Horizon: Zero Dawn review
Robot dinosaurs FTW!
- Sprawling environment
- Stunning in 4K
- So much to do
- Watch out for 'side-quest fatigue'
Horizon Zero Dawn a modern classic for the PlayStation 4.
Price$ 100.00 (AUD)
I have a confession: when I first saw Horizon Zero Dawn back in 2015 I let out a big ostentatious yawn to signal that I was unimpressed.
I can't explain why, but everything left me cold -- the neo-tribal far future setting, the robot dinosaurs, the ridiculous name, the colour palette, the robot dinosaurs, the stone weapons, the robot dinosaurs. I guess mostly the robot dinosaurs.
I was prepared to be underwhelmed in ways I haven't felt since I wasted nearly 40 minutes on The Last Guardian.
So, let me say this to PlayStation, to the dev team at Guerrilla Games and to anyone who's had to put up with me droning on about Horizon Zero Dawn: I was wrong, so very, very wrong, and I cannot apologise enough.
Horizon Zero Dawn is well-crafted, sprawling, compelling and just damn beautiful. Set in the far future, you play as Aloy a young woman living outcast from her tribe and looking for a way to belong. The world has returned to nature - it's a lush and verdant landscape - and the only blot on the horizon in the bucolic paradise is the sporadic wars between the tribal people. Oh, and the robot dinosaurs everywhere.
I don't want to go into the story of the world too extensively. One of the joys of the game, for me at least, was having it slowly unfold around me. So we'll talk about the scope of the game - but before that, let's talk about how it looks.
In terms of world and character design, Horizon Zero Dawn is just stunning. The attention to detail is immediately obvious in small graphic touches from the way a robot enemy will move its head, through the outfits and weapons. Dynamic weather and day-night cycles make for an ever-changing environment and I often found myself stopping just to check out the scenery. Horizon Zero Dawn will output at 4K with HDR if you're using a PS4 Pro and compatible TV, and a zero-day patch will add more visual options in the menu for Pro users.
Horizon Zero Dawn offers up an open world to explore and fills it with reasons to do so. Ignoring the main story quest, you'll find yourself able to track down strange ancient artefacts, or climb to vantage points and learn more of how the world once was. There are hunting ground challenges and robot filled bunkers to raid. And crafting - so much crafting. In fact, so much crafting that at times to constant collection of resources felt a little Far Cry franchise, although that's not a comparison I'm trying to be offensive with.
Nor am I trying to offend if I say the game reminded me a lot of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, the 2010 game from Ninja Theory, which also had you exploring a robot-filled green world. Enslaved was a vastly enjoyable game, if not the solid hit that I think Horizon will be.
Even on the lowest difficulty settings, you'll need to think about combat rather than just wading in and hoping for the best. The game supplies you with a remarkable arsenal of arrows and traps and bombs and more. Analysing your enemies and matching your combat options to their weaknesses was surprisingly fun - and the game rewards you for your forethought.
That said, you can modulated your play style from stealthy hunter to death-dealing heavy hitter and the skill trees let you customise Aloy's abilities to best match this (and again, it's a little Far Cryish.)
Surprises abound (not all good)
Some of my favourite parts of the game were the surprising side quests that would turn up as you explore the world and the places they'd take you. The people you encounter are well realised, for the most part, and you actually enjoy engaging with them.
But Horizon Zero Dawn had a couple of bum notes here and there. Some of the world elements were a little opaque and not clearly explained, like the Vantage Points where you can climb structures and learn a little history.
I also had one particularly nasty battle at the end of a side quest underground where I managed to hit an end-quest action, so instead of being able to collect all of the high-quality loot littered around, I was congratulated for completing the quest and returned to surface. I did what any reasonable person would do and restarted from an earlier stage.
But the big one for me was the voice of Aloy, Ashly Burch. She's an excellent voice actor who I've enjoyed in many games, but many of her lines felt flat at times as did her delivery. Whether that could have been fixed by the script needing another pass or maybe just an extra take in the recording studio I don't know.
You want more
But these are issues that barely rated compared to my enjoyment of the game. Engaging and oh so enjoyable, I can only offer this as my final bit of praise: while writing this review, all I wanted to do was go back and play the game. Horizon Zero Dawn a modern classic for the PlayStation 4.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Google Daydream VR headset
Huawei Mate 9
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Acer Swift 7
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® Portable SSD
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Surface Pro 4
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Star Citizen dumps DirectX 12 plans to focus on Vulkan-powered graphics
- Dungeons and Dragons ditches pen and paper with D&D Beyond
- Exclusive no more: PlayStation 4 games are coming to the PC via PlayStation Now
- Adding video apps like Netflix to the Nintendo Switch is a waste of Nintendo's energy
- You can download Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes for iOS and Android today
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Behind the scenes with Team Walkinshaw at V8 Supercars Melbourne 2017
- And the 2017 winner of the Formula 1 Best Pit Lane Boom Gantry is...
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTService Desk Operators (Part time and Full Time)SA
- FTETL Informatica DeveloperNSW
- FTC# (Full Stack) DeveloperNSW
- FTFull Stack Web DeveloperNSW
- FTSCCM AdministratorACT
- CCChange AnalystQLD
- FTApplication Support Analyst - Accounting SoftwareNSW
- TPSQL Server Developer | 3 month contract |NSW
- FTServer Engineer l Windows l VMWare l Active DirectoryNSW
- CCSenior Business Analyst - Forecasting SASNSW
- FTSenior Project ManagerNSW
- FTField Deployment EngineerNSW
- CCLevel 1 Helpdesk Support Analyst x3QLD
- FTHR Application Architect - WorkdayVIC
- FTL&D Manager, Transformation Program in Finance ServicesNSW
- CCSenior Project ManagerNSW
- FTService Desk Analyst (Level 1 Support)NSW
- TPBusiness AnalystQLD
- FTApplication Security SpecialistVIC
- TPTeam Leader Project And Quality AssuranceVIC
- CCUnix/Linux Systems AdministratorNSW
- CCSolution ArchitectQLD
- FTKey Account ManagerVIC
- TPService Desk AnalystVIC