During Sony's pre-E3 2016 presentation, the tech giant had plenty of exclusive games to show off to those in attendance and to eager gamers at home waiting to get a glimpse of what's in store from the PlayStation 4 in the coming months. As the presentation went on, the showstopper might have been God of War 4 and its all-new, Norse-inspired Kratos, but that didn't stop a stunning demo from the anticipated Horizon Zero Dawn from catching more than a few passing glances.
The open-world action roleplaying game is exclusive to the PlayStation 4, and features the kind of graphics and cinematic gameplay that will almost certainly make it a must have for gamers of all kinds. With its lush visuals and story of a post-apocalyptic future in which giant mechanized beasts have taken over the earth, Horizon Zero Dawn has the sort of unique spin on a familiar narrative that players are on the lookout for, and during the lengthy gameplay demo provided by Sony during its presentation, it seems as though the exclusive title hits that sweet spot between captivating design elements and fast and furious open-world action that may just make this a true one-of-a-kind title for Sony's bestselling console.
The game follows the main character Aloy, as she takes on a dangerous task of discovering the secrets of the earth. What that entails isn't entirely clear, but Sony's description of the game offers a bit more to go on:
"You are Aloy, a skilled hunter who relies on speed, cunning and agility to stay alive and protect her tribe against the strength, size and raw power of the machines. Against overwhelming odds, you must embark on a compelling, emotional journey to uncover the secrets of a forgotten civilisation, the ancient artifacts they left behind, and to learn more about the advanced technologies that will determine the fate of the planet – and of human life itself."
The demo offers a significant sequence in which Aloy is tasked with fighting off and scavenging several mechanized menaces that are either in or around her village. The sequence manages to show the various things players can do with the character, like scanning the robots for weaknesses and targeting those spots to take down an adversary in one shot. Like most games of this sort, Aloy comes equipped with several different weapons and tools, each with their own distinct purpose on the field of battle. Here in the demo, it seems Aloy's bow and arrow is the most devastating weapon, as she takes out three bots with ease before running across a frightened acquaintance talking about demons in humanities' otherwise mechanized adversaries.
The animation is smooth, running from cut scene to gameplay and back again without missing a beat. Additionaly, it seems the game world is populated with numerous robotic lifeforms that can either be defeated and their parts scavenged for things like traps, or they can be manipulated and turned used for transportation, as Aloy did with the Broadhead robot in order to get to the village and investigate the disturbance. From there, the demo reveals how a boss fight might unfold, with Aloy doing battle with a large and powerful robotic menace.
While the action looks to be fairly intense and rewarding in terms of figuring out the right tools to use in order to bring down each threat, Horizon Zero Dawn really comes to life through its fascinating visuals. The blend of sci-fi and fantasy elements make for a unique viewing experience, and while seeing futuristic robots wandering around an otherwise pastoral scene is somewhat incongruous, the contradiction winds up working in the game's favor. Later on, the visuals are taken to another level as Aloy is seen taking in the same gorgeous vista as the player does.
This might be one of the more interesting offerings Sony (or anyone else has) at E3 2016, and it might be one of the most stunning as well.
Horizon Zero Dawn is expected in 2017, exclusively for PlayStation 4.