Occasionally here at Player2.net.au, we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming.
Blockbuster Gaming – Horizon: Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds
It’s rare that a studio makes the leap between polar opposite genres, and even fewer successfully stick the jump. Horizon: Zero Dawn was one of those games, and its resonance immediately exceeded the anything that any prior Killzone game had accomplished. The strength of Horizon rested with the superb melding of storytelling and systems, deep RPG systems that combined with action focussed gameplay that had all who played the game hooked. In the months leading up to the main-games release, Sony had expressed its intention to expand on the foundations set in Zero Dawn, and they’ve gotten the ball rolling quickly thanks to The Frozen Wilds, Horizon: Zero Dawn’s one and only single-player expansion.
The Frozen Wilds is accessible to anyone who has completed the mission titled ‘A Seeker at the Gates’ and once you opt-in, your journey begins to head north to a region called ‘The Cut’. The frozen tundra possesses its own new threats, new tribes and new challenges, all that must be overcome by Aloy in order to save the Banuk tribe from impending disaster. Aloy’s actions will win the hearts of the Banuk, unite families and bleed into the events of the core game shedding more light on key players including Hephaestus, Silus and much more. While the narrative of The Frozen Wilds is fairly by the book, it provides the necessary scaffolds for an entertaining trek through a new region. Purchasing the DLC opens up approximately 15hours of additional content, from the 6 hour long story mission, to the numerous side quests and collectibles that reveal themselves along the way; there’s certainly a lot of value given to you for your purchase, a wealth of content that exceeds the full-length experience of some other games.
While mechanically, The Frozen Wilds doesn’t deviate from the foundations of the core experience, there are a number of new skills, tools and weapons as well as outfits, all designed to make Aloy’s experience in The Cut that little bit easier. Some of these inclusions gave me pause to reconsider my approach to combat, but while some will certainly explore their options, I, was one of the *likely* many who stuck to their tried and true battle plans. New mechanical species such as the Scorchers threw some new variables at me, while some of Horizon’s more daunting inhabitants such as the Thunderjaw are as imposing as ever. As in the main game, my modus operandi leaned heavily upon a stealth component, keeping in cover and striking while nearby opponents were obscured. While some mechanical monstrosities were equipped with sensors that could spot me even when hiding in nearby bushes, it seems that some of my human opponents in The Cut, have also learned to utilise the same skill leading to some initially impressive stealth runs coming to an abrupt (and sometimes bloody) end. While not every strategy works, Guerrilla has thrown a few options at players, and the spanners in the works to tempt us to use them; it’s cleverly designed and almost works.
Horizon was rightly praised for its incredible visuals, and The Frozen Wilds ups the ante even further thanks to some wonderfully staged scripted encounters, gorgeous vistas and sensational world design. Despite its futuristic setting, it’s the incredible sense of authenticity to the world that continues to impress me the most about Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Frozen Wilds, from the visual design to the echo of Aloy’s voice in a canyon, to the voice-acting and exemplary musical score. It’s hard not to play the game, or The Frozen Wilds without your jaw hanging slightly limp.
Horizon: Zero Dawn was widely (and rightly) regarded as one of the finest games of 2017, and while The Frozen Wilds is more of the same for the most part, returning to the snowy tundras was nothing short of a thrill. The same tension is elicited when confronted by an imposing mechanical threat, and wonder is experienced when you round a corner and make another stunning discovery. If you’ve been looking for another reason to get back into Horizon: Zero Dawn, then you’ve got the best possible excuse right here.