? On PC, the game comes with the Frozen Wilds add-on, support for high resolutions, ultra-wide aspect ratio up to 32: 9 and a royal 120 FPS (if the video card can handle)! The game will be released very soon on August 7, 2020 on Steam and the Epic Games Store. Since the game is completely new to me and I do not own the PS4 console, I will rate it as a modern game, without reference to the original release date.
Horizon Zero Dawn tells the story of an orphaned girl, Aloy, who is banished by her own tribe to live separately for reasons that will become known to the player after a few hours of play. The action scene is the post-apocalyptic earth, which was captured by robots, with the animals̵
Instead of densely populated mini-sites spread across a deserted world, as WB or Ubisoft do in their open world games, Guerrilla takes a different path. At first glance, the huge map does not turn out to be that big – the map’s high density and population with various places of interest, meadows with robots, missions and design elements create the illusion of a large-scale world. This strategy saves the player from five minutes of travel in the desert between places of interest – there is something interesting in every step. Climbing the towers and looking for different chests is kept to a minimum, but some of the features of modern games in the open world are preserved in full scale. To handle ammunition, for example, you have to sharpen animals from time to time. To begin with, this process is fun, but after a few hours you start to minimize the time costs and kill them in the most optimal way – with the help of stealth death in melee.
The visual design of the game world (especially working with colors and colors) deserves special praise – where you can not climb, what you do not look at – babble! Traveling through the game world is mostly fun, but the system of collisions and wall climbing leaves a lot to be desired. From time to time, the player travels over a rock that interrupts the sprint or stops the horse. Climbing is usually a lot, which is common in modern adventure games. In part, the developers smoothed the process by reducing the amount of micromanagement – you can just keep the direction of movement pressed and the character will do 90% of the jumps and movements yourself, but somewhere you have to press spaces. And then you have to watch the ugly animations: somewhere the character does not physically jump to the ledge and the game just teleports the character closer, and somewhere you jumped, got to the ledge and just fell down. If he accelerates too fast for a small jump, the character simply slows down in the air and falls smoothly where needed, and if he does not jump, teleport to the ledge again. It looks very strange and annoying.
The process of sharpening bullying and the combat system itself are perfectly adapted to the style of the game. We do not have stealth because the main character is a weak girl or because she is a ninja. Stealth – because it is an integral part of the hunt. We learned to hunt for peacefully grazing cars, but we must apply hunting skills to crazy robots and evil people. The main image’s arsenal – various arches, traps, stretchers, straps and baits. Their use is very logical for hunting animals, but at the same time all tools are very easily adapted for hunters.
The game uses a system of critical zones and weak points as the main way to defeat the enemy. In humans, these are heads and body parts that are not protected by armor. Robots have moving body parts and special devices. The deer have cans of fuel on their backs, the horses have a fuel tank on their sides, and the wolves have a natural laser gun on their backs. Destroying some places will provoke an explosion, others will stun enemies, and others will knock them down or swindle. Targeting with a bow and hitting exposed places exactly is very difficult even with a mouse – the hitboxes are small. No cheat pixels and hitboxes magnified compared to visual models – you can of course shoot an inch from the enemy’s head and the arrow will just fly by. Hardcore.
Pumping and equipment proved to be controversial in my opinion. On the one hand, you can practice all the necessary skills in a dozen hours, on the other hand, the tool is perfectly designed. Instead of the ultimate pants for +100 for all statistics, the game uses the specialization of the uniform. There are clothes for stealth, there are for protection against elements, there are for protection in melee, etc. Everything is very logical and fits perfectly in the style of the game. The warrior’s armor consists of heavy protection plates; the hunter’s armor requires silence and does not provide additional protection. It’s the same with weapons – there are long bows that stretch long and hit hard, there are multifunctional ones that allow the use of elemental arrows, and there are bows that allow you to penetrate thick armor. The situation is similar with harnesses, traps and stretch marks. In addition, objects can be upgraded with special enhancements that add statistics similar to objects, enhancing the effect of applying different conditions or protecting against them.
The story is more like classic role-playing games. The main character embarks on a journey from her closed hometown to avenge crimes against humanity, find out the reasons for the robot’s madness and reveal the secret of its own origin. Along the way, the player finds out the story of the origins of the new world, becomes acquainted with different factions, helps solve other people’s problems and saves humanity. The approach to page search design and world travel are also very classic RPGs – the main story takes us through different parts of the map, which opens up new regions for us, creates and reveals new secrets and introduces a variety of flora, fauna and culture. As an RPG fan from the cradle, I was connected and helped distract myself from some of the game’s shortcomings.
In the game, the game manages to avoid the many weaknesses of modern open world games that Assassin’s Creed, Middle Earth, Far Cry and others suffer from. But many of the already classic design elements in the genre are seriously boring in Horizon Zero Dawn, despite the more original approach to game mechanics design. Climbing walls, clearing stupid bandit camps or grinding resources quickly gets boring, but luckily these elements do not take up most of the game. What makes her strong points shine – the beautiful world, the weapon system, the story and the spirit of a top-class RPG adventure.
Technically, the gate is not the most slick. As is often the case with support for extremely wide resolutions, this support was introduced into the game with scaling of the interface and all the necessary details (the FOV slider is also available), but not in the cut scenes. Cut scenes work on the game engine and are linked to the player’s FPS, but for some reason the edges are blurred, even if the entire frame is visible behind this blur. I honestly do not understand why this is such a common problem, which after the release of the game will be solved with a small trainer or change a couple of HEX values on the boot program. The performance is very poor. The only graphical setting that has any effect on FPS is shadows, all other settings have almost no effect on the image counter. Performance hardly suffers from using high resolutions – the difference between 1440p and 1080p is only 3-4 FPS, even if the FOV changes from at least 70 to 90 has a greater effect on the frame rate. Graphically, the game looks outdated: structures with low resolution, flat shadows and light, water and snow sections are of low quality. This is a three year old game that worked well on older consoles. Comparison with Death Stranding Harbor is simply inconvenient – Kojima’s game flew in 4K on video cards that barely pulled out 1080p in Horizon Zero Dawn.
But what’s really cool is HDR. This game is built for HDR. Dark places, bright places, colors – HDR transforms the visual component of the game like nothing else. Honestly, I have never seen a better HDR implementation in games – that’s how the technology should work, and instead we get a useless 1200 nits brightness in the sun in 99% of the games. It is highly likely that we have a first or second day fix and optimized drivers that will resolve performance issues. We keep our finger on the pulse.
In general, we have before us one of the best interpretations of modern open world mechanics. There are almost no idiotic climbing towers looking for chests, the stealth component is interestingly stylized for hunting, the system of clothes and weapons fits perfectly into the balance of the game, as well as quick movement and use of mounts. Some game mechanics are already boring from other games, but they are not used that often – mostly devoted to new and original game components. Horizon Zero Dawn takes great advantage of the developers’ chosen way of presenting the story and the approach to building the game’s world. Somewhere under all the mainstream game mechanics and elements of the game, a real RPG heart beats, whose thump is heard loudly after a few hours of play. This is what allows Horizon Zero Dawn to rise above the competition and become one of the best games in the genre.
- Fighting Mechanics
- Equipment Balance
- Beautiful open world
- Strong plot
- Bugs with collisions and crooked animations
- Sharpen chests and monsters