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Horizon: Zero Dawn Preview – Gorgeous Environments and Female Badassery

Guerilla Games struck gold.

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Horizon: Zero Dawn is many things, all of which are positive. After watching the extended gameplay trailer at E3 2015, I felt as if the Horizon series could be one that sticks around for the long haul. As a gaming community, we have become accustom to the lackluster repetition of staple-held, fan favorite series. Continuously adding onto existing universes, we rarely experience anything new.

One of Horizon: Zero Dawn’s best qualities is its environments, which are breathtakingly beautiful. As you stand on cliff tops, you can spot mist shrouded mountains in the distance. The wind will howl as trees sway and dance to the music of the wind. Although the gameplay looks incredible, I would still play Horizon on it’s art design alone.

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The world of Horizon is inherently unique, containing prehistoric themes within a futuristic world. This post-modern, caveman-like art style inspires a contrasting time contradiction. Although I wanted to feel as if I was watching a fictional future scenario, I still felt as though the characters and world were ancient.

The main character is a redheaded, machine hunter named Aloy, who is one of the last human tribe members on post apocalyptic earth. The world is not in ruins as you would assume however. Rather than exploring terrain destroyed by end world aftermath, the world is filled with creatures, vegetation and life. According to the extended gameplay trailer, once the earth was free from humans, it began to change and develop into something completely different from what we know of present Earth.

It is unclear how the human race met their end in our modern age, but one can assume that their demise is somehow linked with the existence of the new world’s mechanical creatures. In the introduction, the present world is wiped out by what seems to be an electromagnetic pulse. Could this have been linked to developing artificial intelligence?

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The creatures in Horizon walk, feed and carry along like organic, wild animals. There are mechanical creatures that resemble giraffes, gazelles and others. Since there are no traditional animals to hunt (from what has been shown so far), mechanical creatures are hunted for resources instead.

It is unclear whether or not these artificial creatures are completely inorganic. With their animal-like resemblances, it would be no surprise that they are half organic and inorganic, somehow. During the gameplay demonstration, players were able to observe different artificials, which include the grazers, huntermauls and others.

The main character, Aloy starts the demonstration on her hunt for grazers. As she lurks in nearby brush, she draws her bow and hits one of the feeding grazers. The grazer herd flees in panic and the massive thundermaul enters the scene. As I watched the fight, I was mentally comparing the grazers to gazelles and the thundermaul to a massive sabertooth tiger, securing its prey.

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The main character has a bow which can shoot explosive, electric and armor piercing arrows. She also comes equipped with a ropecaster weapon, allowing her to trap the thundermaul from continuing on its warpath. Utilizing her ropecaster and armor piercing arrows while simultaneously dodging the thundermaul’s laser attacks, the woman is able to take down the thundermaul and claim its resources.

One reoccurrence I am finding in E3 2015 is that ass-kicking females are very popular this year. With Recore coming from Microsoft, Female soccer players in FIFA 16, the new Dishonored female lead and others, it is certainly a great time to be a woman in gaming. Rather than find the occasional female lead among developing video games, they are becoming more common and certainly more equal.

Also, the lead in Horizon: Zero Dawn is not at all sexualized. She is fully clothed, capable and extremely handy with ranged weapons. This female empowerment factor along with the incredible features to Horizon: Zero Dawn are one of the many reasons I cannot wait to play the game once it is finally released.
Stay tuned for more Horizon: Zero Dawn news in the future!

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Stephanie Burdo Editor & Website Administrator
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