Tami Parker Fantasy Author & Other Duties as Assigned

Horizon: Zero Dawn

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Full disclosure, we still haven’t finished this one.

HOWEVER, holy bananas is it super well done.

It’s like someone took a ton of my favorite things and rolled them all up into a single bundle.

If you’d like to see some screenshots we’ve taken from our playthrough (yes, they look like promotional materials, but they’re literally us stopping during gameplay and noodling around in their extensive screenshot settings) check out Steven’s Facebook gallery.

1. Dinosaurs

Okay, sure, these dinosaurs are mechanical. They BEHAVE like animals. They move like animals. They breathe like animals. And the fact that they are mechanical makes them SUPER interesting to just … watch. Like the “deer” with rotating antlers that they use to grind up the earth. Or the “sniper cats” that go invisible and shoot land mines at you.

They FEEL perfect. When I’m fighting them, my heart races. Even if they’re fighting each other, there’s this very real feeling of SIZE and AWE to them. Even the little Watchers doing a body slam nearby feels impactful. The giant Thunderjaws are nothing short of amazing, even as you’re embroiled in a battle to take one down.

And riding them? Riding them is GORGEOUSLY fluid. My only complaint is that you can’t ride them all, because you bet your buttons I’d be rolling around on a Thunderjaw or Stormbird.

2. Hiding

Weird to list as number 2 perhaps, but I don’t like being forced to do battle out in the open. I LOVE that this game gives ample waist-high grass clumps to huddle in. Toss a rock or whistle to get someone’s attention, then BAM!

You can do a silent take-down or even turn one of the mechs to your side to fight for you. One of my favorite tactics is to huddle, whistle, make a friend, and then stroll around picking up loot while my minion rips his enemies to shreds. So much fun, you guys.

3. Weapons

Related to the previous, but worth its own note. There are subsets of weapons. Bows for long-distance and precision. Ropecasters for tying an enemy down. Slings for balls of elemental effect and damage. Mines. Bombs. Tripwires. Just enough to cater to your playstyle without seeming overwhelming.

I like finding the ground for an upcoming battle and just LITTERING that floor with tripwires and bombs. Lure your enemy into your minefield and watch his health go down without effort, then pick off the remainder from a distance with a bow.

4. Story

I am in love with this story. The weaving of the past and the future is masterfully done, with tiny tidbits of story coalescing into a giant reveal that we are only just getting embroiled in.

Side note: we haven’t finished the game because we don’t want it to end. It is SO good that we realized we were closing in on the final bits, and stopped to go back and complete all of the areas we’d already gone through.

This is good storytelling, my friends and contains one of my favorite pieces of plotting advice I’ve ever heard.

“You’ve chased a personal riddle into a cloud of larger mysteries.”

Love that so much.

There’s just enough personal choice in responses to make you feel like you’re not completely tied down to events while still maintaining Aloy’s no-nonsense, competent character — and this game absolutely would not be the same without her.

5. The World

This ties into many of the previous points, but it is SO stunning it deserves its own bullet point. Each tribe you meet is different, and each person within that tribe their own person. The environments — that moment of startlement when I rode through the gates from a lush forest into a windy, sand-riddled desert absolutely took my breath away.

Aloy shivers when its cold. Complains when she’s wet. Mutters when the sand blows.

The world feels real, folks, and that is no mean feat.

So, on to the negatives

I spend too much time managing my inventory. There are so many types of machine parts you can pick up for use or selling, and the backpack is only so big. Visiting a vendor and selling is unnecessarily time-consuming and tedious.

The expected visual glitches here and there — every time Aloy stoops down to talk to an NPC on the ground, she rolls her eyes in a way that I know isn’t intended.

… is that it? Yeah, I think that’s it.

Summary: TLDR

If you have the console, I recommend it. Even if you’re not really comfortable with first person shooters, I feel like the weapons allow you to take most fights at YOUR pace.

It’s fun. It’s pretty. It makes me say “wow!” more often than I believed possible in a single game.

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Tami Parker Fantasy Author & Other Duties as Assigned

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