Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Heresy time

This post, unlike the last one, is entirely serious.

Horizon Zero Dawn is now old, in gaming terms, so I doubt anyone is interested in a cranky man's opinion about a game they have already played. Tough, I am going to give it anyway. And it isn't all sunshine and lollipops.

At its core Horizon is a Far Cry game, full stop. It is not just cut from the same cloth, it is stitched together from Ubisoft's leavings. This is not a bad thing. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't eagerly anticipating Far Cry 5. Everyone is anticipating Far Cry 5. The problem, and this will cause fights, is that Horizon is not as good of a Far Cry game as 3, 4 or Primal.

In Horizon you are constantly foraging, constantly looting, constantly picking shit up off of the ground (and consequently getting very tired of the animation). Picking healing herbs never stops and it slows the game down to a crawl. Far Cry is a walk in the park compared to this. It allows you to play longer without having to stop and make more arrows or traps. This was a choice that Horizon made, to emphasize the surviving part of being out in the wild amidst killer machines, and I wish it hadn't.

This would be fixed, at least partially, by giving me the option to turn off the foraging animation. Over the course of the game it would save at least an hour of watching Aloy bend down and stand up again, maybe more.

Combat in Horizon veers wildly between too easy and fuck you, this is not a Dark Souls game. Some of this is again, by design. Smaller to medium sized enemies go down in a hit or two, assuming that you have the correct weapon (which is does not always give you) but large enemies are a slog. Yes, I am hitting their blaze tanks, no, I am not attaching them to the ground first because it takes half a dozen ropes to do so and they inevitably end up covering their explosive bits when they finally fall down.

The combat is work. Fighting in Far Cry is never work. It is rarely difficult, and I am fine with that, but scouting an encampment of mercs and then attacking is more fun than laying an explosive trip wire under a Sawtooth and watching it do almost no damage or running into a Fire Bellowback before the game bothers to give you any ice weapons.

Which is hasn't yet and I have run into two of the damn things. Which brings me to the checkpoint system.


There is no checkpoint system, or at least what is there is not consistent. Sometimes when you die you are moved away from where you were and any items than you used in the encounter are gone but experience gained and quests completed remain. Other times you are placed back at the most recent camp fire with items returned but experience removed. Both are unacceptable. Both are lazy on the game's part. Every other open world game on the market (not by From Software) is kind enough to quick save for you before big encounters. You died? That's fine, try again.

Get ready for a long walk when you die in Horizon. And anything you killed on the way is back again.

This all sounds pretty negative, and I do mean it, but the game is not bad. It is just not as good as other similar games. It is not even the best game that I have played this year.

Update: going over the list from this year, it may be the 'best' game I have played this year. But I had more fun with Watch Dogs 2.

1 comment:


    You are gonna' get it, Mister! And by "get it" I mean "be on the receiving end of a passionate verbal defense of Horizon: Zero Dawn"! Oooooh you're gonna' get it so bad...