Horizon Zero Dawn is a wad of famous games squished together

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When I first saw gameplay footage of Guerrilla’s new PS4 exclusive, Horizon Zero Dawn, my reaction was to laugh and say, “Hey, look! The Reapers have invaded Skyrim.” In a way, I was right: Mass Effect and Skyrim have fingerprints all over this game. But they aren’t the only ones. In ten hours of play time, I’ve been awestruck by the sheer number of influences that are present:

  • Enhanced-senses mode for tracking footprints and blood (Witcher)
  • Mounts that follow roads automatically and can be summoned by whistling (Witcher)
  • Bandit camps with alarms to avoid and prisoners to free, which become settlements once cleared (Witcher)
  • Reference guide with information on various types of beasts (Witcher)
  • Weapon upgrade slots (Can you tell they hired some devs from Witcher?)
  • Circular option menus for navigating dialogue trees (Mass Effect)
  • Hunting and crafting (Tomb RaiderFar Cry Primal)
  • Stealth archery and eye-shaped detection meter (Skyrim)
  • Navigational compass in place of minimap (Skyrim)
  • Campfires as save points (Dark Souls)
  • Fog of war that can be cleared by climbing certain points (Assassin’s Creed)
  • Platforming, ziplining, and rappelling, with ledges and outcroppings highlighted in yellow (Uncharted)
  • Tall grass as cover for stealth (Uncharted 4)
  • Audio logs as exposition (Bioshock)
  • Individually target-selectable body parts on large beasts (Dragon’s Dogma, and many others)

And that’s just the explicit comparisons. The slick, lightweight HUD reminds me of Crysis, and the polygonal blue-and-slate-gray technology designs of the Cauldrons remind me of Halo. I’m sure there are even more influences that I’ve missed or haven’t encountered yet.

All this being said, however, HZD is a lot of fun. The gameplay is slick and the graphics are gorgeous. My only complaints so far are the dialogue, which is a little cringe-worthy, and the armor sets, which are hideous. When I get around to beating the game, I’ll be sure to post a complete review.

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