Monday, February 10, 2020

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 225 - Horizon: Zero Dawn

Today's blog and video will be a little controversial, but what else is new. I don't love Horizon: Zero Dawn. It's good. It's fine. It isn't oh-em-gee best thing ever. It certainly gets some things right with a great story and setting and fantastic presentation, but the core gameplay is just kind of boring once the awe of big robot animals wears off. Read on for more and to watch Horizon: Zero Dawn gameplay.

I put off playing Horizon: Zero Dawn for a long time. You'd think I would like it, considering that the marketing was all giant freaking robot goddamn dinosaurs (all of which I love) but the gameplay loop didn't look fun to me. The early sections of the game - both when you're a kid and the start of the "real" game with adult Aloy - require stealth because you're a wimpy little weakling. I hate stealth. Likewise, footage from later in the game often showed long drawn out battles against the bigger critters - so long and drawn out that they looked boring and not fun. 

So I didn't play it for a long time. I did buy it when the complete edition was cheap on PSN - about $13 - but I still didn't play it for more than a year after I bought it. Eventually in 2020 I finally had nothing else to play so I fired it up. And, it's OK. 

The story is awesome and easily the best part of the package. It would make a really great sci-fi movie or, more likely, a series of movies just to cover it all. I don't want to spoil it too much, but the story is just freaking great. Not really so much Aloy's story, but the story of the world you play in and how it got to the point it's at when you get there. I love it. It's great.

The presentation also definitely lived up to the hype. Horizon: Zero Dawn looks and sounds fantastic. The environments are great. The robot animals are impressive and great. The lighting and special effects are awesome. There's a reason why this is a PS4 showcase. 

The problem is that the core gameplay isn't especially fun. Each type of robot animal you come across is interesting to fight for all of about once each because once you figure out the right way to beat something the robots are just mild nuisances instead of real threats. You spend a lot of time fighting humans, too, which just totally freaking blows. The platforming and exploration also isn't as fun as it could be because it's extremely limited to set paths. In a world where Assassin's Creed Odyssey exists, not being able to just climb wherever you want is always going to be boring and frustrating. I'm not saying the gameplay in HZD is bad. I'm just saying it's kind of boring and repetitive and not worthy of the immense praise.

It honestly makes me wonder if Sony fanboys just have lower standards because they don't know any better since they only play Sony games? The more PS4 exclusives I play, the more it seems like that may be the case. The games all hide behind serious cinematic mature story lines and nice presentation, but generally only play OK. It seems like as long as something looks good and is exclusive, that's enough for Sony fans. Like I said, though, I think they don't know any better because they refuse to play anything else due to an undeserved sense of superiority.