‘Zero Dawn’ lives up to hype

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“Horizon Zero Dawn” is a game that has been highly anticipated since its gameplay reveal at E3 in 2015. The game dazzled audiences with its appealing graphics and unique and exciting premise–that premise basically being robot dinosaurs.

“Zero Dawn” is set in a distant future in which the world has been taken over by beast-like machines while humans have been relegated to live in tribes like cavemen in fear of the beasts. This setup works in several different ways, as it opens up a lot of discussion about the early rise and decadent fall of what we know as modern society.

The game stars Aloy, an outcast who has your stereotypical mysterious past that forces her to set out across the country land to find answers. Aloy is an enjoyable character as she maintains the specific type of swagger one would want from a main lead while also having great personality in all of her sassy remarks and little side jokes.

While the game itself is large, offering hundreds of things to do like the “Witcher” or “Elder Scrolls” series, the main gameplay of “Zero Dawn” focuses around its hunting mechanics. Throughout the game, Aloy is forced to take down various different types of mechanical monsters that vary in size and temperament. Some of the beasts resemble deer and antelope in that they will generally leave you alone unless provoked. However, there are also very hostile machines such as the Stalkers, lion-like predator machines, who have the ability to render themselves completely invisible and make them dangerously difficult to take down.

Other threats include T-Rex-sized machines and giant alligator-sized machines, each with the ability to take Aloy out in seconds if not approached wisely. Some of the main appeal of the game is all of the various different types of enemies Aloy faces, offering numerous different ways of hunting them down as you explore the giant, beautifully designed landscape.

Aloy’s arsenal of weaponry is another highlight to the sprawling universe of “Zero Dawn.”
While there are not as many different types of weapons as you would see in a game like “Skyrim,” Aloy maintains a bunch of clever and fun-to-use weapons that make dinosaur hunting a complete blast. Her weapons include crossbows that set up traps, slingshots that lob powerful bombs, and three different types of primary archery weapons.

Aloy’s main weapon of choice throughout “Zero Dawn” is the elegant, yet simple, bow and arrow. This is what makes “Zero Dawn” stand out. The fusing of futuristic enemies against more primal forms of weaponry is an intriguing and entertaining dynamic to play around with. It may seem far fetched that a bow and arrow could take down a giant, ferocious, Mechagodzilla, but Aloy uses some futuristic technology she scavenges throughout the world to make the fight a bit more even.

This is where “Zero Dawn” steers away from being a perfect game. The elemental weaponry that you craft throughout the game is rather standard for an action-RPG like this (fire applies a burn effect, ice slows and reduces armor, lightning stuns), and there are a lot of other very standard elements within the game.

The crafting system is rock solid, and the questing is extensive and well-balanced, yet it all seems very straightforward and definitive of the genre that developer Guerrilla Games was hoping to achieve. Being Guerrilla Games’ first attempt at a game like this makes these more average elements more excusable, and a lot of people enjoy those elements in RPGs for a reason and will likely not mind them at all.

All in all, “Zero Dawn” is a great new adventure on the Playstation 4 that brings an enjoyable experience both within its exploration and its combat mechanics. The feeling achieved when you rope down a giant, roaring metal T-Rex and fire that last exploding arrow into its squishy, vulnerable center is one that makes “Zero Dawn” one of the best games released in 2017 thus far.