Let’s Chat: Are Games Too Long Now?

– This article was originally posted on 19th March 2018 and is being updated and archived here. Whilst situations have changed, I reckon a lot of the subject matter is still very relevant! –


A mix of work and a lack of a major theme in the gaming news recently has led Ashley Harrison and I to wonder: how are we ever going to play all the good games from last year, let alone the ones coming in 2018? It’s a topic that is coming up more and more as publishers release massive games boasting of their huge scope; is it really a good thing just to be a long game? The latest Let’s Chat delves into the subject!


William Robinson: So, Ash, in a week with no particularly standout theme, I think it’s a good chance to talk about just how long games are now. Is it just me, or are these impressive 100-hour experiences no longer the great sales pitch they used to be? Last year, with ZeldaHorizonPersona, and more, it was unrealistic for anyone to play everything.

Ashley Harrison: Length definitely isn’t a great selling point any longer. With the examples you just mentioned and more, it seems like the majority of “AAA” games recently are striving to build as big an open world as possible to expand playtime, but at the expense of the game’s overall quality and uniqueness.

There is a lot of content in Persona 5

WR: It also depends greatly on the situation, too – after finishing University, I had a window where playing 80 hours of Horizon was possible, but now I’m attempting to be an adult with a full-time job I struggle to see how I can keep up with EVERYTHING. What’s your situation? Do you think that it’s always been like this, and people just have their lives change?

AH: I’m not even in full time employment and I still find it hard to keep up with everything. It’s getting to a point now where if I see a game has open-world as a “selling point” it puts me off it completely. I just look at some of the games you mentioned – Zelda (I’ve beat one Divine Beast), Horizon (I’ve barely even gotten into the game), Persona I haven’t even bought. I don’t think it’s always been like this at all, I think it’s people who played a few open world games, and developers think people just want bigger and bigger open worlds nowadays, even though they’re 90% empty every single time.

WR: You’re right there, the rise in popularity of the open-world game has definitely changed things. This is why I’ve never really been an Assassin’s Creed guy; I feel there is little reason behind the things you’re collecting, and its just a waste of time. On the other hand, I find myself really enjoying shorter titles like Firewatch or Oxenfree, as I get a satisfying sense of completing something. I know I’ll probably never beat Persona 5, though.

A landscape view in Firewatch

AH: I’m with you entirely on that. Give me a linear, closed world any day of the week over an open world, at least that way everything I do relates to the storyline, and as such, means I’m closer to finishing the game every time. Whereas with open worlds, I just find they’re too big and too slow to get across, so I always end up getting sidetracked by something. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing all the time, but I do like to feel as though I’ve made progress towards the end of the game, rather than just do a load of stuff that is likely useless by the end of the game (should I ever see it).

WR: Is that a problem with the genre though, or the design? Horizon, for example, felt less of a chore for me; while massive, the game was achievable to complete or even 100%. Some games just go way too far – being impossible to complete isn’t appealing to me. Funnily enough, Spyro did it quite well scale-wise.

AH: I think for sure it’s a problem with the genre rather than design; there’s only so much you can fit into an open world without repeating anything, so the rest is mostly just barren space that looks exactly the same no matter where you are.

The world of Horizon Zero Dawn is varied and fascinating

WR: Or maybe one further, is it expectations? I think publishers are scared of being viewed as inferior in terms of scale, while more focused worlds – such as Yakuza, which Jim Sterling recently praised for a smaller but focused world – can actually be more interesting.

AH: Yeah, I guess it could be that developers are scared of being inferior. For me, Mario Odyssey hit the sweet spot for an open-world game, interestingly. The levels are big, but not bloated, and there’s always something happening somewhere in every world.

WR: A few games have done that – having a bunch of mini-open-worlds that stand separate from each other. Skyward Sword did it, and so did Dragon Age: Inquisition, and I think it makes those games more palatable. What are your favourite open-world games?

For me, Mario Odyssey hit the sweet spot for an open-world game, interestingly.

Ashley Harrison

AH: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is definitely up there for sure. I can’t really think of anything other than it that shouts “truly open world game I enjoyed enough to remember off the top of my head”.

WR: Would you say your taste in games has changed over time, and you look for different things now? I mean – what are you most anticipated games this year, too? There may be a theme.

AH: Yeah, I’d be lying if I said my tastes hadn’t changed, but I think that’s as a result of the games industry changing as well. As for what I’m most looking forward to, gimme a sec. [Pause as Ashley gathers his reply] Detective PikachuNi No Kuni 2Far Cry 5Hyrule Warriors Definitive EditionVampyrCaptain ToadOctopath TravellerLuigi’s Mansion, and The World Ends With You Final Remix.

WR: I mean, Ni No KuniOctopath and The World Ends With You are pretty extensive right?

AH: Ni No Kuni 2 and Far Cry 5 are for sure. However, not so much for Octopath (assuming it’s anything like the Bravely Default games) or The World Ends With You.

The World Ends With You -Final Redux- is an updated version of the original game

WR: Maybe we just have to accept that the way we play games will change. I find myself holding these big games back now for lengthy periods off; I’m not a big fan of playing a couple hours each night during a week. Maybe I’m getting old?

AH: Yeah, us getting old could definitely be a factor, haha. We’re losing the energy to dedicate hours upon hours into games.

WR: I joke, I joke. I still have a lot of excitement for games, especially with Captain ToadSpyro (hopefully) and Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the way. You know, actually, I think the issue is there is just so much good stuff nowadays, from TV to films to games. There is so much quality content to consume, and the sadness comes from the possibility of missing some of it.

AH: Too much to play/do/watch, too little time to do it in. I guess for me personally, too, the fact I work Thursday to Sunday, means that if I start a game on a Monday, and haven’t finished it by Wednesday, I’m less likely to return to it after my “work break”, unlike if I had say, the weekend off, where I guess it’s more acceptable to just sit back and relax doing whatever.

There is so much quality content to consume, and the sadness comes from the possibility of missing some of it.

William Robinson

WR: It does make portable gaming more appealing. The Switch has had such a positive effect on many gamers with less time to, well, game, and that’s another audience Nintendo has done a great job at tapping into. Alternatively, we’re just complaining too much and I should be spending this time playing Mario Odyssey.

AH: Yeah, you definitely should be playing Mario Odyssey rather than moaning about games with me.

WR: Hey, I feel attacked here. Why aren’t you playing, erm, one of a million great games?

AH: Because I already played a ton of I Am Setsuna on my Switch earlier. What’s your excuse for not playing Mario Odyssey yet?

WR: See, I like I Am Setsuna because it is achievable. That’s a solid 20-hour JRPG that I can finish and feel good about. Oh, and I have none. Captain Toad is in that game and I haven’t played it. What am I doing? What is the point of having a real job compared to that?

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is really enjoyable to pick up and play

AH: Anyway, we’ve digressed a lot, let’s forget about Mario for now. Yeah, from what I’ve played so far of I Am Setsuna, I can feel it’s going to be a fairly long game given it’s an RPG, but so far it’s had a linear world, so I do feel as though I’m actually progressing through the game at an acceptable rate.

WR: Look, you know digression is just the ways of things here! In all seriousness though, we should stop before we start getting too philosophical. Should we settle on celebrating how many great games there are, rather than them being too long? Or are you firmly sticking to open world games being flawed? I’m holding out for positivity here!

AH: You should know me, Will, I don’t do positivity, so I’m sticking firmly to the latter. The power of positivity isn’t flowing through my veins right now.

WR: Look, I tried. All in all, we came to the conclusion that… it’s different for everyone, based on their lives, I suppose. We have games to fill every need now – perhaps even too many. Maybe we can even play some before next week, eh?

AH: Definitely. And who knows, we might even finish one before then?


Ashley then proceeded to talk about pancakes, which led to my sadness at not having any. Ahem, back to the topic – we have such a plethora of media in the modern day that is can feel overpowering. Do you think it is too much sometimes? You can let us know in the comments!

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds Review

Developed by: Guerrilla Games
Published by: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: Out Now


Horizon Zero Dawn‘s major DLC expansion delivers more of what made the action adventure so compelling to begin with – beautiful environments, visceral action, and an engaging story about woman and machine (you can read my review here). The Frozen Wilds also makes subtle but noticeable improvements on weaker areas of the base game, which bodes well for the inevitable sequel.


A Cut Above

The Frozen Wilds is set in The Cut, a brand new addition to the north of the map. As we know from popular culture, heading north often means cold, harsh conditions, and it is no different here. Horizon is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where sentient machines caused widespread devastation and led to the human race essentially hitting the reset button; The Frozen Wilds introduces a new handful of these imposing robot dinosaurs, and the linear path up to The Cut forces an encounter with one straight off the bat.

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This is the Scorcher, to be precise – a machine that is ferocious at close range and can produce devastating bursts of fire. Even the players who are experts with the the way combat works in Horizon will find a big challenge here, especially when multiple machines are attacking at once later on. Whilst the recommended level for entry was 35 (the previous cap was 50, which is raised to 60 in this DLC), even my lv50 Aloy struggled at times. Another introduction is a machine based on a polar bear, which can unleash consecutive melee attacks that leave Aloy reeling. The added challenge is welcome for those who had perhaps gotten too comfortable with the cycle of strategic combat.

A big draw of Horizon was not only the gameplay but the intriguing story that was interwoven in; the Banuk were a tribe that were involved at times, mainly though the enigmatic Sylens, who assists Aloy at crucial points. They remained mysterious, though – however, The Cut is the residence of the Banuk, and reveals a lot about them. The overarching plot does little to deviate massively from what Guerrilla presented in the main story, with dangerous machines populating the freezing mountain known as Thunder’s Drum due to a hostile AI.

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It’s what The Frozen Wilds gives you within that structure that supplements what came before. Aratak, the Banuk Chieftain, and Ourea, who discovers a friendlier AI, are the most developed side characters and provide the main emotional payoff, but the Banuk tribe is full of other perspectives and troubles that Aloy can help with. It’s like learning a different culture – one quest requires finding missing hunters that didn’t return from a survival ritual, and dealing with the morality of saving them when they think their failure makes their lives void. Other quests teach you about new materials and techniques, adding slight variety to gameplay whether it is spear modifications or a new flamethrower weapon. Horizon was already good at giving you side quests that weren’t just busywork, but felt unique and worthwhile, and The Frozen Wilds continues this.


Ice, Ice, Aloy

The mini-open-world addition that is The Cut is full of notable things to do. Some are changed-up versions of what came before, such as a Tallneck machine which needs putting back together. Others are new additions, like the Control Towers that repair nearby machines. The latter is one of the better introductions, as it makes you think about new approaches; if you sneak in and disable the tower first, the ensuing battle will be much easier. The Frozen Wilds is at its best at times like these, where it is ever-so-slightly changing up the the gameplay while sticking true to what made Horizon one of the gaming highlights of 2017.

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It’s the little things that you notice, as well. In my original review of Horizon, I noted the animation as sometimes looking a bit stiff in conversations. The Frozen Wilds features exchanges where characters look more natural – swaying, using hand motions, and pacing as they express emotion. It makes everything a little more believable, and is a good sign that Guerrilla know what to improve for the sequel that they are surely working hard on.

It’s just a shame that not everything can be magically fixed in DLC. The timing of Horizon Zero Dawn‘s release – so close to the groundbreaking Zelda: Breath of the Wild – emphasised the clunkiness of traversal when ascending more awkward, mountainous environments. The Frozen Wild‘s snowy world is full of these areas, awkwardly limiting where you can and can’t go. At one point, I got lost in The Hunting Grounds of The Cut just because a small wall was blocked for me; one issue with being given another chunk of the same game is that you have more time to examine the intricacies of how it works – flaws and all.

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Then again, it is saved to a degree by the stupendous beauty all around you. Even by Horizon‘s already-high standards, The Cut provides another level of technical achievement. You’re either journeying through tranquil, crisp white sheets of snow, or you’re being battered by relentless blizzards that block out everything further than a few feet in front of Aloy. In the spirit of Horizon, this is mixed in with the remnants of the old world, like the massive, frozen dam in the centre of The Cut; in both art direction and raw technical prowess, Horizon remains at the pinnacle of games as an art form.


Final Thoughts

The 8-ish hours it took me to get through the majority of The Frozen Wilds gave me a strong sense of closure. There is enough DNA from the base game to keep it feeling familiar, but also enough new ideas – and considerable challenge – to make playing through the entirety of the DLC both justifiable and enjoyable. Learning new bits and pieces of info about the events of Horizon act as a neat epilogue, but also set up what might come in the future; just like being reminded of some weak points raise the excitement for what an improved Horizon sequel could achieve.

9/10

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Horizon Zero Dawn Review

Developed by: Guerrilla Games
Published by: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: Out Now


To sum up Horizon: Zero Dawn in one, bittersweet sentence? It’s the best game of 2017 that isn’t The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. After the initial hours (as documented here), Horizon Zero Dawn hooks you like few games can and, to be frank, shows up a lot of other open-world action games. Guerrilla Games’ foray into the genre has produced a beautiful and intriguing world, with thrilling moment-to-moment action.


Woman & Machine

You witness the story of Horizon through the eyes of Aloy. She is determined, fierce and likeable, looking to discover her mysterious birth after being raised by father figure Rost outside of the Nora community they came from. They were both banished from the tribe, and the opening hours of Horizon introduce gameplay ideas within this restricted area. Yet, wherever you go, the lush world houses a major juxtaposition; coexisting in this world are both primal clans of humans and violent robotic creatures. Developers Guerrilla went to great lengths to make this all believable (y’know, as much as it can be). The machines are mainly modelled on animals and dinosaurs, oddly fitting into the environments. They stand out, but are still part of the food chain.

The clear question is: what is going on here? How did this happen? Horizon starts to give you hints in the early hours, and later developments in the story deliver – events are sometimes told in surprising directions, taking dramatic twists that engross until the end. It’s a new take on an apocalyptic story, taking beats from other stories of this kind but tying them into the intriguing world. Aloy is at the emotional centre of all of this, just trying to work out where she came from – as a result, she is the ideal player perspective. Our emotions at discovering the secrets of Horizon are matched by her.

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At the start of the game, you play through a sequence where young Aloy comes across a cave containing remnants of the past. She discovers a device called the Focus, which lets her interact with the advanced technology around her- in-game, this means being able to access audio logs (there’s a lot, but they’re good), interact with closed-off parts of the world, and exploit the weaknesses of the machines she fights. The Focus is an example of how Horizon seamlessly fits in the ideas of other games, and then offers a new take. In this case, the game takes the heightened vision of games like the new Tomb Raider titles and gives it a distinct spin. Guerrilla have used inspiration in really positive ways, not just taking ideas but working out the best way to use them within the setting of Horizon.


Girl on Fire

The biggest standout of Horizon is the combat. Using bow, tripwires, tie ropes and more, Aloy battles both humans and machines. The latter is where the game is most dynamic; with the Focus to help, you can identify the many different types of machines and their individual attributes. Early enemies like the Watchers can be tackled pretty easily, but as the game progresses, you soon have to adapt your approach to the situations. Take the crocodile-like, sea-faring Snapmaws. They are vicious up-close, but a quick scan exposes that they’re weak to armour-piercing arrows. Create some distance and break their outer shells, and suddenly the confrontation becomes easier.

Or maybe you’re being assaulted by the aerial scavengers, Glinthawks – dodge their ranged attacks, discover their weakness to fire, and you can find a way to bring them down. Planning is crucial, and elevates the action in Horizon to a new type of real-time strategy; you’re thinking on the fly, but without any jarring pauses – it’s all remarkably smooth and refined. Think of the mindset you have in the battles of Xenoblade Chronicles, but faster-paced and mixed with more visceral movement. The ability to dodge attacks is perhaps the most important tool you have; timing your dodge with the telling audio cues of a major assault is a sure-fire way to make yourself feel like the best player in the world.

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The aforementioned variety of approaches keeps it interesting, too. Aloy is a hunter more than a fighter, and has the toolset to match. Maybe you prefer to hold the machines in one place using the Ropecaster, and then go in for melee attacks? Or, perhaps, use trip wires and traps to do some of the work for you? One personal highlight was a tough fight against a Thunderjaw (one of the strongest machines, not that I’m bragging) in one of the dungeon-like Cauldrons, where my health was low and things were looking tight. Then, it walked into one of my traps, set off a chain reaction around the room, and fell – heart racing and mind transfixed, the personal payoff was amazing. Oh, and these Cauldrons? Complete them, and you gain the ability to override machines, turning them to your side. This is most useful when sneaking up on your enemy, as it takes some time to do.

With such a range of options, it’s good that Guerrilla got the UI and presentation spot-on. Holding the R1 trigger slows time down – doesn’t stop it, so that Snapmaw charging at you is still coming – while you choose from your weapons wheel. Here, you can also select your ammo type, and even craft it on the go, keeping up the pace of the action. Different ammo can mean elemental effects, or new ideas like the Terrablast Arrows. These emit an energy burst that is very effective at knocking parts off of machines and exposing vulnerabilities. Sometimes, if you knock a weapon off an enemy, you can turn it to your advantage. That’s right – attack robot dinosaurs, take their guns, shoot them with those guns. It’s hard not to find it all simply awesome.


Machine Hunter

Once defeated, you can harvest many valuable resources from the machines. It’s a fulfilling Monster Hunter-style cycle of taking down enormous beasts and getting better items from them. Many actions reward you with EXP, and levelling up is a way to upgrade skills and get more health. In addition, plenty of other RPG-like elements are within the menus – as you roam the world, hunting takes on a more tranquil form. Tracking non-robotic wildlife, picking up crafting materials, and gathering medicinal herbs (don’t skip them, they’re invaluable in combat) keeps you busy as you progress. All of your findings are useful in some way or another. Robotic or natural, resources can be used to expand upon ammo capacities, add augments to your weapons, and purchase sweet new outfits for Aloy. It is an undeniably rewarding gameplay loop – and it all ties into bringing this world to life.

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See, whilst not breaking through conventions like Zelda: Breath of the Wild does, Horizon: Zero Dawn is instead excellent at incorporating them. Horizon has many elements not dissimilar to Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and many other third-person open-world games. Take the towers that this genre tends to use (even Zelda). Traditionally, you climb to the top in order to reveal details about that portion of the map – these are in Horizon, sure, but in the form of a machine called a Longleg. Each portion of the map has one walking around it, and this is a machine you don’t fight – rather, you must find a way to climb it. This requires tracking the route it takes, analysing the environment, and working out your approach; it’s a puzzle that organically fits into the world, and is immensely satisfying once you get to the top. Horizon takes ideas from other games, but maximises their potential within this beautiful setting.

Oh, and my word, what a beautiful world it is. The detail that has gone into producing such a stunning environment is staggering, with different biomes all over the map. The sound design and soundtrack matches it, whether it is the synthetic roar of machines or the birds tweeting in the trees. Animals, weather, and lighting differentiate just as much as the combat does, and stops the game ever feeling stale. There are plenty of times when you will stop to just take it all in, with the soundtrack powerfully complimenting it all. The art direction, mixing in technology and ruins of the past, only adds an extra layer of intrigue to everything. Tribes have even taken the machines and incorporated them into their clothing, creating fascinating results. Whether it is a snow-covered mountain, a barren desert, or the glorious central city of Meridian, the temptation to explore is constant.

There are many other settlements and points of view in Horizon. Merchants and side quests originate from these areas; don’t pass on them, as the stories are worthwhile. These aren’t the general fetch quests that many other open-world games fall on. In Horizon, storylines range in scale from local feuds to protecting the position of the royalty. Characters make lasting impressions, and may just be valuable to Aloy later on. Dialogue has the choice wheel seen in Mass Effect, helping you give a voice to Aloy as she builds relationships. Visually, character models are high quality, but sometimes the animations are a little wooden – it’s something that you get used to, but also one area that could be improved in a sequel.

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If we’re talking about tiny niggles, then here is one that may not have even came up before March 2017. Climbing in Horizon is occasionally a rough experience, where you find yourself jumping repeatedly to try and inch your way up. When more scripted, with handholds and planned jumps like you’re Nathan Drake in Uncharted, it’s all good – but when looking for the collectibles and areas further away, it can get a bit messy. After the revolutionary climbing in Breath of the Wild, it is noticeable.

However, it’s hard to criticise something so small in a game that does so many big things right. Most of Horizon is about building – the more you play, you build confidence. The more of the story you witness, the bigger a picture you build. The more you interact with the world, the better items Aloy can build. Sometimes you’ll engage a herd of machines just for the satisfaction of engaging in combat, and trying out new techniques. Open-world games can feel like you’re just going from icon to icon, and it’s nice to see Horizon show them up. A lot of design and thought has gone into making each element interesting and different, and it’s a delight to play as a result.


Final Thoughts

It’s hard to think that Guerrilla Games’ is the studio which made Killzone for so many years. Horizon is stunning to look at, intriguing, and thrilling. You’re either being consumed by the dense world, or grinning as you engage in combat with a machine (which is also trying to consume you). This is a technical achievement, a gameplay achievement, a storytelling achievement; if Guerrilla isn’t already working on more Horizon games, they’d be out of their minds. Aloy can, and should, be PlayStation’s new face for a long, long time.

9.5/10

Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

10 Hours With… Horizon Zero Dawn

When Horizon Zero Dawn was announced at E3 2015, it was a very exciting prospect and a standout in the upcoming schedule of releases. An unknown setting merging the old and new, massive robotic creatures, and a charismatic female lead in Aloy – not to mention that I’m a sucker for some archery.

So, why did it take me until nearly a year later to start this enticing adventure? Well… The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild happened. That incredible game took up a lot of my gaming time early in 2017, and pushed back a lot of games (such as Mass Effect: Andromeda, which will be another article…) in my gaming to-play list. Now I have finally gotten to the game, though, and played a decent chunk (around 10 hours), I’m here to warn anyone else against waiting too long to play Guerrilla Games’ fantastic work.


New Horizons

Let’s start with Aloy, the lead character. The determined redhead is a massive part of why this game connects as well as it does – like a Lara Croft or Nathan Drake, she is both hardy and adventurous whilst also being inherently vulnerable and human. The start of the game has you witnessing Rost – essentially a foster dad to Aloy – mysteriously taking this girl into his care. We then skip into Aloy’s childhood, where she takes a tumble from the lush, overgrown wilderness into a foreboding machinated cave underneath. This is the first we really experience of the robotic side to this world, and immediately the duality is intriguing.

HZD 2

This section is pretty short, but brings in key gameplay elements. Aloy finds a tool called the Focus, which allows her to tap into this technological side of the world and understand some of it – including the enigmatic robotic creatures that have seemingly laid waste to the Earth. Weak points can be identified, and audio logs of the long since passed can be listened to. It’s similar to the type of heightened vision that allows you to find key objects in Tomb Raider or Assassin’s Creed, but the way it seamlessly ties into the story makes it more organic and believable.

This is a bit of a recurring theme. Horizon, under everything, does admittedly rely on quite a few conventions of modern third-person action adventures. This early section introducing the base combat, stealth and controls transitions into the start of the main game, where Aloy and Rost are outcasts. You have upgrade systems, an expansive world, many missions – large and small – to keep you busy, and occasionally some proactive dialogue choices to make. This may sound like you’ve played it all before, but Horizon manages to be a fresh, forward-thinking game; you can sense the extra effort going into making each of these systems as compelling as they can be.


Come On, Robot Dinosaurs

Nowehere is that more clearly felt than in the combat, which is like a sort of hyper-visceral hunting. Along with the signature bow, Aloy can use many weapons, such as the Tripcaster to lay trip wires, and the Ropecaster to tie down enemies. Each weapon has extra options too in terms of ammo; take the Tripcaster just mentioned, which can select between different elemental effects – shock to slow or stop a machine, or maybe a blast trap for some raw explosive damage. There are many intricacies to the weapons and the combat itself, elevating it into something more layered, more strategic.

In fact, it almost feels like a real-time strategy game at times. Or, for more specific comparison, a faster version of the live combat in the Xenoblade Chronicles series. Seeing what the enemies are doing, dodging their attacks, and then choosing your approach – perhaps tying them down and then using a melee attack, or utilising the Focus to identify a weak point and target it. Parts of the machines can even be broken off for use in crafting better items for yourself. It’s an immensely satisfying cycle of gameplay that encourages progress. Meeting new enemy designs and working out their intricacies is extra reward past the thrill-a-moment combat. When you first see the colossal Stormbird, it is hard not be in awe.

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Going back to the setting, it hits the same theme of taking the familiar and improving on it. On the face of it, it is a game about shooting massive robots, but Guerrilla has added many extra details to this world of two halves. It feels like a place that used to be full of life and commotion, but was hit with some disastrous event related to the out-of-place machines. Part of the draw of this is how astonishingly beautiful the world is, with some of the best art direction on PS4. Getting the natural and machine elements to both contrast and, crucially, accentuate each other is impressive. By the time I get to the full review I will likely know for sure, but at the moment it almost feels more intriguing not to know what occurred for the environment to be as it is – much like how Zelda: Breath of the Wild slowly revealed past events.

The world feels like it has reverted to more primitive, tribal communities. It makes a really interesting juxtaposition with the mechanical elements Aloy witnesses. These parts have leaked into the world of humans – into their clothes, their weapons, even their homes. As you experience more and more of this world with Aloy – who is trying to uncover her unclear lineage – the politics and opposing people of the world show themselves.

At this point, Horizon is really opening up and showing me what it has to offer, and I am totally on board. If you are like I used to be, putting this game off until later, then I urge you to start it up. Guerrilla has made a beautiful, mysterious, and enthralling game here that is becoming one of my favourite games of 2017. Even if it is a bit late…

My full review will be coming soon!