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What We Loved About Our Hands-On Time With Horizon Zero Dawn

Kimberley Wallace
 

We’ve already seen how breathtaking the world of Horizon is, but how does the game actually play? I went hands-on with it for a few hours during our cover story trip to Guerrilla Games, and Jeff Marchiafava spent some time with the game at E3 this year. We both came away liking what we played. Find out what we both found so intriguing about the gameplay and its systems by reading our conversation below. Kim: I got to play a newer area than you, but Guerrilla also let me play what you did at E3.

I know based on your impressions then, you came away positive. What did you think worked well? Jeff M: Yeah. Like a lot gamers, I was instantly intrigued by Horizon when it was revealed – it doesn’t get much cooler than robot dinosaurs! However, the fact that it was coming from Guerrilla made me a bit skeptical of what the gameplay would be like.

Not that I have anything against the Killzone series, but transitioning from a first-person shooter series to an open-world, third-person action/RPG is a big change of pace. However, it only took a few minutes with the controller in hand to allay those fears. In terms of the sheer nuts and bolts of the mechanics, I thought Aloy was really fast and responsive; running around, dodging, and climbing up cliffs all felt really good, which is important when you’re getting chased by giant mechanical beasts. What was the first thing that stood out to you? Kim: Yeah, it’s rare you see a developer change the genre it’s known for, AND go after its first open-world game, which is an undertaking in and of itself.

I was super-concerned Horizon’s controls would be a bit too complicated for me. It seemed like there was so much going on I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep up and remember all the inputs to unleash the right skills. However, I adapted to the controls really quickly; everything felt really responsive, smooth, and easy to learn. Yes, things are chaotic, especially when machines alert each other and you find yourself in the middle of a big swarm of them, but I like that Guerrilla gives you so many ways to approach the combat, and that at any time you can run away if things get too complicated and come back with a new strategy. One thing Guerilla stressed during our trip was how much it wants people to be able to play this game their way and experiment with strategies.

There’s something very tactical about it; I liked planning for each situation. For instance, do I just try to stealth…

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