PAX West 2016: Exploring the New Horizon

Horizon: Zero Dawn has a lot of hype to live up to as the next release by Guerilla Games as well as the most anticipated upcoming exclusive for the PlayStation 4 (sorry, The Last Guardian). Combining an intriguing mix of a spear wielding heroine, lithe robotic creatures roaming a partially decimated world and a combat style that emphasizes dodging, this has the potential to be a breakout hit in 2017.

 

The game introduces us to Aloy, a warrior 1000 years in the future that fights for survival in a world where technology has overtaken biology as the primary form of life. Her in-game movement and heft reminds me of the Gears of War series, relying heavily on a combination of crouching and directional body rolls to evade enemy fire and create advantageous attack angles. Aloy fares best when using a stealth approach, surprise attack and then loop of dodging and quickly striking to defeat the deceptively smart enemies in Sony’s demo booth at PAX West 2016. The aforementioned creatures resemble the razor shard skinned creatures from the Transformer movies, but with an added level of grace and ferocity.

The world is breathtaking, an atmospheric world where the leaves of grass and mounds formed by clustered trees play an important role in providing Aloy with different angles to approach clustered enemies or to quietly sneak past them. The mix of ranged weapons fire, melee strikes and hacking technologically enhanced creatures provides multiple ways to emerge victorious (or at least relatively unscathed) from combat where you are always outnumbered and required to think quickly to survive.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is a marked departure from Guerilla’s previous work on the Killzone series but it looks really promising so far. Their current mix of a fascinating world, hacking system for unit capture and attention to movement momentum should be the basis for a breakout hit when the game launches next year exclusively on the PlayStation 4.

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