If you haven’t yet heard of Horizon Zero Dawn, you’re definitely missing out on a great opportunity to get really, really hyped. HZD is a totally new IP being developed by Guerrilla Games (the Killzone franchise) that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where robotic dinosaurs have climbed to the top of the food chain and humanity has reverted to our hunting/gathering days. Imagine a third-person Far Cry Primal but with (robot) dinosaurs, combine that with the movement of Assassin’s Creed and toss in some role playing elements from Skyrim and just try not to get excited about it. Let’s go into exactly why I’m super hyped…
Two Words: Robotic. Dinosaurs
People have always been enamored with dinosaurs. As far as visual mediums go, it’s been proven time and time again- from the 1930’s King Kong to the more recent Jurassic World. In the world of video games, though, dinosaurs are scarce. Aside from Dino Crisis and Turok, can you really name any major franchises with a dino theme? People were freaking out about the mere rumor of dinosaurs in Battlefield 3, and many gamers are scratching their heads about the lack of dinos in Far Cry Primal, which seemed like the perfect game for them…
Anyway, while Horizon Zero Dawn doesn’t feature organic dinosaurs, it’s the closest we’ve been to an actual AAA dinosaur game in a really long time. Like FCP, Horizon features tribal people with bows and spears in an untamed landscape fighting for survival… but instead of fighting mammoths and sabertooth tigers (which are really just re-skinned elephants and regular-old-tigers from FC4), we get to go up against massive, terrifying robotic rexes and cunning, deadly robo-raptors that’ll stalk us through the tall grass.
It’s Being Developed by Guerrilla Games
The Killzone games didn’t end up being the Halo-killers that they were originally hyped to be, but they were great first-person-shooters in their own right, and they did a lot of things really well. The latest Killzone game, Shadow Fall, showed us just what the PS4 could do by throwing so many different characters, explosions and landscapes onto our TV screens at once that gamers really felt like we were truly diving into the next generation of console gaming.
With Horizon Zero Dawn, Guerrilla Games is using everything it learned about the PS4 from Shadow Fall and applying it with no reservations. Even alpha footage of this game is gorgeous- you really feel like you’re a part of this living, breathing, and incredibly dangerous world. When you combine the graphics with the fact that the UI is kept to a minimum and there’s not even a tutorial at the beginning of the game, you can see that Guerrilla wants to immerse us like never before.
Guerrilla Games actually started working on this title before Shadow Fall was even finished- out of a list of over 40 new ideas that the team came up with, Horizion was internally hailed as the best, and by the time it’s released, the team will have been working on it for five years… So they’ve had plenty of time to iron out the kinks and create a game that will blow us away.
It’s a New IP
In a world of sequels, remakes and adaptions, original ideas are few and far between. From a business standpoint, sticking to an idea that’s already been proven to work makes a lot of sense- you already have an established fanbase, which usually means predictably high sales. On the other hand, when you try to do something new, you’re taking a big risk… which means publishers (and their shareholders) are going to be wary. With that being said, the fact that Horizon: Zero Dawn is getting made means a few things.
First, the publishers (and their shareholders) believe that this will make money, which means that means that the developers have a proven track record (which we know that they do), meaning that everyone involved has a strong feeling that the game is very likely to actually be good. Secondly, If the game is successful, other publishers (and their shareholders) will be more likely to greenlight other new IPs, which means we’ll be getting all sorts of brand new games to play in the near future.
The Gameplay Itself
In Horizon Zero Dawn, we play as Aloy, a huntress and archer who needs components from the robotic dinosaurs in order to survive. The game takes place in an open world with no loading screens, and we’ll be traveling from lush mountains to grassy plains and everything in between. We have our bow and arrow of course, but we can also set traps, use stealth takedowns, and craft new equipment from parts found in the world (including those dropped by dead dinos). Basically, Horizon is taking everything from our favorite games, adding it together, and adding dinosaurs. What’s not to love?