Horizon Zero Dawn First Impressions, Interview
This new open-world game for the PS4 is coming out this week. Check out our interview with the game’s lead concept artist Roland Ijzermans and our first impressions after the break.
We weren’t allowed to take footage of the game itself, but we were given the chance to play with the complete game, not a demo, for the first hour or so.
I myself am very familiar with how open world genres work, and I’ve played countless titles in recent years – so I breezed through the introductory chapter quite fast. I’d say I’m a fan of speed-running, so I was able to finish first more or less in defeating the first boss in an hour or so in Chapter 3. We were no longer allowed to play further because of possibly huge spoilers.
Plot: The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where nature has reclaimed the world and there are remnants of rogue technology roaming the environment. The plot will be fully explained once the game is out, and we’ve been told that the title refers to a huge plot point in the story that they can’t explain yet.
So far, the premise is exciting and the mystery is its pull. You’re left to explore this world as an initial outcast named Aloy, and things will start to go wrong as you find out more about the lore of Horizon Zero Dawn. Not much happened until Chapter 3, so we can’t say anything more.
Gameplay & Mechanics: It’s an open-world game with very similar mechanics to other games. You explore the area, there are enemies roaming around, you craft items, you engage with NPCs, you take on quests, you find weapons, you upgrade your arsenal & skills, and that’s it – basically.
Combat has been very satisfying as it offers long range and melee options to engage enemies, and there has been a lot of options to do. You can use the environment, lay down traps, approach with stealth, or go brute force. I haven’t encountered any gripes with it, but at the same time, I didn’t find anything ground breaking with its mechanic; it works for the most part.
Controls offer you the basics from attacking, jumping to running, but you can climb certain walls, cross tight ropes, hide, roll, change weapons instantly, and craft ammo on the go. There’s also a choice dynamic that shouldn’t change the ending, but should affect your environment & standing in-game, depending whether you go Cognitive, Compassionate or Aggressive.
Graphics: Amazing. Everything runs beautifully on the standard PS4, so what more on the PS4 Pro. From grass to hair and everything else, graphics look detailed, well-lit and alive. The motion blur is also a very nice touch. We were running it on a 1080p TV, so we were really impressed.
There were just times that the view felt cramped in tight spaces.
Characters, Dialogue & Acting: The first part of the game where Aloy is a child was actually kind of cringe-worthy. I was playing through it and the kid kept making obvious comments on what was happening that I was worried this game was going to have a script. Thankfully, after that, it was a lot better.
Disclaimer, I skipped a lot of cutscenes and dialogue in an effort to go as far as possible into the game in the given time (but I was cut on Chapter 3 anyways, LOL), but I haven’t found much emotional attachment to more characters. There weren’t also very vibrant that it felt flat, but then again, I haven’t met a lot yet so – we’ll leave that to be judged some other time.
Overall, the game has a lot of potential, and for those curious on how the whole tech & nature dynamic is going to work, it seems that’s going to be the game’s biggest strength.
It might be easier to give you an idea of what the game is like by comparing it to existing games, so: it’s like Fallout without the nuclear stuff, replaced by a Last of Us / Uncharted vibe, with elements from other open world games like Watch Dogs for example. While that may seem vague and complicated at the same time, we suggest that you’d all just wait and see.
The game is coming out this week, February 28, and is exclusive to the PS4.