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Posted by SloppyDetective (1599 posts) 1 year, 9 months ago

Poll: Zelda V. Horizon (356 votes)

I prefer Breath of the Wild 29%
I prefer Horizon 17%
I only played Zelda and liked it 18%
I only played Zelda and didn't like it 2%
I only played Horizon and liked it 13%
I only played Horizon and didn't like it 1%
Results 20%

It seemed like this year started with some major gaming beef between Zelda fans and Horizon fans. With arguments over which was better, which was more important, etc. These two games seem destined to get compared up to and in GOTY. And there's good reason why...

Both are open world, set in a post-post apocalypse that is filled with the ruins and machines of a past world. There are towers, crafting and fighting giant creatures.

Sure there are plenty of differences between the two games and their approach to open world, but they are similar in some interesting ways and it's obvious why they were compared so much (release dates also being a factor).

Now that most of you have had some time to reflect and let your feelings settle in, I'm curious, which do you prefer?

I made it halfway through Horizon's main story--doing plenty of crafting and side quests--before getting tired of it's very familiar formula. I last played it about a month ago, and do not know if I'll finish it.

I'm currently about 30 hours into Zelda and don't see myself stopping anytime soon. The more hands off approach is such a refreshing change to open world gaming for me. Combine that with the mobility and huge amount of secrets to uncover, this game is looking to be one of my favorite games of all time.

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#1 Edited by ripelivejam (13158 posts) -

Different feeling games, room enough for both. Or everything needs to be a competition. Whatever!

If you want a specific answer from me, it would be BotW. Does enough new in a creative way and is a lot more easier to jump back into. I got to a point in Horizon then fell off, and it seems a bit rough to jump back into it now. Feels like I'll have to restart it if I do.

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#2 Posted by SloppyDetective (1599 posts) -

@ripelivejam: I agree there's room enough for both. I'm just curious what people's thoughts are on the two now. When they came out they were getting a ton of comparisons. I also feel like they will be compared a lot in GOTY.

I will say I felt like Horizon was pretty easy to come back to, I put it down for a month or two multiple times. At it's core it's such a polished version of standard open world that the controls are fairly easy to remember and it has a quest marker for everything.

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#3 Posted by Bollard (8163 posts) -

Zelda does absolutely nothing for me. I think in the GiantBomb community, it's fairly conclusive that Zelda is the preferred game. But, I think Zelda must hit home a lot harder for people who have nostalgia for the old Zelda games - as my "first" Zelda game I don't really get the appeal. Cooking is a terrible mechanic (I have an obsession with hoarding everything in games, so I never want to "waste" ingredients. Plus it's slow and awkward to cook stuff, you can't recall old recipes you've made and bulk cook them either) and the stamina system for climbing and everything else just isn't fun (don't even get me started on rain). Everyone who seems way into Zelda seems to get hooked on doing the shrines, but the 20 or so I've done so far have been mind numbingly simple puzzles or combat trials that are no fun.

Horizon, on the other hand, has one of the best stories in any game I've played to date. Not to mention the intriguing setting, great characters and excellent gameplay. I just love the design of that world, and I can't see myself playing anything better this year.

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#4 Posted by ll_Exile_ll (3014 posts) -

If it was an option, I would have voted that I highly enjoyed both. I voted Zelda, but the two games are 2.a and 2.b on my GOTY list right now (Persona is #1).

I loved them both for different reasons. They have some superficial similarities, but the core experience of each is pretty different.

I will say, however, that Zelda's strengths are greater, but I also took issue with many aspects of it. Had those issues been better, I'd be talking about BotW as my favorite game ever.

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#5 Posted by SloppyDetective (1599 posts) -

@bollard: I played Ocarina for a bit as a kid but it was too hard for me. I played Wind Waker a bit but never finished it. I would say I have little to no nostalgia for Zelda, and I'm blown away by Breath of the Wild. Having heard all the complaints about the game made me expect worse than what I got. Weapon desegregation doesn't seem that bad, I knew to upgrade stamina early and to use cooking buffs. Rain is annoying and the cooking interface is too, but not so bad it's ruining the experience for me.

Horizon is really well written, but the story hasn't pushed me through the rote game play. I think this game just came at a time where I could not be less interested in this style of open world game.

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#6 Posted by BigSocrates (1966 posts) -

I finished both games (as in rolled credits, not as in 100%) and while Horizon is really good, Zelda was frickin' magic. Every complaint I have about Zelda feels like an intentional choice in a meticulously constructed world. I may have wished weapons lasted longer or that the climbing speed was a bit quicker, but I understand the design choices that meant that they didn't. The world in Zelda felt amazing to explore and be in, with something new and fantastic around every corner, whether it be an awesome shrine puzzle, a quarry filled with valuable gem stones and geothermic updrafts to let you fly, or frickin' magical dragons illuminating the night sky.

Horizon, by comparison, was just a really good game. There were areas that were unpolished (ranging from a lot of graphical clipping to the fact that Aloy doesn't really make sense as a character, to the awful pacing of the story stuff in the late missions.) Its story was much clearer and more fleshed out than Zelda, but it has fewer truly memorable characters or moments, and nothing in terms of gameplay that compares to the shrines. There was also nothing organic to discover in Horizon, just a bunch of traditional open world stuff like towers to unlock the map (though the implementation of this was pretty awesome) to a bunch of collectibles with disappointing payoffs.

There's no competition IMO. Zelda is one of the great video game experiences of my life. It's a game and world I will never forget. Horizon isn't that. I am looking forward to the DLC and inevitable sequel, and I'm sure it will be in my top 10 of the year, but it's not in my personal pantheon.

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#7 Posted by BoOzak (2570 posts) -

Zelda brought exploration back to open world games so i'm going to go with that. I enjoyed both though.

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#8 Edited by glots (4292 posts) -

I really liked Horizon and never played Zelda, so my pick is fairly obvious. Just from an outsider's perspective, though, my current gaming-self would probably abandon BoTW in a day or two because the story doesn't seem to be fleshed out and unless the open world around me is somehow amazingly unique (visually and somehow gameplay-wise too) and/or has a intriguing story for me to follow through, I just don't really have the desire to "make my own adventure".

I guess I might be wrong and BoTW actually has a lot of "actual" things for you to do as well, but...well, I'm not going to drop plus 400€ to find out myself. Maybe one day in the future.

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#9 Posted by rethla (3725 posts) -

@glots: i thought the same but was surprised that Zelda actually has some story and things to follow. At least the first 4-5hours which is what i have played sofar.

I want an option for "both" as of right now i feel about the same for the two games.

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#10 Edited by deactivated-987696 (99 posts) -

Where is the "I played both and both are equally amazing games" option? Will note here that I platinumed Horizon Zero Dawn, but have yet to beat Ganon, 60+ hrs into Zelda.

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#11 Posted by mems1224 (2505 posts) -

I just finished Zelda a few hours ago. Honestly it's kinda hard for me to choose. Both are good games I enjoyed and both are deeply flawed games that have things that bothered the fuck out of me.

My biggest problem with Zelda is that unlike past games you don't feel rewarded. All the tools you need you get in the first hour and all the weapons are completely disposable so when you get a new one it barely matters. It's a world I wanted to explore more but the game never gave me a reason to. The side quests were pointless and other than getting more shrines there was no reason to explore more. I did the Divine Beasts, all the memories and all the Towers except one and there were still giant chunks of land I never saw because there was no reason to. I still easily destroyed Ganon with 13 hearts and half an extra stamina circle. It also has the worst dungeons and bosses of any Zelda game and the voice acting and writing was atrocious. Still, those first dozen hours or so were magical in a way I haven't felt since Skyrim.

Horizon is basically a third person far cry game with worse gameplay but a better story and premise. The story was cool, the world was gorgeous, fighting the bigger robots was fun but it got super repetitive. Some of the writing is also iffy at spots. It definitely felt a lot safer than Zelda

I think I gotta go with Zelda. Despite its glaring problems it was super ambitious and awesome to see Nintendo break away from the standard Zelda formula.

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#12 Posted by Drachmalius (638 posts) -

I prefer Zelda, but like both. Neither will make my top 5 this year, they each have flaws that I can't overlook. But they are solid games and each have a lot going for them. Horizon has stellar graphics, Aloy is a good character to build the series on, and the things they do with ranged combat are very interesting. Zelda has great systems, and represents a side of Nintendo that is encouraging.

I'd list my gripes with them but I don't want to try to bring any negativity into this. Just wanted to say that I liked them both pretty equally but am more likely to play Zelda again when DLC comes out (I sold my copy of Horizon after finishing the story).

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#13 Edited by JohnyMyko (1868 posts) -

@bollard said:

Zelda does absolutely nothing for me. I think in the GiantBomb community, it's fairly conclusive that Zelda is the preferred game. But, I think Zelda must hit home a lot harder for people who have nostalgia for the old Zelda games - as my "first" Zelda game I don't really get the appeal. Cooking is a terrible mechanic (I have an obsession with hoarding everything in games, so I never want to "waste" ingredients. Plus it's slow and awkward to cook stuff, you can't recall old recipes you've made and bulk cook them either) and the stamina system for climbing and everything else just isn't fun (don't even get me started on rain). Everyone who seems way into Zelda seems to get hooked on doing the shrines, but the 20 or so I've done so far have been mind numbingly simple puzzles or combat trials that are no fun.

Horizon, on the other hand, has one of the best stories in any game I've played to date. Not to mention the intriguing setting, great characters and excellent gameplay. I just love the design of that world, and I can't see myself playing anything better this year.

I only played a bit of Ocarina of Time and a bit of Majora's Mask just out of curiosity and wasn't even that much into them, so I have zero nostalgia for Zelda games. There's never been a Zelda game that caught my attention, but Breath Of The Wild seems so nice it almost made me buy a Switch (or a Wii U).

Meanwhile, I own a PS4 and don't care about Horizon at all, I might get it if there's a huge discount and it's priced at something like 10€. Otherwise, I think I'll pass.

Anyway, I think there's room for both games to exist.

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#14 Posted by Justin258 (15641 posts) -

@bollard: I'm hardly a Zelda fan and put 70 hours into BOTW, so it isn't just nostalgia. Other than BOTW I've finished Wind Waker, A Link Between Worlds, and most of Twilight Princess over the past few years and that's it.

I cannot get into Horizon. There is nothing in particular wrong with it, as far as I can tell, it just does nothing for me. I should give it another shot.

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#15 Edited by NTM (11742 posts) -

Lack of 'liked them about the same' choice, though I don't know if I'd choose that. I bought Nioh and Horizon Zero Dawn at the same time earlier this year (when Horizon came out), and I just yesterday finished Breath of the Wild since I had finally gotten a Switch earlier this month, which is what I wanted to play it on. In both games, I did just about everything in terms of side content. In Horizon, I didn't search every location that shows you the past, and in Breath of the Wild, I didn't do all of the compendium nor memories. I really enjoyed both! It's hard to say.

And yes, they are really quite similar. The biggest difference (okay, maybe not the biggest, but the one that sticks out to me anyway) is that Zelda is better at, and more about sword combat, while Horizon is more about the bow and way more fun with the bow. I think Horizon poses some challenge when you arrive at newer, larger enemies and the side mission that has you trying to get into the hunting club gave some challenge too, but the Lynels themselves could be tougher alone than anything in Horizon to me, and if you're not well stocked or have enough health, the great strength trials can be a challenge. I would say I was more immersed in Horizon's combat though. As for the world, in my opinion, visually Horizon out-does Zelda, at least technically. On an artistic level, I'm not sure.

I was more impressed, surprised and excited once I found a new location in Horizon than I was in Zelda. I really appreciated the inhabitants of both and how it was about different cultures. Due to the shrines in Zelda, and doing all those coupled with the side missions, the game lasted me almost twice as long as Horizon I believe. I don't know the time I spent in Horizon, but it must have been around fifty something, maybe a little more, but the Switch tells me I've spent nearly 100 in that game. So, things I didn't necessarily love, and still dealing with the time spent in it is that in Zelda, the experience is really more interesting and fun when you change things up, so when you search for shrines all over the world and climb everywhere, it can get kind of repetitive. I would say it's a personal problem, but technically, you really should be doing a bunch of shrines so you can progress. In Horizon, once you're powerful enough and have seen all the enemies that can be seen, combat is really pointless, and so running away from every potential fight is preferable since it's an otherwise waste of time.

When it comes to story, I liked that they seemed to explore a bit more about how Zelda relates to Link in the memories you can regain, rather than just quiet destined dude saves the princess, but Horizon's story was better as what you get in Zelda is mostly just 'fight these things, save the world'. I also didn't love the end of Zelda as the past Zelda games have done the thing where they show you the world after you've achieved your end goal, usually during the credits, but that didn't happen. It was underwhelming and kind of inconclusive especially since this game surprisingly doesn't do the thing where the game is still open even after you're done, so you're left to go back to your last save to go out and explore the world more before fighting Ganon. I would have liked to see the effects of defeating Ganon and what have you. In Horizon, I was disappointed because I expected the story to be different and more surprising, with twists here and there, but it ended up being kind of basic sci-fi story stuff in my opinion.

I was more immersed in Horizon than Zelda, especially the feeling of being the hunter and the hunted, but I loved the variety of things in Zelda, even for aspects that are multiplied, like the shrines. Horizon, by comparison, is somewhat weak in terms of variety in what you can do. That said, even though the Shrines were varied, I enjoyed Horizon's Cauldrons more. Eh, there's probably more to say, but I'll leave it there for now. I'll just say that both are, if not top five, in my top ten. Most likely in my top five though.

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#16 Posted by SloppyDetective (1599 posts) -

@reputatsioon: I did forget that option but I'm also not super interested in that answer. So I guess show results is for the people who haven't played either or can't decide. If you were on the fence because a lack of "both", and chose one over the other, that's good enough for me.

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#17 Posted by Quantris (1291 posts) -

Only played Zelda (switch) so voted for that. But I mainly got positive impressions of Horizon. So far I keep pushing back the purchase of a PS4, but I expect by end of this year I'll have a pro, and Horizon will probably be one of the first three games I play on it.

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#18 Posted by SloppyDetective (1599 posts) -

@mems1224: there's some good, funny writing in Zelda. But the majority of it is standard to bad video game writing. With both games I felt the best writing was in the form of NPC dialogue and interactions.

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#19 Posted by NTM (11742 posts) -

@bollard: Well, you don't actually have to cook ever, unless it's a side mission; and they do give you recipe's there (but you'll have to find the items for it). I certainly didn't mess with the cooking on my own in the 95 plus hours I spent in the game. The game actually takes a much more, Dark Souls-esque approach in terms of learning the ins and outs of the mechanics, and doesn't relish in handing everything to you. Throughout the game, I felt really stupid for such simple, obvious things. The climbing isn't that bad, it's just about finding where to climb best to get to where you're going, and later in the game, finding the clothes to help move it along faster. The rain is an issue, but you can always just sleep it away. I know that's not a good answer, but it's the best the game gives and in the scope of things didn't bother me too much. I would agree though that it's not that fun to climb things, but it's not really a big issue either for me. Also, I liked other Zelda games in the past, but I don't like Breath of the Wild due to nostalgia. I also just feel this game differs enough that that's not really applicable, at least not to me. Lastly, I'm going to assume you're not going to read the comment I posted, so I just wanted to say while I'm defending Zelda, I like Horizon just as much probably. More or less (don't know which, if either).

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#20 Edited by KingBonesaw (1398 posts) -

I'm one of those people who doesn't see what's "new" about Zelda since it just takes the climbing from Shadow of the Colossus/Grow Home with the rock and stick gameplay from all those games on Steam. It's still a good game but I haven't found it as innovative as people are making it out to be (insert criticism of my thoughts here). I enjoyed my time with Horizon but with each passing week I begin to forget what I loved about the game so much other than the story. Hopefully the expansion reminds me of why liked the game later this year.

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#21 Posted by JohnyMyko (1868 posts) -

I'm one of those people who doesn't see what's "new" about Zelda since it just takes the climbing from Shadow of the Colossus/Grow Home with the rock and stick gameplay from all those games on Steam. It's still a good game but I haven't found it as innovative as people are making it out to be (insert criticism of my thoughts here). I enjoyed my time with Horizon but with each passing week I begin to forget what I loved about the game so much other than the story. Hopefully the expansion reminds me of why liked the game later this year.

This is coming from someone who didn't play BoTW, but I think the case with that game is not so much about what it did "new" but more about what it did "right". It seems that they grabbed all of these mechanics that got famous on other games and managed to combine them successfully on a single game.

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#22 Posted by SloppyDetective (1599 posts) -

@kingbonesaw: BOTW is more about it's refreshing approach to open world structure than innovation. My main problem with Horizon is how rote and obvious everything was. It's a refinement of every expectation that comes with modern open world games, but all of it is predictable because it's expected.

Most "new" things in gaming is combining things from other games. So while the climbing has been done in different forms before, I think the climbing in Zelda is amazing because it tells you that you are actually meant to be wherever you happen to have climbed to in this massive world; opposed to just jank climbing in Skyrim. And there will probably be something for you when you get there.

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#23 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2960 posts) -

Horizon isn't bad, but it's kinda dull and dry. It comes alive for me during the big main story setpieces and the robot T-rex fights, but other than that, it feels sort of frustrating. I don't want to play a game with robot animals as enemies and end up killing more than twice as many bandits and cultists. There's a big focus on the story, but it's a very Hollywood sort of story, with no characters I particularly love. All the systems in it feel like they're refinements of the open world model Ubisoft has been peddling for the last decade, while the lore aspect feels like another Fallout take. Whenever someone on the Bombcast say they got to the open world and took a loong break? That's me. It's just not very rewarding to explore.

As I said, it's not bad. It's beautiful, except for faces, which they still can't make look natural with this sort of animation and realism. It plays largely well and it's got worldbuilding that explains every aspect of the universe. But it really lacks a spark for me. Take that worldbuilding for instance. It explains everything logically, how everything ended up the way it is, but the result of it is just regular old tropes like detective vision, a person in your ear, and evil machine God, a mad and boring cultist. It doesn't use its writing to do interesting stuff with the characters involved, for the most part, or justify what could have been new and exciting gameplay elements in the form of gear wrested from the machines.

Characterwise, there is so little levity and self-deprecation and so much straight-faced tribal drama. Aloy has no friends or family after the first act, and doesn't gain any that last longer than their questline. Avad, Sylens, Vanasha, Erend... there are some that fit the mold, but I'm not exactly loving them like I would a good Bioware character or anything. I feel nothing for the villain but boredom. The star of the show is the slow meting out of info about how the world became the way it is. These characters are not. That includes Aloy. She's interesting in the sense that she's related to how the world became what it is. But her only motivation is revenge and finding out who she is, and her only big personality trait besides those desires is confidence. It's a very Disney princess type character, and not just because she's a ginger with a bow. She's not awful, but I also don't really like her besides the scene where she says a Godess is just a door.

I'm not sure that the open world fits such a story-heavy format. I spent a long time exploring after the world opened up and discovered lots of interesting-looking areas that had nothing in particular in them. Then I would come to those spots later as part of missions and suddenly there was an ambush or a special enemy there. It feels less like finding something cool and more like being early to the party. I think the Carja border guard mentions the Shadow Carja, but other than that I had heard nothing of them before I stumbled into a fort full of them that were all hostile to me and freed some random dude after murdering them all. But I can still walk around in their cities, somehow.

I wish it had BotW's climbing and gliding mechanic. And its sense of levity. And a less wonky melee attack.

@sloppydetective said:

I also feel like they will be compared a lot in GOTY.

My hot take is that there's gonna be a lot of talk about the long-ass games none/one of them put in the time to finish and then ultimately PUBG takes it because everyone played and enjoyed it.

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#24 Posted by mems1224 (2505 posts) -

@kingbonesaw said:

I'm one of those people who doesn't see what's "new" about Zelda since it just takes the climbing from Shadow of the Colossus/Grow Home with the rock and stick gameplay from all those games on Steam. It's still a good game but I haven't found it as innovative as people are making it out to be (insert criticism of my thoughts here). I enjoyed my time with Horizon but with each passing week I begin to forget what I loved about the game so much other than the story. Hopefully the expansion reminds me of why liked the game later this year.

This is coming from someone who didn't play BoTW, but I think the case with that game is not so much about what it did "new" but more about what it did "right". It seems that they grabbed all of these mechanics that got famous on other games and managed to combine them successfully on a single game.

Id argue that they kind of didn't. In adding all those things together the game pretty much lost what made past Zelda games so great. On top of that, the things they did mix together aren't done nearly as well as the games that inspired them.

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#25 Posted by Kidavenger (4417 posts) -

They both had amazing highs but BotW had too many fuck you moments while Horizon was just different variants of good.

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#26 Edited by Shadow (5356 posts) -

I played and loved both. But definitely Horizon more. Better story (one of the best ever in fact), better controls, more interesting enemies, possibly the single most beautiful game I've ever played. It might be because I was playing on very hard the whole time, but I felt a real sense of accomplishment whenever I figured out how to beat a massive group of machines, one of which could wreck my shop if I'm not careful. The closest I got to that in Zelda was the centaur dudes, but even that was basically just base level Dark Souls strategy of dodging right before an attack, and then exploiting the shit out of the opening that gives me.

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#27 Posted by Danteveli (1441 posts) -

Found Horizon to be boring another AC clone that didn't add much to the mix. Some element are more polished but I totally lost interest in that type of gameplay. I didn't enjoy the story or the characters so that there was not much for me.

Zelda on the other hand was like breath of the fresh air. It was so much fun to just explore and learn the rules of the world. It was one of coolest gaming experiences in recent memory.

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#28 Posted by TheWildCard (694 posts) -

As of right now I've seen the credits in BotW, still aways from that in Horizon, and I lean Zelda. Horizon is more well-rounded game with a setting and story I'm more into but I wish the gameplay was more fresh to match, and some little niggles that you can tell it's the studios first rpg. Zelda is actually pretty flawed too but it's exploration is strong enough to elevate it. I'm hoping I'll like Horizon more after finishing it but I haven't felt a lot of pull to go back.

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#29 Posted by ArbitraryWater (15697 posts) -

I liked Horizon's lore and world-building aspects a whole lot (note that I didn't say "plot" because the actual plot is a pretty typical video game-ass plot, complete with ineffectual villain and an entirely superfluous supporting cast), but also I more-or-less beelined through the main quest after a certain point. In a lot of ways, that game is the culmination of everything that bores me about modern AAA open-world game design. Oh, it's certainly executed upon well, and boy does it look pretty, I just can't force myself to give a shit about clearing out bandit camps, engaging in brain-dead "climbing puzzles," or killing a bunch of wild animals so I can craft a pouch that lets me hold more arrows (which I don't need, because I can craft ammo on the fly and always have an abundance of resources to do so.) I enjoyed murdering robot dinosaurs on my way beelining through the main story, so I'm sounding more down on the game than I actually am. Honestly, I think anyone who isn't totally done with that style of game will probably like it more than I did.

Still haven't played Zelda though, other than like an hour on my brother-in-law's Switch. I honestly don't know how I'll take to it, but I think there's a pretty good chance I'll like it more than Horizon.

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#30 Posted by hippie_genocide (2434 posts) -

I get why you'd compare them aesthetically (open world, bow-wielding protagonist, etc.), but that's kind of where the similarities end. They're very different feeling games. That being said, Horizon clicked more with me. There are too many things in Zelda that just strike me as poor design choices.

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#31 Posted by n00bs7ay3r (317 posts) -

I have only played Breath of the Wild. But it is easily one of the best games I have ever played in my life so I highly doubt that Horizon could top it for me.

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#32 Edited by Cerberus3Dog (1025 posts) -

They both are great and people should play them.

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#33 Posted by ajamafalous (13816 posts) -

I only played Zelda and I did not enjoy it.

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#34 Posted by abczyx (52 posts) -

I picked Horizon.

The systems in Zelda are well done but the content built around it is really not up to scratch. There's very little story, the side quests range from "mundane" to "annoying" and some irritating mechanics really sully the experience. I spent about 35 hours and completed the main quest but I feel very little motivation to go back and finish the shrines etc.

Horizon is perhaps not groundbreaking but combines a intriguing story, great gameplay and beautiful graphics in a world I wanted to explore, with content I was compelled to complete. In fact, I got a platinum trophy which I rarely bother with these days.

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#35 Posted by ATastySlurpee (664 posts) -

I have only played Horizon Zero Dawn. But it is easily one of the best games I have ever played in my life so I highly doubt that BotW could top it for me.

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#36 Edited by Lazyimperial (486 posts) -

I've played them both, and I'd say Horizon... but I'm fully aware that both received 5 star reviews from Giantbomb for striking two very different chords with the crew.

Like others have said, a lot of this depends on personal perspectives, genre tastes, nostalgia levels, and so on.

I still very much like the Ubisoft school of open world game design, which both games crib from heavily. Towers to climb to reveal points of interest on the map, an upgrade system that relies on finding stuff in the environment, side quests whose tones don't always mesh with the main narrative, etc.. It works for me, especially since Ubisoft has done a lot of work refining the system and working out the kinks over their endless iterations of Assassin's Creed and Far Cry.

At the risk of sounding uncharitable, Horizon: Zero Dawn basically copies-and-pastes the modern Ubisoft formula into a 3rd person action game with robot dinosaurs... and it works. It works wonderfully, assuming you're not burned out on the whole subgenre. :-P The skill-trees offer a lot of meaningful, fun upgrades. The towers are droll brontosaurus robots that are amusing to climb. The light survival mechanics from modern survival games (and Far Cry: Primal) are here, only streamlined and usable during combat (which leads to some tense slow-time moments of building more arrows as a monster charges, hoping you finish before it impales you). The side quests are diverse enough to not wear out their welcome. The game is breathtaking to look at, has sprawling vistas aided by an incredibly robust viewing distance, and rocks a solid 30 fps (60 fps on a PS4 pro at 1080p). It also has predominantly well-done voice acting, a complex (but eventually somewhat repetitive) combat system, compelling world building, and that general "polish" you'd expect from a AAA flagpole title. Being an Ubisoft game aficionado, I loved it.

Meanwhile, I kind of bounced off Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In full disclosure, I own all the other major 3D Zelda releases (Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, that boat one, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword)... and I've never made it more than few hours in before losing all interest. The story they retell in every game just doesn't really do anything for me (Ganondorf has done something something with the princess and must be stopped by the blank slate protagonist Link), and a game's story is usually what I'm there for. The only Zelda game that has ever kept me going to the end was Darksiders, mainly because of the *gasp* story. Point being, my nostalgia factor for the franchise is relatively non-existent.

In addition, my affection for the convenience of life tweaks and refined systems of modern Ubisoft open world games proved unfortunate... because it didn't at all mesh with the more obtuse, Dark Souls route that Zelda: Breath of the Wild chose. You climb tedious towers to have... nothing revealed. Instead, you have to pull out Link's ye-olde "Precursor WiiU Controller / Switch" and use it as a telescope to mark points of interest that you then have to manually classify with different stamps to denote activity type. It's like the "tower climbing" from Mad Max, but with more tedium. There is a cooking mechanic that lends a light bit of survival gameplay to the occasion, but there is no cookbook and the whole process is hamfisted and clunky. Go into inventory, equip food to hands, interact with cooking apparatus, hope you remembered the right way to make fire resist food. Compared to cooking in other games like Elder Scrolls Online, this is rubbish.

The combat is very simplistic, but it uses a lite version of the Dark Souls dodge mechanic (and player character frailty) to keep things interesting. It works and I rather enjoyed it. What I found to neither work nor be enjoyable was the terrible weapon degradation. A new sword will last you eight to twelve swings until it literally fragments to nothing. Then you have to enter a weapon select menu that PAUSES the game and breaks the flow of combat as you select a new weapon... that will probably break in 8 to 12 swings too. It's tedious, as is inventory management. Find a new weapon you like in a chest but have no room in your bag? Better exit the chest menu, enter your inventory, select a weapon, drop it, and then click the chest again to pick it up. Why not just let me destroy a weapon to pick up the new one, or switch the weapon in the chest out with one in my inventory I don't want? *shrug*

On a different note, climbing in Zelda: Breath of the Wild is brilliant... except for the stamina and rain, which both conspired to make me loathe it. In Horizon, you can only climb pre-determined points often highlighted by yellow paint or conspicuous debris, which sucks when a robot is trying to eat you and you can't reach the high-ground because the game developers didn't manually place some grapple points on the adjacent boulder. In Zelda, you can climb whatever you want whenever you want, so long as your asthmatic elf doesn't have an attack ten feet up the slope. You start with so little stamina that running, climbing, and swimming are absolute chores. Eventually you can buff it up via shrine upgrades until it's less of a pain in the butt, but what a miserable first impression. Oh, and rain makes surfaces too slick to climb, so have fun waiting for it to stop while you read a book. Ugh.

Of course, you could treat the rain as an opportunity to do something else in the big open world... that becomes a polygonal mess a few dozen feet in front of you because of a horrendous draw distance. An Ubisoft open world game is often about surveying battlefields and choosing the right strategy to tackle the foes arrayed before you, and you can't do that if you can't see the foes until they magically pop into view when you're twenty feet away from them. It's disheartening and visually unappealing, and yet the framerate is still rubbish despite the obvious graphical compromises. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a technical mess with frequent dips into the low teens. Their patching has fixed some of the framerate issues, but definitely not all.

Nor have the patches fixed repetitive open world content that consists of four short mediocre dungeons, 127 rinse-and-repeat shrines that recycle the same aesthetic over and over, 900 kokron seed collectibles, and a handful of insipid side quests I never could make myself care much about.

All of this added up to a game I just did not enjoy. I'd turn it on, pick a direction to "adventure" in, and gasp my little elf butt in fits and starts towards polygonal, muddled "splendor" as the framerate ducked and weaved like Mayweather at a boxing match. I'd fight some random monsters, experiencing multiple pause states as I changed to new weapons, grumble about the framerate making some dodging and hit timing pretty sketchy, and then find a blue shrine that would contain a simplistic puzzle. The reward for completing it? A new fast travel location, 1/4th of a new heart or stamina meter upgrade, and maybe a weapon that would break 8 to 12 swings later. Then I'd think about Skyrim, look at my screen, and quit to go play Skyrim.

But that's me. The game is still a 5 out of 5 for Nintendo aficionados. It's the first open world Zelda game, and for a first time it gets a lot of things right. It successfully worked a Shadow of Colossus climbing system into an Ubisoft style open world, which is an impressive feat. It runs a huge open world on the WiiU, which is also a gargantuan feat. For people able to look past the graphical and technical problems and capable of tolerating, if not embracing, its gameplay quirks... Zelda: Breath of the Wild is indeed a breath of fresh air. For me... I'll take a side of expertly made, slightly stale chips with robot dinosaur seasoning.

Edit addition: as an aside, my girlfriend watched me play an hour of Horizon: Zero Dawn (which she liked, though the excessive crouching in grass and whistling that I employed to build numerous robot corpse piles began to wear thin on her patience) before I booted up Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the first time. When I left the "cryo chamber" and walked through the first patch of grass nearby, the framerate dropped to the low teens and she thought the game was crashing. When I told her it wasn't and this was purportedly normal performance, she sighed and asked that if that was the case, "why wasn't the environment loading properly in the distance?" I informed her that it WAS and she scoffed and left to go peruse Facebook. It was a great first moment that probably colored my whole perception of the game. Heh.

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#37 Posted by n00bs7ay3r (317 posts) -

@abczyx: That is so weird to me. I played 130 hours of Zelda and only ended up completing 3 of the 4 divine beasts and did not beat Ganon. I just found every aspect of that game to be amazing.

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#38 Posted by Sahalarious (765 posts) -

I bought horizon because its so rare to see Jeff lose his shit over a game, came away extremely disapointed. mediocre voice acting and a carbon copy ubisoft open world with some mildly interesting monster hunting did not keep my attention. I have never enjoyed a zelda game before, but i've played through breath of the wild twice so far, on a 3rd playthrough on master mode. there's just so much love in the world they created, the music and visuals are beautiful. Anything you hope will have a secret of some sort almost always does, and there are still mechanics i'm discovering, quests, even villages i haven't seen before. I can't even begin to compare the two, which from my perspective is comparing Interstellar to Mission to Mars....

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#39 Edited by Zevvion (5965 posts) -

Haven't played Breath of the Wild yet and only a bit of Horizon. But Horizon seems mechanically uninteresting. Also seems quite a bland template. I'm sure the story is 'good' but a good story doesn't make for a good videogame. I never really understood why stories are valued more than gameplay, but we often see great games get deducted for having poor stories and poor games get praised for having good ones. I guess it's all up to the person where the priorities lie, but mine are with gameplay, mechanics and the interconnectivity between world design. Horizon doesn't do anything for me here. Zelda appeals to me though, but still waiting with purchasing a Switch for a while.

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#40 Edited by blackichigo (435 posts) -

I still have no idea why people insist on comparing these two games.

Can't they both just be good games that stand on their own without being compared one another for no reason other than them being open world and having protagonist at use a bow?

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#41 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2960 posts) -

@blackichigo: in a post-apocalypse where robots stalk the land. These two and Nier Automata are a cute early 2017 trio.

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#42 Posted by OpusOfTheMagnum (647 posts) -

Haven’t played Horizon but I’ve seen enough to know it wouldn’t grab me the same way BotW does. I hate hand holding, railroading, tutorials, etc at this point. I want to discover, learn, and do whatever I want. Things like being able to go wherever I want and accomplish whatever I want without invisible walls or whatever is really, really refreshing. BotW is an experience that is really hard to get these days, and impossible to find with the same level of polish. Horizon seems like a very good iteration on an existing formula, rather than a new formula made from familiar components.

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#43 Edited by blackichigo (435 posts) -

@redhotchilimist: All three of those games scratch completely different itches for multiple players or even the same player. They're not even comprable to each other.

Its just weird thinking people may be playing Zelda and thinking, "Boy is this better than Horizon," or vice versa. They just don't do enough of the same things for me to even think that.

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#44 Posted by sammo21 (5968 posts) -

I had more fun with Horizon: WAY BETTER COMBAT, the menus didn't annoy me, the crafting was fast, the story and all the characters were great, and the ending was super satisfying and made me 100% the game.

Zelda was great...had great exploration, looked nice...yeah. I hated the combat, I hated the cooking, I hated the menu system, I hated the first 6 or so hours, etc.

Both are good but one made me hungry.

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#45 Posted by Excitable_Misunderstood_Genius (346 posts) -

This is just the dumbest comparison.

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#46 Posted by JeremyF (352 posts) -

I've been debating this myself recently. While Horizon has a prettier world and a fresher concept for the world (and much better voice acting, oof), I got around to thinking about my frustrations with it. Running at objective markers for minutes at a time, little reason to explore despite the giant world, and a lot of really boring story elements that the game forces you to do. Yeah, I got burnt out by the end of the game. Breath of the Wild solved all those problems, which I don't think I appreciated when I played it when it came out (I only played Horizon in the last month or so). Exploration in and of itself is fun and rewarding, the shrine system is an excellent distillation of Zelda's best elements, and above all, the game can end whenever you want it to. When I beat Zelda, it was at the point where I felt finished with my playthrough, wrapping up a swell 30-hour experience. When I felt done with Horizon, there was still quite a bit of game left to go, and I was dragging my feet for the rest of it. Zelda beats it out because there's always that option to finish at any point.

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#47 Posted by SloppyDetective (1599 posts) -

@blackichigo: I'm curious because they were compared so much upon release. I want to see what people think now after the new car smell has faded. Also There's enough there for them to be comparable. Setting is a big part of both games and they more or less have the same motif. They're trying to instill similar feelings of isolation and a past world that has influenced how you navigate the current one etc.

Just saying the two games control differently and have different approaches to these ideas seems myopic.

I also feel like we've been over saturated with open world games. Seeing one that has polished the current template of design and one that re-imagines it has me wondering which people prefer.

Obviously both are really good games, can both exist in the video game landscape, and can be enjoyed simultaneously. This is just a poll on the internet...

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#48 Posted by SloppyDetective (1599 posts) -
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#49 Posted by SloppyDetective (1599 posts) -

@zevvion: I don't think it's a cut and dry call. Some games stories are good enough to overcome mechanical short comings for me, and vice versa. Horizon's story was interesting and well written, but it wasn't interesting enough to make me want to keep playing it. Video games bring a lot of different concepts together and I'm not looking for every video game to nail one particular thing every single time.

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#50 Posted by Dussck (1053 posts) -

I like both, but Zelda by a mile. Horizon while looking incredible (at times) and having an above avarage story it still is a pretty standard open world game. Horizon took me by the hand and showed me the world, Zelda let me go and explore on my own. When I tried to explore in Horizon I got stuck twice, because the story wasn't progressed enough yet to enter those area's.
I also really appreciate the fact that Zelda is designed in such a way that you don't really need a HUD or waypoint icons floating everywhere on your screen. You see something in the world and want to go there naturally, not just following an arrow with a distance meter next to it.

I think Zelda also had a lot more variety in the gameplay, while Horizon was all about the combat (which was pretty good when you were fighting the robots at least).

Both good games, but I was glad Horizon was over at some point after 20 or so hours and still enjoying Zelda (60+ hours now).