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Thread: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

  1. #9221

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell is one of those pseudo-expansions along the lines of Far Cry Blood Dragon and Undead Nightmare. It once again plays as an over the top third person shooter with superpowers focused on creating anarchy and completing various skill challenges. The story starts with The Boss from Saint Row 4, if you have a Saints Row 4 save game then it loads your character, being kidnapped by Satan. Satan wants the Boss to marry his daughter and lead his armies in a war against heaven and Jonny Gat and Kinsey Kensington go after him to rescue The Boss.

    Starting with the story it feels like waste to be able to import your Saints Row 4 character and then be required to play as Jonny Gat and Kinsey. Neither of them is that interesting and they donít have that same connection as The Boss. Gat Out of Hell was always going to struggle to stand out from Saints Row 4 since that game is literally about being an over the top swan song to an already wacky and zany series. The shift to Hell was a smart solution to the problem since it gets to be just as over the top as Saints Row 4 without seeming to similar. The biggest problem with the story is that it is incredibly short with only one big beat in the middle reaching the heights of Saints Row 4, even the ending feels subdued when it should just be a massive crazy blowout. The support cast also feels lacking with the new characters not really getting a chance to shine.

    Gameplay has not changed much from Saint Row 4, there are still silly weapons and the superpowers return but it feels like a pale imitation of Saints Row 4. The powers are basically just reskins and the weapons try to be silly but there is nothing close to rivalling the silliness of the Dunstep gun. The only big change is the movement where they have replaced the glide power with wings. The new flight power works well because it is more skill based than the glide, you have to try and manage your speed to extend your flight and gain altitude and the game takes advantage of this by basing new activities around it. These were the best parts of the game for me.

    Saints Row Gat Out of Hell is a fun wacky spin-off from the Saints Row series but in a series that is as over the top Saints Row it still struggles to stand out. It is a fun little distraction but should only be picked up if you can get it for cheap.

  2. #9222

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Killer 7 is on PC. I never did finish the GameCube version so I thought I'd give it a try. It's still a quirky and charming game. It supports 16:9 now and still has that slick, minimalist, cel-shaded look. Controls were always weird and the mouse and keyboard ones are stranger still. The in-game button prompts for the tutorials will use controller buttons regardless. For R100 it's still worth it if you want more Suda weirdness.

  3. #9223

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Quote Originally Posted by LazyDemoni View Post
    Killer 7 is on PC. I never did finish the GameCube version so I thought I'd give it a try. It's still a quirky and charming game. It supports 16:9 now and still has that slick, minimalist, cel-shaded look. Controls were always weird and the mouse and keyboard ones are stranger still. The in-game button prompts for the tutorials will use controller buttons regardless. For R100 it's still worth it if you want more Suda weirdness.
    Thank you for this information. I have been looking for a PS2 copy of Killer 7 for a while but they are either really rare or massively over priced.

  4. #9224

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Vikings Wolves of Midgard - Having quite a bit of fun with this, it's a mindless game where you don't have to think about anything and just kill whatever is on screen while exploring the map for resources and loot. Great looking environments and art direction as well.

  5. #9225

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Vikings Wolves of Midgard - Up to level 16 now, killing Gods, Giants and small fry all in a days work, really enjoying this title.

    I am the Hero - Amazing little game, awesome combat system and pixel art is fantastic with some great music, highly recommended.

  6. #9226

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Killzone: Shadow Fall is a first-person shooter by Guerrilla Games and the fourth game in the Killzone series. Killzone: Shadow Fall is set after the end of Killzone 3 in which a huge bomb is set of on the Helghast home world rendering it uninhabitable and killing a huge portion of the Helghast population. An uneasy peace is reached and the Helghast are given half of the ISA home planet Vekta as a new home. However tensions still run high between the two former enemies and thus they enter into a Cold War style espionage conflict. You play as Lucas Kellan, an ISA shadow marshal who with the help of a Helghast agent named Echo is trying to prevent the Cold War from turning into a hot one as the ISA and Helghast look to be preparing for another round of conflict.

    The story in Killzone: Shadow Fall tries to be more morally grey than the previous gamesí ďkill the guys with glowing red eyes and Nazi hatsĒ approach however it didnít work for me personally. Firstly the way that the factions behave after the war makes no logical sense. The Helghast lose the war and are essentially on the verge of extinction yet they show up on the Vektan home world and immediately start acting like dicks; gunning down civilians, blowing up buildings and generally bring down the tone of the place. Why the ISA donít immediately respond to this behaviour is beyond me. Then when you go to the Helghast side of the planet later in the game it doesnít seem like a particularly nice place to live, full of shanty towns, pollution and an oppressive government. This is in stark contrast to the ISA side of the planet where everyone seems super happy and everything is pretty and clean. How does the Helgan government stay in power and get all these people volunteering for their huge army while being so obviously ****ty? It made sense on Helgan because it was a harsh, ****ty world but Vekta is obviously a pleasant place to live so why turn it into a ****hole. The Vektan government also comes across as grossly incompetent because they always seem to be on the receiving end even though they won the damn war. The result of this flawed premise is that the villains come across as comical *******s because they have to be so over the top evil to make sense as villains. They feel like they belong in a Saturday morning cartoon like Captain Planet or Biker Mice from Mars rather than a game that is trying to be as serious as Killzone: Shadow Fall.

    Lucas doesnít seem to have much personality other than an overwhelming sense of duty. You would think with his past that his natural arc would be that he starts off hating the Helghast and being overly patriotic but seeing how they are forced to live and how ****ty their government is would allow him to find common ground and drive his character but nope, Lucas just comes across as a really chill dude who doesnít want war because war is bad. Echo suffers from the same problem, she has a naturally interesting arc built into her backstory but instead of exploring that she basically says ďYeah my whole complicated and interesting past sucks, letís get into some exciting set piecesĒ. They had these perfect characters to anchor the narrative on and somehow missed and ****ed the whole thing up.

    In terms of gameplay Killzone: Shadow Fall is solid but unexciting. The shooting is fine however most of the weapons lack impact. The only gun I really enjoyed was the one shotgun which always hit enemies with a juicy thud and sent their ragdolls flying across the room. You have one primary weapon that canít be swapped out and one open weapon slot that you can fill with whatever you need. This works fine most of the time except when the game fills your primary with garbage so you are forced to use whatever happens to be lying around. I always felt like I had too little ammo on each of the weapons and even though there was usually some lying around I tended to run out during particularly heavy firefights. There has also been a shift in the level design that tries to distance itself from the previous generationís narrow linear chest high wall approach to a more semi-open world that kind of reminds of Doom (2016). It isnít bad but the game tends to not make the most of it, only some of the levels have the semi-open design and the rest tend to consist of narrow corridors.

    Since Killzone: Shadow Fall was a launch title so it relies a bit too much on gimmicks for the combat. Lucas has a drone that is a contextual use button for some things while also having some use in combat. The drone can fly around shooting enemies, drop a shield for you to hide behind, zap an enemy to bring down their shields or create a zip line. You choose its function using the touchpad but because of the lack of feedback from the touchpad I could never change the function to what I wanted first time. What I would usually do is leave it on a single function that worked well for the level and then ignore the drone until I needed it which resulted in it feeling superfluous. There is also a single level where instead of controlling the drone you can hijack enemy robots that work completely differently and you only really use them for that segment so it feels very jarring and pointless.

    There is an attempt at more of a stealth focus in Killzone: Shadow Fall but the game lacks proper stealth mechanics. There is no way to tell how visible you are and the second that an enemy spots you all the rest immediately know where you are. Generally it isnít too much of a problem because you basically use stealth for a free kill then proceeds with the normal gun battles but the few parts that actually require stealth can get frustrating very quickly. There is one part right at the end that took me about 40 tries because I would get randomly spotted by a civilian I had no way to keep track of or avoid and then 300 enemies would show up and blow me to pieces. I donít mind games adding a stealth option but for Godís sake at least spend more than 5 minutes on the mechanics.

    I have some other gameplay niggles as well. The game tries to have a bit of a focus on movement with some multi-layered level designs to take advantage of the droneís zip-line function but it is usually zip-line down from one platform then be stuck on foot for the rest of the battle. There is also a bit of platforming but it is incredible stiff. You will run and jump across a gap then seemingly plummet midway through your arc because the game wants to make you stop and grab on the ledge of something even though you were going to land perfectly fine. This combined with the level design resulted in 80% of my deaths being from jumping off of something that I wasnít supposed to and dying from a 2 metre fall. This is going to be a weird complaint but for some reason it feels like Lucas is 5-10 centimetres shorter than everyone else. I always felt like I was looking up at characters during cutscenes and during combat it always felt like I was looking at their necks rather than their faces. I donít think that it is intentional and it isnít game breaking but I found it mildly distracting. The biggest niggle is that the best moments in the game are never during proper gameplay but always during scripted set pieces, there is one point in the game where you are chasing a shuttle through a city with a wingsuit that looks great and is genuinely exciting but it is basically the only point in the game where you use those controls so it feels out of place instead of exciting. It reminded me of Call of Duty because those games also have a habit of doing completely out of place set pieces.

    Graphically the game looks great. The levels, especially the ones set on the ISA side of the wall really pop and the lighting is stunning at times. However I feel like the game has a lack of proper art direction. The most noticeable of this lack of art direction is the enemy design. The enemies do not really stand out from the environment not do they stand out much from each other. Those are the 2 most fundamental things you have to get right in an FPS and somehow Killzone: Shadow Fall got them both wrong. The Helghast black and grey, futuristic design doesnít really stand out from the black and grey, futuristic levels especially some of the more visually boring Helgan levels. Half of the time, I only spot them because of the glowing red eyes. The same problem applies when you compare the enemies to each other because having a slightly different hat but nearly identical armour and red glowing eyes doesnít do enough to change their silhouette that you can immediately tell them apart at a glance. Halo was so good at this; Grunts, Jackals, Elites, Brutes and Hunters all have distinct silhouettes so you can tell them apart from each other while they are also brightly coloured and covered in lights so that you can tell them apart from the environment. This is basic game design and I would expect Guerrilla Games to get this kind of thing right.

    Overall Killzone: Shadow Fall is an average shooter and above average launch title. It doesnít do anything well enough to be interesting and the story is riddled with problems. Play Titan Fall 2 instead.  

  7. #9227

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Yoh, that's a nice and detailed review. I played Killzone 2 and 3. Both were fine but not good enough to make me excited for any followups. It seems I did not miss too much.

  8. #9228

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Paw Patrol On a Roll - Rocking that Rubble with my son



    YS VIII Lacrimosa of Dana - With it being a slow time for game releases and nothing coming out in the next month that I am interested in it's time for me to sink some time into this amazing game. Couple hours in and looking forward to getting some good progress going.

  9. #9229

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Playing free version of Wow at the moment, alliance on Draenor. Anyone else playing on this server alliance side?

  10. #9230

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is remastered update of Bulletstorm from the previous generation. It is made by People Can Fly, the developers behind Painkiller, and tries to evoke the same run and gun style. Bulletstorm has you playing as Grayson Hunt, an ex-black ops commando who is being hunted down by his former commander General Sarrano. When events eventually go pear shaped Grayson stands himself, his crew and his enemies on the planet of Stygia. It is up to Grayson to try and save his crew and escape the planet before everything goes to hell.

    In terms of story Bulletstrom is kind of terrible. The plot feels pretty bare bones and reminded me a lot of Uncharted where the story beats are used more to set up the set-pieces rather than tell a story. It feels like they designed the set-pieces first then just strung the plot between them. I understand that sometimes you have to use inelegant solutions and brute force a story where you want it to go but when it is so obvious then it starts becoming absurd. The game also seems to rely a lot on the characters on both sides being incredibly stupid and that is not a writing trope that I am particularly fond of. I could forgive the plot problems if the characters were engaging but the whole cast are painfully boring. The whole cast gives off a grizzled macho vibe but because everyone is grizzled and macho they all feel the same. The characters also try to be funny but it often falls flat, usually because it clashes with the overly serious characterisation. Itís a pity because sometimes they are genuinely funny but the feeling of bouncing between serious and funny makes it inconsistent. The world building is also all ass backwards giving me weirdly elaborate explanations of stuff that would be fine if it was unexplained but not explaining stuff that I would actually like to know about. Bulletstorm was also clearly aiming for a sequel that didnít happen because it ends on a cliff-hanger non-ending with nothing accomplished.

    Bulletstorm threatens to hark back to the older faster style of FPS like Doom and People Can Flyís previous game Painkiller but then takes so many gamplay missteps that I couldnít believe that a team that has already made a great game in the genre could miss the mark by such a large margin. It starts with some good ideas; you can kick enemies to send them flying as well as leave them suspended in the air for a while and your kick gets augmented with the Instinct Leash, an energy lasso that lets you pull enemies towards yourself and with a later upgrade can launch multiple enemies into the sky.

    These would be great ideas if People Can Fly didnít tie them to a very flawed combat system. In a game that wants to be fast paced and aggressive there are some basic gameplay concepts that you need to get the most out of it. Firstly you want fast and smooth movement which Bulletstorm fails out the gate. Grayson moves like he has a couch strapped to his back so you are always slowly trudging through the game rather than gliding. Coupled to the slow movement is very stiff exploration, you can climb up or over things through prompts but they are very contextually sensitive and feel like the game is throwing up roadblocks when you are trying to explore or out position an enemy. This poor movement isnít helped by equally poor level design. Doom (2016) can sometimes be a bit absurd with its whole combat arena approach but it obviously was a mechanics first approach and I can see now why id went with it. Bulletstormís levels are aggressively linear and cluttered with chest high walls so there is almost no flexibility in how you engage the enemy so what always felt like I was never playing the correct way. I would spend 10 minutes having a shoot-out in a corridor only to reach the end and find a room full of environmental hazards that now I canít use because all the enemies are dead and I wonder how on Earth the level designers thought that I was going to use them because it would have required me to slowly trudge through oncoming fire to somehow get to where they actually wanted me to be. This is not helped by the games love of spawning enemies behind you so you will suddenly start taking damage from what seems to be inside your own chest only to notice that is spawned to axe wielding psychopaths behind you. Painkiller understood that in a game like this that the players need fun and interesting weapons so the game was full of weapons like the titular Painkiller, the Stake gun and the Electrodriver that were fun to use and interesting to experiment with while Bulltetstormís weapons are a lot more conventional. The weapons feel nice and visceral but lack that wow factor that makes you want to see what they can do; a shotgun and sniper rifle are not nearly as exciting as a rocket launcher, chain gun combo. All the guns have an alternative fire that can be useful but they are all very situational and they make the classic mistake where the weapons need to be reloaded so I never felt like I could get a good offense going because I always need to stop midway through to reload.

    The movement, level design and weapons all fight each other when you are trying to have fun. Most of the weaponís alternative fire is used for killing enemies that are grouped together but because of the linear nature of the levels as well as all the cover that makes the enemies scatter to hide behind means that there is rarely an opportunity to do so. If the developer had actually paid attention they could have made the levelís more open and less cluttered while making Grayson move faster so that you could either heard the enemies together or find better angles for good shots but instead you are stuck slowly fighting them as they pop out of cover.

    Piled on top of all these problems is the scoring system. Bulletstorm rewards you for killing enemies in the creative ways such as using environmental hazards like cliffs and explosive barrels or interesting weapon kills like launching enemies into the air then shooting them in the head. You then use these points to buy weapon upgrades and ammo. This seems like a good idea but it creates a bunch of problems instead. Sometimes there just isnít much you can do to an enemy because you are fighting in a featureless corridor so you just have to gun them down and then you feel like you are not doing it properly. The skill kills are also a bit sensitive so trying to get something specific can be incredibly finicky to get. To encourage you to try get as many points as possible the game is incredibly stingy with ammo, this would be fine if the enemies werenít bullet sponges so once again you donít want to just kill an enemy because you donít know if you are going to get your value back. This lead to me abusing the scoring system when I could so when there were environmental hazards to exploit I would often just stand facing them and kicking enemies into them for easy points or standing with the hazard between myself and the enemies and yanking them into the hazard with the leash. It wasnít particularly impressive to watch or play but it was more efficient.

    Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition does not look good at all. It has the previous generation problems of having incredibly brown and washed out visuals paired with an extremely dull art style and putting all the hard work into making pretty skyboxes. You spend all your time wandering through ugly levels that consist of concrete, broken buildings and dirt that are all basically indistinguishable from one another while the actually interesting stuff is in the background when you occasionally get your face out of the dirt. I found myself constantly wishing to be playing in the far off distant places instead of where I was. The ugly colour palette hurts the game as well since with everything in the same narrow colour range makes it difficult to tell everything apart. Shooting grey/brown enemies in grey/brown buildings is not the most visually stimulating thing in the whole world. It also makes levels confusing to navigate because it is difficult to figure out where you have to go because everything looks the same and it is difficult to tell one boring corridor apart from the 20 others.

    I had a few other niggles as well. The controls feel slightly off, I canít put my finger on it (pun not intended) but something is off with the controls. I was forever doing something that I didnít intend which is a sign that there is flaw somewhere. For some reason they insist on a shaky first person view when you do anything which gave me a slight headache while adding nothing to the experience. Your AI partners are all over the place both figuratively and literally. Figuratively because they mostly donít do anything in combat but have a habit of always being in the way and literally because they teleport wherever the game needs them to be. They will be behind you shooting at enemies then suddenly somehow they are waiting at the exit to the next part of the level and it can be incredibly disorientating.

    The worst part though is that somewhere inside this mess is a potentially great game. If the gameplay was fixed to actually work for the style it was going for and the writing was better Bulletstorm could be a great game. I see the seeds of a Deadpool kind of parody/satire that could be really good if the people behind it took their ideas just a few steps further. Fix the art direction so that we can tell what I going on, find the right place for the humour so that it is intelligent rather than crass, discard a lot of the extraneous story stuff while levelling out the tone, make the combat work and rebalance the scoring system and the game could actually be something special. I think the thing that upsets me the most is that I can see the wasted potential and how it wallows in mediocrity. Instead of Deadpool it is a Scary Movie.

    Bulletstorm is a game that had potential but ended up being mediocre.

  11. #9231

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    YS VIII Lacrimosa of Dana - This game just keeps going, I thought I was close to the end but nope, couple hours later and still going which is fine by me as it's a damn fun game to play, I think I might be getting to the ultimate weapons now and the final chapter..

    Assassins Creed Odyssey - Why does this game load so much? Opening the menus is also slow, everything is slow and feels like it hasn't been optimized properly even after so many patches. Loads when you speak to someone quest related then walk 5 steps to another and it loads again. Hitboxes are also janked and the amount of purchased content the game tries to throw at me is off putting. Apart from that the game is set in a pretty awesome time period and exploring the world is fun, some nice underwater areas and caves as well.

    SouCalibur VI - Learning 2B

    Darksiders 3 - Loving the style of the game, also enemies hit hard which ups the difficulty and Fury is such a cool character.

  12. #9232

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Thanks for the review of Bulletstorm, Death. It was critical and touched on issues which I haven't heard others mention before. This is probably why it wasn't the hit some expected it to be.

    I'm also learning (and loving) 2B in SC VI. They really got her right in the way she moves and looks.

    I bought Shadow of the Tomb Raider after playing the trial. I suspect the trial hides some of the flaws but we'll see. I found the demo to be okay - more of the same.

    I finally started the Hearts of Stone expansion for The Witcher 3. I expected generic but satisfying content, instead I'm getting a high quality main quest and some decent side content.

  13. #9233

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Darksiders 3 - The latest is amazing, enjoying the game a lot more now, switched to Classic and can immediately feel a difference, instant item use is perfect as well. Really great patch, game should have released like this would have got much better reviews. No the only thing left for them to do is even out the load times between areas, there should be no reason why the game pauses to load into areas.

    Divinity Original Sin 2 Enhanced Edition - Just created a character and went through the tutorial, will put some time in once I have finished off a few other games first as this requires lots of attention. Went with a human enchanter since I went ranger in the first game.

  14. #9234

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    I only recently noticed that Cross Code is finally out. It's a great 16bit style RPG with real time combat. It seems to have been inspired by the likes of The Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger and other games of that era, but with completely unique twists to the gameplay. I love the characters, visual, music and the way it plays!

  15. #9235

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    There is a Beta for DOA6 from 6pm tonight. You can start preloading on Playstation now.

  16. #9236

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    So I just pre-purchased RE2 from Fanatical after playing the demo. Standard edition costs R660 there for those who don't want to pay the bonkers price they have on steam:

    https://www.fanatical.com/en/game/re...biohazard-re-2

    Deluxe Edition is R770:

    https://www.fanatical.com/en/game/re...rd-re-2-deluxe

    I've bought games from this site for years, they're good. If not for Fanatical I wouldn't even be playing MH World on PC right now. (Whoever distributes Capcom games in SA, I think Ster Kinekor, should fall down a ditch and die)

  17. #9237

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    R570 on cd-keys for the standard edition.

    Dead or Alive 6 beta - Love that the game shows who is on wifi and who is on ethernet, more games should implement this option.

    So many matches that showed as 5 bar connections and then as soon as the match starts it goes to 1 bar, really wish these developers would start letting us create our own rooms and invite friends during these beta's no one want to play with random people around the world, at least give us the option to test online properly.

    I'm liking the new mechanic of the special button and what it allows to do such as side attacks, break holds and break blows. Break hold is especially great at the moment.

    Assassin's Creed Odyssey - Game has consumed my time, like 60 hours in, I got completely side tracked and by the time I got back to the main story missions I was level 50, luckily the games enemies scaled with me but I see some of the cult members are like level 16 and 20 so I am way above them, not sure yet if they will spawn in the world at that level as this is just what the cult list shows. Game is amazing, the Greek setting was what made me dive into the franchise again as AC games are complete **** so I was sceptical when I came into this luckily it's been than all the other trash AC games I've previously played. It also feels nothing like an AC game which is probably why it's so good :)

  18. #9238

    Default Re: Just bought/currently playing/recently completed

    Horizon Zero Dawn

    Horizon Zero Dawn is a third person open world action adventure game from Guerrilla Games. It is set in a post-post-post apocalypse where human tribes struggle for survival in a world filled with robot animals. You play as Aloy; a young girl with an enigmatic past that grows up under the stern watch of her patient guardian as exiles from their tribe. Aloy finds a ďFocusĒ a piece of ancient futuristic technology (descriptions of time are confusing in the post-post-post apocalypse) that allows her to interact with ancient technology and gives her an edge in the world. She uses this device to try and force her way into the tribe and figure out where she came from. When an attempt to integrate with the tribe and find out about her origins unwittingly goes awry it is up to Aloy to redeem herself, solve the mysteries of the past and her own birth.

    The first thing that struck me about Horizon Zero Dawn was how drop dead unbelievably gorgeous the game is. Everything looks great: Aloy, the environments, the robots, and other humans, literally everything. Aloy looks great and is wonderfully animated. There are a huge array of environments in Horizon Zero Dawn; dense jungles, frozen tundras, imposing mountains, dilapidated cities, futuristic military installations and alien cauldrons. The diversity of biomes is just staggering and even though it feels weird that they are all within walking distance from one another. There is just always something new and interesting to see. The robots all look great as well; they are all richly detailed with multiple layers of weapons, armour and synthetic muscles as well as being amazingly animated. They also have great visual design so it is easy to tell from a glance what robot you were fighting and even if you have never encountered a robot before you can make a good guess as to how dangerous an enemy robot is going to be and what it does. This great visual design extends to the other human characters too; all the tribes have a varied visual design that also gives hints towards their origin and culture. Horizon Zero Dawn reminds me of Final Fantasy XV where the game is just designed to set-up stunning moments, it is the first game that I have used photo mode in. I would be climbing up a building and walk past a window at sunset and have to stop to capture the image because I was just gobsmacked. The only flaw I found in the visuals was during dialogue. The characters have that dead-eyed barely animated shot, reverse-shot Bioware style of conversation that felt massively out of date in a game with such attention to detail.

    The attention to detail carries through to the story. The plot is rock solid with a strong combination of exposition and narrative that answers questions about the past and the present with a good central mystery to keep you invested. All of this is built around Aloy who is a great character. She has a clever and well thought out back story and her motivation grows and evolves as the story progresses to match the playerís motivation. I like Aloyís agency but she unfortunately has a bit of ďchosen oneĒ about her. I would prefer that Aloy was driven entirely by her own choices but it is not the worst implementation of predestination that I have ever seen but that is a personal issue. There has also been a lot of effort into Aloyís visual storytelling; she shivers when she is cold and limps when she is injured and this all works together to make Aloy feel both alive and sympathetic. To compliment Aloy the game is also full of interesting support characters. I was expecting them to all be identical strong brave caricatures but they all had an unexpected amount of depth and variety. The antagonists are a bit lacklustre and feel like they are there out of necessity and drive the plot rather than fitting into the story and really interacting with Aloy. While the story ends at a natural climax there is also a sequel hook that I am not really a fan of as I worry about where the story is going to go from here.

    The best part of the story of Horizon Zero Dawn however is the world building. I have not played a game with a world that is as well thought out and structured as Horizon Zero Dawn in forever. There is an explanation for everything in the game. From how we got to the post-post-post apocalypse to how the world ended up as it is are all explained. The details are also not just in all the fluff like audio logs and text documents but also weaved into the world through little details. You will be exploring and see something from the past and think ďI wonder how that got there?Ē and with the information you gather it will suddenly make sense. I also like all the effort that went into the design of the tribes. Each of the tribes is has a unique view of the world and this is reflected by the environment that they developed in and itís interaction with the new and ancient world. The one tribe comes from an area rich in old world technology and have become experts in that technology and love experimenting with it and this is reflected in their culture, visual design, names and speech and this is apparent in all of the tribes. A less dedicated studio would have just made a bunch of cool looking tribes and not thought about their place in the world but Guerrilla really put the effort in and it shows.

    The dialogue in Horizon Zero Dawn is also really well thought out and it is possible to create new and interesting responses because you do things in a different order; for example one side mission has you helping a bunch of people in a quarry and they ask you to investigate a series of mysterious deaths. If you have fought a Rockbreaker before then Aloy will respond ďthat sounds like a RockbreakerĒ but if you have not then you will have to investigate and discover it for yourself. This small detail makes the world feel so much more alive because suddenly it doesnít feel like everyone is treating you like an idiot. The developers however missed one glaring example of this however where some merchants ask you to bring them collectables for reward but whether you have spoken to them before or have brought them all of the collectables their dialogue never changes and that feels like an obvious omission when everyone else in the world is so reactive.

    Gameplay is similar to a lot of other open world games. Horizon Zero Dawn plays like Assassinís Creed or Shadow of Mordor so you spend a lot of time running, jumping, climbing, stealthing, exploring and fighting. However Horizon Zero Dawn takes a more mechanically focused approach to gameplay which I rather enjoyed. I could see the stealth grass, weakpoints, detachable weapons, ďFocusĒ and reward crates were designed to help the gameplay feel better and more fun and that is always a design philosophy that I can get behind.


    The combat in Horizon Zero Dawn realises that taking down robot dinosaurs with a sticks, stones and harsh words is going to be a challenge so it shifts its design to be about being surgical and precise. You will want to pick apart enemies by damaging their vulnerable points and exploiting their elemental weaknesses. The Focus helps by giving you useful information and letting you highlight enemy weak points. To take advantage of this you have various weapons but you will mostly be relying on your bow and spear. The spear combat is pretty meh. You have light and heavy attacks but light attacks have a habit of being blocked and doing basically no damage so I hardly ever bothered using it. The heavy attack has a chance to knock enemies over leaving them open to a critical hit so that was my preferred way to deal with enemies that got too close to me; I would wait until they looked like they were getting in range to attack and try and catch them with a stunning blow mid-attack.

    Aloy is also a master marksman and has access to a variety of bows. One bow is a basic all-rounder, one with a long draw that specialises in removing enemy components and one that does a variety of elemental effects. The bows all work well for their intended purposes but they all suffer from the same problem, the hit detection in this game is atrocious. It would be one thing if I kept missing because I was a couple of millimetres out but it only does that sometimes. Other times Aloy fires arrows with freaking heat-seeking warheads built into them that can even turn 90 degree angles to chase after their targets. It makes the gameplay incredibly frustrating when I am trying to silently take out a guard and send an arrow sailing harmlessly past his head but a potshot at a charging Thunderjaw just before I dive out of the way will put 3 arrows in its eye. There are a variety of additional weapons but most of them feel very situational. The only other weapon that I got much use out of was the ropecaster that lets you tie down enemies or failing that limit their field of movement which helps with crowd control in tight situations. Aloy also has a dodge with the strangest i-frames I have ever experienced. Sometimes you will dodge, still take a hit but not lose any health and other times you will dodge terribly but somehow just basically phase through what seems like an unavoidable attack. Overall the combat is a bit of a mess that could really be tightened up in a sequel.

    The platforming is pretty basic and feels stiffer than it should. You will take a running leap at climbing path and then suddenly lose all momentum and drop so that you can grab onto the grab-on-able ledge which can be mildly terrifying but when it works like it is supposed to then it can wind up looking very impressive. There is also the problem that very often you will need to find the exact route that the designers wanted you to take rather which means running around mountains or buildings trying to find the starting point for the climbing path however the platforming can also be more freeform than usual so sometimes it is possible to Skyrim your way up the side of a mountain you were not supposed to which is always refreshing.

    Horizon Zero Dawnís strongest gameplay aspect though is its stealth. It has every necessary component for a great stealth system; you can tell exactly how visible you are, how much noise you are making, there is delay between being spotted and every enemy in the vicinity knowing where you are and if you make a mistake and end up being spotted usually doesnít instantly mean that stealthing is over. Just getting those basic principles right means that stealthing in Horizon Zero Dawn is a joy to use. The only weird part of the stealth is that you are only hidden in the special stealth grass which while not very realistic works perfectly as a gameplay system. It means that you always know where you will be hidden and where you wonít as well as letting the level designers make the gameplay areas fun while still keeping a decent difficulty curve. Even though what they did is extremely simple so many other developers get it wrong and that should be applauded.

    As with most open world games it is impossible to properly balance the difficulty curve and the mission structure. If you only follow the critical path then it would probably be fine but if you do any reasonable amount of side content you are going to end up over levelled, overpowered and have dealt with bigger problems than you encounter in the missions. Nothing ruins the atmosphere faster than an NPC shouting ďOh no. A Rockbreaker is killing all of my friends. If only there was someone who could take on such a rare and deadly enemyĒ after I have already killed 20 of the things including multiple of them at once. In individual missions however the pacing is usually pretty solid and the critical path missions have a wonderful natural escalation to them. I suppose it is always going the be the problem with an open world game so I donít hold it against them but I feel like there might be a better way to structure the content.

    In the same way that Horizon Zero Dawn copies the gameplay from most open world games it also copies a lot of the systems but makes a few changes to the formula. The first big change is that it limits the amount of side activities to only a few of each rather than fill the map with them. In a Ubisoft sandbox there would be 20 enemy bases, 100 radio towers and 400 collectibles while Horizon Zero Dawn only has a few of each. It then takes the time to make each instance unique so it avoids feeling like the checklist that Ubisoft sandboxes always become. No Tallneck or Cauldron feels the same as the others so you are always looking forward to finding the next one rather than feeling like they are a chore that needs to be forced through. With open world games becoming so ubiquitous other developers could learn from Guerrillaís approach rather than just copying Ubisofts shotgun approach.
    There is also a skill tree but it is as balanced as a one legged donkey. Some of the 1 or 2 point skills are incredibly useful and powerful while some of the higher cost skills are incredibly situational and even in that situation they are only barely useful. The skill tree also doesnít help the balance issues because once again if you have messed around off of the critical path you might have far more skills than you need for a mission and suddenly it becomes a cake walk.

    Like many other open world games Horizon Zero Dawn also has a crafting element. I used to be opposed to crafting systems but The Last of Us, Far Cry Primal and now Horizon Zero Dawn I am starting to warm up to them. I find that the crafting system works well in Horizon Zero Dawn because it allows you to sustain yourself when you go exploring. Since you can craft all your ammo and crafting supplies are found abundantly throughout the world and as loot on enemies it means that you are usually able to keep going for as long as you want to rather than having to return to town often. The crafting supplies are broken into various rarities as well as various purposes: ammo/upgrade creation, vendor trash, tradables and mission critical items for various sidequests. The problem is that while the stuff you use to craft ammos is common and easy to get it the randomised nature of the loot means that when you are trying to find a specific drop for a side quest or to craft an upgrade it can be very frustrating. There is nothing worse than needing a rare fox skin for an upgrade and the little bastards refusing to drop any of the bloody things even though you can clearly see that they have skins. It also means that your inventory is going to be full of assorted lenses, hearts and pelts in case you find that you need one in the future because if you have to go hunting it might take you the rest of time to get lucky on the drop. One of my weaponís maximum ammo carry capacity is still not fully upgraded because I need a racoon skin and the furry little buggers seem to be overly attached to them. An effort has been made to help smooth out the gathering of crafting resources by giving you reward boxes as quest rewards and sometimes as loot drops. The reward boxes usually contain a mixture of crafting supplies, items and sometimes modifications. These work well for refilling your inventory after or during a mission but more importantly they are stored in a separate part of your inventory so you can always access them when you need them rather than risk it clogging up your inventory.

    The health system is also really well thought out. While you can use crafted potions to heal yourself the majority of your healing will be done by using healing herbs: as you explore the world you can gather a variety of healing herbs which fill up a bar under your health bar. You can then press the down button on the D-pad and it will use this bar to refill your health. It works really well because it is a direct one for one reflection so if half of your health bar is missing and you use your heal then it will use half of your healing herbs to heal you. You can also stack up multiple bars so if you need a 70% heal and you only have 20% of one bar left then it will then use 50% from your bar. The nice thing is that your healing stacks percentage wise so even as your health increases when you level up your healing bar stays representative and needs the same amount of herbs to fill. I love this system because it is incredibly intuitive and you can always figure out how you are doing at a glance. It is such a clever way to implement something other than an inventory based or auto-regeneration system in a game like this. The only flaw that I really found in it was that I always wished that the healing herbs had their own individual icon when exploring. They share the same icon as crafting herbs and wood so when you need to fill your healing bar it can be very annoying to constantly be trying to pick up things that you donít want. Another quality of life improvement would be to group up a bunch of healing herbs near fast travel locations so that you could quickly refill a bar on your way somewhere rather than having them scattered all over the place so you have to waste time scavenging after a big fight.

    Other assorted things include that prompts can be a bit overly sensitive so sometimes I would miss the stealth attack prompt by half a second and end up swinging wildly at the air alerting everyone to my presence or two NPCs would be standing together and it would be impossible to line up with the one I wanted to interact with. As in most open world games money quickly loses all meaning. Once you have the best weapons and armour, which are not that expensive, there is very little use for your money otherwise so it builds up and value quickly goes out of the window. I would like to see the robots have more interaction with each other as well, there are story reasons for why they donít hunt each other but I would still like to see some of the apex predators behave in that way rather than just wander stand around protecting the other robots. The UI in general is very good and I really like the mission markers as they tend to have a good balance of showing you where to go without leading you by the nose.

    I also played The Frozen Wilds DLC pack. Most of the things that I said about the main game can be applied to it. The open world is well thought out and full of varied things to do. The DLC adds a ton of interesting world building and fills in some gaps in both the main story and the history of the world. Combat is still pretty similar although it does introduce some new dangerous and interesting enemies. My only real complaint is that the part of the world that the DLC takes place in is not very interesting to look at after you get so many varied biomes to explore in the base game.

    Overall I think that Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the best games that I have played recently and if you own a PS4 then you really should give it a look because it is probably one of the best games on the system.  

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