EB Expo 2016 – Horizon Zero Dawn Impressions

I have been following Horizon Zero Dawn for quite some time. I mean, it is going to be Guerrilla Games first IP since Killzone and it is going to be an action RPG set on Earth after an apocalyptic event. The game stars Aloy, a hunter who hunts machines, which are the prominent species on Earth. At this year’s EB Games Expo, Horizon Zero Dawn was the one of the centrepieces of the PlayStation Booth. After trying out the game, I’m becoming more and more hopeful this game is going to be excellent.

The experience started with a demonstration of various gameplay mechanics available in the demo. The demo itself was a rehash of the E3 demo shown earlier in June. In this demo, Aloy, the protagonist of Horizon Zero Dawn, starts exploring and encounters heavy machinery hoisting resources. As she collects the resources, a man from a nearby village warns Aloy of a “demon”. Needing a way to get there, she spots a herd of mechanical bulls (the name escapes me) just minding their own business. This is where the audience saw Aloy hack the machine to turn it into her mount. She rides to the village to see a corrupted machine. Using different arrows and explosive traps, she defeats the corrupted machine.

As I watch the demo, the graphics were exceptional. Earth, which is in a post apocalyptic state, looked far from it. The environment was bright, vibrant and beautiful. Nature is the most prominent, including lush plains and beautiful trees. Throughout the demo, we saw different environments, including a small village where the machine was based in. Even the character models look absolutely stunning. Whether the game was still in some form of beta or it was the master version, it was a beautiful game to see. At the front of the PlayStation booth, Horizon was demonstrated on the PlayStation 4 Pro and a 4K TV, so the world looked even more stunning.

Once the demonstration was over, it was our turn to finally get our hands on the game. The demo we saw, however, was completely different from what we saw. The demo we saw was story focused, but also showed off gameplay elements we were going to use. The demo we played certainly showed off the different gameplay elements of the game in an objective based environment. During our demo, we were able to sneak up to small machine creatures known as Watchers and stealth kill them. We were also able to hack into a mechanical butt to ride it as a mount. There was also a few other elements we were able to try out, including looting and crafting traps.

While playing Aloy, I was able to see the hunter/archer hybrid Guerrilla Games were trying to achieve. The right elements were there and they were all solid. I throoughly enjoy the cycle of looting and crafting as well as using the Ropecaster, which pins machines to the ground, making them vulnerable to attacks. Also a nice little gameplay element was the special vision Aloy has, which tracks movements of the machines and their week points. What we weren’t able to do was explore the world around Aloy, which was a disappointment seeing how beautiful it was. But the gameplay was the main event and it was a fun demo to play. I can’t wait for its release in 2017.

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