Horizon Zero Dawn is a game that got all the rave reviews. Its expansion, the Frozen Wilds, is even more deserving of all the love that the original title got. Here's our review.
Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the releases of 2017 for the PlayStation 4 - and one of the titles that made upgrading to the PS4 Pro truly worthwhile. With great voice acting, a strong and unique storyline and a beautiful and immersive world, it stands out among the current crop of role-playing games as something different.
Now, before we tell you why we think the Frozen Wilds expansion is worth your time and money, we need to confess that we've platinumed the original title. And well that means completed everything - 100% done, all the trophies, all the side quests. If someone bought me Aloy-themed bath foam for Christmas, I wouldn't be offended. Yet, I'm not a completionist by nature - a game has to be really good and involving to see me mop up everything it has to offer.
Side quests are my particular hate. In far too many games, these are essentially the mindless stacking of content. "Take this, run it over there. There's a good boy." Here is five coins/golden frogs/sausages/whatever-the-in-game-currency may be. Just look at Destiny 2 with Patrols - go and kill the nearest five mobs and we can pretend it's a meaningful activity. Whilst this maybe a tolerable use of player time if the intent is to trigger off a new, higher level area in an MMO, without that incentive it is possibly the most hated mechanic around.
And this is where Horizon Zero Dawn shines - both in the original game and in the new expansion. Whilst there are some potentially tedious quest mechanics, they are generally used sparingly and the game steps nimbly away from them well before they reach that tedium. SARCASM ALERT: It's almost like someone who cares about the game has play-tested it. Without asking the company accountant.
Again, the levelling experience in Frozen Wilds is rewarding - as in the original title. There are no obvious, grindy, levelling plateaus that sap joy from the game, or ruin the story. The levelling tree is not that much of a tree, more like bamboo. You will level all available skills in a linear fashion, however you can pursue certain lines as it suits your play style.
It is smooth, it is challenging enough and there is plenty of variety allowing you to create a character build that suits you - whilst ensuring that you do go through all types of weapons and use them all in order to bring down an army of mechanical beasties and some very naughty humans too. And here's a real thing of value in the Frozen Wilds expansion - no matter how good you were at the original title, Frozen Wilds is going to kick you right back into the dirt of 31st century Earth.
The expansion simply opens up a whole new area of the map, in the north-east. Here, you're going to come up against some new kinds of mechanised monsters - and you're going to have to think hard to defeat them. To put it simply, it passes the "sitting up in your seat" test - a test that all gamers should apply. It requires your attention and focus to triumph. And it leaves you coming back for more. There really is no higher praise.
Add to that the air of mystery and uncovering secrets that the original title had - Frozen Wilds has it by the wooden bucketful - the actual story of Aloy remains immersive, intriguing and different. And its beautiful to look at. Throughout the game, I would regularly stop to admire the vistas. Take pictures. Be a pixel tourist and properly enjoy the views. Sound, both music and the FX, seamlessly complements the game, without ever overpowering your senses. And there are badgers. Yes. Badgers.
One major plus point, as the pitchfork brigade marches on the pay-to-win HQ of EA with murderous thoughts, is that there are no micro-transactions. You want to complete the game pal? You need to git gud. Without turning this into a spoiler, the game is a joy to play. If you have played Horizon Zero Dawn originally, it is a no-brainer whether to get the expansion. If you haven't played it, and this type of game appeals, you will absolutely love it. Here is hoping that Aloy's adventures continue and that this game turns into a proper series.
AltChar's score: 10/10