Horizon Zero Dawn is a 2017 action role-playing game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It is the first game of the Horizon video game series. The plot follows Aloy, a young hunter in a world overrun by machines, who sets out to uncover her past. The player uses ranged weapons, a spear, and stealth to combat mechanical creatures and other enemy forces. A skill tree provides the player with new abilities and bonuses. The player can explore the open world to discover locations and take on side quests. It is the first game in the Horizon series and was released for the PlayStation 4 in 2017 and Windows in 2020. Horizon Zero Dawn is Guerrilla Games' first intellectual property since Killzone in 2004 and its first role-playing video game. Development began in 2011 after the completion of Killzone 3, with director Mathijs de Jonge considering it the riskiest idea pitched at the time. The game engine, Decima, was developed for Killzone: Shadow Fall and altered for Horizon Zero Dawn. Being set in a post-apocalyptic setting, anthropologists were consulted to authenticate the world's decay over a millennium. The soundtrack was led by composer Joris de Man, featuring contributions from The Flight. Horizon Zero Dawn was praised by critics for its open world, story, visuals, combat, characterization, and the performance of voice actress Ashly Burch; however, the dialogue, melee combat, and character models received some criticism. The game won numerous awards and sold over 20 million copies by February 2022, making it one of the best-selling PlayStation 4 games. An expansion, The Frozen Wilds, was released in November 2017. A sequel, Horizon Forbidden West, was released for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on 18 February 2022. A television series is in development at Netflix. Gameplay Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing game played from a third-person view. Players take control of Aloy, a hunter who ventures through a post-apocalyptic land ruled by robotic creatures. Aloy can kill enemies in a variety of ways – shooting them with arrows, setting traps such as tripwires using the Tripcaster, using explosives, and a spear. Machine components, including electricity and the metal they are composed of, are vital to Aloy's survival; she can loot their remains for crafting resources. Ammo, resource satchels, pouches, quivers, resistance, antidotes, health potions, and traps can all be crafted. Weapons have modification slots for dealing more damage. Aloy wears a Focus, a small head piece that scans machines to determine their susceptibilities, identify their location, their level, and the nature of loot they will drop. One machine, the Stalker, can enable cloaking technology to avert the gaze of Aloy's Focus scan. Machines attack with defensive and offensive measures, and in either case react to a perceived threat by charging at it with brute force or projectiles. Exhibiting the behaviour of wild animals, some machines are inclined to move in herds, and others, with the ability to fly, do so in flocks. Unless hacked with the Override Tool, or sufficiently hit with corruption arrows, machines do not exert aggressive force against each other. Aloy also engages in battle with human enemies, such as bandits and the Eclipse cult. Aloy can dodge, sprint, slide, or roll to evade her enemies' advances. Hiding in foliage to ambush nearby enemies can ensure immediate takedowns. Swimming may reach enemies stealthily or places otherwise unreachable on foot. She is able to hack a selection of machines with the Override Tool, some of which can be turned into makeshift mounts.Explorable ruins called Cauldrons unlock additional machines to override. Three categories occur in the skill tree: "Prowler" concerns stealth, "Brave" improves combat, and "Forager" increases healing and gathering capabilities. To level up, Aloy attains experience points from individual kills and completing quests. Upgrades in each category result in more adept use of the skills learned, with "Prowler" leading to silent takedowns, "Brave" to aiming a bow in slow motion, and "Forager" to an enlarged medicine pouch. The Frozen Wilds added "Traveler", which unlocks the ability to jump off a mount to attack enemies. The game has a seamless open world with a day-night cycle and dynamic weather system. The map is composed of forest, jungle, desert, and snowy mountain regions. Mountainous terrain is traversed with the employment of parkour, and aided by the use of zip-lines. Corrupted Zones constitute areas that heighten difficulty and are populated by corrupted machines that behave with more aggression. To uncover more of the map, Aloy must scale large giraffe-like machines known as Tallnecks. Twenty-five robotic creature designs are present in the game. Save points and fast travel can be accessed by interacting with campfires, once discovered. The quest structure unfolds to accommodate the exploration of tribes, while the main story covers the entire world. Side quests involve Aloy completing tasks, like gathering materials, coming to the aid of individuals in danger of being killed, solving mysteries, assuming control of bandit camps, eliminating criminals and more difficult machines, accomplishing various challenges at any of the five Hunting Grounds, and obtaining an ancient armour that makes Aloy almost impervious to damage. A dialogue wheel is used to communicate with non-player characters. Collectibles include vantages that offer visual information of the Old World, metal flowers that contain poetry, and old relics, such as ancient mugs and tribal artifacts. Plot Aloy (Ashly Burch) is cast out from the Nora tribe at birth and raised by a fellow outcast named Rost (JB Blanc). As a child (Ava Potter), Aloy obtains a Focus, an augmented reality device that gives her special perceptive abilities. Aloy becomes curious about her origins and is told by Rost that if she wins the Proving, a competition to earn the right to become a member of the Nora, the tribe's Matriarchs might concede this information. Aloy spends some years training in combat and survival under Rost's instruction. After coming of age, Aloy takes part in the Proving; she wins the competition, but the Nora are attacked by masked cultists. Rost sacrifices himself to save Aloy from their leader, Helis (Crispin Freeman). When Aloy awakens, the Matriarchs explain that Aloy was found as an infant before a sealed door within the Nora's sacred mountain, and that these suspicious origins were the reason for being outcast. The Matriarchs name Aloy a "Seeker", allowing her to leave their lands in pursuit of the cultists. Aloy eventually learns that the cultists are part of a splinter Carja faction called the Eclipse, and that Aloy was targeted due to her resemblance to an Old World scientist named Elisabet Sobeck (also voiced by Burch). Aloy locates the ruined corporate campus of Faro Automated Solutions and discovers that the Old World was destroyed nearly a thousand years ago after Faro lost control of its automated peacekeeper military robots. The robots, which could self-replicate and consumed biomass, overran the planet and consumed the biosphere, stripping Earth of life. Zero Dawn, a project spearheaded by Sobeck, was initiated to create an automated terraforming system to deactivate the robots and restore life to Earth. Aloy is contacted by Sylens (Lance Reddick), a secretive Banuk figure interested in uncovering the fate of the Old Ones. Aloy learns that Sobeck was sent to a decommissioned Orbital Launch Base to complete Zero Dawn, which is located under the Citadel, the centre of Eclipse power. Inside the base, Aloy learns that Zero Dawn was a vast underground system of databases, factories, and cloning facilities controlled by a single artificial intelligence, GAIA (Lesley Ewen) and her subsystems. Once all life had been extinguished, GAIA developed a countermeasure to deactivate the Faro robots and build her own animalistic machines to restore the Earth's biosphere. Once the planet was habitable again, GAIA's next goal was to reseed life on Earth based on stored DNA and teach the first human clones not to repeat their predecessors' mistakes. However, APOLLO, the subsystem designed to teach humanity, was sabotaged by Faro's founder and CEO Theodore Faro in a fit of nihilism, and the new generation of humans were reduced to a tribal, subsistence society. The Eclipse are secretly controlled by HADES (John Gonzalez), another of GAIA's subsystems designed to enact controlled extinction if the outcome of Zero Dawn was not favorable for human existence. Reaching Sobeck's office, Aloy obtains a registry to give her access to the door beneath the Nora's mountain. She is captured by Helis and sentenced to death at the Citadel, but escapes with the help of Sylens. Aloy helps the Nora fight off the Eclipse and unlocks the mountain's door. She finds a recording from GAIA, revealing that a signal of unknown origin caused HADES to activate and seize control of her functions; as a last resort, GAIA self-destructed in order to stop HADES, but sadly failed and lost control of the other subsystems. Without GAIA to maintain the terraforming process, the entire system began to break down, leading to the Derangement. As a contingency plan, GAIA created a clone of Sobeck in the form of Aloy, in the hope that she would find GAIA's message, destroy HADES, and restore GAIA's functions. Aloy learns that Sobeck sacrificed her life to ensure the Faro robots would not find GAIA. Aloy manages to obtain the master override to destroy HADES. Sylens reveals that he was the founder of the Eclipse, originally tempted by HADES' promises of knowledge when he discovered it. They surmise that HADES intends to send a signal to reactivate the Faro robots to extinguish life on Earth. Aloy kills Helis and helps fight off machines, before stabbing HADES and activating the master override, ending the war. She journeys to Sobeck's old home, finding her corpse, and mourns her predecessor. In a post-credits scene, HADES is trapped by Sylens, who intends to interrogate HADES to find out who sent the signal that activated it.
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Genre(s): Action | Role-Playing