Guerrilla Games has been working on their new IP Horizon: Zero Dawn since 2011 and it couldn't be more different from their Killzone franchise. They swap the factional warfare, planetary invasions and regime changes for an open-world action RPG full of roaming dinosaurs. Robotic dinosaurs.
Horizon: Zero Dawn launches exclusively for PlayStation 4:
• US - February 28th, 2017
• UK/EU - March 1st, 2017
In Horizon we play as the young hunter Aloy, a female archer who has lived a cloistered life among her community in a world long since taken back by nature with humanity eking out a living in far more modest terms. The open plains meanwhile are stalked by lumbering robotic dinosaur 'creatures'.
Something happens to her own quiet life as a massacre visits her tribe, leading Aloy to undertake a perilous journey to hunt and exact vengeance on the killers in order to to keep the tribe safe for the future. She steps out into the big wide world and soon comes into contact with neighbouring tribal societies.
This is no first-person shooter like Guerrilla Games' long celebrated Killzone, but a single-player third-person open world action RPG with plenty of rough and tumble play around the environment. We swap big guns, grenades and Helghast for slingshots, bow and arrows, ridable mounts, side-questing and exploration.
In some ways it invokes Ubisoft's Far Cry Primal but Horizon: Zero Dawn is a mad mix of humanities' younger tribal days and the remnants of its technological progress. It isn't just about all the action and combat either as you can have conversation with NPCs, with even a dialogue wheel - of sorts. This lets you explore more of the backstory as well as get to know characters and accept any task they have for you. It has strong RPG elements.
It's an open world with plenty to explore and exploit along the way, such as harvesting crafting materials. Much of that will entail combat with the robotic creatures lumbering around and you have a selection of weapons at hand from ranged attacks with a bow or slingshot bombs, to close-up slashing with a sword. There are other weapons and items to pick from using a quick-access wheel. Traps are another utility for making prey easier to down.
A ropecaster is also at our disposal and this is essentially a portable harpoon that can immobilise enemies by tethering them to a fixed spot which is perfect for a hunter. Later Aloy also learns how to manipulate robotic creatures using some technology she acquires - an Override Tool. This allows the player to turn creatures into mountable vehicles or even take them along as companions. Using foliage to hide, Aloy can execute immediate takedowns.
A skill tree system is split between three branches: Prowler for stealth, Brave for combat and Forager for healing and gathering.
A Dynamic World
The open world environment also cycles through day and night along with shifts in weather. This is also accomplished with no pesky loading screens breaking our adventuring as Aloy. There are more difficult areas to traverse known as Corruption Zones where the Machines that populate the land have become infected and are much more aggressive to deal with. The game is built using Guerrilla's proprietary game engine, Decima.
Guerrilla has confirmed there are about 25 different robotic creature designs in Horizon with the Tallnecks used as ideal platforms to scale and use to uncover the map - they are giraffe-like creatures that roam around.
Save points are located at camp fires which you discover about the game world and can also be used as fast-travel points. These will be helpful when you need to zip over to a particular tribe's area when interacting with them and completing quests.
Horizon: Zero Dawn releases exclusively on PlayStation 4 February 28th, 2017 in the US, March 1st in Europe.