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Quick Look: Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds

Dan returns to the land of big robotic game and finds it a lot snowier than when he left it.

Sit back and enjoy as the Giant Bomb team takes an unedited look at the latest video games.

Nov. 10 2017

Cast: Vinny, Dan

Posted by: Vinny

In This Episode:

Horizon Zero Dawn

88 Comments

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TheChris

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Edited By TheChris

Tried the game and got bored with it. The mediocre voice acting and story just didn’t grab my attention enough to look past the tedious open world. The overall gameplay felt like I was just playing Tomb Raider, all the way down to the parkour being restricted to conveniently colored/animated hooks that Aloy can grab unto.

I feel the Witcher 3 has set a standard that most open world games just can’t match up to, it was a game that was good despite its open world not because of it.

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DragonBomb

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@thechris: I mean, the colored ledges is a weird fault to find with Horizon if you liked The Witcher 3. As correct me if I'm wrong, but it had similar ledges that Geralt could vault himself up.

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Shiftygism

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Edited By Shiftygism

When Dan says he avoided fights as much as possible in this game, I just can't imagine what the point of playing would be outside the somewhat interesting narrative of Aloy's origins.

The game's approach to combat was the main draw for me and those initial encounters of seeing how each machine would react in battle was super engaging (especially the crab-bots). Other than that, once you get past how pretty the game is, traversal is a frustrating bore in a post-Zelda world (though not really its fault given how revolutionary Breath of the Wild is) and the missions are all the same tired Skyrim crap (without any of the occasional standout quests that rely heavily on humor or elaborate scenarios) along with a good helping of Arkham Knight detective vision added to the mix.

Horizon pulled me in pretty easy with its initial draw of exploring its world and the combat within, but when I really started playing the game it quickly became a chore. Aloy being one of the most terribly vanilla protagonists I've controlled in years didn't help matters much either....but whatever floats your boat I guess.

Also, watching his approach of taking down bellowbacks was pretty cringe-worthy. Instead of stacking fire damage and running around getting the aggro of every enemy in vicinity, well placed high strength shots from stealth positions on their painfully obvious weak points is the quicker way to go and awards you with what might be the most satisfying explosions in the game....but like I said....your boat, whatever floats it.

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squashysquish

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Edited By squashysquish
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squashysquish

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@shiftygism: I personally found the worldbuilding, narrative developments and character interactions to be engaging enough that I would have enjoyed the game without the combat (though obviously not a nearly the same degree). I think they do novel things with the setting and manage to make the world feel cohesive and grounded in a way that you'd not expect from "techno-tribes fight robot dinosaurs: the game." I also actually quite like Aloy as a character, her adolescent snark and ambition were really endearing to me. I can totally see how one might find her a bit milquetoast for not being as flawed as she could have been, though. The game's certainly not a timeless classic.

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TheChris

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Edited By TheChris

@dragonbomb said:

@thechris: I mean, the colored ledges is a weird fault to find with Horizon if you liked The Witcher 3. As correct me if I'm wrong, but it had similar ledges that Geralt could vault himself up.

Look, I get it. You love Horizon, and I respect that, but my issues with Horizon has nothing to do with the Witcher 3. Like yeah, Geralt can't scale mountains either like Nathan Drake, but that was never something I felt was needed for that game. Most open world games that involve parkour generally don't subscribe to the Uncharted formula, where you can't climb your average cliff if there isn't a prerequisite rock-that-is-animated-differerently-from-the-rest-of-the-wall to climb. Like it shouldn't be an issue with a game where you play as female Tarzan.

But it also seems to be one of the biggest issues some people have with game, including the ones who really enjoy it.

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DinosaurCanada

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Oh shit, time to add one to the lightning gun page

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Passingthrough

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@donchipotle: But it's not. Horizon is a great game. Zelda was just better.

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Aistan

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The story and setting and the history of the setting in this game is one of the best I have ever experienced in a video game. I cared more about this world than I thought was possible, and that elevated everything else about it even higher than the already-high levels they would meet on their own. Of course the full scope of this story isn't evident if someone just plays a couple hours and stops playing, but that's true of pretty much all games.

I didn't mind the open world go everywhere and find things stuff because those things gave me more of this story I was dying to get every last drop of. I wanted to find all the artifacts because I wanted to hear what Aloy thought of them. I wanted to see all the vantages to get an idea of how things had changed between the past and present. I wanted to do all the quests and talk to all the people because I enjoyed how Aloy interacted with all of them.

This has already started turning into my GOTY writeup so i'll just end by saying that a game that had nothing but Horizon's combat systems would be one of my favorites and Horizon has so much more than just that to offer.

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donchipotle

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@donchipotle: But it's not. Horizon is a great game. Zelda was just better.

But it is. Zelda has a super strong start. The Plateau is the single best part of that entire game and once you leave it the high from that section remains for a bit until it sets in just how actually shallow the gameplay loop is. The one thing Zelda has going for it is its exploration since the moment-to-moment stuff becomes a chore. Far too many shrines are just combat trials and even fewer are the ones with actual interesting mechanics that are far too brief to be anything other than a cute novelty. The open nature of BOTW wound up working against what little foundation of a narrative the game actually had and rather than characters it had caricatures that were about as interesting for as long as it took for their character design to mug for the camera. And this is to say nothing about the fact that the Divine Beasts are more fun to get into than they are to play inside of. The game opens well and ends well with the final area being super good (if you don't just climb to the end immediately). Shame about the middle parts aka the game.

BOTW is a solid 3. Horizon is about a 4.

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PancakePatriarchate

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I've been playing the base game almost every day trying to finish it before GOTY discussions, which is difficult because I'm so compelled to explore the world, encounter enemies, and track down collectables, and I'm a person who normally couldn't care less about collectables. It's almost as if making an interesting world for your open world game naturally encourages exploration, rather than just icon-pooping your map and saying "Go here if you want to get all the stuff I guess."

I should mention I've never played a Far Cry and the last Assassin's Creed I played was #2, so I can understand if people see this and think 'another open world game.' For me though this is a true gem.

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JTB123

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I spent around 12 hours with DLC and loved every bit of it. I think the new stuff they added was exactly what most people would have wanted. Being able to mod the spear, bigger inventory, more weapon modifications, some cool new weapons and improved old ones. The new outfits are really good too.

This DLC made me start a fresh game all over again. Horizon is one of my favourite games in recent years and this add on is a perfect way to round out the year for me.

I should mention I've never played a Far Cry and the last Assassin's Creed I played was #2, so I can understand if people see this and think 'another open world game.' For me though this is a true gem.

The last Farcry I played was 3 and while that was fun from a more going nuts in an open world with crazy situations like wild animals messing up your stealth I also feel Horizon is the open world game that matters this generation. I really hope we don't have to wait until PS5 to get a sequel.

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ParthBagaria

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About the whole Zelda thing. No this game did not get Zeldad. It sold really well. Didnt it sell more than Zelda first week in UK? Most people who play seem to love it, especially the story and the combat. Just that GB staff was too busy playing Zelda they chose to ignore this game. Also I think the suggestion that people werent playing and playing Zelda is absolutely untrue, since there is not that much of an overlap of audience. The PS4 owners wouldve bought and played Horizon regardless Zelda release.

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As much as I really liked Horizon, I just don't see the appeal of playing more of it after knowing the nature of everything that happened in the game's universe. That was a major driving force for me, it was equally as important for my enjoyment of the game as the combat. Which honestly suffered from the same problem as BotW, way too easy on the back half, and I played on Very Hard.

It's also why I don't need a sequel to this game. The universe is no longer a mystery at the end of it, there's nothing interesting left to tell.

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Brad  Staff

I'm slowly watching the possibility wither and die that I'll have time to play this game to the end before GOTY, and it's making me sad -- sounds like the story is really worth seeing in context rather than just having dumped in 30 seconds on a podcast.

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Redhotchilimist

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@brad: If you think there's no time, I'd recommend something like this or even this video. It's hardly ideal, and would be a bummer for your own theoretical playthrough. But you don't really go back and play games really often and it would probably improve GOTY talks. It's definitely better than just having Jeff tell you the story, I think.

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Edited By stick100

To answer why often you see videos where they type in notepad. 2 reasons major reasons. Often they are done by people with English as a Second language so they either can't speak english or have a very heavy accent. The other reason is that it makes the videos useful if watching while muted. Personally when I do tutorials I will talk but also tend to write things in notepad to make it easier to jump around the video.

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Edited By Humanity

@brad: It's an interesting story but if you've read any sci-fi novels in the past it's nothing you haven't seen before. I always say that the most fascinating thing about Horizon is that Guerrilla made it. After having played Killzone, granted those games were interesting in their own unique ways, it seems so bizarre that the studio known for this very linear first person shooter has made this extremely unique open world game. What is even more fascinating is that you can still feel that Killzone DNA permeate through Horizon - the heaviness of some of the actions, the stiffness of some animations, the red lens flares from enemies.. Guerrilla were always great at creating cool looking sci-fi and now that they weren't shackled to this quasi-alternate-WWII setting their artists really let loose with the awesome machine designs.

Much like Wolfenstein II it's a much better experience than it is a game, although the combat is more satisfying (if not clunky in it's own way) in Horizon than it is in New Colossus.

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I still can't believe this game made fighting robot dinosaurs boring. I hope AAA video games get over this "more is better" mentality soon. I couldn't possibly play this DLC because the main game was so heavily stacked with repetitive, samey activities and encounters spread all over its otherwise barren and pointless world, that the thought of "just more of that" is so unappealing.

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@freetacos: Oddly enough I bounced of Zelda in favour of Horizon...

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Edited By Aistan

@brad: This is absolutely the case with the game. The slow buildup of learning more and more about the background of the world adds a lot to it, picking up clues as you pick through the ruins and find audio logs and holograms. Just hearing it explained directly, and probably not in the same order as the game itself shows you the information, would remove a lot of the impact. It's almost like a mystery story. You could just hear how it all ended up and just shrug and say "cool, but that doesn't sound that amazing", but what you're missing is the entire rest of the story that was building to that moment.

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Edited By Shiftygism

Started the dlc last night, it might be even prettier than the actual game. It definitely is in terms of snow textures and effects as it seems they've been given a facelift with this add on, I need to revisit some of the old frozen areas to see if they received a retroactive upgrade. Trudging around in a moonlit forest stalking prey was pretty cool and reminded me of my favorite section of Assassin's Creed III, though I haven't encountered any snow quite that deep yet. Hopefully...

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Guys guys guys new content idea! I don't hate on how Dan wants to play games, but if he plays this at highest difficulty with coaching that could be super awesome as watching him learn anything in real time always gives me the same satisfaction of watching my Daughter work things out and that makes for good video.

I haven't played it but you guys are describing some open world Darksouls style nonsense not in evidence here and I want to see the game described. I've blown my gaming budget for the year about 3x over because it's been so amazing but I'll definitely get around to this eventually.

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@humanity: I've read, watched, and played plenty of sci-fi. I found Autamata's story a lot less compelling than Zero Dawn's. I've been trying to figure out what makes for the difference in opinion.

For me, Zero Dawn felt like it was telling a story that could happen. Obviously, the tech in the backstory that led to the state of the world as experienced in the game is sci-fi stuff that seems unlikely to be developed in the near future--almost surely not as soon as suggested in the game. However, the motivations in the backstory felt not only possible but in some ways probable: if technology develops as envisioned, it is an outcome we should watch out for.

On the other hand, Automata uses androids and robots to tell its story, but it's really all fantasy. The questions it raises are interesting, but I already grappled with all of them as a philosophy student. It makes me wonder if the reason I prefer Zero Dawn while others seem to care much more deeply about Automata has to do with that background. Perhaps if you've read Sartre, Kant, etc, as well as some of the modern debates on AI and personal identity, as I have, it's nice to see the ideas appear in a videogame but it's not new. Meanwhile, if you don't have that background then these ideas might just rock your world, leading you to contemplate life in meaningful new ways.

This is videogames we're discussing. To each their own, ultimately. I enjoyed both games. I've just been curious about how my best friend called Autamata a life-changing experience much like Ben and Alex, whereas Zero Dawn proved to have the better narrative in my opinion.

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That_Lamer

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So is Dan just spamming arrows out as fast as he possibly can, avoiding actually drawing the bow in favor of high volume of weak fire, or is that really how the firing animation and speed looks?

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@donchipotle: if horizon was the new Zelda game, i would really like to see how critics look at that.

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@draugen: yeah, noticed that. Besides Jeff who doesn't care later, giantbomb technical support staff(sorry i forget his name) really liked this game. Only two I noticed finished this game and loved it. Most of them dropped it.

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Zefpunk

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@cubbielover: absolutely agree! i really hope they don't overlook this one and break my heart. in a fantastic year for games, this game's story is far and away still my favorite. love love loved it!

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@rohsiph said:

The questions it raises are interesting, but I already grappled with all of them as a philosophy student. It makes me wonder if the reason I prefer Zero Dawn while others seem to care much more deeply about Automata has to do with that background. Perhaps if you've read Sartre, Kant, etc, as well as some of the modern debates on AI and personal identity, as I have, it's nice to see the ideas appear in a videogame but it's not new. Meanwhile, if you don't have that background then these ideas might just rock your world, leading you to contemplate life in meaningful new ways.

FWIW, I'd say almost exactly the same about Horizon, except that Horizon doesn't have as unique a setting to fall back on. The personal journey of Aloy may be interesting, but the backstory for the world isn't anything new - it's essentially clanking replicators leading to a gray goo scenario.

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@humanity said:

@cubbielover: I dunno man, personally I think it’s one of the weakest story’s of the year. When you compare it to Wolfenstein or Nier it’s just your run of the mill sci-fi. I was definitely expecting a better justification for the robot dinosaurs and whatnot, not to mention all the characters, all of them, are so incredibly flat and lifeless that Aloy stands out like a sore thumb.

I loved the story here, I agree with cubbielover that it's one of the best sci-fi games ever, especially story-wise - but it and the genre/events are kinda my jam either way.

I can't comment on Nier and I think it's a shame they put the real ending behind so much (bad) grind, so I'll live without it's super-tremendous ending, I guess. I don't have the time to play it once, let alone 3 times or whatever. Plus, I've heard from too many people that praised the hell out of it, in retrospect, say it's not a very good game for most of it, it's just a really good story if you get through the grind. I dunno though, just what I heard more than once.

Wolfenstein isn't one I have finished yet, because I wanted to finish the Old Blood first. But I can kinda guess how crazy it might go and the characters are great, so I expect that to be a real contender in story, for me, when compared with Horizon. Another one that I can tell I'll like, if not love.

I wish Zelda's DLC (so far), main campaign, and story didn't suck (in comparison to the best of the year) - because the game world and gameplay were extraordinary! (except for how easy it was, WAY too easy - a very common trend lately. Even Shadow of War on Nemesis with me purposely maxing out my opponents to level 65 pretty often is too easy overall, though certainly better than the first in that dept where you were just on cheat mode by the end if you cared about maximizing your runes and such in any way).

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I don't want to be that guy. I love Dan being on this website, but please don't ever let him run a quick look again. This keeps happening. If I actually have to turn it off out of frustration that seems bad that's all i'm saying.

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@zombievac: different strokes for different folks I suppose. I enjoyed Bioshock Infinite a lot more.

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Watching Dan gloss over the extremely fun systems of the HZD combat was disheartening as a huge fan of the game, but I'm not one to talk. I was that guy who dropped Witcher 3 to the lowest difficulty because I was more interested in exploring the world and interacting with characters than brewing oils and decoctions.

Crafting stuff in that game was also the worst aspect of it, so i don't blame you for doing that.

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One of these days I need to play this game. I'm fascinated by the world and mystery behind those robo dinos. Just wish I had time to really dig in deep.

BTW, that load time was rediculous. @_@

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Edited By ninnyjams

This game ruined Zelda for me. I was just about to give Zelda another chance and now this hits!

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Edited By NeverGameOver

Vinny - you really should play through the story of this game before GOTY. Believe me that you won't want it spoiled.

I feel like Dan is doing this game a disservice by refusing to engage with the systems in the game while attempting to show it off in the quick look. Obviously, he can play however he wants, but when you don't engage with that stuff, you really aren't showing what the game is doing. I guess it doesn't really force you to engage with them on the lower difficulties. I'd recommend playing on hard to increase the depth of the gameplay.

@ripelivejam: I think the reason people feel compelled to stick up for this game vs Zelda is because it seems that games journalists can't say five words about this game without comparing it to Zelda.