Horizon Zero Dawn release date brought forward in the UK

Horizon Zero Dawn: All about Aloy

Details about Guerrilla Games’ upcoming post-apocalyptic romp Horizon Zero Dawn have been drip-fed since E3 2016. The latest tidbit to emerge covers the game systems behind protagonist Aloy’s skill set.

Lead quest designer David Ford, speaking to Gamereactor, revealed that the skill systems in Horizon Zero Dawn cover outfits, weapons and ammo types – as well as a RPG-like skill point system.

“We have a lot of game systems that you can use to improve your character, Aloy. We have outfits that you can use that have different stats on them, there are modifications that you can get for your outfits and for your weapons. There’s additional tiers of weapons with different ammo types. There’s a skill point system that’s very robust and allows you to customise your character. Some of the things in some of our demonstrations are utilising skills that have been purchased through that system. It unlocks new ways to play in addition to new ways to fight when you get new weapons.”

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Horizon Zero Dawn stepped away from E3 2016 as one of the event’s most anticipated games, with details about the post-apocalyptic-wilderness-slash-robot-romp continuing to surface ahead of its February 2017 release date. Guerrilla Games’ lead quest designer David Ford recently explained to Game Reactor that Horizon Zero Dawn’s quests would function within global, national and individual levels.

“We have a hierarchy where main quests are kind of global in terms of scope and it affects the whole world,” said Ford. “And then we have another tier of quests that deal with the tribes themselves, and you can think of those as kind of operating at the national level. And then below that we have individual stories. You come across people who have personal problems, crisis in their lives, things that have gone wrong for them.

“Aloy is able to step into those situations and help them out in a very meaningful way. So we run the entire gambit from the big picture to the individual.”

The scope of the game certainly sounds big, although you could level the same multilayered structure at pretty much every RPG. If anything, it would be more original for the player to not affect the global course of action in the game – not that ineffectualness and futility are particular mainstays of action video games.  

Anyway, Beckettian revisions aside, Ford’s comments hint that the player’s actions stand to have repercussions that go beyond the tribes you deal with. Go save that world, player.

Horizon Zero Dawn: E3 2016 gameplay footage

One of the standout moments of Sony’s blistering E3 2016 press briefing was an extensive gameplay clip of Horizon Zero Dawn. While we’d previously seen the game in action during last year’s E3 presentation, this time around we got a better sense of the vast post-apocalyptic world of the game.

The eight minutes of footage starts with protagonist Aloy coming across a herd of robots, then saving a villager from a “corrupted” machine. From the looks of it, this corruption will be a main antagonistic presence in the game.

From there, we see a dynamic mix of dialogue scenes, hacking robots to turn them into rideable beasts, cinematic backdrops and an explosive mini-boss scene. Aloy likes to talk to herself, which is helpful as it gives the player tips on what’s happening, or which arrows to use to take down aggressive machines.

It’s shaping up to be a memorable adventure from a combat perspective, although it’s too soon to tell whether this visual and mechanical depth translates to a memorable narrative. We’ll know more ahead of the February 2017 launch date.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Outside Guerrilla Games’ comfort zone

Guerrilla Games is best known for the decidedly action-orientated Killzone franchise, so creating a sprawling open world RPG could seem like a step outside the studio’s comfort zone. However, the developers are keen to stress the combination of action and adventure, with Guerrilla’s founder Hermen Hulst telling GameSpot that the gameplay of Horizon Zero Dawn figures somewhere between that of Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim.

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“I guess you’re wondering where we are on that spectrum of, on the one side more action-oriented games like Assassin’s Creed, and on the other hand you have your Elder Scrolls and these kinds of series,” Hulst said. “I think we’re in-between. We have elements in both directions, and that probably puts us somewhere in between.”

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Aesthetics-wise, Horizon Zero Dawn looks like a stew cooked from the beef and carrots of Tomb Raider, The Last of Us, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Ygritte from Game of Thrones and the robot fighting, Andy Serkis-touting, Chinese literature-aping Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Although it had it flaws, the post-apocalyptic jungles and long-decayed cities in that game made for a memorable setting, so here’s hoping that Horizon similarly sets itself apart from the glut of open worlds with a leafy robo-wilderness.

Those fancy folks at IGN have managed to get their hands on eight minutes of gameplay footage, which goes into more detail about the importance of stealth – as well as the various ways you’ll be able to dissemble robots using tripwires and explosive arrows. With Far Cry Primal similarly placing focus on tactical hunting (albeit in the distant past instead of the distant future), it seems 2016 is shaping up to be the year of tribes and arrows.

During March’s Game Developers Conference (GDC), Guerilla Games’ junior art director, Maarten van der Gaag, gave a presentation on how the studio creates high-quality art assets for its games. The talk covered a number of Guerilla Games’ titles, including a slide on Horizon Zero Dawn.

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The Horizon Zero Dawn slide focuses on a render of one of the root models in the game. A keen eye will notice the basefile name of the image contains the word ‘Nora’, which is the name of protagonist Aloy’s clan. Okay, you’ll probably whizz past this particular roof on your way to fight some robot dinosaurs, but the render gives a sense of how detailed the world’s assets will be – even in the joining between roof timbers. 

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Horizon Zero Dawn: No multiplayer

One thing Horizon won’t have is a multiplayer mode, as explained by executive producer Mark Norris.

“There are questions as to why a multiplayer will not do. The reality is that we are putting together a new IP. We are making a new franchise for the first time in 10 years and what we really want to do is improve the experience for the player,” Norris said in a recent interview with IGN Latin America (translated). “When you get to face these machines as Aloy, with this great character, who is the real star of the story and everything that happens, have this connection with her, what happens when you add the elements of multiplayer? You play as a supporting character? How does that work?”

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The Witcher 3 is a recent example of a RPG that eschewed multiplayer action in favour of a richly developed single player narrative, so it’s encouraging to see Guerrilla deciding to keep Aloy’s story as focused as possible without adding lacklustre game modes. Whether the team do the same with the padded-out fetch quests and collectables that weigh down series such as Assassin’s Creed is another matter entirely. The open world RPG scene is becoming ever more crowded, and Horizon Zero Dawn will ultimately need to bring something new to the table to impress beyond its initial robot-laden conceit.

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