On April 14th 2018, I got my first trophy in Horizon Zero Dawn. Nothing fancy, it was the trophy for completing the tutorial. I remember playing this with Rabbit in the burrow (dozing on the couch). We both thought it looked amazing and thought I will come back to it when I have time for an open-world game.
Fast forward almost four years. I get a reminder that the sequel Horizon Forbidden West comes out next month. As I was looking for a game to sink my teeth into, why not go back to the original?
So during the week, I fired up Horizon Zero Dawn and started a new game. I cleared my way through the tutorial and began exploring the world. Unlike Persona 5 Strikers, even though I got tired an hour in, I felt the urge to play for 5 more minutes. For about 2 hours.
I have started down the path of the main quest, but I have also finished a side quest. Found the family spear for those that have played Horizon already. Explored a little, got spotted a few times, and I am slowly getting used to the world. Combat so far wasn’t too bad, but I want to investigate the world more.
The first thing that threw me a little was the manual save system. You need to find campfires to save. This isn’t a bad thing to me – this is how you save. For some reason though, I thought you could simply pause and save.
Once I got to the end of the tutorial and used the first campfire, the manual save is made clear. I then got the main story quest marker to find your adopted father and realised there was a campfire on the way. So I explored the small area, saved again, and realised I was right next to where I was meant to be. So I did the next quest step, and then decided to go to the next campfire.
This pattern is what drew me into Horizon Zero Dawn for two hours after I thought I would go to bed. At the start of a game, I am used to pushing my way through a lot of exposition and mechanics. Instead, Guerrilla Games managed to dangle the carrot in a way that I didn’t want to stop playing.
Getting this balance right makes and breaks many games. If I had gone to the next campfire in 2018, I would most likely have already finished Horizon Zero Dawn. Today, I don’t know if I will have the game finished before the sequel is out. I am looking forward to putting a few hours each week into finishing the original.
In terms of content, I have all the DLC for Horizon as well. There is likely 80-100 hours ahead of me. At 4 hours a week playtime (conservative guess), I will be spending quite some time with Aloy. This will be interesting exploring the original world and keeping an ear on reactions to Horizon Forbidden West.