Friday, July 21, 2017

Legit this time

Some of my criticism of Horizon Zero Dawn has been tongue in cheek, less than serious devil advocating designed to get a rise out of Chance. Some. I really do not understand what he sees in the combat and it has taken just under thirty hours for me to figure out why: enemies are introduced before you have the appropriate tools to deal with them. Now that I have a good collection of weapons (most of which I still do not use because after your main bow and a good sharpshot they are all superfluous) the only non-trivial encounter is the stormbird.

At the start Aloy has a crappy dodge roll and weapons that do little more than tickle larger enemies. The first encounter with a sawtooth was bad news because I just could not do enough fire damage without resorting to crap shoot tactics like laying a mine and hoping he doesn't step on it until I am out of the blast radius. Now? No problem, only it is not my skills that have improved, it is the tech and Aloy's abilities. She has a better dodge roll now and my bow does a shit ton of fire damage.

Enemies did not scale down very well to introductory weapons and they do not scale up very well to more powerful ones. The thunderjaw sure looks scary but by the time I saw him I had a sharpshot bow that I could nock two arrows on, simultaneously. I have never died to a thunderjaw because of when I ran into them, not because of how good I was.

This is the danger with walling a player in with enemy difficulty instead of more natural obstacles. Once that enemy difficult is eclipsed, what is left? I can explore freely now and the only enemy types that pose a threat are corrupted ones, and even then it is just because they have more health. At the first the combat was unfair, then for a few shining moments it was just right, and now it is too easy.

How to fix this? Make the opening enemies easier and slow the weapon power curve. And prevent players from going where they shouldn't go with gameplay mechanics, not enemies that they cannot kill efficiently yet.

Horizon is still a pretty good open world game and I will play it like I play all open world games: if there is an icon on the map I will got there and collect whatever is there. It is going to take a while and I know that, when I am finished, I will not have enjoyed it as much as Watch Dogs 2.

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