Review: Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds
Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the biggest PlayStation games that released earlier this year. We got to know Aloy, an outcast that lives in a dangerous world. Human society has taken a blow and humans were forced to live a more primitive life. Combining this primitive life with mysterious ruins and mechanical beasts, transformed Horizon Zero Dawn into something truly unforgettable. Today, half a year later, Aloy goes on a new quest in a new snowy environment; filled with new enemies and tons of mysteries. It’s time to discover The Frozen Wilds.
Just like in the original game, you’ll control Aloy. A brave young woman who is considered an outcast amongst her tribe. Aloy discovered the truth behind the origin of the mechanical creatures and is faced with new dangers she couldn’t imagine at the start of her original adventure. Aloy still is the strong and independent female protagonist who reminds me of Ygritte from Game of Thrones, possibly because Aloy also wields a bow and arrow with deadly precision. In this expansion, she discovers a new snowy area, an area that you couldn’t enter before.
North from the mountains, in a place called ‘The Cut’, Aloy will meet up with the Banuk tribe. The Banuk are nomads, meaning their settlements aren’t created to last. They live isolated from the rest of the world and fight a certain demon that was able to create demonic mechanical beasts. The Banuk and the mechanical beast share a strong connection, the Banuk is able to connect with the beast and live together peacefully, until the mysterious demon appeared. The mysterious volcano has something to do with this and forms your major landmark throughout the game. It doesn’t matter where you’re located in The Cut, the volcano will always be visible, reminding you of the constant danger.
The Frozen Wild DLC isn’t a stand-alone expansion, so you’ll need to have the base game in order to play it. This doesn’t mean that you’ll need to finish the original story before you can dive into The Frozen Wilds. The moment you reach the location of The Cut, you can jump right into the story of this expansion without progressing the base story. Be warned, however, this expansion is meant for the experienced gamer. The beasts you’ll face are strong so Aloy will have to be of a higher level to survive. Gaining experience before you jump into The Frozen Wild is encouraged, especially when you face some of the new enemies.
New enemies and tricks
A lot of the common enemies make a return in this expansion but Guerilla Games made sure there aresome new challenges to overcome. One of those new enemies is the Scorcher. An extremely fast creature that likes to spit fire at you in every way possible. In order to survive, you’ll have to be extremely fast and accurate with your bow and arrow. That’s not all, the Frost- and Fireclaw are a lot more deadly. These enormous beasts aren’t easy to take down. In order to take them down, you’ll have to attack their weak points time after time and make sure you’re able to evade their deadly attacks just in time. Managing to take one of these monsters down results in a victorious feeling, one of the best feelings in this expansion.
Of course, battling those creatures without new tools wouldn’t be fair. This expansion brings some new toys like a flamethrower and an ice spear (watch out dragons). As if this wasn’t enough already, you can also get higher level gear from the base game weapons to become more powerful enemies or invest some skillpoints in a new branch on the skilltree. This new branch is focussed on your mount, nothing really impressive compared to the original skills but it’s a nice addition. Thanks to these new skills, you’ll be able to gather resources while you’re riding your mount or eventually deliver a fatal jumping attack later on. Again, these skills aren’t as impressive as before but if you haven’t finished the base game yet, there still are plenty of epic skills to discover.
The right balance
It will take you between six and seven hours to complete this expansion and I’m sure you’ll enjoy every minute of it. Basically, it offers more Horizon Zero Dawn in a new setting with some new toys to mess around with. Just like the original, the expansion finds the right balance between action and exploration. Intensive battles are followed by more ‘slower’ puzzle/exploration parts where you’ll slowly discover more of this new snowy environment.
It must be said, this expansion takes the game to a new level graphically speaking, especially when you play it on a PlayStation 4 Pro model. Everything about The Frozen Wilds looks gorgeous, from the improved facial expressions during the cutscenes to the impressive vistas you’ll see during your adventure. The expansion also uses a new snow engine to impress and you can even create snow angels in the Photo Mode. What’s not to like?
The only thing I didn’t like that much was the connection with the Banuk tribe. Never did I have the feeling I truly connected with them or their mysterious cause. Compared to the characters you meet in the original game, the Banuk don’t leave the same strong impression behind. Conversations remain flat most of the time and you just don’t see the Banuk enough to feel emotionally connected. One of the only things I really missed while playing this impressive expansion.
Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds offers an impressive expansion to the base game. If you can’t get enough of the heroic Aloy and the mysterious mechanical creatures, this is an expansion you’ll simply need to get. For its price, it offers you a nice amount of extra gameplay, new weapons, new enemies, new skills and an impressive environment to explore. Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t an easy expansion so you’ll need to be powerful enough before you can even start it; if you’re ready to face new demons, don’t hesitate and jump in!