Horizon Zero Dawn Hands On Impressions

Written by Chad

February 18, 2017

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We played the first few hours of Horizon Zero Dawn and here are some of our impressions.

A few days ago, we managed to get our hands on playing Horizon Zero Hour for a couple of hours during its media session hosted by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The game developed by Guerilla Games; the same team behind the Killzone franchise and this will be their first open world game that they are developing, and so far Horizon is quite promising.

Horizon Zero Dawn is set in a post-apocalyptic world where civilization was destroyed and deadly mechanical behemoths called The Machines have ruled the planet.

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We played through the first chapter of the game and it managed to provide a proper tutorial that does not throw you with a ton of information and tips about the basic control, what it does is that the tutorial tells in a more simplistic approach and lets you perform the basic functions one pace at a time. Doing so allows to have a better distribution of story narrative and familiarity in the controls, where the tutorial is part of the story progression and not forced to be inserted just to explain how the game plays. The tutorial part also helps teach players how to play smart against enemy AI without reminding them what to do next, making it less on the spoon-feeding part and allows players to adopt to the system naturally.

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Once you reach the next chapter, you will be now open to more exploration, and this is where the fun part starts. You can proceed in taking the story missions or explore some parts of the region and gather materials for stock up your ammunition. There are quests that you can take during your journey, while some are optional, completing this can provide you with rewards that will be useful in future battles. In the early parts of the game, we only found story missions that lets you uncover more plot to the story, but it is possible to see some side quests that are scattered around the area, and judging on how each of the story quests were designed, it will be . Hopefully there would be fewer side quests in the beginning to prevent players from getting overwhelmed at the start of their game.

Guerilla Games so far has done great in the art direction, as in most post-apocalyptic themed games, the color grading of the world are more grayish or dark to give a depressing and dark tone in the game. But in Horizon Zero Dawn, the colors in the environment are vibrant, especially in the grassy areas, it helps show the true beauty of nature even when a catastrophe struck the lands. It helps players get a feel in this fantastic world that is something they wish they can live in.

As for the combat, it combines elements of stealth and action and how players can pick on which approach they can take on certain Machines. Moving in silence and taking down unaware Machines can land you bonus EXP and scavenged items, you can hide on tall grasses to become invisible to scouting Watchers and predict their movement patterns when you are in focus mode, Machines are also sensitive to sound so crouch walking will lessen the noise and throwing stones at a location can help distract them. Battling the Machines requires you to familiarize on your surroundings and how the Machines behave. Using the Focus mode, you can pinpoint the weak spot of any Machines that will give you an advantage, the mechanical behemoths have their own pattern of attacks that you should avoid by rolling to the side, and you can lay traps on the field and lure them to it that can disable them for a short period of time. It makes you feel more like a real hunter where you need to scavenge materials from fallen Machines and use it to upgrade your arsenal.

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The controls are comfortable to any players who are used with the standard setup of any shooters, one thing that we wish the game has is the ability to adjust the sensitivity of the camera and movement controls, but even without that option, the controls are not that fidgety that would have make it frustrating to aim or move. Climbing to ledges is also a breeze as there are visual cues to tell you if a wall is climbable. You can attack from afar with your trusty bow or defend yourself with your spear whenever a Machine has gotten close to you and performing attacks doesn’t feel stiff.

So far these are our first impressions after trying out the first few hours in Horizon Zero Dawn and hopefully after we review the full game we will be able to give our final verdict. But Horizon Zero Dawn looks promising thanks to its open world gameplay and hunting massive mechanical creatures. What makes it more interesting is that Guerilla Games is known for the Killzone franchise and jumping from a linear FPS game to an open world RPG seems to be a big challenge for them but so far they are on the right track.

Horizon Zero Dawn will be available for the PlayStation 4 on February 28.

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