Now that we are over a month into 2018, no time seems more appropriate than now to discuss the greatest games of 2017, after everyone else already has. The problem with that is, there’s only one game that was top of every list for me, and I really just want to talk about that one.
With that in mind, here are 5 indisputable reasons that Horizon Zero Dawn is all of the top games of 2017.
- The DLC
I can’t believe I am writing these words, but The Frozen Wilds is a solid addition to Horizon’s base game. It slides in as side missions alongside the main quests,perfect for someone playing for the first time, or people returning for round two.
Taking place before the end game sequences, Frozen Wilds features a new, gorgeous area to explore, some brutal but satisfying missions, and delves deeper into the world of the Banuk people.
Not only is the DLC pure quality, there’s also about 20 hours of it. So you’re getting the length of many other games as DLC. Sure, the Cauldron was a little weak, but I’m nit-picking, because The Frozen Wilds is amazing value and well worth picking up
- The World
It would be so easy for this game’s plot to have fallen apart. A post-apocalyptic game, where the old civilisation has been lost, and one person has to stand up to prevent disaster; is hardly an original premise. Throw in some robotic animals that don’t seem to be getting built by humans, and it has the potential to either be amazing, or fall flat on its face.
Luckily it excels by not only giving the world gorgeously realised robotic creatures, but by building villages and cities that feel like they belong, like the remnants of an ancient culture, built on the bones of a world that fell apart.
It’s clichéd to say the world is a character in a game, but it really is; the world crafts the story just as much as anyone else, both with what it tells you, and what it doesn’t.
- The Machines
How can you look at this game and not be blown away by the machines? I sure couldn’t, because they are absolutely outstanding.
From their unique designs emulating real world creatures, to their seamless fusing with functional elements (such as massive guns, or a giant flat head for scanning the world), the machines look like animals that could exist, if you covered them in armour and weaponry. Each species of robot looks totally unique, and moves in its own way, yet fits in with its peers and the ecosystem at large.
- The Gameplay
I’m usually a little apprehensive towards open world games. There are very few truly games in that setting; tend to be bad, or ‘good for an open world game’, and you give it some leeway because of the nature of a game that has so much going on at any given time.
Horizon Zero Dawn is the first open world game I’ve played where the action is as tight as the best linear third person action games. It would be almost believable to be told that it was a linear game and I kept choosing the exact action required, because of how tight the gameplay and combat feel.
From mounting and riding machines, to changing weapon or ammo mid-fight and firing off my bow, , it felt so damn good to play. This led to time melting away in scary proportions, and significant amounts of lost sleep.
Sure, the climbing feels rough after playing games like Assassin’s Creed Origins or Breath of the Wild, but a game has to have flaws to remind us the devs and designers are human, and Guerilla came pretty damn close to godhood here
Of course she’s top of the list. I absolutely adore Aloy as a protagonist. She is an interesting character who has had a tough time, but has come out as a strong badass while maintaining her sense of self. Thanks to the way the game has been designed, you can influence her personality and actions, which makes no difference to the story, but makes this unique person feel closer to you for your playthrough.
My Aloy never let bad events or bad people get her down, and she was always willing to show heart, though she wasn’t a pushover. This was brought together with outstanding voice acting by Ashley Birch. I will be genuinely surprised if another character makes an impression on me the same way Aloy did.
One of my biggest gaming regrets will be missing my chance to get the Collector’s Edition that came with that amazing Aloy statue, as I didn’t know if I was going to like the game or not. That statue could have adorned my bedroom to bring me joy forever, but instead will taunt me in my dreams.
While 2017 had some other great games like Breath of the Wild, Cuphead, Mario Odyssey, and many others, in any other year I’d be rattling those titles off in droves. Unfortunately, they released in a year that had my absolute pounamu, Horizon Zero Dawn, and it’s gotta be the apex of the 2017 gaming ecosystem