An intelligent open world
Worlds as large as Horizon’s are a huge risk. The sheer amount of space is impressive on some level, but open worlds are exhaustive and repetitive without enough significant content filling it. Some games resort to empty stretches of (admittedly gorgeous) land or unimportant fetch quests, but Horizon Zero Dawn doesn’t settle for just that.
The robotic animals and tribes that fill Horizon’s earth act independently to create a dynamic environment, one you can choose to interfere with or not. The vulture-like Glinthawks tear away at carcasses, the more bullish Chargers drive their horns into anything in their path. Sometimes, these beasts can be found attacking local tribespeople, and they’ll shower you with thanks and rewards should you come to their aid. Moments like these keep the miles of trees from becoming dull, especially when coupled with the game’s genuinely interesting side quests. There are those fetch-like errand quests that fill up your to-do list, but embarking on full side quests means investing in a worthy mini-adventure.
When you’re not looking over your shoulder in fear of a dangerous mech or doing quests, there’s still more to do. A number of collectibles scattered about the world will shed light on Horizon’s mysterious lore. Hunting Grounds and corruption zones will challenge you to combat feats. And then there are the Cauldrons, mysterious locations said to be the birthplace of the machines, to search for.
Guerrilla Games nailed environmental storytelling in this new outing, and it makes for a massive open world you have no reason to fear.