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Horizon Zero Dawn looks to be a pivotal game for several reasons, one being that it's the first Sony Exclusive to drop in 2017, so Sony is keen to keep the buzz positive and exciting.
And it sure seems like Sony and Guerilla Games have something special happening with this game.
So there you have it. Enough said, right?
No, you think I should expound on why this game deserves to join the list of best exclusives for Sony? Okay. If I must, I must so here goes.
Horizon: Zero Dawn is the first open world RPG game developed by the Dutch studio, Guerilla Games, who have been synonymous with the Killzone series since 2004. Since Zero Dawn began the developmental process in 2011, both Sony and Guerilla Games have been excited about the potential with this game, even being optimistic about Zero Dawn's potential to be Sony's next big franchise.
"Nothing has been announced to date but I think there's a lot of potential for this to be an exciting new franchise for us" - Jon Edwards, Sony UK Product Manager
Defining the New PlayStation 4 Tribe
The game tells the story of Aloy, a young orphan who is branded as an outcast by her hunter-gatherer tribe. Forced to live apart from the superstitious tribe with her adopted father, Aloy grows up with an unquenchable thirst for answers. She decides that she must quest to find answers (as you would imagine) and she is drawn into an incredible adventure that could change the fate of the entire world.
After everything that I've seen, I don't blame the studio from planning big things for Horizon: Zero Dawn. I believe that this game will become one of the greatest Sony exclusive games to hit the market in the last decade, and possibly moving forward. Here's why.
Guerilla Games focused on the visuals.
Since the early days of Killzone, Guerilla Games has been a studio that made a name for itself by incorporating incredible graphics in their games. When your primary task is to be the studio primarily tasked with developing Sony's exclusive FPS game, it allowed the team to really hone in on the stunning visuals. So in 2011 when an idea was pitched for a unique IP that shifted genres, Guerilla Games jumped at the opportunity and Sony was quick to sign off on the idea and began the "risky" plan of developing a game like Horizon: Zero Dawn.
Based on what we've seen so far of Horizon: Zero Dawn, the team at Guerilla has definitely retained their unique focus on graphic design. The amount of detail that went into each part of the game is a testament to Sony's trust in Guerilla Games' future.
Now that's not to say that the only good thing about the game is the visual aesthetics, because there is so much more to the game than just the visuals, but it definitely helps. Horizon: Zero Dawn was built from the ground up to take advantage of the PlayStation 4 Pro's boosted processing power, but that doesn't mean that you won't have just as impressive of an experience without the Pro's enhancements.
Horizon: Zero Dawn utilizes the technique of supersampling to render the graphics at 4K then downscale toe frames to 1080p to deal with any potential smoothness issues. So even if you don't have the highest quality television running 4K with HDR support.
Aloy is primed to become a pivotal heroic icon.
Over the course of history, we've been introduced to countless icons; both heroic and villainous, like Kanye West, Taylor Swift and Lebron James - I'll let you decide which is which. Oh wait, wrong article; I'm supposed to talk about video games, so let's see, we've been introduced to icons like Nathan Drake (Uncharted), Lara Croft (Tomb Raider), Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid) and the list could go on, seemingly forever because there are so many iconic and well-loved characters in the world of gaming.
Horizon Zero Dawn has given us something that few franchise games have been able to do; a strong female protagonist. Aloy, the character that players control in Zero Dawn has been carefully crafted throughout the entire development process. She also, interesting side note, was inspired by the Game of Thrones character Ygritte.
Aloy is a character who doesn't take the world around her at face value, and believes that there is more to it than what her superstitious tribe believes.
Aloy is a character that an entire generation of gamers can get behind and support, and I believe that Sony is planning to take Aloy even further into the future once Horizon Zero Dawn proves to be the successful PS4 exclusive title that many are expecting. Aloy looks to be truly believable as a tribal hunter, and her backstory is something that will play a major role in the development of the quest that she is embarking on.
The game world is absolutely massive and it's a perfect amalgam of open-world themes.
When you consider that this is the first open world game that Guerilla Games has ever developed, it's incredible to think that they created a world so large, and more specifically one so graphically extensive. The world around Aloy is absolutely immense, and it just feels so much larger when you are moving from area to area, each with it's own unique atmosphere.
The world is broken down into what appears to be 4 major biomes in Zero Dawn: Sunfall, Pitch Cliff, Meridian & Mother's Heart. Each of these areas looks to incorporate a variety of locations all similarly landscaped. Yet the interesting part of the map is the expansiveness of it, especially considering how diverse the map is.
With this being Guerilla Games' first foray into a different genre, it's incredibly promising to see the scale in which they tackled for their first game outside of the FPS genre.
The massive world in Horizon Zero Dawn is full of herds of creatures wandering the landscape, old ruins of a long-since-forgotten futuristic society and the impressive birthplaces of small tribes of survivors each with their own distinct faith and fashion. The game is set so far in the future that Guerilla Games has described it as being a "post post-apocalypse" and a unique mixture of both prehistoric and futuristic.
The Next Step for Open World Games
Spending years developing the game has given Guerilla Games the ability to take the best aspects of several open-world games and perfect them. Zero Dawn looks to incorporate a beautifully crafted story with mandatory and optional quests, survival elements, crafting, combat and of course a deep role-playing skill system.
It's as if the best mechanics from Far Cry, Final Fantasy and The Witcher were all combined into one and then a brand new world grew on top of it filled with mechanical beasts and a beautiful heroine named Aloy set off on a mission to understand why the world was the way it was.
One way or another, Horizon Zero Dawn is a game that everyone will likely be talking about for a while. And it looks to be an early contender for Game of the Year honors.