Why Horizon: Zero Dawn Sucks. | EarlyGame
Fighting off the "zees"...

Why Horizon: Zero Dawn Sucks.

horizon zero dawn sucks
Peace? Yeah, peace off. | © Sony Interactive Entertainment & Guerrilla Games

Settle down, Aloy. I understand that you have a stupid name and everyone says you're brilliant. I understand that when everyone says that you're brilliant, it becomes rather difficult to take a step back and realize just how terribly boring you are. Honestly, the most interesting part of your entire "thing" is that your name is "Aloy" and that's clearly a play on the word "Alloy" – a metal that has been combined with two or more other metals... Get it? You live in a world where metallic machines have reduced humanity to a mess of its former self. Again, get it? Really clever, right?

As my Podcast Co-host Jon mentioned in our latest episode – available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, etc – Horizon: Zero Dawn gives off the impression that it's a nice, bright, and vibrant game. Where he, and most people, get it wrong, is that Horizon: Zero Dawn is all of those things visually... but nowhere else. If I was going to talk about the gameplay, the acting, the story, the open world, and the quests in the same way, then can you guess how I would describe it? Grey, drab, bo-ring!

It might seem like I am piling onto the game unfairly, but I seem to be the only person in the world to have this opinion. Am I going crazy? I am so confused! There is literally nothing interesting about Horizon: Zero Dawn, from the tedious characters to the dull open world, nothing is terrible in Horizon: Zero Dawn, but nothing is extraordinary either.

Horizon: Zero Dawn plays out more or less like a run-of-the-mill Assassin's Creed game. The combat is the game's strength, when you face up against the plentiful variety of Mechanical Monstrosities that plague this barren land. Not when you fight other humans. Then it just becomes a poor-man's Shadow of Mordor. That might sound like a weird comparison, but seriously, go and play that game again. You'll see what I mean.

Speaking of "this barren land", barren is certainly the right word for the open world. Sure, it might be full of things to discover, but it feels empty, lifeless, and certainly not to the standard we expect from a 2017 game. The Witcher 3 was already two years old when this one came out. Seriously, guys, I am so confused: why are you frothing over this game?

In IGN's review of Horizon: Zero Dawn, Lucy O'Brien called the game's premise "a big mystery that begs to be solved." The review went on to give the game a 9.3/10, equating to "Amazing" in IGN's rating system. I have no problem with her review (other than that I disagree with it), it's nicely written, nicely argued, and nicely presented. I just don't get it, I really don't. Read this li'l excerpt:

Horizon's ‘post-post apocalyptic’ landscape itself is beautiful and terrifying, so journeying through it in search of things to do between main quests - not that you ever have to go too far - is usually a reward of its own.

O'Brien then goes on to discuss the wonderful vistas, and the environmental beauty that justified her position. It's not enough for a game's open world to be beautiful, though. It also doesn't have to be insanely packed full of content! That was one of Witcher 3's flaws: so much stuff to do that it was bloody daunting to try and finish the game. The problem with Horizon: Zero Dawn is not a lack of stuff to do, and it's not a lack of beauty, it's that it feels like a freaking Ubisoft Game.

Climb to the top of this tower to unlock the map (though, yes, making those towers giant robot dinosaurs was cool... but not inventive), collect 'x' number of items for... some random reason, upgrade your weapons, follow the story, do menial side quests. It's just so dull, and so utterly boring. It's not a new concept, and it's certainly not a new execution of an old idea. It's one-and-the-same with any other big open-world games. The big difference between Horizon: Zero Dawn and Assassin's Creed? Horizon has giant robot dinosaurs. Horizon: Zero Dawn is just Assassin's Creed with giant robot dinosaurs. It's just... Assassin's Creed: Primal. Oh, and just like Far Cry: Primal back in the day, this game just doesn't work.

It's filled to the brim with non-consequential activities, non-interesting characters, and awkward attempts at political commentary that just fall straight on its face. I don't disagree with the points that they are trying to make, but yet again, they just don't land, they just don't work. God dang, why do people like this game so much?

Is it the world itself that people get all moist about? Horizon: Zero Dawn features some pretty great environmental storytelling, that's true. If everything that's surrounding that storytelling wasn't such a snooze fest, I could almost see why people like this game. 

Aloy, seriously, stop looking so serious, crack a joke here and there, be grateful that you're alive, and please be at least a little bit more interesting in Horizon: Forbidden West. I'll be playing it, but if it's anywhere near as tedious as Horizon: Zero Dawn, I certainly won't be playing Horizon... urgk, whatever stupid name they come up with next...


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