One of the most remarkable features of Horizon Zero Dawn, that has captured imaginations ever since the game was unveiled at E3 2015, is the vibrant, living world that Guerrilla Games have given us a glimpse of.
Here, two societies vie for control of a landscape that at first glance looks entirely familiar. Snow-capped mountains, lush green valleys, woodland and sprawling desert vistas promise a gaming playground that reflects the best our world has to offer; scratch the surface however, and it’s clear this is no longer “our” world to play in. Ancient ruins scatter the land, providing eerie flashbacks from the distant future to a crumbling remnant of the player’s reality, while a society of mechanized creatures enforce their dominance.
On a recent visit to Guerrilla Games’ canal side studios in Amsterdam, the team there gave us a tour of their forthcoming action-RPG – and provided some insight into how they’ve approached creating a vast, living world and how this differs from the intensely focused FPS world of Helghan in their legendary Killzone series.
In our play-through session, Game Director Mathjis De Jonge guided the way from initiating a quest from talking to Rost – a member of the Nora tribe who remains friendly to Aloy despite her outsider status – to hunting down a herd of machines to harvest parts from them, which then allow Aloy to create new, upgraded arrows.
It’s a task that shows off the rocky, wooded landscape and allows Aloy to use the terrain to achieve her goals. Clifftops and outcrops can be used to spot prey, while the long grasses provide cover when she moves in to stalk the machines. Traps can be set amongst narrow mountain passes, then machines can be lured into them; it’s a strategy that has countless iterations in each part of the map, and something that promises great depth of gameplay when more of the tools, traps and areas are revealed.
Aside from how the player interacts with the world of Horizon Zero Dawn, it’s the natural feel of the machine’s ecology which really impressed. Herds of Grazers roamed, following their own instincts; startle them, and they’ll bolt or stampede, fleeing from danger – just as you’d expect to see on a nature documentary. The overall feel was one of a living, breathing world that has evolved in harmony with the machines – with humans being only a distant memory.
You can experience this world for yourself when Horizon Zero Dawn launches in March 2017 – and check back soon for our next video focusing on Aloy and her place in our re-imagined future.
And to prepare for your first steps into this new world, you can now pre-order the digital version of Horizon Zero Dawn, as well as the Digital Deluxe Edition, featuring a digital art book, a dynamic PS4 theme and bonus in-game content. You’ll find both editions on PlayStation Store now.