One of the more impactful announcements of E3 2015, Horizon Zero Dawn represents a AAA developer reaching outside of their comfort zone and trying something new. Essentially Monster Hunter with a robotic twist, Horizon Zero Dawn attempts to bring something new to AAA.
Thing is, we haven't exactly seen a ton of the game as of yet. Sony is playing Horizon pretty close to the vest for a game that releases in a little over a month. Still, that hasn't prevented it from remaining a tantalizing prospect, even so far as making it onto our Intriguing Games of 2017 list. Here's what we know about Horizon Zero Dawn so far.
You might not have heard of Guerrilla Games, the developers of Horizon, but you probably heard of their most famous franchise, Killzone. Often positioned as a Call of Duty killer and Sony's answer to Halo, Killzone pushed the technical limits of whatever console it graced. But whether or not the Killzone games ever lived up to the hype, Guerrilla is synonymous with Killzone because they haven't made any other games since their multiplatform debut with Shellshock: Nam '67 in 2004. Now they're ready to release their first non-Killzone IP in 13 years with Horizon.
What does this tell us about Horizon? Guerrilla Games knows how to handle a high-end console, and that's immediately apparent from watching Horizon in action. The robot dinos you're meant to hunt blur the line between moving like a living being but looking like a machine. The environments look gorgeous, with the vibrant green fields and blue skies marking a welcome contrast to the aggressively brown and grey Killzone aesthetic.
The other striking thing about Horizon's design is how much of a departure it is from most everything that Guerrilla's done before. The Killzone games are very much linear shooters, though the latest entry, Killzone Shadow Fall, started to open up its level design to some degree. Horizon's structure is on another level entirely, though. Fully open world with an emphasis on scavenging and survival, Horizon represents a new challenge for Guerrilla. Will they rise to the occasion? We'll have to wait and see.
In the Hunt
So what is Horizon Zero Dawn? Simply put, it's open world Monster Hunter with robots. You play as Aloy, part of a tribe of humans trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, albeit one where nature still thrives. Monsters rule the domain, but these monsters are robotic being that mimic organic creatures to varying degrees. A big part of Horizon is to master these wild robots by scavenging parts off of them. You can do this by destroying these mechs and picking out usable parts from the wreckage. You can also target specific spots on the mechs to get some salvage to fall off.
It's not all going to be robot killing, though, as this all takes place in an open world. Rather than riding around in vehicles, though, you can essentially reprogram certain mechs to become mounts for you. And when you do get around to actually fighting the robots, you're not just mindlessly shooting at them. You can analyze them to determine weak points and what weapons will work best in a given situation, and you can craft traps and restraints to further ensnare your prey with.
On the Horizon
Story details are sparse as of right now, but the main narrative will revolve around mysterious masked groups of people going around destroying villages with corrupted mechs and your quest to find out who they are. The story trailer hints at bigger settlements you'll be visiting, as well as cutscenes. A dialog wheel is included in the game for some of the conversations you're going to have, but there's no clear indication as to how big of a role it will play in the final game.
Horizon Zero Dawn comes out February 28th for the PlayStation 4. Watch this space in the coming weeks for links to in-depth preview coverage and analysis as we learn more about the game.