Top 100 Games of All-Time: #48

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Release Date: February 28, 2017

Platform Played On: PS4

2018 Placement: #48 (=)

Horizon Zero Dawn™_20170302214601

What It Is:

You play as Aloy in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi action-adventure where robot dinosaurs roam the world and you have to fight them and scavenge parts to upgrade your weapons. From your trusty bow and arrow to slings to all sorts of different traps, you have a wide array of tools to take down the robots. While the smaller ones are fairly easy to take on as you progress, the largest enemies like the Thunderjaw and Stormbird require careful planning to take down without any mistakes.

The gameplay is stellar – each type of robot you come across has specific strategies associated with it and are unique in their attacks and how you deal with them. And with a ton of options at your disposal you can make full use of any arena you find yourself fighting them in. Its open world is large, but not oversaturated to the point that it feels tedious or overwhelming. And on top of that, Horizon: Zero Dawn has an awesome sci-fi story that is doled out to you slowly over the course of the game where you not only find out the history of the current world, but how it came to be like this (and has one of the most hateable characters in gaming, even if you only interact with him through holograms).

Why It’s Important To Me:

Whenever I get a Platinum on a game, it is a testament to the quality of it and how I regard it. Horizon: Zero Dawn is another one of the few in the upper echelon of modern gaming for me, where after beating the game I still felt compelled to run through the open world and finish all the collecting I missed during my main playthrough. Every sidequest was fun to tackle, and while I hoped the final boss would have a little more oomph or uniqueness to it, it was still a challenge and the story beats of the ending were still satisfying.

I love this world. I love all the dinosaur designs. I love how the combat feels strategically and how all the tools are used in each fight. I love Aloy as a character, especially how the game treats romance and some of the people who are interested in her. She is on a mission and while there are a few suitors (and suitresses?) she doesn’t have time for that shit and is confident in shutting it down. Aloy is a refreshing protagonist in a lot of ways and is one of my favorites of all-time.

My Strongest Memory:

I think my biggest wow moment is when the big reveal for what happened in the past occurs in the story. You get all these little crumbs and seedlings as you progress through the game, learning a little more about Aloy and the people who lived before the apocalypse with each area you explore. Then the big bombshell is dropped and you’re like “oh shit” and “what a despicable piece of shit that guy is.” And it’s made all the more frustrating because you’re learning about the past so there’s really nothing you can do about it.

Honestly all the story beats were what kept me going in this game. I was glued to my seat every time I learned something new about the world and how it works. I’m a sucker for good world-building and Horizon: Zero Dawn has it in spades. How everything is explained is just wonderful and there’s a decent bit of environmental storytelling as well. The narrative and world is just so finely crafted I couldn’t get enough of it.

Why It’s #48:

There’s not much more I can say other than continue my glowing praise for Horizon: Zero Dawn. It’s post-apocalyptic robot dinosaurs, what more can you ask for? It’s the best open-world game where you can climb on things and explore a vast space and hunt things that came out the week of February 28 in 2017. Yes, I’m aware of the other game that came out that week. No, my opinion IS correct and Horizon: Zero Dawn is definitely the better game. Thank you for your time.