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August 2018

Horizon Zero Dawn

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Release Date: Feb. 28, 2017 (US), March 1, 2017 (EU)


PS4 Review - 'Horizon: Zero Dawn' The Frozen Wilds DLC

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Nov. 9, 2017 @ 2:00 a.m. PST

Horizon Zero Dawn is a new action role-playing game where you, as main protagonist Aloy, a skilled hunter, explore a vibrant and lush world inhabited by mysterious mechanized creatures.

Buy Horizon: Zero Dawn

Horizon: Zero Dawn was a herald for what has become a remarkable year of games. It still stands out as one of the highlights despite some great releases, and it's one of the PS4's best exclusives to date. It's no surprise that it has received solid post-release support, including some great updates. Horizon: Zero Dawn - The Frozen Wilds is a full-on, old-school expansion pack that adds new content — but not much else.

The Frozen Wilds follows Aloy on a trek to The Cut, which is located in the chilly and cold north. She encounters the Banuk tribe, who have been driven from their home by a force that slaughtered their best warriors. Aloy decides to solve this problem through the judicious application of explosive arrows to anything that bothers the Baunk. Along the way, she discovers more about the history of her world and what caused the robot-dinosaur apocalypse that haunts the land.

The plot is fun but doesn't add much to the main story. It has charming characters, an interesting mythos, and beautiful locations, but don't expect much more. The expansion adds depth, not breadth, to the world. The writing shows that the developers are getting a feel for the characters and world, and everything feels more polished and confident than in the main story. It's a nice way to revisit the characters, but it's not something that adds much to the world.

The Frozen Wilds is clearly designed with endgame players in mind. You can go there earlier, but you'll fight a pretty strong enemy with whatever gear you have on hand. Should you get past that fight, you'll find a land where high-level upgrades are plentiful, including powerful variations on existing weapons that hit like trucks. End-game players should expect to find equipment that is comparable or better to what they already have. It's rather nice because even players who've finished the game (a good percentage of The Frozen Wild's player base) will find new things to use.

The Frozen Wilds adds a new skill tree, Traveler, which is available before you access the content. It's the expansion pack's most significant change to the core mechanics, but  it's also the most boring. The new abilities either revolve around small passive buffs to item collection and resources or allow you to modify and repair your mount. The former is a really nice boon but not every exciting, and the latter feels pointless. Mounts are not particularly exciting in the first place, and the game doesn't change it enough to make them feel that way. Modifying your mount for a serious skill point investment is great for photo mode but not much else. Most players will grab the improvements to resource collection and then forget the tree exists until they're desperate to spend some skill points.

The actual content in The Frozen Wilds is top-notch. The environments are some of the largest and prettiest in the game, and they're a delight to explore. There's some greater emphasis on puzzle-solving and difficult fights than in the main game, which make surviving in The Cut feel like a genuine challenge. A few puzzles and two new types of machine beasts add some flair to the gameplay, but at the end of the day, it's more Horizon. The expansion is about as large and content-filled as one of the main areas of the game. It's a nice boost but can be burned through pretty quickly, especially if you just do the main story.

Visually, The Frozen Wilds shows off how amazing the game can look. Horizon was a pretty game, and The Cut is the prettiest area in the game. It's a frozen land that's breathtaking to see. When you enter The Cut and see the terrifying pillar of smoke on the horizon that represents the "daemon" that tormented the Banuk, you know you're in for a treat. The new machine designs — in particular, the giant bearlike Frostclaw — are some of the most intimidating in the game, and the character models look fantastic. My only complaint is that some of the lip syncing seems off, but that was also a problem in the main Horizon game.

All in all, Horizon: Zero Dawn - The Frozen Wilds is a straightforward and respectable expansion. It adds to everything that worked well in Horizon: Zero Dawn and does so with confidence. The Frozen Wilds features some of the most fun content in the game, but it's also a very orthodox addition that doesn't make many changes to the core of the game. It's great if you want more Horizon content, but if you were burned out or hoping for a game-changing expansion, this isn't it. Fans who are chomping at the bit for more Horizon action will enjoy The Frozen Wilds.

Score: 8.0/10

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