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I noticed that it's been a while since we've last covered Horizon Zero Dawn, Guerrilla Games' PlayStation 4 exclusive action-RPG, meant to be released early next year, so I've taken the liberty to round up some coverage for the game. Some of it is a bit dated and comes out of E3, but some of it is quite recent, as the game has been shown at Gamescom and is the current cover issue for GameInformer.
Eurogamer has some answers to the big question, "how much of an RPG is it?"
There are sidequests, too. In my demo, I saw blue diamonds hovering above NPC heads in Mother's Crown, Aloy's village. Each one of these represents a sidequest. I could have spoken with the NPCs, figured out what their problem was and picked up the sidequest to help them, if I fancied it.
Horizon has a hierarchy of quests. There's the main story and below that, tribe quests, which act on a national level (think of the tribes as having big picture problems that affect everyone in the tribe), and then below that are the more personal stories. For example, in Mother's Crown you'll meet an NPC who has something that's very important to them and so is urgent, but it doesn't affect the world.
Horizon doesn't have "big branching narratives", Guerrilla says. You can't change what happens with the choices you make. The dialogue wheel is used instead for learning more about the world. Of course, the world will change throughout the course of the quests, but this is tied to the overarching narrative.
Outside of combat, there's just enough of an RPG in Horizon for the genre to apply. I've seen plenty of comparisons with CD Projekt's wonderful role-playing game The Witcher 3, but Horizon is definitely RPG lite. When you level up you don't put points into a character stat sheet. Instead, you get a bit of a health boost and more skill points to spend. Higher level weapons and ammo types do more damage natively.
Likewise, Horizon's crafting is simple and instantaneous. If you have the required materials to craft an item, a single button press magically pops it in your inventory. The idea is crafting is so quick you can even create new arrows during a fight.
GamesBeat interviewed John Gonzales, of Fallout: New Vegas fame:
GamesBeat: It’s an interesting combination of prehistoric and science fiction. I suppose you get the ability to surprise us with elements coming out of either era.
Gonzalez: That’s well put. It’s a combination of primitive and high tech. For this character, our future is her past. She’s trying to understand how our world came to an end. That, I thought, was fascinating. I previously worked on some other post-apocalyptic games. I was the lead writer on Fallout: New Vegas, where you have the post-apocalypse as a junk heap. This was something different, where you have this whole new world that’s grown over the grave of the one that came before.
I felt like there was a different sort of resonance to that, a kind of sadness, and a curiosity about our future. When we play this game, in a way we see what our future might be, where it’s going.
GamesBeat: It’s an open world, but are you also pulled into a linear story as you go?
Gonzalez: There is a central quest, which is Aloy’s tale, but there are also — each tribe you’ll encounter will have a story arc you can engage with. There are also side quests throughout the world, people you’ll meet that have self-contained stories. After the opening of the game, where we tutorialize and set up the character and the world, we turn you loose and there’s really nothing keeping you from going anywhere you want. You can pick up side quests and meet people and do things in any order you want. But there is a very crafted main story to engage with, and that builds to a kind of slam-bang climax.
VG247 also spent a few paragraphs talking about the game's character progression:
All this sounds like the feature set of an action game, and it feels like one. That’s where Guerrilla cut their teeth, but there’s some solid RPG stuff under the hood: snoop around the game and you’ll learn that Aloy has a level and will grow throughout the game, though the game does seem more focused on crafting than character-building.
Every robotic beast you defeat can be looted for various resources of a mechanical nature, and these can then be used to build new things that Aloy can better use to aid her in whatever quest she’s currently on. These are ‘light’ RPG elements that are admittedly present in even the likes of The Last of Us, but they’re welcome. The world map appears to have a significant RPG-like scope, and Aloy has dialogue choices in a Bioware style, complete with the slightly awkward idle animation loop as she stares at the person she’s conversing with dead-eyed when you take a little too long to answer.
We also have a few video interviews, with various members of the team:
Finally, because of GameInformer's recent issue, we've got a coverage trailer with some new gameplay:
And some tidbits from their recent magazine previews, courtesy of NeoGAF user Obliterator:
-Guerrilla wanted to make a game that's "Beautiful in a majestic way" instead of the grit of Killzone. They wanted to create a world you wanted to be in, instead of escape from.
-Work on Horizon began in 2010
- Horizon has its own engine. Not the same as Shadowfall
- GI saw settings in desert, arctic, and temperate environments. Saw machines that will hide in the water.
- Guerrilla promises why the world got this way will be answered. Also say "this is a sci-fi game and that they won't depend on fantasy at any point.
- The various tribes are radically different including how they feel about the machines. Some of them believe the machines becoming more violent is punishment from the gods.
- You aren't recruiting different tribes to your cause but they will sell you different gear and have their own side quests and storylines
- Aloy is most concerned with finding her origin, and most importantly who her mother was
- She has been raised in the Nora Tribe, but the tribe completely ignores her existence. For reasons she doesn't know they seem to shun her.
- The Nora are ruled by women, Matriarchs
- Aloy was raised by another outcast named Rost, who didn't do it of his own will. The Tribe forced him
- Rost is stern and overprotective but only wants the best for Aloy / Father figure
- There are playable flashbacks of Aloy's childhood
- There are Hunter Trials which are essentially Big Game Hunts / Hunter's Guild
- A flying enemy called a d Glinthawk can throw ice bombs
- There are "Corruption Zones" which are areas of the map filled with dangerous enemies.
- Some of the biggest fights in the game can be found in these zones
- There are lots of sidequests but don't expect them to be as expansive as The Witcher
- Screenshots show a large Hermit Crab type enemy.
- GI was surprised at the depth of the game, how intelligent the AI is, and how fluid the controls are
- You can craft different outfits to change Aloy's appearance
- A screenshot shows Aloy wearing a metal chest piece, quite a bit different than her normal "animal skins" look
- Aloy has 3 different skill trees that you can put level up points into. They are Prowler (Stealth), Brave (Damage focus), and Forager (Resource Gathering)
- Aloy can find modifications when she defeats enemies that can be slotted into her weapons and armor. These affect things such as stats and give buffs