After just finishing ONE video game all year ... I decided to finally complete the backlog of 2017 releases I have. I have so many games that I expected to finish 2 or 3 days after getting them ... and yet they've just been collecting dust on my shelf. I looked at my stack of PS4 games, and my eyes intensiley locked in with the artwork of a young huntress getting ready to strike down a Dinobot. I had already played the first few hours of Horizon and just was not that intrigued ... but this time I picked it up and was super enthralled with the game.
Now I freaking love it! Horizon is definitely setting a high standard, and I'm afraid all the other games I have to get to simply won't hold up. It's already my favorite game this year out of the 2 I've played, and it just gets more impressive as the game goes on. It's definitely not a perfect game ... not even close. It has a lot of problems but it's really impressing me so far.
I have to say that I did not expect this game to care about world building as much as it does! That can sometimes be a negative(sometimes it takes itself a bit too seriously) but for the most part it's done really well. I think this game takes a lot of queues from games like The Witcher 3, where you explore this huge open map with different terrains and monsters that lead to different cultures and subcultures. There's only a few different factions, but keeping up with the backstories and lore is very interesting. I'm currently at 18 hours in the game(although that's bloated because of all the sidequests I've done), so the world could become even bigger and more complex from here on. I'm hoping that if they decide to make another Horizon, they add even more factions and ideologies!
The sidequests are an example of how to do sidequests right. They usually have a lot more behind them than you'd expect, doing more than simply serving their purpose. I wouldn't say they're perfect ... really I think this kind of thing should be the industry standard,but at this point side quests this good are an extreme outlier , and the amount of times I was surprised by a twist or entertained by the conclusion of a sidequest makes it one of the better modern open world games on the market, where sidequests are largely repetitive chores. It's not mindblowing but it doesn't need to be. You could argue the end goal is the same as other open world side quests, but the result is much more impactful because they're more interesting and developed. This is another aspect that I think was inspired by games like the Witcher(okay yes I know people talk about the Witcher too much, but I was an OG fan so it's fine for me lol).
This game also makes a case for a key rule that other games can learn from. If you're going to have a majority of the content in your open world game be enemies ... MAKE SURE THOSE ENEMIES ARE FUCKING UNIQUE AND BADASS! Just the concept alone of robo dinosaurs made me so excited back in 2015, and now to see it fully realized...wow. People talk about art design a lot but people seem to use it exclusively when referring to games that aren't graphically demanding but have a lot of character or style behind them...but honestly if we're talking about art design than Horizon has some of the best art design I've seen in gaming, but because it looks more realistic people just generalize and simply it to "good graphics". Making an interesting mixture of different palettes, complex designs that prioritize life like movements in an artifical machine, creating fictional sci fi creatures that look so life like ... that's all part of a fantastic artistic direction. Even basic stuff like seeing the different designs in the tribes is really cool!
But one of my favorite things, and something I did not expect is how focused on RPG and strategic elements this game is. Generally speaking I don't really like how people refer to things so easily as a "RPG game". I think triple A developers have really used a lot of basic RPG elements as a crutch to try and make the player feel some largely arbitrary progression. But I got to give massive credit to Guerilla, this really does feel like an action RPG. The RPG elements usually come in how much you have to strategize or prepare with different ammo types, clothes and weapons with very unique and different applications. This game focuses a lot on stealth and really punishes the player if they don't have a proper or thought out approach. The different ammunition types have an actual effect on how easily you can combat enemies, and multiple times I realized I was out of an ammo type that I couldn't refill and realized I screwed myself hopeless. The game also really tests your reflexes with most monsters having really good area of effect attacks. It's about as much of an RPG as Monster Hunter ... which is too say a lot of hardcore RPG stats but not much choice in terms of story. At least so far, I've only experienced on time where I was given a choice(of whether to kill someone or not), and I don't think it will affect the story. But that's not really needed for this title. As an action RPG, it's extremely well done... and again I have to say I love how unique the different weapons are from each other, the result of each weapon feels way different than just "a sniper shoots a guy slightly easier than an assualt rifle!"(and even when it's like that seperate bows have different ammo types and handling).
There are a few problems though. The end of the beginning of the game(does that sound stupid?) is kind of anti-climatic. A lot of the voice actors for side quests are extremely flat and actually don't even seem to make an attempt at portraying emotion ... it's weird because the voice acting is good, it just seems like they didn't try to inject emotion into some of the side quests when it clearly was supposed to be emotional? The voice acting just doesn't always seem very representative of the concepts. When it comes to diversity in Monsters, it's a bit of a mixed bag. There are a lot of different creatures and it's very cool to see how much imaginative foes there are, but there's also a few retreads. I don't know how much I can actually criticize this .. it's fine for retreads because it's almost like a subspecies in real life. But it does mean that some of the machines get lost between looking too similar to some other machines. It makes them kind of vague and unmemorable. There are cases where the subspecies really stand out though ... the Lancehorn is beautiful!
In general I don't like the fact that human vs human outpost battles are so overused in Open world games, so it's unfortunate that Horizon has them, too. They aren't really creative and they represent the most boring and generic elements of Horizon's gameplay. Horizon lives off it's creative weapons, and it's " YOU DUN FUCKED UP SON NOW YOU GONNA GET SMASHED IN THE FACE BY A ROBO CROCODILE TAIL" punishment, and so having this fairly safe samey third person outpost gameplay is very sad. I also think that outposts are almost always inherently worse in third person games than first person ones, I don't know if it's just me but I've never relieved the feeling I had playing Far Cry 3 in it's outpost sections, it simply is a lot more atmospheric and nerve wracking when all you have is a limited point of view. In general the overworld could use a tad more diversity, and I think more ways to navigate the environment could have been added.
Also I don't know if it's just me ... but the game has some quirky things about it. Sometimes when I die it respawns me in a different area. One time i got stuck on an island with killer crocs and hawkeyed robot birds because I died near the island, so I ended up dying a few more times trying to leave my inaccurate spawn point. Also the waypoints can be a little awkward at times, like i'll be going the right direction and because it's slightly different from the direction the waypoint wants me to go it doesn't update and makes me think i'm going the wrong way. AND ONE LAST POINT : FUCK having limited resource space. This game is NOT about resource management, the closest it gets to it is "you need x ingredient to make y item". So why limit what the player can pick up? Developers do this all the time and it just seems like an arbitrary reason to add another upgrade system into the game. Not everything needs to be an upgrade! The game has so much random crap to pick up and you should be allowed to do that all you want, because being denied a prize from a kill just to implement a limited item progression system is so bull. I can understand why they'd impelement like an ammo pouch upgrade, or a weapon stache upgrade, because that affects the gameplay and actually has a postive feeling of accomplishment on the player. But limiting what you can pick up is just annoying!
TL;DR random rant of you should buy this game. Anyways...that's my super random rant. I'm sure people won't read this or will consider this a shitpost worth no one's time, and that's fine. Lol. I just felt like sharing my thoughts on the game so far 18 hours in. It's awesome! I really suck at it though ... think ive died like 24 times in 18 hours. But it's really awesome. Also wow ... aloy is a really good character. Some of her sarcastic dialogue is just so funny xD So what do you VGChartz users think? I feel bad for being late to the party!