Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds Review – Battles in the North

One of this year’s breakout games is none other than the PS4 exclusive, Horizon Zero Dawn. Due to its popularity among PS4 fans, it is interesting to see its first major DLC release at the end of the year. Despite the length of time between the game’s release and this new DLC, the wait was certainly worth it. Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds is a great expansion to an already brilliant game.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds takes place in the uppermost regions of the game’s world. Protagonist Aloy hears rumors about a deadly threat coming from the area and decides to investigate. What she discovers is something that could potentially threaten all life on Earth. Considering how Aloy is a professional robot-slayer, she is more than ready to face what awaits her in the frozen north.

The Frozen Wilds region is comparable in size to any of the other regions found in Horizon Zero Dawn. It is expansive, but not to the point where its size is burdensome to navigate. As you would expect, the map contains settlements, bonfires, bandit camps, collectibles, side quests, and of course, hordes of rampaging machines. If you’re familiar with the game then you should have no issues acclimating to the new environment. Sure, everything is covered in snow, but it’s more of the same Horizon Zero Dawn goodness that you’ve come to expect.

If you were like me, you no doubt felt like an overpowered god by the time you finished Horizon Zero Dawn. You could be forgiven for thinking The Frozen Wilds would be a cake-walk, especially if you obtained the secret power armor. Let me tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong. Almost from the beginning, I was getting my ass handed to me. Some of this was due to having not played since March, but it was mostly because machines are far deadlier up north. This is a great thing since it truly makes this new area feel threatening.

On top of new enemy types, The Frozen Wilds has a higher level cap, an all-new skill branch, and new outfits suited for the cold environment. The new weapons work well against the new enemies, and I liked the wintry outfits Aloy has access to. Most of the newer goodies can only be purchased with an item called bluegleam that’s scattered throughout the map. You can, of course, use all of this equipment in any region of the world. Though, it might be odd to have Aloy rocking winter gear in the middle of the desert region. But, hey, you have the choice.

Horizon Zero Dawn‘s Decima Engine renders snowy terrain beautifully. Everything looks so authentic that I almost felt shivers while playing. Despite this being a frozen world, there is some variety to be found. From mountain tops perennially beset by snowstorms, ice-covered rivers, and even cold, rainy marshlands, there is a lot going on visually. I was particularly impressed with how character clothing was also covered in frost. This wasn’t just a cheap texture either, as frost would disappear from clothing when indoors. This attention to detail is appreciated and helps the world feel more realistic.

While I enjoyed seeing new machine foes, some of their attacks were somewhat cheap. There were points when I would be attacked during recovery animations. I don’t mind getting hit and knocked off my feet, but if I’m in the middle of getting up, there’s nothing I can do to counter any oncoming attacks. I have no recollection of this ever happening during my initial playthrough back in March. Perhaps a future patch could address this since issue. Being helplessly tossed around like a pinball by angry robots is no fun.

If you liked Horizon Zero Dawn, then there’s no reason to miss out on The Frozen Wilds. For a measly $15, you’ll get (roughly) 6-8 hours of gameplay if you do everything it has to offer. The DLC also does a great job establishing where the franchise can go in the future. Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds is a great way to cap off a year filled with so many amazing gaming experiences.

This review of Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds is based on a digital copy provided for free by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

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