Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing video game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It was released for the PlayStation 4 in early 2017.
The plot revolves around Aloy, a hunter living in a world overrun by machines. Having been an outcast her whole life, she sets out to discover the dangers that kept her sheltered. The player uses ranged weapons, a spear and stealth tactics to combat the mechanised creatures, whose remains can be looted for resources. A skill tree provides the player with new abilities and passive bonuses. The game features an open world environment for Aloy to explore, while undertaking side and main story quests.
Horizon Zero Dawn was well received by critics, who praised the open world, story, visuals, combat, the character of Aloy and the performance provided by her voice actress Ashly Burch, whilst giving criticism to the dialogue, melee combat and character models. It won various awards and accolades and was the best-selling launch of an original IP on the PlayStation 4; selling over seven million copies by February 2018, which ranks it among the best-selling games on the PlayStation 4. An expansion pack, The Frozen Wilds, was released on 7 November 2017.
The story is set in the 31st century, in a world where humans have regressed to primitive tribal societies as a result of some unspecified calamity. Their technologically advanced predecessors are vaguely remembered as the "Old Ones." Large robotic creatures known merely as "machines" now dominate the Earth. For the most part, they peacefully coexist with humans, who occasionally hunt them for parts. However, a phenomenon known as the "Derangement" has caused machines to become more aggressive towards humans, and larger and deadlier machines have begun to appear. There are three tribes that are prominently featured: the Nora, the Carja, and the Oseram. The Nora are fierce hunter-gatherers who live in the mountains and worship nature as the "All-Mother." The Carja are desert-dwelling city builders who worship the Sun. The Oseram are tinkerers known for their metalworking, brewing, and arguing.
Aloy was cast out from the Nora tribe at birth, raised by an outcast named Rost (JB Blanc). As a child, she obtained a Focus, a small augmented reality device that gives her special perceptive abilities. After coming of age, Aloy (Ashly Burch) enters a competition called the Proving to win the right to become a Nora Brave, and by extension, a member of the Nora tribe...
Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing game played from a third-person view. Players take control of Aloy, a hunter who ventures through a post-apocalyptic land ruled by robotic creatures. Aloy can kill enemies in a variety of ways: setting traps like tripwires using the Tripcaster, shooting them with arrows, using explosives, and using a spear. Machine components, including electricity and the metal they are composed of, are vital to Aloy's survival; she can loot their remains for crafting resources. Ammo, resource satchels, pouches, quivers; resistance, antidotes, health potions, and traps can all be crafted. Weapons have modification slots for dealing more damage. Aloy wears a Focus, a small head piece that scans machines to determine their susceptibilities, identify their location, their level, and the nature of loot they will drop. One machine, the Stalker, can enable cloaking technology to avert the gaze of Aloy's Focus scan.
Machines attack with defensive and offensive measures, and will in either case react to a perceived threat by charging at it with brute force or projectiles. Exhibiting the behaviour of wild animals, some machines are inclined to move in herds and others, with the ability to fly, do so in flocks. Unless hacked with the Override Tool, machines will not exert aggressive force against each other. Aloy engages in battle with the cult known as the Eclipse, who are occasionally flanked by corrupted machines. She can dodge, sprint, slide, or roll to evade her enemies' advances. Hiding in foliage to ambush nearby enemies can ensure immediate takedowns. Swimming may reach enemies stealthily or places otherwise unreachable on foot. Furthermore, she is able to hack a selection of machines with the Override Tool, turning them into makeshift mounts or travelling companions. Explorable ruins called Cauldrons exist to unlock additional machines to override.
There are three categories in the skill tree: "Prowler" concerns stealth, "Brave" improves combat, and "Forager" increases healing and gathering capabilities. To level up, Aloy attains experience points from individual kills and completing quests. Upgrades in each category result in more adept use of the skills learned, with "Prowler" leading to silent takedowns, "Brave" to aiming a bow in slow motion, and "Forager" to an enlarged medicine pouch. The expansion added "Traveller", which unlocks the ability to jump off a mount to attack enemies.
The game features an open world environment with a day-night cycle and dynamic weather system which can be seamlessly explored. The map is composed of forest, jungle, desert, and snowy mountain regions. Mountainous terrain is traversed with the employment of parkour, and aided by the use of zip-lines installed throughout the world. Corruption Zones constitute areas that heighten difficulty and are populated by corrupted machines that behave with more aggression. To uncover more of the map, one must scale large giraffe-like machines known as Tallnecks. Twenty-five robotic creature designs are present in the game. Save points and fast travel can be accessed by interacting with campfires, once discovered.
The quest structure unfolds to accommodate the exploration of tribes, while the main story covers the entire world. Side quests involve Aloy completing tasks, like gathering materials, coming to the aid of individuals in danger of being killed, solving mysteries, assuming control of bandit camps, eliminating criminals and more difficult machines, accomplishing various challenges at any of the five Hunting Grounds, and obtaining an ancient armour that makes Aloy almost impervious to damage. A dialogue wheel is used to communicate with non-player characters. Collectibles include vantages that offer visual information of the Old World, metal flowers, which when acquired contain poetry, and old relics, such as ancient mugs and tribal artefacts.