Horizon Zero Dawn

Cover Art - Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn follows the story of Aloy, a mysterious outcast of the Norn clan.

This gorgeous action RPG has you exploring the world of Horizon, a future Earth overrun by machines. Explore both the history of the world and your own past, which are not as separate as you would think.
Platforms PlayStation 4, Windows
Developer Guerrilla Games
Publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment
Player Count 1
HomePage https://www.guerrilla-games.com/play/horizon

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Journal Entries

January 17th, 2022

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.

Aloy harvesting parts from defeated robot
The tutorial is more engaging than Persona 5 Strikers

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.

The side quest hunting begins
The side quest hunting begins

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.

January 24th, 2022

I managed a quick session of Horizon Zero Dawn on the weekend. I didn’t do much. The first 20 minutes was hunting and making sure I remembered the controls.

This is always the gamble when you pick up a new game and leave it for a while. Muscle memory for controls hasn’t been set, and/or scope means you don’t know what you were doing.

Saving at what I thought was the end of the tutorial, I thought I had myself covered. Not far enough in to get lost, and not long enough in that a restart would hurt. Luckily, this planning wasn’t required.

But I did discover I haven’t finished with the tutorial after all.

20220124 - Horizon Zero Dawn - The Sawtooth is indeed impressive
Does “Nature finds a way” count when the life is mechanical?

Rost, your characters adoptive father, has a final lesson for you before the proving. I thought this lesson would be the start of the game proper. From what I have done last week, I am not sure.

I took down my first ‘big’ enemy sure, but I know bigger ones are still to come. But Rost is still being… Not secretive. There are elements of your back story that avoiding topics is normal behaviour.

Rost appears reluctantly supportive? It’s hard to describe without seeing the exact outcome. He wants Aloy to excel in the proving, but won’t tell you what he is doing to prepare.

It’s possible when he opens up is when the game starts properly? It is going to be fun finding out.

February 7th, 2022

Horizon Forbidden West is only a couple of weeks away. I know a few people that are looking forward to Aloy’s new adventures, including myself.

I doubt I will be playing on day one though. I am making progress in Horizon Zero Dawn. Slow progress, but progress in any event.

Case in point – I got to play a little over an hour this week. During this hour, I spent about 40 minutes playing with Hunting Grounds Trials.

Zero story progress, but a lot of fun doing timed challenges!

20220207 - Horizon Zero Dawn - Hunting Ground Trials are a fun way to learn your weapons
Hunting ground trials are a fun way to learn your weapons

I was so close to getting the highest tier in the three available challenges. In knocking canisters from Grazers with a bow and arrow, I am only a few seconds off the highest reward.

Rather than stay and get frustrated trying to unlock the blazing sun reward, I moved on a little bit. I thought I would hunt for some resources after crafting a few upgrades, not a bad way to chill.

Instead, I stumbled into a new story progression piece. I found my first Tallneck – Horizon Zero Dawns answer to Sheikah Towers or Outposts.

20220207 - Horizon Zero Dawn - Riding my first tallneck
The view from the Tallnexk is awesome. Photo mode fore the win!

Climbing these huge creatures gives you a detailed map of the immediate area. So working out how to scale them is an important gameplay mechanic.

My first thought was to take in the view. Horizon Zero Dawn looks amazing, hands down. My second thought was to play with photo mode.

I need to get into the habit of catching images this way. Photo mode capture looks so much better than the internal recording!

So I still have a lot of Horizon to explore. I don’t see myself completing Zero Dawn in February, let alone before the 18th. I don’t mind this though, as it gives me time to explore at my own pace, and take my time with the Frozen Wilds expansion!

20220207 - Horizon Zero Dawn - So much to explore
Every time I start Zero Dawn I see in the top right that the DLC is waiting for me