I still recall being mesmerized by Horizon : Zero Dawn when it was first revealed at E3 back in 2015, where new IP's seem to be a rarity, this game looked to be the next-system seller. However, coming from developer Guerilla, who have only really dabbled in First Person shooter games ( Namely Killzone ), I was skeptical. Any skepticism was quickly blown away, and I couldn't have been happier.
The story stars a fiery red-headed girl by the name of Aloy, an outcast among her tribe since birth, who wants to discover her origins, and who her mother was. This passion and desire leads Aloy on a quest across the continent to uncover the answers she craves.
Horizon delivers an engaging story, but leaves the player to put the pieces of the story together until the game's finale, and even after it in some ways. Most of the games story is told through "Datalogs" so be sure to pick up any you see along the way. In this aspect, Horizon exceeded all my expectations and in my opinion is one of the strongest aspects of this game, but it also leaves a couple of mysteries open to be explored in a possible sequel, or DLC.
Horizon is one of the most impressive looking games I've ever seen running on a console, right up there with Uncharted 4. Actually, I'd say this is more impressive than Uncharted 4, due to the open world nature. Sure, it runs at 30FPS, but it doesn't feel like it. However, not everything is perfect. The lip syncing on some of the characters looks a bit off sometimes, but it's not that big of a deal in my opinion. With that being said, the voices of all the major characters are well performed and their lip syncing seems to have had more focus than the side characters. However, this doesn't detract from the overall experience in my opinion.
Horizon has a huge world to explore and it is full of activities that are very much worth your time to do. The side quests ( Of which there are many ) don't feel tacked on. A lot of games in this style have simple fetch quests that add nothing to the overall story. The side quests here are well fleshed out, and most are fairly lengthy, but also add to the story. so it's in your best interest to do them.
There are also Cauldrons, which act like tombs from Tomb Raider I suppose. Completing these will allow you to override a bigger variety of machines, which can definitely help as the game goes on. There are also machines called "Tallnecks" which you can override which will allow you see more of the map, similar to the viewpoints in the Assassins Creed franchise. There are also Bandit Camps which you can take over and control. Once all of the enemies have been dispatched at one, it becomes your "Safe House" of sorts, and new merchants, and sometimes side quests can appear here.
Combat in Horizon can be a stealthy encounter or a thrilling battle, with either being amazing experiences regardless of what situation you are in. For both aspects, there are skill trees that can enhance these abilities and make them more powerful as well as expand on their effects. Some of the last skills you can unlock are the best ones, so try and focus on a particular one if you want ( There are a few which I won't mention because of potential spoilers, but you'll know what I mean when you see them )
In some parts however, I found the stealth aspects made the game a bit easier, especially when dealing with human enemies. You can whistle, which attracts enemies, but it only attracts one at a time. So you can essentially sit in a bush and call them over one by one for a stealth kill. While it doesn't kill the experience, it can sometimes break the immersion, at least for me it did.
However, stealth is not the primary focus of the game. The main meat of the game is the intense battles that you will have against the robotic enemies in the world. They all have their weak points that can be exploited with certain traps or ammunition, some go down easy and some will take longer. I still remember a battle with one of the games larger enemies taking a good 10 minutes. The bow and slingshots can be modified to have different elemental ammunition, which can be helpful or detrimental, depending on the enemy. You can craft ammunition on the fly, and it's very easy to do. The open world has a number of trees and flowers which you can collect to make ammunition, so be sure to grab anything you see lying around the world.
My only real gripe is the map. There's no way to toggle different objectives on and off, and also a lot of the objectives or collectibles won't appear unless you zoom right in.. What I'm talking about pertains only to collectibles. There's no way to filter them so only they show on the map. Again, not a big deal, but the only real gripe I could find with the game.
Overall, Horizon has an amazing world, with a lot of different things to do to keep the action and story fresh While it may not do anything revolutionary, it is fun to play, and my time with the game I had trouble putting it down, so be warned.